Posts tagged ‘Civil Engineer’

Salary Compression: Engineers Penalized For Loyalty

Salary compression has several definitions. It can be described as a pay inequity when new employees receive salaries higher than those salaries being paid to the current employees in similar jobs. Whether at an Executive Vice President level or Project Manager role, it can be demotivating to an existing employee. As we all know, salaries are supposed to be confidential, but most people know what their colleagues take home. One candidate who has been with his current firm for 20 years, told me he was rewarded for his loyalty with a much lower salary than a newly hired colleague. “I have warded off recruiter calls, direct invites from competitors at business meetings only to find out that new staff are receiving $10K more a year AND a signing bonus? I refuse to resort to threatening to leave to have the company equalize my pay.”

Pay inequity happens more than employers would like to admit and it is a difficult task to control. Engineering salaries continue to increase specifically for executives and those practice builders who can increase sales. New hires can only be recruited by offering them as much or more than existing senior professionals. Career employees with 20, 30 or more years of dedicated service often suffer the most under salary compression. Are they being penalized monetarily for their loyalty?

This is a nightmare topic for human resources executives. Many experts have written on this topic and even more human resources leaders have urged their CEO’s to address this issue. Here are some confidential comments from HR Execs on this topic:

This phenomena is not unique to our industry. In my 30 + years across several industries, this is a very common dynamic across all professions and in all industries. My message to managers is to never try to go cheap when hiring someone because it will catch up to you quickly and you will not likely have the salary budget later to correct inequities.

We see it as a particular issue in our employees with shorter tenure as recent grads quickly are making more than those who graduated just a couple of years earlier. We programmatically review salaries of our young professionals each year to address compression issues.

All can see how free agency works in sports. Testing the market and going to the highest bidder is not difficult. The same applies to smart and capable professionals. The answer is to deal with the whole employment equation – provide competitive salaries, interesting and challenging work, in a good environment and you will be able to retain talent.”

This is an ongoing issue, particularly within the oil & gas and mining sectors.  We addressed this issue in a few ways; for long term key employees we instituted a deferred compensation program where they would vest over a three year period.  Providing eligibility for stock grants was also put in place however this became an issue as well when hiring from other firms who had robust plans in place and expected to be compensated for what he/she may be leaving on the table.  This is an ongoing challenge.  The other reality is maintaining margins when increasing rates what is the appetite of the client?  The other area where this occurs frequently is through the integration of acquisitions where there is potentially great inequity amongst the same roles and levels. “

Unfortunately we see this all the time.   Unless you are in the very top ranks, employees are needing move to a new company every 3-5 years to ensure their salary keeps pace with the cost of living.  Staying at their current employer may offer a 2-3% merit increase or none at all.   Taking the call from a recruiter and making the move to another firm, often results in a 10% or more increase.  And in the current market, for highly sought after talent, the increase for engineering talent is warranted.   Unfortunately, the loss to the company is far greater than paying a more substantial increase to keep top talent, cost to recruit, onboard, client relations, just to name a few.”

Have you experienced this yourself as an employee or manager? If so, how did you handle it?

Carol new profile

Carol Metzner
President, The MetznerGroup
Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com
View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

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

April 2, 2013 at 9:12 am 11 comments

What Happened To The Civil Engineering Internship?

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

Another casualty of the economic downturn: The Civil Engineering Internship. Recently I received a call from a career development coordinator for the engineering department at a respected University. We discussed the difficulty in finding internship placement for her recent civil engineering graduates. In the past, the department saw each graduate easily find civil engineering apprenticeships. In the past 2 years the University has struggled to find any for their students, let alone jobs post graduation.

When I worked as a corporate recruiter, internship experience was an added value on a resume. Whether it was working with a summer survey crew or assisting in processing plans, the students with experience received favoritism from many hiring managers. These students were perceived as having valuable practical knowledge. One manager said “this student knows what it means to get up and go to work at a civil engineering firm.” He would routinely hire these students over their counterparts who had no relevant apprentice accomplishment.

While some civil engineering firms have been hiring, they are holding on bringing in students. What will the effect be on the civil engineering profession 4- 8- 12 years from now?
civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

July 31, 2012 at 11:35 am 7 comments

Civil Engineering & Local Politics: Should You Run For Office?


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

It is that time of year again and the political landscape is heating up! A Google search shows that past/current Mayors of Omaha, NE,  City of East Orange, NJ and Norton, OH were/are civil engineers. Current Portland, OR Mayoral  candidate,  Steve Sung,  spent 32 years as a civil engineer for the city of Portland. With two candidates for California and Indiana congress, civil engineers are “taking to the streets” to lead policy formation.

Recently I asked civil engineer and past Mayor of Frederick, Maryland, Jeff Holtzinger, for his thoughts on civil engineers and local politics. Here is his comment:

“Civil Engineers are a good fit to solve the problems many cities are facing with aging infrastructure and infrastructure that has been outpaced by growth.  I also think the analytical thinking which is part of an engineering background gives engineers an advantage in problem solving.”

As our cities’ infrastructure decays, having a background in civil engineering seems to bring an added benefit to the political table. It would be interesting to see if cities with civil engineering trained Mayors have better infrastructure at the end of their term than similar cities.

What do you think?

May 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm 5 comments

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 CivilEngineeringCentral.com
  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:

  • TRUST INSTINCTS

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

The Brazilian Infrastructure Boom


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

It was not too long ago that the infrastructure and construction boom in the UAE and the surrounding Gulf Region was all the rage. Take a look at this segment from a Discovery Channel special on Dubai to see what I am talking about:

Over the course of my conversations with civil engineering professionals I  always like to ask what their take is of the marketplace and how things are going in their regions and where they see the next big area of growth (from both a disciplinary and geographical perspective).  Over the course of the past week or so I have spoken with engineering professionals and executives at numerous consulting firms who alerted me to the fact that Brazil is booming and the demand for new and upgraded infrastructure is strong; as a result, they had recently, or were in the process of, setting up shop there.  Now, that same demand can be said for the US as well,  but as you well know, the Federal government all the way down to local municipalities are so strapped for cash that nothing much is being accomplished when it comes to improving our infrastructure.  So while we sit around with our hands tied as our interstate highway system is at or exceeding capacity, while more and more US bridges become structurally deficient, and while the concept of a US high-speed rail system continues to receive much scrutiny and criticism, Brazil has a World Cup to host in 2014 and an Olympic Games to host in 2016; can you imagine the beating that their infrastructure will take (even if it is only for small period of time)?  And with these major events come a true sense of urgency for all things infrastructure …and more importantly, the deep pockets to support them!  Brazil’s National Development Bank (BNDES) will likely lend $29B for infrastructure in 2012, and the Brazilian government is projected to spend $25.3B on their national rail network alone by 2014.

With the onslaught of visitors expected, the infrastructure will need to meet the demands.  Airport expansions are underway often with monorail systems;  construction of hotels, stadiums, commercial and retail centers is booming; rail, urban transit systems and traditional highway and roadway projects are abundant, and there is a healthy investment in water and wastewater infrastructure.    And, according to an October 2011 article on Investopedia.com,

            “The sporting events are just the beginning to Brazil’s infrastructure build-out. Last year, outgoing president Luiz  Inacio Lula da Silva, launched a $900 billion infrastructure plan which focused on improving transportation, electrical supply and the nation’s ports. Similarly, current President Dilma Rousseff, has also pledged to improve infrastructure via massive public works plans.” 

With all of the investment in infrastructure, Brazil will be poised for economic growth for generations to come. 

If it hasn’t already been pounded into your head by now, we are a global economy and as opportunities arise in overseas markets for a struggling civil engineering and construction community here in the US, why not take advantage of these types of opportunities?  What has YOUR company done to get a piece of that pie?  And from a career standpoint – if you are looking for adventure, what a great opportunity!

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

January 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm 5 comments

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 CivilEngineeringCentral.com
  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?

-COMPANY
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?

-SUPERVISOR
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?

-COLLEAGUES
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?

-WORK/PROJECTS
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?

-SALARY/BENEFITS
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

Civil Engineers: It’s Time to Get Organized from A to Z

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., LEED AP, ACC
Civil Engineer, Author, Coach and Speaker
Author of Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career
Anthony is also the author of a FREE e-mail service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner. Click here to read about this service.

I read a book not too long ago entitled Getting Things Done by David Allan.  The book provides strategies and an overall process for getting organized and becoming more productive.  One strategy that I’ve been able to take from this book and not only use myself, but also help engineers to implement through coaching is David’s A to Z filing system.

It is common amongst us civil engineers for papers to pile up on our desk throughout the course of the day.  Papers, plans, invoices, etc can swallow up our office.  Every once in a while it will become so overbearing that we’ll take a whole day and clean out our office which usually consists of throwing most of these items out.  Does this sound familiar?

David’s A to Z system is a great process that will help you to get and STAY organized.  Here is how it works.  Start by designating one large filing drawer or an entire filing cabinet for you’re A to Z system.  Fill the cabinet with 26 hanging folders and label them A through Z.  Next, start making a list of all of the items that you might file away (i.e. example, specifications, estimates, manufacturers information, stormwater guidelines, etc.).  Then create a file folder for each one of these items and be sure to label them clearly.  Then the fun part begins.  Starting with your desk begin to file away items into the proper folders.  You may have to create new folders along the way or slightly modify the system over the first few weeks.  For example, you might have to decide on whether you want to use the word ‘drainage’ or ‘stormwater’ which will determine whether that folder ends up in ‘D’ or ‘S.’

After a few weeks of implementing this system, your office will be clean!  Then you just have to work on keeping it clean, which is pretty easy with this system.  As items come across your desk simply file them into the proper folder or create a new one, when necessary.

You may think that this system is extremely simplistic and actually it is.  I have successfully implemented this system both in my office and in my home and I never have a problem finding something.  I hope this tip is helpful for you can bring more balance to both your career and your life.

Please share any organizational strategies that you are currently using!

August 23, 2011 at 11:08 am 14 comments

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