Posts filed under ‘Headhunters’
The 2016 job market is in full swing and with it, if you are lucky, comes choices. Seasoned professionals as well as graduate engineers find themselves approached with opportunities. Today’s civil engineering companies are as different as their employees. In your job exploration you need to define the type of employer you will best fit.
The 2015 ENR Top 500 list reflected most of the largest A/E firms becoming even larger as a result of mergers and acquisitions. Similarly, a number of firms who were not on the top 500 leaped onto the widely reviewed list.
As an executive recruiter, I experienced leaders from the top 10 firms make notable moves to much smaller firms. In each case, the executive wanted to join a firm where they felt they could have significant impact on company strategic direction and growth. They wanted to join a firm that they felt would allow them to “get back to the practice of civil engineering.” Conversely, during the last year a number of project engineers and project managers asked me if my larger clients had job opportunities for them. These job seekers specifically wanted to join the top 100 firms as they perceived these firms to get a bigger share of complex, huge and sexier projects. In my opinion while these observations seem to be representative of a trend last year, there are a good deal of people who focus their job search not specifically on company size, but on the job itself.
Evaluating where you are in your career, defining your short and long-term goals, assessing culture, company leadership and peers at a new firm- these answers will helping you make a good decision to join a firm. Yes, size of a company does matter but should not be THE factor in selecting a new opportunity. What do you think?
View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn
If I had a penny for every time a job seeker told me that they would not reject a job offer based upon the title or the money, I could have bought an island years ago! Stop lying to yourself.
Inevitably, 95% of job offer rejections center around money or title. That is acceptable and sometimes even reasonable. However, telling a recruiter or perspective employer that you will not be making a decision based on money or title is just not true (95% of the time).
As an executive recruiter, I tell my candidates that they should not walk away from a great opportunity over money nor should they accept an opportunity because of money. Same goes for title.
When potential job seekers call me, regardless of their experience level, I ask them a number of questions.
- Why are you looking for a new job?
- What do you want to do?
- What location(s) do you want to work? Are you open to relocation?
- What type(s) of company/companies do you want to work for?
- Are the answers to questions 2, 3 and 4 absolutes?
- What are/were you making and when is your next increase anticipated?
- How important are money and job title?
Why are you looking for a new job?
Are you unhappy in your current job? If so, what do you dislike AND what do you like about your situation? If you don’t define likes and dislikes, you won’t be able to red flag them and identify them in an interview. The thought “any job is better than the one I have” won’t help you in your job search. What must you have in a new job? What would you like to have in a new job?
What do you want to do?
Do you have an idea of what you want to do and are you qualified to do it? Be honest with yourself and about your abilities. If you like a variety of work, keep options open when looking at jobs. Do you know your strengths and weaknesses?
What location(s) do you want to work?
If you are not open to relocation, then do not say that you are. Many firms will not be open to telecommuting. Do not go for an interview that requires relocation with the thought “they will love me when they meet me and allow me to telecommute.”
What type(s) of company do you want to work for?
Do you like working for a small firm, with a family feel? Do you like the resources and project scope of a large national firm?
What are/were you making and when is your next increase anticipated?
This is not a trick question. Be honest.
How important are money and job title?
If you must make a certain amount of money to live your life, then say so. If you need an officer title and won’t consider anything less, then say so. Don’t get into the interview process saying one or both items are not important and then back out later because you didn’t receive an offer with a certain dollar amount or title. It’s inconsiderate to everyone involved.
As the saying goes “Change is the only constant.” The days of joining a company at 21 years of age and working there until you are 67 years old are GONE. As you entertain job opportunities be honest with yourself and with others at the start. You will find yourself with an excellent career opportunity with the right compensation, title and company!
View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn
Today’s blog is the second in a series of entries that will help those executives in the AEC community understand why they might be losing out to the competition when competing for great candidates and top talent. Having recruited civil engineering and architectural professionals for over 15 years I have witnessed some fantastic interviewing and hiring processes…and I have witnessed some miserable ones as well. Most processes fall in the middle of that spectrum, so by understanding what you may NOT be doing and making some subtle (or not so subtle, depending how poor your process really may be) changes may help you reel in a higher percentage of those good or great candidates that may have joined the competition in the building down the street or the floor below!
Not maintaining momentum can KILL your chances of hiring that top prospect. The pace of the interview process in a moment of time is crucial. I’m not talking about having an offer sent to a candidate’s blackberry after the first interview before they even leave the building, but by keeping a steady pace of the process from initial inquiry to offer is so important. I cannot stress this enough.
Momentum is important for multiple reasons:
A. It keeps you focused on the candidate and your thoughts and memory of the interview fresh.
B. It keeps the candidate excited and interested.
C. It shows the candidate that you are indeed excited in the prospect of brining them on board. Extensive delays from interview-to-interview with the same candidate is often perceived by the candidate that the client is undecided or not real thrilled about them, and every day that fades to black without contact or scheduling of an interview or feedback takes a little bit more wind out the sails.
D. Delays in follow-up interviews or reference checks allows for an opening for another firm to shimmy their way on to the candidate’s radar screen. If you are taking your good ‘ol time and the other firm understands the concept of momentum, they can make up considerable ground and by the time you finally lay out an offer on the table the other company will be doing the same; this of course decreases the likelihood of acceptance of your offer.
E. It allows you to move on to other candidates that you were interested in more swiftly in the event of a turndown. Let’s say you put all your efforts into candidate A, but you were aware of candidate B as well but chose not to interview them until your learned the fate of candidate A. If you are dragging your feet and candidate A ends up turning down your offer, candidate B may already be off the market. Ideally, you should be interviewing multiple candidates at the same time if possible. The “all your eggs in one basket theory” is not a good idea here.
So How Do You Keep Momentum Going When Everyone is So Busy?
A. Have access to everyone’s calendar and plan the next meeting at the end of the previous meeting (assuming there is a fit).
B. If you need a day to talk amongst the team that interviewed the candidate, that is okay. But don’t wait longer than 24 hours. If the feedback is positive and you want to move forward, then find 6 available options for the next meeting to present to the candidate (3 days/times during business hours, 3 evenings/times for after hours meeting). This will eliminate the constant back-and-forth that would normally occur suggesting one date and time at a time.
C. For employment law reasons, companies are required to track applicants; have the candidate complete the employment application prior to the first interview. This way that part is done and over with. Sometimes these applications are a hassle, and candidates keep delaying this task, so taking care of this sooner than later is recommended. This also gives them a deadline to meet.
D. Your day is likely filled with meetings, site visits, lunch meetings, etc…so task your in house Recruiter (if you have one), your Human Resources Professional, or your Administrative Assistant with following up with the candidate. Of course if you are using a search consultant, this would be part of their duty in servicing you as their client.
E. The same resources mentioned above in “D” should immediately begin checking references as soon as the candidate has provided them. References can take some time, but if you have someone who is easily accessible to stop what they are doing to take / make that call and write up the appropriate report you will keep the momentum.
F. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this: consider hiring an executive search consultant who specializes in the professional skill set that you are looking to hire. Recruiters are notorious for understanding and keeping the momentum and they will be able to handle all of the above.
G. Should you and your team be excited about the candidate, and should their references check out, be immediately prepared to formulate an EXCITING offer letter, and be sure to include a decision deadline.
How does your company keep momentum going with candidates? Or, as a candidate, what are your experiences you have had where a company was pursuing you and they did a great job with keeping momentum? Or, also as a candidate, did an organization lose out on you because they failed to keep the momentum going? Please share your stories!
Next topic in this series: FAILURE TO CONTINUOUSLY CLOSE
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn
For those of you football fans who watch ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown, you are likely familiar with their “C’Mon Man!” segment. For those of you who don’t have the slightest clue as to what I am talking about, in a nutshell, the Monday Night Countdown crew members compile moments from the past weekend’s games that leave you scratching your head and saying to yourself (or out loud in their case) “C’Mon, Man!”
Here is segment to give you the gist of what I am talking about:
Now that you catch my drift, after speaking with a number of my recruiting colleagues across the country, I have compiled my Top 9 “C’Mon, Man!” moments from the world of civil engineering recruiting over the past year:
- A candidate who has been out of work for 6 months goes through three stages of the interview process, she is on the cusp of receiving an offer contingent upon references checking out and she provides a poor reference that sells her down the river…C’MON MAN!
- A candidate tells us all the motivations for him to consider a change, we provide an opportunity that meets all those needs and gives him a $25K/20% increase in his base salary. He verbally accepts to the hiring manager on Friday and then on Monday decides to stay where he is…C’MON MAN!
- We successfully recruit a C-Level candidate for an extremely confidential CEO search. The candidate is aware that this position must be treated with the highest level of confidentiality and agrees to abide by the “rules” of confidentiality. After being shortlisted by the existing CEO as a candidate, said candidate decides to call a friend AT THAT COMPANY in attempt to get some inside information on the company and ultimately spilled the beans…needless to say he knocked himself out of contention…C’MON MAN!
- A client asks us to conduct a search and bring candidates to the table for a Regional Manager position…a great candidate with a solid reputation is presented and interviewed, but the client is unable to provide ANY feedback until four weeks later, only to say “not interested.” That’s it? C’MON MAN!
- A client company has two candidates they are considering interviewing …one is unemployed and has some of the skills they are looking for…the other is gainfully employed and fits most of what they are looking for. The client company would rather interview the unemployed candidate first and make a decision because they are worried that the employed candidate may take a counteroffer…C’MON MAN!
- A candidate has been so brainwashed as an employee that he tells us he will never leave his current employer because it is the “best company to work for in the history of all companies ever.” Really? The best company to work for in the history of all companies… ever? C’MON MAN!
- A company wants a” rainmaker” who will significantly increase top line revenues for their office or company, but they are not willing to pay market value…COME ON MAN!
- We spoke with an engineer who diminishes the value of obtaining her PE because she says that she knows PE’s that she has worked with and she already knows WAY more than they do…C’MON MAN!
- A candidate was referred to us by someone we respect in the industry, yet they respond to our contacting them by making a completely egotistical and arrogant statements about how great they are….C’MON MAN!
These are just a handful of “C’MON MAN” moments that have happened in our industry over the past year. I know I am dishin’ it out here, but I will be the first to confess that we have had a few “C’MON MAN” moments on our end over the years as well that we have learned from. I guess it’s all a part of what makes our careers…and life interesting!
If you have any “C’MON MAN” moments from the world of recruiting or civil engineering that you would like to share, please feel free to do so!
One more thought…”Top 10″ lists, yes. But who the heck ever heard of a “Top 9” list? C’MON MAN!!!!!
No one likes to be rejected–whether it be from a potential job, promotion, client or love interest. It’s disheartening, and human nature causes us to ask “Why am I being turned down?”
If I can generalize a bit, civil engineers are analytical thinkers and are more comfortable dealing with concrete (excuse the pun) facts. When presented with a problem, they like to solve it. Ambiguity in engineering solutions isn’t good. Now take that logical thinking and try to apply it to a potential job search or job change. The decision to make a job change is partly an analytical, but mostly an emotional, decision.
So now you embark on a job search, whether by choice or force. Perhaps you get a call from a recruiter about an excellent opportunity, your employer presents another round of layoffs or your current work environment becomes undesirable. You update your resume (which should ALWAYS be current) and forward in the process you go.
You identify an opportunity and on paper think you’ve found a good match. You may even make it through the initial screening process and have an interview. Surprisingly to you, at some point in the process, it comes to a halt. You’re rejected. Whether by the internal recruiter/search consultant/hiring executive, you’re knocked out of the process.
While it’s important to hear why you’re not a good fit, you may not be given a solid, descriptive reason. This takes us back to the analytical thinker having to accept an ambiguous explanation. It’s not natural or comfortable. But, it is the situation. Whether you really wanted the job or not, it’s now not an option. And, to top it off, you’re not given a reasonable explanation for why you were turned down. In some cases, perhaps a successful project was overlooked or an aspect of your career history was misunderstood or miscommunicated. Regardless, trying to debate or overcome the objections that are raised rarely works to your benefit.
There are many factors that play into the decision that go beyond the “paper fit.” Some of these reasons may never be discussed. Are they reasonable, or even legal? Whether they are or not, they exist:
* Physical dress/appearance
* Confidential “off-the-record” reference
* Inappropriate comment made that you didn’t realize was inappropriate
* Real skill set needed to succeed in job is not as described in the job description
* Your skill set is not as strong as you perceive it to be
* Stronger candidate comes along
* Job put on hold
* Perception in marketplace of your current Employer/Supervisor
Just remember that although your job search is very personal to you, the rejection isn’t personal, it’s just business. And, as with business, you pick yourself up and go on.
One corporate recruiter on Linkedin had as her status update “..be careful not to stalk the corporate recruiter, but do follow-up.” Numerous discussions are taking place online scolding recruiters and employers for lack of follow-up with candidates. But, how do you as a candidate stay on the right side of the fine line that divides assertive job seeker and scary stalker?
Let’s assume you have made it through an initial screen and had a phone or in person interview. As a job seeker, how often should you phone or email in follow-up to your meeting? First, you should end your interview by asking the recruiter to explain the remainder of the hiring process. Ask the interviewer “What happens next?” and “When should I expect to hear from you?” If they tell you what the next step is, then follow it. For example, if the recruiter tells you they have just started the process and expect to complete interviews in a couple weeks, then call them in a couple of weeks. If they do not return your call within 24-48 hours, then send them a follow-up email. If they do not return the email within 24-48 hours, then call them again. After that, move on in your search. Does every job seeker deserve feedback and closure? Yes. Will you always receive it? No. Demanding closure by calling or emailing the recruiter every hour will not always work, nor will it help your cause- even if you are right.
These past several years have taught all of us lessons. For me, as an architecture, planning, civil engineering recruiter, I need to make sure to offer insightful feedback and closure to my candidates. Hiring authorities and corporate recruiters who have been laid off now understand through their own job searches, that timely feedback/closure is necessary after a job interview.
Job seekers are frustrated by limited jobs, overwhelming competition and rejection. They say “Tell me I am not a fit for the job and I will understand.” Rarely has a candidate heard that they are not a fit for an opportunity without them then launching into a debate. We as recruiters, whether corporate or third party headhunter are hired to screen for the right fit. Hiring managers make that final screen and may reject you for seemingly insignificant reasons. Debating, while human nature, will not change those decisions 99% of the time.
Do your best to follow-up with the recruiter after your interviews. Even if you deserve closure and feedback on the status of your candidacy, you may not receive it. For the record, this is not right. Everyone deserves a return call.
If You Have a Minute-and-a-Half…
What you just witnessed was Scrat, from Ice Age 2, working his tail off to get his prized acorn…he came SO close, but in the end he failed.
How many times have you come SO close to hiring the right candidate, but in the end you were not able to “seal the deal” ? In breaking down this video we can dissect how his mission is very similar to yours as a hiring manager, human resources professional, or recruiter in the civil engineering industry attempting to seek out the perfect candidate and what can occur if the proper steps are not taken.
The same way Scrat has pulled out all the stops in reaching his goal, you have exhausted your candidate database, your batteries in your electronic Rolodex have gone dead, you’ve dangled a boat load of “benjamins” in front of your employees encouraging referrals, you have scoured the job boards and resume databases, you have mined your way through the Internet, you have blasted through your contacts on LinkedIn to no avail…in one last ditch effort you have even discovered how to “tweet”, and as a result, you have found your acorn…errrrr, your perfect candidate!
Visible and within reach, you loosen up the candidate with an introductory phone call that progresses nicely. At the end of the conversation you invite the candidate in for an interview…SWEET! The candidate goes through a multi-interview process and the outlook is positive, from where you are standing anyway. You feel awesome, you reeled ’em in hook, line and sinker, he’s yours, sign him up.
The Fall Off
Wait, you told everyone in the office, you had the announcement ready for your next company newsletter, you had the press release prepared…what happened? You had your candidate right at your doorstep but he never stepped over the threshhold. Now you’ve lost the candidate and you have fallen back into the depths of the same search where you found yourself not so long ago. How could this possibly happen?
Failure To Plug The Holes
You had your candidate the same way Scrat had his acorn. The pipes began to burst, you duct taped the holes temporarily and juggled the candidate as long as you could. But in the end, he accepted a position with your nemesis two exits down off the expressway.
Unfortunately I have witnessed this scenario all too often in my career as a search consultant. The goal of course is not to learn how to plug the holes (because you saw what happened to Scrat when he tried to do so), but rather how to prevent those unexpected bursts from happening altogether.
- Be On Time. The same way you expect a candidate to arrive on time for their interview, make sure you are on time as well. Prior to the interview make sure you exchange cell phone numbers in the event that something arises that is going to cause you to run late or have to reschedule. Last week on our LinkedIn discussion board we learned of a candidate that arrived to his interview on time, but was made to wait thirty minutes before the hiring executive was able to invite him back for the interview. Once the interview begins the candidate may be pre-occupied with the fact that he had to wait thirty minutes. And even if he does get over it and the interview goes well, that thirty minutes of unjustified monotony sitting in the lobby has created a seed of doubt in that candidate’s head as to how you or the company may operate…as if they do not care about people.
- Don’t Skimp. If the interview was scheduled before lunch or before dinner, and it is going well and you see it carrying over for some time, take the candidate out for a meal. Not only is this a memorable gesture, but as always it gives you the opportunity to evaluate their demeanor in a public setting. And if the IHOP is the closest restaurant to your office…you might want to try the NEXT closest restaurant.
- Get Off The Fence. Make a decision. Once the interview(s) are complete, your ability to get off the fence and make a decision is crucial. Don’t let the engineer in you be the cause of losing the candidate. The longer you sit in a deep contemplative state analyzing the potential hire the less interested the candidate becomes and the more likely he is to be scooped up by another firm. Even if it’s a no-go, communicate this to the candidate. Your failure to communicate even the decision not to hire the candidate will be remembered, and you never know when you may need to call upon that candidate down the road.
- Avoid The Low Ball. Evaluate your current salary structure and make nearly the best, if not the best offer you can, right off the bat. This shows you are serious. If the candidate is considering other offers on the table, even though you make it known you are open to negotiation, the first impression of you attempting to short change them more-often-than-not leaves a sour taste in the candidates mouth.
- Remember Magnum, P.I. Make sure you, your human resources staff or your recruiter conducts a full and comprehensive investigation. By understanding all the details of the candidates compensation (and I mean ALL the details) and benefits you will limit the sneak attack the can often occur at the end of the process. You know, the sneak attack when the candidate has all but officially accepted and then he drops the bomb that he is declining your offer to accept another? Make sure your understand their current and desired title and responsibilities. You could make a fantastic offer, but “if the shoe don’t fit” then you have wasted your time. Uncover their hot issues. Why are they looking to leave? What was the initial appeal to your firm? Speak to references to get a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses so you can be prepare to offer an opportunity that will improve their weak points and tone up their strengths. And finally, know what they are up to. This may be a little tricky without utilizing a seasoned search consultant, but you need to find out what other firms they are meeting with and what the details are of any other offers they may be considering.
- Make Sure The Fat Lady Sings. The old saying holds true during the hiring process. You must continue to close the deal with the candidate until the day they walk through your door. There are a number of things that you can do to minimize the chances of them accepting another offer from another firm, or a counter offer from their existing employer.
- Require them to provide their current employer with no longer than a three week notice, though a two week notice is even better; any longer and that leaves a large window of opportunity for them to change their mind.
- Have them sign an offer letter. The psychology behind having a candidate sign and return an offer letter to you is huge. It shows another level of commitment beyond the verbal acceptance and holds them more accountable.
- Meet with them once a week for lunch until they start in order to discuss their office set up, their technology requirements (blackberry, lap top, etc) and to prepare them for the projects that they will be working on. This mentally pulls them in closer to you and further away from their current employer or any other firms that may be dangling a last minute carrot.
- And finally, have Human Resources invite them into the office to fill out the hiring documents so they can hit the ground running on their start date.
By following some of these simple steps you will find that your ability to bring on top talent will be sure to improve, and you will be able to have your acorn…and eat it too.