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2017: Plan Your Work & Work Your Plan


I am not a professional coach in any way shape or form, but I have used one on a few occasions in the past, and in 2016 I went through an invaluable exercise in goal setting, as encouraged and outlined by my coach.  I’ve never been one to set firm goals in any areas of my life; I always knew what I wanted to achieve financially, personally, physically, and spiritually, but I never physically came up with a plan…until last year.  Without getting into too much detail, I developed a list of lifelong goals, annual goals, quarterly goals, monthly goals, and weekly goals, but I did not tuck them away in a journal, or just post the list on the frame of my computer monitor.    I worked them into a spreadsheet, and then tracked on a daily basis those tasks that would lead to my goals, and I did this for an entire calendar year.

What an eye opening process this was.  I’m 42 years old and I’m left shaking my head wondering why I did not take the time to do this earlier on in life!

At the conclusion of 2016, I was able to celebrate my successes and understand what I needed to do to continue forward momentum, and I was able to evaluate my shortcomings and understand what I needed to do differently in order to meet or exceed my goals for 2017.   I give credit to the life/professional coach who taught me this process, but I also learned quite a lot from Jeff Olson’s book, The Slight Edge.  If you have not read it, I highly recommend it.

So as you kick off the new year, I challenge you to not just “plan your work,” but “work your plan!”

Wishing you all the best in 2017!


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

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January 18, 2017 at 11:45 am Leave a comment

What is the ASCE Grand Challenge?


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has initiated a “Grand Challenge.” The Grand Challenge asks for a commitment from civil engineers to be innovative in all phases of project planning, design, and implementation. The Grand Challenge’s goal is to reduce infrastructure lifespan costs by 50% by 2025 and to encourage innovation and design for infrastructure sustainability. The ASCE Grand Challenge asks civil engineers from all backgrounds and at every career stage to “implement performance-based standards, resilience, innovation, and life cycle cost analysis in all projects.”

The ASCE Report Card for America’s Infrastructure estimates the investment needed for our infrastructure by 2020 is $3.6 trillion, of which $1.6 trillion is unfunded. With each passing year our bridges decay, water mains leak and our foundations crumble. Band-aids are applied and wounds stitched until the next disaster. The new administration assures us that America’s infrastructure- airports, transit/rail, etc- will lead the world. Where will that $1.6 trillion come from if we are not selling our infrastructure to other countries?   ASCE summons its members to become leaders in creating solutions to, at the least, reduce the insufficiency.

What do you think? Can this work? Why not at least try?

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Carol Metzner President, The MetznerGroup Managing Partner,

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

December 8, 2016 at 11:32 am Leave a comment

When Life Gives You Lemons…

Refreshing Lemonade

With much success comes a certain amount of failure.  Over the course of my career recruiting civil engineers I have not only had to turn lemons into lemonade myself, but I have been fortunate enough to coach candidates to do the same.  Here are some tips from two decades of recruiting civil engineers on how you can turn lemons into some freshly squeezed, refreshing lemonade:

Bruised LemonLooks Do Matter.  When you are at the grocery store hand selecting the right lemon to buy, you pick it up, give it a little squeeze, look at the color, look for soft spots, bruising, etc, all before you put it in the cart.  The same concept should apply to your resume before sending it out.  I have talked to some great candidates over the years who were having difficulty generating any interest from any firms.  After evaluating their resume, I understood why.  It has been documented that hiring managers view resumes in seven seconds or less; so no matter how great your experience is, if your resume is sloppy, dis-organized, and generally unappealing to the eye, it may end up in the big stack, and not the short one, if you know what I’m saying.  So take your lemon of a resume and organize it well; be consistent with your font and font sizes; use a mix of bold, italics, underline, and bullet points (but don’t go overboard), and turn it into a tall glass of cool lemonade that anyone would enjoy picking up and sipping on.  Taking the time to do so shows you care.

Lemonade Taste TestThe Results of the Taste Test Matter.  Unfortunately, not every interview will lead to an offer; on those occasions where they do not, one should ask for honest feedback from the hiring manager, or if you use the services of a recruiter, from the recruiter.  Informing a candidate they did not make the “cut” is never an enjoyable experience, but I try to provide honest feedback so they can improve their interview skills and learn how they fell short.  It could be simple items like not making eye contact or seeming dis-interested; it could be lack of energy; it could be failing to do the necessary due diligence on the firm prior to the meeting; it could be failing to sit down the night before your meeting to reflect over your career, projects, roles, etc in order to properly prepare yourself to answer all questions that come your way.  In the end, you just did not come out on top in the “taste test.” Whatever the case may be,  reflect on your experience and gather all the information you can to turn that sour tasting cup into some sweet lemonade which will take first prize in the next “taste test.”

Dropping a LemonDon’t Just Drop The Ball (or Lemon).  I recently had a really strong candidate who was a finalist for a position to lead a new office that my client was opening.  Part of the final evaluation between the final two candidates was to have them develop a business plan that would show what the first, third, and fifth years would look like.  One particular candidate spent a good twenty hours doing research and reaching out to peers and business contacts, only to end up taking second place…and it was a strong plan.  Now that’s a lemon.  But lemonade could easily be made over time by proactively reaching out to other like firms who may have an interest in opening an office in that particular market, and actually marketing your plan and ideas to them.  If one takes the time to put a plan like that together, it is safe to say that their level of excitement is pretty high.  The detailed plan, along with the passion that would likely come through in presenting that plan to different organizations is bound to appeal to at least a few organizations.

Garbage can

Toss the Sour Lemons.  Chances are you will encounter some “sour lemons” over the course of your career, and no one likes sour lemonade.  Inept managers, unethical firms, stagnant or toxic work environments, inflexible employers,  brutal commutes, old-fashioned or uncreative cultures…all are viable examples of “sour lemons.” Everyone’s palate is a little different, but don’t be afraid to toss those sour lemons and move on.  As you progress in your career, you will be able to refine what you believe to be the best lemons to generate the perfect glass of lemonade, and hopefully you find that recipe sooner than later. The sooner you create that recipe the longer you will be able to enjoy it.




I love hearing and sharing stories, so if you have a story to share about how you turned a lemon into lemonade, please let us know below in the comment section!

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President :: Precision Executive Search, Inc.
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June 1, 2016 at 8:13 am Leave a comment

I’m No Civil Engineer, But This Has To Apply, Right?

CreativityOn a daily basis I speak to all types of civil engineers.  Those who specialize in rail & transit, highways, traffic & transportation planning, land development, and water/wastewater, just to name a few.  Above all else, what I hear most when I ask them what they love about their profession, is that they love the opportunity to be creative.  The ability to look at a raw piece of land and the different contours and deliver an idea to a client that is new and original;  the ability to be a part of a design team responsible for designing a bridge that isn’t just sensible, but perfectly fits the landscape within which it is being built; engineering and creating the best work zone traffic control plan to keep drivers and construction personnel safe while maintaining a steady flow of traffic.

The level of creativity that an engineer is able to express is often dictated by the company culture within which they work.  Some consulting engineering firms are just flat out “drab,” right?  No innovation, no desire to take some design risks at risk of a losing proposal, designing subdivisions or site plans only so they look like every other one they have ever completed.  Often times this mentality is driven by hard nosed clients with strict budgets and timelines.  But what if your company leadership has been able to develop a level of trust with their client base that would allow for some flexibility in those timelines, resulting in higher levels of creativity?  Sure it may cost the client a little more money, but might the end result be worth it?

Watch this 2 minute video of a group of 5th graders to catch my drift:

Now I’m no civil engineer, and I get that it’s a little more complicated than this video, but doesn’t this simple concept make sense?

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Matt Barcus
President :: Precision Executive Search, Inc.
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April 28, 2016 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

7 Tips To Beat Out The Competition In Hiring Great Candidates


Fantastic job: Excited young businessman giving thumbs up while

Without a doubt, the civil engineering profession is a candidate driven market.  That is, civil engineers are in high demand in most parts of the country and when they conduct a job search they are receiving multiple offers.  Great news for the candidate as that puts them in a position of power; not so great news for the companies looking to hire them.  How many times have you interviewed THE PERFECT candidate, only to have them accept an offer from your most fierce competitor down the street?  If this has happened to you more than once, it is time to re-evaluate your interview and offer process so that your percentage rate of hiring top notch employees trends upward.

Here are 7 tips that will not break your budget or flip your schedule upside down that can help improve your chances of welcoming that next great civil engineer or civil engineering executive:

  1.  Move swiftly.   There is an old saying in the recruiting world, “great candidates have a short shelf life.”   Great candidates are decision makers, they are movers and shakers, and they do not have time to schedule interviews a couple weeks apart, only to wait another couple of weeks before an offer is made.  They know what they want and they go after it.  If you show signs of indecision or hesitancy in your process, even if it is of no fault of the candidate (i.e. sketchy work history, good not great references, etc.), they very well may see that as a sign of weakness, and as my kids often jest, “ain’t nobody got time for that!”
  2. Don’t be afraid of technology.  If you are not able to schedule a face-to-face interview in a timely manner, schedule a SKYPE call to get the ball rolling or to keep positive momentum during an interview process.  Text message quick updates, feedback, questions, or availability – these messages pop up on the face of everyone’s smart phone and allows for a quick response during busy days, but can keep things moving forward.
  3. Listen, Listen, Listen.  So many times hiring managers discuss all the great benefits of working for their company, but they fail to listen and understand the motivations of the candidate.  So ask a lot of questions of the candidates first, listen, and then respond accordingly.  What you think may be the most important attributes of your firm may not be the most important characteristics to the candidate.  Ask, listen, and then respond.  If you make your case before listening and understanding the candidate’s motivation they very well may be walking out the door for the last time.
  4. Be a Project Manager of the interview process.  If you are in a position of authority where you are responsible for hiring, you have likely mastered the art of project management.  When you are assigned the management of a multi-million dollar infrastructure project you wouldn’t wing it, would you?  Don’t wing the interview process either.  Take the time to absorb the candidate’s resume, find out what you can about them online. Develop a plan/process with those who will be involved in the interview process with decision time lines, technical skills to look for, personality traits to look for, specific questions to ask, and make sure everyone involved in the process knows specifically the role that the candidate is being interviewed so that a meaningful conversation can be had.
  5. Meet in a social setting.  Obviously it is important to invite the candidate into the office so they can experience the office environment and witness the hustle and bustle and observe the setting of what potentially could become their second home.  But beyond that office interview, meet them outside the office.  A breakfast or lunch meeting is okay, but chances are they may be a little preoccupied with the work that is waiting for them when the arrive back to the office, or they may fear their boss may become suspicious of them should they arrive late for work or take an extended lunch.  I would suggest grabbing a couple of co-workers and inviting them out for happy-hour after the work day.  This way they are not as preoccupied and they can let their guard down, and the same can be said for you.  This opportunity will allow for you to get to know the person, not just the engineer. You will also begin to witness  if a natural camaraderie is easily developed.
  6. Send a thank you email.  Wait…what?  That’s right.  We all know it is standard operating procedure for a candidate to send a thank you letter or email to the hiring manager following an interview.  But try sending a thank you letter to the candidate.  I recently had a client send an email to a candidate in the 48 hours following his interview letting him know of the value that they saw in him and that he could bring to the organization, while at same time reiterating some of the important details of their previous conversation.  This simple gesture, an email that may have taken 10 minutes at the most to type, made a very positive impact on the candidate and ultimately “sealed the deal” as he was weighing a couple of different offers.
  7. Ditch the canned offer letter.  We are excited to offer you the role of Vice President, here is your salary…please read the employee manual…we need proof of your citizenship…you are required to take a drug test…Oh, and by the way, our state is an “at-will” state so we can fire you at any time.  Sound familiar? “Woopty Frickin’ Doo,” right? It doesn’t make you feel that special, does it? For many companies, this type of terminology in an offer letter is pretty standard.  Not that these elements should not be included in the offer letter, but jazz it up, man!  Recap the reasons WHY you are excited to have them join your firm and the impact that they will make on your company.  Recap your interview conversations and let them know why joining your firm will further enhance their career.  Drop in a couple of exciting pieces of company news that may appeal to them.  And reflect on a statement or conversation that occurred over the course of the interview that stood out.  By adding some strategic personal elements to the offer letter shows that you took the time to really understand their motives and ambitions.  A simple gesture like this may be the deciding factor between two or three equally exciting offers that they are considering.

The competition for great civil engineering candidates is at an all time high.  By adopting these simple strategies into your hiring process you will make great strides in improving your offer-to-acceptance rates.



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Matt Barcus
President :: Precision Executive Search, Inc.
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March 21, 2016 at 10:04 am Leave a comment

Control Your Career, Don’t Let Your Career Control You

Frustrated with the fact that one of your peers got the promotion that you felt you deserved?

What about the guy two offices down from you who was recently hired to manage your team when you felt you were the best man for the job?

Would you rather JUMP out of bed in the morning excited for work rather than hitting snooze three times and gingerly rolling out from under the covers 27 minutes later?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then this message is for you.  It is time for you to take control of your career!

Before I go any further, I am requesting your help:


Taking control of your civil engineering careerTaking control of one’s career is not a “one-and-done” event where you make some minor tweaks and see what happens; taking control of your career is a daily, ongoing, lifelong process.  Taking control, and then maintaining that control so that your career is forever on the upward curve is about making simple choices, on a consistent basis.  It is the compounding effect over time of making those simple, consistent choices, that will allow you take control of your career and advance to professional levels that you have thought previously unattainable.  BEWARE:  as easy as it is to make those choices, it is just as easy NOT to make them, and THAT is why so many fail to “grasp the bull by the horns” when it comes to their career.  If this concept sounds vaguely familiar to you, it comes from the Jeff Olson titled book, The Slight Edge.  If you are looking for a REALLY GOOD and IMPACTFUL read, I would highly recommend it.

In any event, it is that “compounding interest,” if you will, of the regular choices you make in your career that will lead to great things.  We live in a “now” world, where everyone expects immediate results NOW!  If this your mentality, then you are chasing your tail.  But if you are patient and understand the concept of “compound interest” where small actions today with seemingly minuscule  impact, compounded over time (done on a regular basis), you will find a path to growth filled with major accomplishments throughout the lifetime of your career.

Specific to your career as a civil engineer, here are some suggestions based upon my 19 years of experience in recruiting civil engineers:

**Keep a running list of clients and potential clients and dedicate time each day or week to reaching out to them.  Make notes of the conversations that are had so that you can refer back to them in future conversations or attempts to call.  Don’t just note the outcome of the call, but note any personal information that is divulged regarding family, hobbies, favorite sports teams, etc.


**Actively participate, on a regular basis, in the different industry associations that you are a part of.  It is a great way to meet new clients, gather valuable information that you can bring to your clients or potential clients in your business development activities, and it is a great way to shed light upon yourself as a professional, or the firm that you are working for.


**A good majority of hiring activities are a result of internal referrals.  That said, keep some sort of database of professionals that you have either met or witnessed in action that have made a positive impression.  These should be folks that you specifically target as you build your team.


**Provide and schedule regular doses of self improvement specific to your career.  Read regularly.  Attend seminars or webinars that will enhance your career.  Make presentations, whether at association meetings, client interviews, or internal “brown bag lunches.”  And if you are scared of public speaking go sign up for your local Toastmasters club (and ask your employer to pay for it – the worst they can say is “no” ).


**Identify a mentor.  Depending upon the career track that you are looking to take, find that one individual, either within your firm or elsewhere, that has experienced tremendous success that you would like to emulate, then sit back and learn.  Meet with them once a month to ask questions and share stories that will help facilitate career growth.


**There is an old saying, “good things come to those who wait, but only those things left behind by those who hustle.”  Hustle every day.  Ask questions. Document your success where you can tell your story to your current employer or potential employer and don’t be afraid to ask for more responsibility if you are ready.


**Don’t be afraid to fail.  Express your ideas and let your creativity flow freely.  This has a lot to do with the corporate culture you are in, as some companies are set in their ways and operate with an “if it ain’t broke don’t try and fix it” mentality.  That is, they do what has worked in the past and create a culture of idea suppression.  If it fits your style, find an organization that truly promotes an entrepreneurial culture where ideas are shared and cultivated and respected.  After all, part of the reason you became an engineer was because it allows you to be creative and solve problems in new and different ways.  They may not always work out, but if you are not being challenged or your creativity is being stifled by the company leadership or culture it may be time for a change.

These are some of my ideas.  The reality is though, I am on the outside looking in as I am not a civil engineer myself.  So here is where I am looking for a little bit of your help:


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Matt Barcus
President :: Precision Executive Search, Inc.
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March 14, 2016 at 8:50 am 1 comment

Missed Career Opportunities & Diminishing ROC

Timing the stock market is impossible…no matter what anyone tells you, it just can’t be done on a sustainable basis.  The same can be said when it comes to career opportunities.  Take a look at this chart:

Missed opportunities

There are a number of different directions I could go comparing your career to the stock market, but my message today is that if you try to perfectly time your career moves you will spend the rest of your career with the same organization.  If you miss out on opportunities that are presented to you for no other reason then “the timing is not right,” then you are diminishing your ROC (Return on Career).    Diminishing returns on career – here is what I am talking about:

  • Exposure to salary compression
  • No exposure to new people, new clients, new cultures, or new types of projects
  • No breaking out of your comfort zone
  • Missed growth opportunities passing you by
  • Creative and lucrative retirement savings programs

I’m not suggesting making a move every couple of years, because I still believe the “job hopping” mentality will catch up to you, at least in the civil engineering consulting world.  But if an opportunity presents itself, and I don’t mean one that is just  doing the same thing with a different company for a little bit more money, those are a dime-a-dozen, but something different and challenging that can take your career to new levels; don’t you owe it to yourself to at least explore the opportunity?  It does not have to be on company time, as most executives and hiring managers we work with are willing to meet first thing in the morning for breakfast, out for drinks or dinner after regular business hours, or even on the weekends.

Quite often when I approach candidates with career opportunities with clients that I am extremely passionate about I am told that “the timing is not right.” I get it, on the surface the timing is rarely right because:

  • You are in the middle of a project – but aren’t you always going to be in the middle of some sort of project or task?
  • You would feel guilty leaving your boss with challenging task of having to replace you or pick up your work that you are leaving behind – don’t you think if your boss was presented with a great opportunity he/she would consider it?
  • You feel as though you deliver great value to your employer and you would feel bad about leaving them in a bind – other valuable employees have moved on before you, yet the company managed to survive, and often thrive!
  • You are waiting on a bonus – there is a strong likelihood that that bonus can be equalized with a signing bonus from your new employer.

It is a great time to be a civil engineer as there are tremendous opportunities available with firms that are creating new positions due to growth, expanding into new services lines, and opening up new offices in new geographies, all of which present enormous upside for experienced professional.  Guess what? The folks that take on those new and exciting opportunities are in turn creating some quality opportunities within the firms they left.  So take a step back and reflect upon all you have accomplished, what your current career situation looks like, and what the future holds for you with your current firm.

Take a good, hard, honest look.

If you do not see that defined path for advancement, or if you find that you are too “comfortable” or “content” in your current role and see that that level of contentment is leading to complacency, then shed the “not the right time” excuse and take some time to explore what other opportunities may be out there.

Wayne Gretzky

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Matt Barcus
President :: Precision Executive Search, Inc.
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February 29, 2016 at 11:30 am Leave a comment

Do Formal Mentoring Programs Work?

Recently I had a candidate interview with a mid-sized consulting civil engineering firm.  The company was very well established with strong leadership and a great reputation within their community.  The interview went well and both parties enjoyed spending the day together getting to know one another, both on a personal and professional level.  Following the interview, in debriefing the candidate, she had one major area of concern about the company.  You see, my candidate is an ambitious young professional with about 10 years of experience.  She is confident in her abilities and has had some really good experience thus far in her career.  One of the reasons she was considering a new opportunity was because her existing employer did not have a mentorship program where she could further refine her career as a professional civil engineer. She was looking for a firm where she could not only be challenged and where a visible path for upward career mobility was available, but where she could be provided a mentor to guide her in areas of technical and managerial leadership in order to develop a well rounded and productive career, one day leading to a principal or executive level role.  This conversation led to a couple of interesting discussions not only with my candidate, but with my client as well.  Initially I thought to myself, “why wouldn’t a company have a formal mentorship program in place?”  It seems like a no brainer, right?  But in the words of Lee Corso:

For any of you ESPN College Game Day fans :)

For you ESPN College Game Day fans 🙂

Though my client does not have a formal program, they do have  a number of mentor-protege situations within the organization that occurred naturally, and they feel that is the best approach for their culture.

There are a number of advantages to formal mentoring programs if they are carried out properly:

  • Established goals with measurable outcomes
  • Authored plans / curriculums
  • Sense of accomplishment for both mentor and mentee
  • Value added benefit to employees
  • Building of strong relationships between employees and company principals which may lead to a stronger sense of loyalty
  • Direct organizational benefits in the areas of company growth, client satisfaction, employee engagement and pride

Without a doubt, those are some major advantages that can separate your civil engineering firm from the pack and help distinguish itself from the competition.  There are however some potential downsides to a formal mentoring program worth considering:

  • You MUST have a dedicated Principal who is willing to develop or research, administer, and monitor the program on a consistent basis
  • Forcing a mentor / metee relationship between two people can be troublesome, as opposed to letting a natural relationship flourish over time
  • A forced mentor / mentee relationship that goes awry leads to fences that need mending, which takes time and effort in-and-of-itself

At the end of the day, each organization has to look itself in the mirror and determine whether or not a formal mentoring program fits their culture, and if so, do they have the resources of time, effort, and money to deliver an effective program where all parties can reap the benefits?

What has YOUR experience been with a formal or informal mentorship program within your civil engineering organization?

About the Author:

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Matt Barcus
President :: Precision Executive Search, Inc.
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February 22, 2016 at 10:37 am Leave a comment

Work – Life Balance: A Civil Engineer Putting Family First

work life balance banner


Correct me if I am wrong, but here are some existing truths in the world of civil engineering:

  • The economy continues to improve
  • The civil engineering profession is booming
  • Consulting engineering firms seem to be as busy as they have ever been
  • The demand from clients is high
  • The fight for talent is intense and ongoing

Faith, work, spouse, children, volunteerism, health and fitness, personal development, friends, hobbies, plain ol’ down time.  How do YOU prioritize these items? Is it possible to find balance? In this day and age, is it possible to put any of these items ahead of your responsibility of working as a civil engineer knowing the truths listed above?

Many civil engineers I speak with are working 50-60 hour weeks on a regular basis, not to mention their time outside of the office where they are thinking about work!  Last month I had a candidate who took a stand and made the conscious decision to re-prioritize his work/life balance, at the minor sacrifice of his paycheck; for the sake of anonymity I will Work-Life-Balance-Sign-post-by-Stuart-Milesrefer to this candidate as “Steve.”   As a Sr. Project Manager for a busy highway engineering consulting firm, Steve had a strong passion for his career and his profession. He had a very successful 16 year career, had worked his way up, and was at the point where he had not only mastered many areas of his profession from a technical standpoint, but he had also developed great people and inter-personal / inter-relational skills which allowed him the added opportunity to be actively involved in marketing and business development efforts and a lot of client-facing time.  His employer at the time valued those skills, and saw Steve as an integral contributor to the growth of the local office he was working in.  Beyond his typical project management duties, Steve was also attending networking events, planning meetings, board meetings, public outreach meetings,  and other business related activities around regular business hours, which was pretty typical for someone in his role.  As much as he enjoyed what he was doing, he had to put the breaks on.

Steve is a family man, and he made the conscious decision that he needed to spend more time with his family.  His children were growing up quickly right before his eyes, but they were still young enough where he could be a major influence in their lives and he did not want to miss out on that opportunity.  Steve came to us with his story and asked if we could help.  He was not looking to work with any less vigor or passion, but he wanted an opportunity where he could be more focused internally as a “hands on” project manager.  Steve wanted a role with a company where they valued his experience and could utilize his talents functioning as a technical expert providing QA/QC on projects, and where he could mentor and develop younger engineers into strong and successful project managers themselves.  He would still carry the many stresses that come with being a civil engineering consultant, and he was fine with that, but by uncovering an opportunity that was more internally focused, which diminished many of the after hour business activities, his life would be more balanced and he could dedicate more time to his family.  We were excited to present an opportunity to Steve that would allow for the shift in his career.  He took about a nine percent cut in base pay, but with bonus he will likely meet or exceed what he was previously making.

With this change, Steve’s life is more in balance and his priorities straight.  As a result, Steve is happier, and because he is able to enjoy more time with his family and because he relieved himself of some of his previous duties, he is more productive than ever!

Everyone’s motivation and priorities in life are different, absolutely.  But if you were feeling the way Steve was, would you be bold enough to consider making the type of move where you might take a cut in pay, but where the percentage increase in your happiness and well being superseded the percentage loss in pay?


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

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February 15, 2016 at 9:53 am 1 comment

Are You The Smartest Civil Engineer In The Room?

Light Bulb

Are you the smartest civil engineer in the room?  If you answered “yes,” might it be time for you to explore a new opportunity?

I am not sure where the quote originated from, but it has often been said:

Smartest Person in the room

Last year I published a blog about about firms who are stuck in their old ways, and no matter how successful those “ways” worked for them in the past, should civil engineering firms not have the ability to evolve as a company, they will be left in dust.  This same concept certainly applies to the individual civil engineer as well.

No one is perfect, I suspect we can agree on that.  There is always room for improvement, and unless you surround yourself with people who are more talented than you, if not overall, at least in specific areas, your career will remain static.  Often times I hear from civil engineers that they have “topped out” or hit the proverbial “glass ceiling.”  Because of certain situations they very well may have advanced as far as they can with their current organization, but figuratively speaking that may also be their way of feeling as they are the smartest person in the room.  Surrounding yourself with those whose intelligence surpasses your own can allow for the following:

  • Learning of new engineering concepts
  • Learning of new management, financial, and business operational techniques
  • Learning of how technology is changing the way business is done
  • Exposure to new opportunities and activities outside of the workplace
  • Challenging of authority and learning as a result
  • The ability to compete more vigorously


Once you surround yourself with more talented people, you will witness the domino effect take place, as more doors will open and more opportunities will present themselves, which can lead to professional and personal development.

So every once in a while, be sure to take a step back and observe your surroundings…are you the smartest person in the room?

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

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February 8, 2016 at 9:46 am 2 comments

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