Posts tagged ‘Career Path’

Career Goals: Don’t Sell Yourself Short!

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Maser Consulting
Associate Civil Engineer and Professional Career & Leadership Development Coach
Click to Connect With Anthony on Linkedin and Facebook
Anthony is the author of a soon to be launched FREE service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner.  Click here to read about this service.

I have said in the past that it is extremely important to have career goals, which act as a destination for where you are taking your career.  It is important when setting your goals, to take the time to figure out exactly what you want, nothing more, and nothing less.

Clearly defining your goal is extremely important.  Use an analogy of driving to a destination.  Is it easier to get somewhere if you only know the city or state or if you know the exact street address?  Your goals act as that street address that constantly tells you where you are going.

In setting these clearly defined goals, you really need to figure out what you want.  Many people will water down their goals during this process because they believe they are too lofty.  By doing this, you are giving up on your goal before you even attempt to achieve it.  Why?  You have the ability to achieve absolutely anything you want to in your career.  When you are setting your goals, just think about your current situation as scenario “A” and the goal you are seeking as scenario “B” AND DO NOT TRY TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET FROM A TO B AT THIS POINT.  When people think about the route they will have to take, that is when they often start the “watering-down” process.  You can worry about action plans and steps you may take later, but when you are setting your goals focus on your desires, regardless of how unattainable you may think they are.

For example, let’s say you have a clearly defined goal of being promoted to Project Manager in the next 18 months.  Attached to this goal is a rule that you set for yourself to work no more than 45 hours per week so that you can maintain your work-family balance.  In reviewing that goal, you might say to yourself, there is no way I can get that promotion if I only work 45 hours per week, so you change it to 50.  You have now altered your true goal and compromised your values by giving up your work-family balance.  This decision was based on a LIMITING BELIEF.

In coaching, we help people with limited beliefs on a regular basis.  A limiting belief is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a belief that you hold, that limits you in some way, shape or form.  Limiting beliefs typically stem from your past.  They may have developed from interaction with someone specific or a certain situation that deeply influenced you.  In the above example, the limiting belief is that you cannot become a project manager by working 45 hours per week.  Why not?  Couldn’t you work more efficiently and delegate more?  Limiting beliefs often prevent us from not only achieving our goals, but from setting true goals.  When you run into a limiting belief, the best way to beat it is to question it!

Where does that belief come from?

How can I let go of that belief?

Now that you are aware of limiting beliefs start to identify, question and overcome yours today.  Doing this will help you tremendously in achieving your lofty career goals!

What limiting beliefs are currently holding you back from achieving your career goals as a civil engineering professional?

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February 16, 2010 at 8:20 pm Leave a comment

Questions Of The Month – Final Tallies Revealed

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC, home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com

Each month at CivilEngineeringCentral.com we have a Question of the Month.  This question is posted on our home page and is included in each issue of  “The LinkedIngineer” as well as our monthly e-newsletter which is sent out to nearly 10,000 members of the civil engineering community (If you would like to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter please click HERE…sorry, couldn’t pass up that free plug).   It’s been a while since we have posted the results, so in light of that (plus the fact that I have struggled to come up with anything else),  check out the results below.   If you see any surprising results in there or feel the urge to comment about any of the topics please feel free to do so.

MAY 2009

DID YOU SEE AN INCREASE IN PROJECTS IN YOUR COMPANY DURING THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2009?

83.1%     No
16.9%     Yes

Just yesterday I was speaking with  a colleague of mine who commented on a report he had just watched on MSNBC. They were discussing the question “where did all the stimulus go?”   Most of it of course is going to construction; all those projects that we have come to love and know as…shovel ready. What seemed like a lot of money initially, when spread out over the entire United States, seems to be spread pretty thin.

APRIL 2009

HAS YOUR FIRM CUT IT’S BENEFITS PACKAGE AS A RESULT OF THE CURRENT ECONOMIC CLIMATE?

67.6%     Yes
32.4%     No

It’s expensive out there folks.  Our health insurance has gone up 50% over the past four or five years…everyone is feeling the pinch here.

MARCH 2009

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT SEARCHING FOR A JOB?

42.9%     Networking
25.0%     Not Knowing Where To Start
17.9%     Updating My Resume
14.3%     Nailing The Interview

The way I see it, assuming you are a talented engineer, if you are able to effectively network throughout the course of your career, that, in-and-of-itself, takes care of the the remaining three obstacles.  You see, if you are a great networker, you easily know where to start, and because you have networked so well and know so many people very well, there is no need to update your resume because they have seen you in action and your stellar reputation precedes you.  Your noticeable performance within your industry over the course of your career has coincidentally been an ongoing interview.  All that being said, a hand shake over a cocktail, beer, sparkling water or other beverage of your choice should be all that is needed to nail down your next job.  A little tongue in cheek maybe, but there is some validity to my theory.

FEBRUARY 2009

HOW OFTEN DO YOU VOLUNTEER IN YOUR COMMUNITY?

50.0%     8 or more times per year
23.1%      Not at all
15.4%     1-3 times per year
11.5%     4-7 times per year

One half of our respondents give back to the community 8 or more time per year…that is AWESOME!

JANUARY 2009

HAVE YOU EVER MISLED OR EMBELLISHED EXPERIENCES ON YOUR RESUME?

77.8%     No
22.2%     Yes

One should always be truthful on their resume, that goes without saying.  But sometimes resumes can be misleading as different titles mean different things to different companies and different people.

DECEMBER 2008

WHAT CONCEPT WILL MAKE THE GREATEST IMPACT ON SOLVING OUR ENERGY CRISIS?

40.0%     Nuclear Energy
23.3%     Wind Energy
20.0%     Solar Energy
13.3%     Bio-Fuels
3.3%       U.S. Oil Digging
0.0%      Coal

I think our economy will need to stabilize and re-establish itself for a while before we begin to see any of these technologies really begin to flourish.

NOVEMBER 2008

DOES YOUR MANAGER ALLOW FOR YOU TO WORK A  4/40 OR 9/80 WORK WEEK?

65.5%     No
34.5%     Yes

I think the civil engineering industry,  prior to “The Great Recession,”  had actually come accustomed to the 6/60 work week – that is Monday-Saturday/60 hours week!

OCTOBER 2008

WHICH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE WILL YOU VOTE FOR ON NOVEMBER 4th?

49.4%     Barack O’Bama
42.9%     John McCain
6.0%       Undecided
1.2%        Other
0.6%       Ralph Nader

Not bad, not bad.  The final results in total votes for the Presidential election in November was Obama 53% / McCain 46%. Our participants were nearly dead on here…sorry I can’t say the same for the Question of the Month which we ran in August 2008; see below!

SEPTEMBER 2008

WITH HIGH GAS PRICES, HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR COMMUTING HABITS BY OPTING FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION?

73.5%     No
26.5%     Yes

This poll was posted at the time when gas prices were averaging $3.74/gallon.  We have come a long way over the years in mass transit, but you know what?  People love their cars and it would take a lot more  than higher gas prices for them to drop their keys and take to mass transit.

AUGUST 2008

WHEN DO YOU BELIEVE THE LAND DEVELOPMENT MARKET WILL BEGIN TO PICK UP?

30.6%     2nd Quarter of 2009
26.5%     2010 or Beyond
14.3%     3rd Quarter 2009
12.2%     4th Quarter 2008
10.2%     4th Quarter 2009
6.1%        1st Quarter 2009

As of today, just about 50% of our survey responders are wrong and there are another 26.5% who will likely end up on the wrong side of the fence as well by the end of this year.  Seems to be an ol’ case of “if I only knew then what I know now.”

I would like to thank you all for answering our Questions of the Month and look forward to your continued participation.

Got Comments? Got Questions? Got Insight? Got Speculation?  Got Inside Information?  Let us know, we would love to hear from you on any of the subjects of our recent polls.


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June 4, 2009 at 12:09 pm 1 comment

Lessons Learned From An Economy Turned

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC, home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com

So one of the headlines from CNN.com on Wednesday read “Economists: Recession To End In 2009.”  Reading this article got me to thinking that, now that we are beginning to see a little light at the end of the tunnel, what are some of the lessons that the civil engineering community has learned at the hands of this recession?  

If you jump on the band wagon, be sure you pack a lot of padding for when the wheels fall off.

How GREAT was the land development boom in places like Las Vegas, Phoenix, and the greater Washington, DC area (just to name a few)?  Engineering firms were actually turning away work from developers (or, working 90 hour work weeks because they couldn’t say “no.”); engineers of all levels were relocating to these “hot spots”; Professional Engineers were starting their own firms because they saw the dollar $ign$ that were there to be made;  every engineer I spoke with was chomping at the bit to work for a home builder or developer, and vying for those positions was like trying to get into Walmart as the doors open on Black Friday.  You don’t have to look very far to see what has happened in the wake of this recession.  Home builders and developers are selling off land (if they can) and running on skeleton crews at best.  As a result, many of the civil engineers who were living the high life during these boom years have since been acquainted with acronym “RIF.”   Knowing where the market was in those regions during the real estate boom, check out some of the headlines from the Las Vegas Review Journal for 2009:  http://www.lvrj.com/hottopics/housing.html.  Did you know that average price for a single family home in Phoenix for 2009 is $103,953.00 vs. $283,472.00 in 2008 (Source:  Realty Times – Phoenix, AZ).  To see the effect in the outlying suburbs of Washington, DC , take a look at the Housing Market Outlook For The Washington, DC Region as prepared by Robert Charles Lesser & Company.  My hope is that everyone who reaped the rewards of these robust land development markets was able to tuck away some of those lucrative bonuses and put them to use to help cushion their fall.  

Diversify. Diversify. Diversify.

If you have stuck around long enough to read through the paragraph above, you know where I’m about to go here.  How many firms do you know put all of their eggs in the land development basket?  I guess you can’t blame them, right? That’s where all the business was and it did not take long to be completely bogged down with lucrative land development work.  To come up for air and even consider anything else was nearly impossible.  With all that money floating around, that would have been the best time to hire some key players in water/wastewater, municipal infrastructure, transportation and other areas of specialization in order to begin establishing a presence outside of the land development arena.  All good things come to an end, so when they did, by diversifying you would have had built established relationships and developed a nice track record within the municipal sector that would have helped ease the pain of the real estate bust.  Unfortunately, many firms failed to diversify and by the time they realized they needed to pursue work in other areas, it was too late…in fact, pursuing work with public and governmental agencies these days is like trying to get into Walmart as the doors open on Black Friday (yup, I used that analogy again).  Everyone is lined up looking for a piece of the action, but only a few will be fortunate enough to walk away with that nice plasma television.

Beware of  “Best Firms”.  Are they only the “Best Firms” during the best of times?

Don’t get me wrong, there are many firms out there that deserve all the awards they receive for ethics, management style, benefits, employee training, employee incentive programs, employee retention, state-of-the-art technology, exciting projects, work environment, etc.  In fact, there are many firms that would likely win those types of awards but just choose not to submit themselves for consideration.  The best firms to work for, as I see it, are the ones that have strong business plans with strong leadership and that have had a fully executable game plan in place for when the market turned as it did.  They produced high quality work at a reasonable price with a diverse client base.  They stocked away some cash and had good working relationships with their bankers.  They are coming out of this downturn with minimal damage. They way I see it, the firms that rise out of this downturn and recession with the least amount of collateral damage to its employees, they are the “Best Firms” to work for.  

The best marketing is producing a quality product.  True, but lose the crutch.

It has always been said that the best form of marketing is developing a quality product, which in turn will produce great returns as a result of repeat business.  How true this is, not only for civil engineering, but for many industries. But avoid using this as a crutch.  What happens when your client’s well runs dry?  Be prepared to put on your sales and marketing cap and start pounding the pavement.  To better prepare yourself, make sure you take some classes and seminars on this topic of marketing and business development in the civil engineering industry; or even better, find a mentor within your company.  And then once you learn some of the strategies, don’t let them become dust collectors – make sure you put them to practice.  Keep in mind, just because the repeat business keeps repeating itself does not mean you should not be “out there” in the mean time marketing your services to other prospective clients.  This way, when your backlog runs low you will have a head start on the process, and your cold calls will now be warm calls.

Keep your resume polished up as often as your shoes.

Treat your resume as you would your finest pair of shoes.  Imagine a pair of dress shoes that have not been polished up in a long time.  They look fine when you finally get them done, but if you had kept them shined and polished regularly throughout the years they would remain in top notch condition.  Top notch condition is the way you should also keep your resume.  Every time you get a promotion or receive an award, update your resume.  Everytime you speak at a conference or write a paper, update your resume.  Everytime you complete a project, update your resume.  This way, should you roll into work one day after 20 years of loyal service only to be greeted with a cup of coffee and a pink slip, you will not be scrambling.  

There are certainly many other lessons to be learned as we scratch and claw our way back into multi-year backlogs, and these are just a few.  What other lessons have you learned that you can share with our readers?


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May 27, 2009 at 5:28 pm 10 comments

Strive to be a “Seller – Doer”

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner, www.CivilEngineeringCentral.com

As a recruiter I hear it all the time from my clients, “We need a seller-doer, we need a seller-doer.”  Not only is it a tight market for technically strong and competent civil engineers, it is even more difficult to find my other favorite classification of engineer, “The Rain Maker.”  So now they ask us to uncover the perfect combination, not only someone who can make the rain, but someone who can analyze it, purify it, bottle it and get it out to the customer….ahhhhhh, yes, the SELLER-DOER!

Well, in order to make my job easier a few years down the road, I hope to reach as many civil engineering students and new graduates as possible with my thoughts here.  It is imperative that you learn and understand the pure engineering and the technical side of your profession – whether you are focusing on designing tunnels for transit authorities, laying out 7000 acre master planned communities, or preparing PS&E documents for a half-a-billion dollar toll road.  Learn the technology, learn the concepts, study up on the corresponding codes and ordinances and prepare yourself to sit for that PE Exam ASAP.  BUT, do not fall in the trap that many young engineers so often do by getting stuck behind the computer in their 8 x 8 cubical all day; get out!  Be proactive in learning the client and business and marketing side of things at an early stage in your career.  You accomplish this by requesting of your manager to tag along on some client meetings from time-to-time; by requesting to attend community planning meetings; by sitting in on presentations; by contributing to the preparation of proposals; by attending the occassional industry conference; by making presentations or writing papers for conferences; by attending specific marketing and business development workshops; the list goes on-and-on, but you catch my drift.  Of course you need to determine the timing of all of this as you have deadlines to meet and technical concepts to learn and understand, just don’t get bogged down in only the nuts-and-bolts for your first seven or eight years.

My point is, don’t sit on the sidelines and wait for those opportunities to come to you, go find them, and find them early on in your career.  This way, by the time you’ve got ten years under your belt, you will be able to pass out business cards with your name and the title of “Seller-Doer.”  Once you’ve received “Seller-Doer” status, please give me a call, I’ve got an opportunity for you…or two…or three.   Next stop – “Rain Maker.”

February 14, 2008 at 2:36 am 1 comment


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