Posts filed under ‘Interviewing’

Choosing Between Civil Engineering Job Offers

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of
  View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

Spring has sprung and there appears to be a sense of energy within the civil engineering job market. As a civil engineering recruiter, my phone is ringing from companies looking to hire, and from experienced civil engineers ready to make a job change. Fortunate candidates are finding themselves with multiple offers and career choices. The question is no longer “Should I leave my employer?” but rather “Which offer do I choose?”

Here are some suggestions to help guide you when choosing between job offers:


If you are a strong analytical thinker, you are more likely to focus on the facts. That comes next. First, how did you feel when you left each interview? Do you remember? Just because one job may appear better on paper, that doesn’t mean it is the best job for you. Consider other factors such as environment, future colleagues, personality of supervisor, company culture. What does your instinct tell you? In which job will you feel the most enjoyment? Did you meet any potential colleagues? Did they appear stressed or friendly? Did you feel a good chemistry or good “vibe” when you walked in the company door?

  • Think Analytically
Now go back to making traditional comparative lists. Detail the facts of the offers: company reputation, supervisor personality,  job description, title, salary, benefits, location, potential for advancement, work hours expected, billable hours expected, back log of work in the division/office/company, commute, travel, clients, potential ownership- just to name a few.  Then divide them into your pros and cons of each. What does your analysis tell you?
Finally, as discussed in previous blogs, making a job change is an emotional situation. It is easy to get caught up in the rush of excitement as well as the stress of receiving  job offers. Focusing on facts is important but do not underestimate or dismiss your instincts. Making the wrong choice is not the end of the world but taking steps to minimize that makes your life easier! Feel AND think before you make your final decision.

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

April 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm 1 comment

New Year- Time To Get A New Job?

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of
  View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

Every new year many of us assess our job. As an architecture and civil engineering executive recruiter, I find January to be a very busy month! New year resolutions abound. Candidates tell me that they will not spend another year working for a company or supervisor that doesn’t appreciate them…at a job that is no longer challenging or exciting. They won’t continue to go to work each day to be surrounded by people they don’t respect. It is time for them to be energized.

What questions should you ask yourself to determine if it is time to explore a new opportunity?

Is my current company growing, shrinking or staying the same size? Do the company leaders communicate with all employees about the “health” of the firm? Do they communicate about their strategy for growth for the company? Are my values the same as the firm’s? Do I respect the company leaders? How is the company viewed in the industry?

Does my supervisor have and exhibit the qualities I respect in a manager? Am I learning from him/her? Does my supervisor keep me motivated on projects and informed about my career path? Do I feel comfortable asking for help or discussing situations?

Do I have established relationships with others in the company? Do I look forward to working with these people or do I dread walking through the office or visiting the lunch room? Are my team members collaborative or self-serving? Are they supportive or challenging?

Am I able to work on projects that are challenging and diverse?  Do I like the work that is presented to me? Do I have an opportunity to learn and try new skills? Do I have autonomy to do my work? Do I have the ability to contribute to the overall success of the firm?

Do I receive a competitive base salary? Did my company change their benefit plan so I pay more for less?  Am I receiving incentive bonuses for exceptional work?

There are many other questions to ask when deciding to make a job move. It is important to make an informed decision. Changing jobs is often more emotional than logical. Before wasting your time, a recruiter’s time, your current employer’s and potential future employer’s time– do your homework and evaluate your situation.

One thing is for sure: If you “can’t take this.. not another day” at your current job, then start exploring your options!

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

January 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm 2 comments

Steve Jobs and Civil Engineering – That’s Right. I Went There.

Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

No need to get into a lengthy diatribe as to who Steve Jobs is and all that he has accomplished.  You all know who he  is and I would have carpel tunnel syndrome by the end of this entry if I tried to explain all things Steve Jobs.  Two questions for you though about Steve Jobs:

  • Do you know where he started?
  • Do you know where he ended?

Back to that in a moment.  Over the years I have conducted numerous C-Level or Senior Vice President/National Business Line Leader searches for consulting engineering firms where I have been tasked to seek and find a key leader for national or global practices that are made up of hundreds or thousands of civil engineering and architectural professionals.  Deep down amongst the two or three page detailed job description there is bullet point indicating that a Professional Engineering or Architecture license is required.  Not preferred. Not recommended. Required.

Different companies have different roles, different titles, and different philosophies on hiring.  The philosophy that a senior executive must have a professional registration sometimes leaves me scratching my head.  I am talking about executive leaders who develop winning strategies, who develop revolving 5-year business plans, who glad hand, who often accept public speaking invitations, who are responsible for leading the pursuit of projects, or who are responsible for meeting financial goals of the company.  My question is this: “Is a professional registration really necessary at this level?”

I know many unlicensed professionals in the architecture and engineering community who are operationally responsible for hundreds or thousands of employees and who know how to effectively turn a profit.  I also know many unlicensed professionals in the architecture and engineering industries who are responsible for driving millions and millions of dollars worth of revenue through the door.  I also know many companies who have needs for people like these but who turn a blind eye to these candidates because they do not have a couple of initials following their last name.   Is this an old school mentality?  Is this a company worried about perception more than actual results?

This takes me back to Steve Jobs; No degree…college drop out…yet an innovative pioneer who is a good listener and who was capable of delivering what people want- even delivering what people want before they know they want it.  Not that companies should make a habit of hiring college drop-outs, not by any stretch of the imagination;  but, denying your company the opportunity to hire, or at the very least consider a change agent or someone who can help guide the ship to its selected destination because they do not have a license, seems shortsighted.

If someone can provide innovative concepts to clients, productive and profitable business models, has strong connections and a track record of success;  if they are a good listener, and if  through the collaborative efforts of the skilled and licensed management team beneath them they could even deliver a concept to a client that they may have not thought of otherwise; if they are able to drive top line revenues and help your firm climb to heights that you may not otherwise reach,  then is a professional license at that level even relevant?

What is your philosophy? Have you hired your firm’s Steve Jobs? Or maybe have you seen the Steve Jobs of your industry join the competition only because you shuffled his credentials aside because he or she was not licensed?

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

October 12, 2011 at 12:28 pm 7 comments

Negotiating the Non-Sense in your Non-Compete

Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

Finally, after months of suffering under a new regime as a result of a reorganization, or after months of being laid off due to a Reduction-In-Force, or after months of pounding your head on the proverbial “glass ceiling,” you have uncovered the perfect opportunity for the next step in your civil engineering career.  After going through three or four rounds of interviews and conducting your own due diligence you find a company that is a good fit professionally, technically, culturally; and the path to your professional goal is crystal clear, assuming of course that you live up to your end of the bargain.  But you are confident in your ability and there is no question in your mind that you’ve got what it takes to climb your way to the top.  The offer comes through, the money is right, the benefits are on target, the performance metrics, though challenging, are attainable, and everything is on the “up-and-up.”  And then you get to the non-compete/non-solicit/non-disclosure employment agreement.  These agreements are no longer just limited to C-Level Executives or Partners, but now they are surfacing for Vice Presidents, Division Managers, and even Project Managers.

Suddenly some of that wind has been taken out of your sail.

Terminology and phrasing limiting you to go to work for ANY competitor within a 100 mile radius of any existing office, or limiting you from contacting any clients or prospective clients (prospective clients, well,  that’s pretty much ANYONE), all while applying to not only to the company you are looking to join, but it all carries over in the event of an acquisition, which would further limit your geography, especially if acquired by a big civil engineering consulting firm with offices throughout the United States.  Oh, and by the way, there is nothing indicating that you would be protected from any of this even in the event that you are laid off, your office shuts down, or if you were given the ultimatum to relocate.  Sounds a little one sided, right?  If left un-negotiated, you would have to switch careers altogether should you separate from the firm.

Putting into effect a non-compete for company executives or partners makes sense.  After all, if they don’t have an ownership stake, they do at least have access to company financials and the intellectual property that has brought the company much success.  They will also have access to clients that they might not have otherwise with other companies.  I am personally not convinced that Non-Compete Agreements are necessary for Project Managers and others who do not have an executive role or who do not have “skin in the game,”  but this is a trending policy in the civil engineering consulting industry.

Whatever the case may be, more often than not there are some areas that you should consider negotiating before accepting “as is” if you are not fully comfortable (please keep in mind I am not an attorney nor do I pretend to be – only in my own home when negotiating with my wife and kids):

-> If you are a company executive or partner, you may want negotiate some sort of severance package to help protect you and your family should you separate from the company as it will buy time for you to secure a new position within the other constraints of the agreement.

->If your non-compete contains geographic restrictions, make sure you would still have the ability to work for a “client” or client side company.  In other words, make sure it is limited solely to competitors, not clients.

->Make sure that the agreement applies only to the company you are working for at the commencement of your employment, not any future acquisitions.  For example – if your employer has 5 or 6 offices, but then is acquired by a national consulting civil engineering firm with offices in every major city across the United States, your options become extremely limited should you not negotiate this ahead of time.

->The non-solicitation of clients is an understandable clause – but if the agreement includes not only existing clients, but potential clients, then again you are limiting your options should you separate as pretty much everyone is a potential client.  Try negotiating to only existing clients or those potential clients that have been proposed to over the past 12, 18, or 24 month period.

->Make sure that the non-compete portion of the agreement is null and void in the event of a lay off, a closing of the office, or an ultimatum to relocate with the company.

I am not an attorney, and neither are you.

No matter how dire your current work situation is, you should always go through a non-compete/non-soliticitation/non-disclosure agreement with a fine tooth comb, or even better, shell out some cash to have an attorney review the document – your wallet may become a little light, but that decision could easily save you thousands of dollars in the end… and much stress as well. You may even find that your non-compete agreement will not hold up in a court of law in your state.

Every agreement is different, and these are just a few thoughts based upon my experience in placing civil engineering professionals with consulting engineering firms.  Any further advice you can give to the civil engineering community on this topic would be greatly appreciated!

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

June 23, 2011 at 10:32 am 5 comments


Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn


As a Search Consultant specializing in the civil engineering profession,  I speak to dozens of civil engineers on a daily basis discussing with them their careers, their employers, their projects, what motivates them, their strengths and weaknesses, their likes and dislikes about their job, their career goals, etc.  When discussing their motivation for exploring new opportunities one thing I hear from time-to-time is how they would like to find an opportunity that is “fun.”    I am sure I just got a few chuckles there as the concept of having fun in one’s career is buried by deadlines, stress, non-stop meetings, overbearing bosses, needy employees, critical clients who are never satisfied, and pressure from outside shareholders who barely know what a civil engineer is…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!   Everyone’s perception of fun is different, but is there REALLY a way to have fun as a civil engineering consultant?

Well, according to civil engineer and professional career coach Anthony Fasano, PE, civil engineers CAN have fun, and they SHOULD have fun.  Here is what Anthony had to say to me on this very topic:

” It’s amazing when I coach engineers on career growth and development, how many of them think fun and work can’t go together.  My question to them is, why would you want to do something for 40 plus hours a week if it’s not enjoyable?

Many professionals ask, how can I make my career more fun?  First of all, if you are passionate about what you do, you will have a lot of fun.  Another tip I always give engineers is to get out there and network.  Build relationships in your industry through professional societies and other networking groups.  Do it with the goal of building lasting relationships and you will find that your days are much more enjoyable.  Building personal relationships in your industry can greatly increase your level of enjoyment.  Don’t just join these organizations, get involved!

You only get one career, why shouldn’t it be fun?”

So as you ponder your career and some different ways that you can inject some fun into it, take a look at Chris Stone’s Summary below.  Chris is the President of Clark Nexsen, a 90+ year old AE firm based out of Norfolk, VA.    I uncovered Chris’ profile on LinkedIn, and his profile was the inspiration for this blog…check it out:

 LinkedIn Summary
I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel public schools on my lunch breaks, making them more energy efficient. I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I am the subject of numerous documentaries.

When I’m bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. After work, I repair electrical appliances free of charge. I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don’t perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prize-winning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.

Bottom line, I enjoy life and do not take myself too seriously.

Chris’ summary is taken from one of the most quotable texts found on the internet,  Hugh Gallagher’s famous College Application Essay.  Now I’ve never spoken to Chris, but after reading his profile summary on LinkedIn, if he truly looks through his lens on life with that perspective,  I would bet that his career success can been partially attributed to his ability to have fun.  So the question remains,

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

May 17, 2011 at 9:01 am 2 comments

Civil Engineering Job Interviews: Groucho Marx Syndrome

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

The great comedian Groucho Marx once said “…I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”  His self deprecating comment rings all too true with many civil engineering firms who wrongly believe that they are not worthy of attracting the profession’s top talent.  I call this “low company esteem.”What are the systems of this malady?  Frequently, they are manifested in comments made by principals and other hiring managers to external recruiters.  Here are samplings of recent exchanges:

•  “This candidate has a great background and has tenure with their current firm. Why would they want to work here?”

•  “This candidate will probably just interview with us to get a counter offer then reject us.”

• “This candidate has had great success in their past…they will be bored here.”

•  This candidate has always worked for top-tier firms.  Why would they  want to work at a firm like ours?”

While some of these concerns may be valid based on past experience, more often than not, insecurity leads to inertia.  Frequently, when receiving a search for a senior level hire, I am given the challenge to find someone that “will take us to the next level.”  While further prodding sometimes reveals that there is no internal consensus on what that actually means or entails, in the early stages of the sourcing phase, one thing becomes clear:  what they want is someone just like them who will achieve a level of practice excellence that they have been unable to through their own efforts and resources.

While no one would argue that ensuring a “fit” between the candidate and both the job and the company’s culture are essential to success, sometimes the counter-intuitive hire can bring a unique perspective, as well as seeing the firm through fresh eyes. This results in a renewed focus on using the firm’s talent, brand and market penetration to help it become what it can be, instead of the pattern of focusing on the past missteps and hurdles that accompany institutional knowledge.

The first interaction a strategic hire should have, that all-important “face of the company,” should be its best cheerleader who leaves every candidate hungering to join the firm whether or not the feeling is mutual. However, if interviewers suffer from low company esteem, they’ll consistently struggle with articulating the benefits of joining their firm over another and the quest for quality staff will continue to elude them.

Human resources and corporate leaders need to first find a way to assess, monitor and increase the morale and esteem of their key hiring authorities to ensure that they are adequately equipped to attract the level of candidates that will enable the firm to accomplish its strategic objectives.  They then need to identify and target the very best in the profession or market segment and approach their recruitment with the same unabashed abandoned as did Saturday Night Live’s “Stewart Smalley” character:  “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and, gosh darn it, people like me.”

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

March 24, 2011 at 1:03 pm 1 comment

Hiring and Job Interviews GONE WILD! A Few True Tales from the Civil Engineering Job Search Archives

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

Each week someone tells me a crazy, unbelievable hiring or job interview story that has occurred in the architectural/ civil engineering marketplace. What is going on? Have interviewers and interviewees lost their senses? Here are some TRUE stories for your enjoyment (or horror!). These have come from architecture and civil engineering  human resources leaders, executives, recruiters and headhunters. I know you will have a difficult time believing that these really happened- but they did!

– A human resources executive at a civil engineering firm interviewed a man at their corporate headquarters office. The position he was applying for was based in one of the branch offices. The interview went well, but he seemed somewhat odd in some of his behaviors and actions and his appearance was odd but nothing to be concerned about.  The firm decided to extend an offer, which he accepted and established a start date. On his start date, he appeared at his new work location on time and ready for work, but was dressed as a female.  After the manager’s initial shock he put the person to work.  Needless to say the individual’s co-workers were a bit freaked out when they first saw him, but they overcame their surprise and everything went smoothly.

– A large A/E firm was interviewing candidates for a corporate director of business development position.  The COO had arranged to meet one of the candidates with whom he had already had a phone interview at a hotel near the Los Angeles Airport.  Forty-five minutes after the designated meeting time, just as the COO was getting ready to leave, the candidate arrived.  Sweating profusely, he was running down the corridor toward the restaurant.  By this time, his shoes were untied, his shirt untucked and his tie flipped over his shoulder.  He ran up to the interviewer and, in attempting to shake his hand, knocked over his cup of coffee, spilling it all over his lap.  He apologized for being late but said that he had been driving around trying to find a metered spot because it was cheaper than the garage.  He had a huge mustard stain on his tie and there were still bits of relish at the corners of his mouth.  He flopped down into the chair, which tipped over backwards.  As he fell, his feet kicked the table over, spreading the interviewer’s papers all over the floor.  As the candidate bent over to help him pick them up, his pants ripped completely up the back.  After getting everything righted again, the interviewer began, only to discover that the candidate had left his briefcase in the car which had all of the sample documents he had previously been asked to bring to the interview.  He requested that chance to go back and get them and offered to buy the COO another cup of coffee while he was waiting.  The COO said he would take care of it but the candidate absolutely insisted.  When the server came to take care of the check, she returned shortly with his credit card, stating that it had been declined — for $9.17.  He then looked through his wallet and then said to the COO, “Can I borrow ten bucks?”  By this point, the COO said, “You are here to interview for a position where you will be the first impression that most clients get of a 1,500 person firm.  In less than 30 minutes, you have managed to make every possible interviewing mistake there is.  I can’t even fathom you working for our company.”  The candidate responded, “A company like yours would be lucky to get me and, if you’re too stupid not to realize that, then you don’t deserve me!”  The COO responded, “You’re right…we DON’T deserve you.”

– A candidate went through a series of interviews for a Chief Operating Officer of a civil engineering company.  After negotiations were completed a start date was established.  The company made preparations for the person to begin work(office set up, computer ordered, business cards printed, etc.) and on the agreed upon date of employment the person didn’t show up.  Once the person was contacted he explained that there must have been a misunderstanding since he had never accepted the position and didn’t understand how anyone thought he was joining the firm.

– Senior candidate interviews for a job.  After several phone meetings and a local in person interview, candidate is flown across country for a meeting. The interviewer, a corporate leader, was an hour late for the 9am  interview, then unexpectedly left to handle a situation in the field – saying he would be back. The candidate was kept waiting until 3:00pm. The candidate carried on with the interview after expressing his anger at the disrespectful treatment. The interviewer asked the candidate about his age and how many more years will he be working. Then he asked the candidate if could work with minorities and women!  After all of that, the company made an offer. The candidate is not working there.

– My candidate went for a lunch interview with 3 company leaders. He used inappropriate language and told off-color jokes with a female executive present. Not that it would have been any more acceptable with all men present. Candidate also decided to tell his interviewers everything that is wrong with their firm (that he had heard). He didn’t have anything positive to add or suggestions for improvement. He was shocked when I told him the firm would not be extending an offer.

-Recently, I phone interviewed a candidate for a search. After a 40 minute conversation about his strengths, weaknesses, specific experience and what he really wanted to do, I ruled him out for my specific search. I told him he wasn’t a match, but I would keep him in mind for other opportunities. He then tried to change much of the experience his resume stated AND what he had just told me. When I wouldn’t accept his “new” story, he called my client directly, tried to get in for an interview. He didn’t get an interview.

Please share other stories! Have you had a similar WILD  experience?

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

February 9, 2011 at 5:54 pm 5 comments

Top 9 Most Recent “C’Mon Man!” Moments In Civil Engineering Recruiting

 Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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!
  6. 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!
  7. 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!
  8. 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!
  9. 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!!!!!

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

January 12, 2011 at 11:21 am 12 comments

Are you using your professional language like a secret handshake?

Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies

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We all take pride in our credentials and our education. After all, they’ve earned us a place within our profession. In addition, some of us have become thought leaders within our profession: blogging, publishing, speaking, teaching. We’ve earned our stripes through diligence and hard work. We’ve spent our time in the trenches.

Do you consciously walk around with streaming video or a neon sign declaring to the world that you are your LinkedIn resume, your latest publication or educational degree? How about wearing a sandwich board sign that proclaims: “I am a thought leader!” (hint: our business cards with lots of acronyms following our name and title is a great mini-sandwich board).

Yet so many of us come across as “flashing our credentials” when we speak with our clients, friends and family members. We unconsciously – or perhaps consciously – use professional-speak lingo-slinging within our conversations as though we are entitled to use these terms. We come across being perceived by our clients as though they are the uninitiated and we are members of an exclusive club. Which can create real barriers to communication.

Using high doses of professional terminology when communicating with non-technical folks (who may also be our customers, students, friends and family) can be like creating our own secret handshake And I’m not insisting that we dumb down our conversations. However, not everyone is a technical peer. And if these are the only conversations you are comfortable having, then ask yourself why you are limiting yourself to professional-speak lingo-slinging.

That’s not to say that technical terminology should be eliminated from business development discussions. However, using the technical term accompanied by a definition that is succinct and simple is an excellent means of educating and getting everyone on the same page. It’s like having a technical discussion with an individual from a different country. Afford your communication with non-technical types the same respect that you would give to a conversation with a peer from another country.

Because a lot of those non-technical types just may be Owners. And communicating business development solutions that address issues and educate the Owner may be more distinguishing than having a PhD or being a Fellow of five professional societies. These Owners care about what you can do for them and how your solution positively impacts their bottom line. They don’t care about your secret handshake and, quite frankly, may not be interested in ever learning it. And that’s about as succinct and non-technical as I can get.

Perhaps the most sobering thought is that when Owners hire you or your firm to work on a project, they want to come out of that project better off than they were going in. The entire experience of working with you should be rewarding. There are going to be lots and lots of discussions along the road to the solution. There are lots of opportunities to distinguish yourself and your firm for clarity of communication: as expressed verbally as well as architecturally and structurally.

I was in Barcelona recently and experienced many Gaudi buildings, including La Sagrada Familia. And what struck me the most was the simplicity and intimacy of the experience in spite of the mind-boggling complexity of the undertaking. And you know how many conversations Gaudi had with Owners over the years. And these Owners were not necessarily technical peers.

The ability to make ourselves and our ideas accessible through communication will become a hallmark for successful business development in the architectural and civil engineering community. ‘Listen” to yourself throughout your daily conversations this week. Are you a professional-speak lingo-slinger or an accessible communicator?
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civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

September 29, 2010 at 5:35 pm Leave a comment

Stalking the Recruiter

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

One corporate recruiter on Linkedin had as her status update “ 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.

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civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

May 26, 2010 at 8:32 am 9 comments

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