Posts tagged ‘Recruiting’

What To Expect As A Client From Your Recruiter


An experienced search consultant can be many things to a client they are working with above and beyond just recruiting: adviser, provider of market intelligence, resume screener, reference checker, recruiting coordinator, and expert negotiator just to name a few .  One thing you should always expect from your search consultant as a client is honesty.  Here is how your expectations of honesty should play out when working with a recruiter:

The Job Order.  You should always find a recruiter who is an industry expert.  Often times recruiters take any positions that arrive on their desk and have a hard time saying no.  A good recruiter should be honest and should be able to say “no” when an opportunity is presented to them that falls out of their wheel house.  I appreciate all the calls I get from existing and new clients requesting my services, but from time-to-time I must be honest and tell them they would be better off selecting another recruiter who has the true expertise they are looking for.  For instance, I specialize in recruiting civil engineering and land surveying professionals mainly in the areas of land development, transportation/highway engineering, bridge engineering, water & wastewater engineering, and water resources.  There are a number of specialties that are on the fringes, that may seem logical areas for our continuum of expertise, but are not.  These areas might include construction management, structural building engineering, or environmental (site remediation) engineering.

The Time Frame. Often times I have new clients that approach me with exciting new searches, and they ask me how long they think it will be before I can deliver some solid candidates.  If a recruiter can make you a promise like that I would be skeptical at best.  The honest truth is we do not know.  In our business timing is everything, so it is about catching the right candidate on the right day with the right opportunity.  Now, from time-to-time we may have readily available candidates that we are actively working with they might fit, but normally speaking, those situations are few-and-far between. Searches are customized and tailor made to uncover candidates with specific skill sets that meet your requirements.

The Word on the Street.  Honesty can sometimes be a hard pill to swallow, but a good recruiter will be your firm’s eyes and ears, and an honest recruiter should be able to have a professional conversation with you when your firm’s reputation is not so great.  When recruiting for a client, if I continually hear the same objections from perspective candidates specific to my client’s reputation, I feel as though I have an obligation to report that to my client.  This market intelligence will allow the client to truly evaluate their public perception and make changes, or it will lead to a conversation that will allow me to overcome those potential objections.  For instance, I have a client who from time-to-time is considered a “sweat shop.”  I approached my client with this information, and in fact they produced a report for me showing that their average hours hovered around 45-46 hours/week.  Hardly a “sweat shop” in the consulting civil engineering world.  This honest conversation provided me with the needed ammunition any time the topic surfaced and to have some honest conversations with my candidates as well.

Salary Expectations.  Every so often I will have a conversation with a new client revolving around salary for the proposed position they are looking to fill.  Because we are experts recruiting civil engineers, we talk to civil engineers all day long and have our “finger on the pulse” as to the range of salaries that are being offered to the different experience levels and specialties underneath the civil engineering umbrella.  If our client is being tight on the purse strings, we will let them know, and nine times out of ten they are appreciative of that honesty.  They often have to go by different salary surveys they find on line or through national organizations, but salaries and compensation plans tend to be very parochial in the civil engineering community.  Sub-market salaries can absolutely kill any chance of finding that civil engineering rock star that is so desired, so don’t be afraid to ask your search consultant his or her opinion of the salary range you have earmarked for the open requisition.

Interview Feedback.  No one enjoys being the bearer of bad news, hence the old saying “don’t murder the messenger.”   Your firm may have a GREAT opportunity, but if your interview process is not a well thought out process it will come back to bite you in the rear end.  Many firms fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to interviewing, and in the end, an unprepared interviewer or team of interviewers can derail an interview process and turn off a really good candidate, leading you back to square one.  A good recruiter will extract honest feedback from their candidate, and if that feedback ends up being negative as a result of an uncomfortable interview environment, an ornery line of questioning, etc, he/she should let you know about it.  Granted there are two sides to every story, but use that feedback to better position yourself the next time a strong candidate walks through your door and sits across the desk from you.

Over the years I have developed many strong client relationships based upon trust and honesty, and it is a two way street.  The ability to put everything out on the table will go along way when working with an experienced search consultant and will lead to far better results in securing the quality talent that is so desired.

This blog is the 2nd in our Honesty series.  The first in the series is titled ” What to Expect as a Candidate from your Recruiter.”

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

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January 12, 2016 at 2:39 pm Leave a comment

What to Expect as a Candidate from your Recruiter – Part 1 in the “Honesty” Series

An experienced recruiter can be many things to a candidate they are working with:  career counselor, resume writer,  sounding board, confidant, negotiator, interview coordinator, interview coach,  and sometimes even friend.  One thing you should always expect from a recruiter as a candidate is honesty.  Here is how honesty presents itself through the recruiting process and what you should expect from the search consultant you are working with:


The initial call. When you are contacted for the first time by a recruiter you should know how the recruiter got your name.  Was it through LinkedIn or some other avenue the recruiter was researching on the internet, or was it via a referral from a previous supervisor, a client, a past subordinate, or maybe even someone in the peripheral on whom you made a positive impact.  This is important to know, because if the recruiter does uncover a great opportunity for you, you will want to reach out and thank that referring source.


Resume critique. Poorly written resumes are often brushed aside and given little, if no consideration. If someone’s resume is not up to par, I let them know, and we work on reformatting it together.  It is important that your recruiter share with you his/her thoughts, both good and bad, so that a properly formatted and laid out resume is developed prior to formal submission to any company.  I’ve seen my fair share of poorly written resumes, in fact I just concluded brushing one up with one of my current candidates.  The resume shipped over to my client in its original form may have not made the greatest first impression.  Your recruiter should understand that you are a professional engineer, not a professional resume writer, so if it is something that you have not done often it can indeed be a challenge.   A recruiter looks at resumes all day along, so they should be able to offer some solid tips.

Where your resume is going. Never allow a recruiter to haphazardly submit your resume to firms without your prior permission.  Having a recruiter “spam” your resume to dozens of companies is perceived as an act of desperation and absolutely jeopardizes your confidentiality.  You should be selective in who your resume is submitted to, and an honest recruiter will ALWAYS inform you as to where they would like to submit your resume and request your specific permission.

Qualifications / interview feedback. Submitting your resume and/or interviewing on your own without the guidance of a professional recruiter can be frustrating.  Receiving any feedback in response to a resume submission or an interview can be challenging, and for many people that is an understatement.  A good recruiter will provide feedback from the client.  Positive feedback is positive feedback; it is easy to understand and easy to communicate back to the candidate.  Often times, when a resume is not well received, or the feedback from the client in regards to the interview is less than stellar, the feedback can be a hard pill to swallow.  A good recruiter will be honest with you in providing feedback, no matter how negative; they should NOT beat around the bush or sugar coat things.  Discussing the negative feedback will provide value to you as a candidate and will help you better prepare for the next interview that arises.

Nothing available.  After speaking with a recruiter,  if they have nothing available, they should TELL YOU THAT.  This will allow you to move forward with other avenues and will keep you from being hung out to dry. So often candidates submit their resume to a recruiter, have an initial conversation, but then never hear anything back.  I can’t tell you how many times I have worked with a candidate who has told me they submitted their resume to another recruiter who said they had an opportunity for them, but never heard back from them again.

Negotiations. An honest recruiter should be able to have a frank conversation with you when it comes to negotiating an offer.  They are certainly looking out for your best interest and formulating an offer that you will be excited about, but they are working on behalf of their client, and if they feel as though your demands will “upset the apple cart” they should let you know ahead of time, because once the apple cart is upset it is very difficult to get it back on its wheels.  A recruiter should let you know what requests are feasible, what current market conditions are, what others in similar roles are making, and they should have a good feel for their client as to what will and will not fly.  From time-to-time I have worked with candidates who demand the moon when we arrive to the offer stage.  A good and honest recruiter will be able inform the candidate that their expectations may be a little rigid, and if they really want the job they will have to back down a little bit.  The goal of a recruiter is to hammer out a deal that will be a win/win for all involved.

I have seen many civil engineering recruiters come-and-go over my eighteen-and-a-half years in this business, many of them are no longer in business because they failed to be honest.  When working with an experienced recruiter, make sure you feel comfortable working with them, and set expectations up front that revolve around some of the points I mentioned above.


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

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December 16, 2015 at 2:22 pm 1 comment

Use the Downturn to Make Yourself Part of a Winning Firm

By Bruce Lynch, Vice President of Publishing, PSMJ Resources Inc.
For over 30 years, PSMJ Resources, Inc. has offered publications, educational programs, in-house training and management consulting services to A/E/C professionals worldwide. PSMJ Resources conducts more than 200 educational seminars and conferences annually, supported by major professional societies, including AIA and ACEC. Headquartered in Newton, MA, PSMJ Resources provides more than 150 titles in book and audio, and publishes three newsletters about A/E/C firm management. PSMJ Resources also produces the industry’s preeminent annual surveys on management salaries, financial performance, fees and pricing, and benchmarks for the design firm CEO. On the web:

I have spent the last few weeks interviewing the PSMJ Circle of Excellence Class of 2009. Circle of Excellence firms ranked in the top 20 percent of firms participating in PSMJ’s Financial Performance Survey that achieve the best overall performance in 13 benchmarks that measure business operations in terms of profitability, growth, cash flow, overhead control, business development, project performance, and employee satisfaction.

Virtually every executive I have spoken with from this exclusive group of design firms has told me that they have used the economic downturn to improve the overall quality of their staff.  Many super-talented people with very impressive resumes – as well as star students coming out of design schools – are available and obtainable for firms that have the muscle to make it happen.

Are you one of these people that’s going to add value to a firm that is prospering in the face of tough economic times?  There are a number of factors that determine the answer. In general, firms that are looking to upgrade staff try to improve their overall position in specific geographic locations, in services offered, and in markets served.  To upgrade at the management level, firms are looking to hire market and/or thought leaders.  In upgrading staff, firms are looking for people with direct apples-to-apples experience with a specific market or service offering or that bring valuable knowledge on the latest technology.

Here are some examples: If you are a project manager and you are a super client champion in a specific geographic area, research firms that may be interested in expanding their services in your area.  Sell yourself as someone who comes to the firm with a ready-made base of new clients.  If you are a K-12 program manager, look for healthy firms that may want to expand into the K-12 market – your addition to the firm gives them the opportunity to hit the ground running.  What if your expertise is in a market that is currently sluggish like residential construction?  Sell your value-add expertise.  Do you have relationships with zoning boards or permitting authorities?  These are tangible benefits that can elevate the profile of a firm overnight.

For non-management design professionals, sell your direct experience with a specific market or service.  If you design health care facilities, get letters of reference from health care professionals with whom you have worked directly.  Having direct experience using Building Information Modeling (BIM) software like Revit is a huge selling point as more firms work on BIM-designed projects.  If you have recently graduated from design school, sell your facility in new software applications and your ability to train up your peers in these applications.

It’s also helpful to have a relationship with a professional recruiter – even if you end up finding an exciting new job on your own, these people have the experience to serve as a sounding board and alert you to opportunities you didn’t know existed.

If you are good and you have the skills and experience that other firms see as an “upgrade”, you will always be impervious to the ups and downs of the economy.

All the best,


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July 22, 2009 at 4:00 am Leave a comment

Company “Gossip” Websites

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

One definition of Gossip is “a form of communications that an individual(s) participates in for the purpose of discussion, or passing onto to others, hearsay information.”

Office gossip sites are the next wave in sites for job seekers to review. Some of these sites are:,, Many civil engineers are visiting the sites and writing, some say “critiquing”, the civil engineering firms that they work for or have worked for. These sites allow employees to confidentially and/or anonomously post information about company interview processes, company culture, specific management styles, benefits, salaries, bonuses, workspace and anything you can think to comment about. Comments range from “great company with strong benefits” to “avoid manager of highway design, based in corporate office, as he micromanages.”

Should companies be concerned…yes. Should employees take the time to comment on their company’s culture, management style, benefits, salaries, etc…sure. Should job seekers review these sites…yes, with caution.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Should companies be concerned?

Initially it seemed these sites were similar to the (CEC) Forum “Ventilation Station”; a place to just let it all out. These sites have now evolved to include happy, satisfied employee reviews of their employers as well as the direct, not so positive critiques. Companies need to regularly monitor these sites and make sure that information posted is relevant and not just a disgruntled employee looking to slam the company. Companies can use the information as informal employee surveys ~ a way to take a pulse from the anonymous group. That being said, anonymous reviews should be read with a questionable eye. I’ll address this again under the value of these sites to job seekers.

Should employees take the time to comment on companies?

Yes, if you, as an employee, can write an honest evaluation of your current or past employer then you should. Discuss the interview process, company culture, benefits, bonuses, etc. Is your work space comfortable? Does the company encourage and pay for additional training? Do they encourage involvement in professional associations? What did you want to know about a company before you joined them? Try to be constructive, but honest, in your critique.

Should job seekers review these sites?

Yes, as long as you understand that what you are reading may be incorrect. Anonymous reviews are questionable ~ not necessarily false. Many of these sites have built in systems to weed out false reviews. Site editors review comments for trends and inconsistent information. So, job seekers shouldn’t avoid a company that receives some negative comments. Instead, they should use these reviews to prepare for interviews at the companies. Compare feedback on multiple sites, talk to alumni from your school who may be at the mentioned company. Do your homework. These sites should be viewed just as another tool for gathering information and preparing for interviews.

Can you recall the children’s game called “PASS IT ON?” Rarely does the comment at the start of the game end up as the same comment at the end of the game. REMEMBER, not only are there at least two sides to every story….those stories over time aren’t always remembered accurately!

August 27, 2008 at 11:44 am 2 comments

Taking Flex Time To The Next Level

By Carol Metzner, President, The Metzner Group, LLC and Managing Partner,

Most civil engineering firms have committed to practice sustainability in their offices. This typically means using recycled materials and natural light, utilizing low-fume materials and recycling paper and plastics (among other products). Firms even have green practice coordinators. With these commitments in place, the modified work week is becoming a possibility.

How great would it be to have a long weekend every other week? Just think of it: you could schedule all your appointments on a Friday, in advance… take a 3 day vacation twice a month…spend every other Friday doing whatever you want!

With the ever growing popular 9/80 work week, work is scheduled over a nine day work period as opposed to a ten day work period, taking a “flex day” off every second week. Now, do keep in mind, that due to project demands, actual hours may vary from the average nine hour work day. But, this compressed work week allows full-time employees to eliminate at least one work day every other week. Employees work longer hours during the remaining days. These work schedules have to be agreed upon between the employee, their project team and their client.

Civil engineering firm leaders have been hesitant to change the basic 5/40 work week due to concerns that clients won’t be taken care of. “What happens if a Client calls and they need to talk to someone immediately?” With today’s use of Blackberries and cell phones, clients can reach their engineers 24 hours a day. Also, office teams alternate weeks so it is not as if the office is empty with just skeleton teams in place. As mentioned, employers will expect that business needs may demand a temporary change in schedule and that the employees will need to remain flexible to meet those needs. Studies are suggesting that work week flexibility is not only highly valued by staff, but employee productivity rises.

According to the Online TDM Encyclopedia, a compressed work week assists in: congestion reduction by reducing peak-period driving; reduces total commuting trips and parking requirements; reduces travel costs; increases commuter choice…to name a few. Yes, in all fairness, there are possible decreases in commuting time and that may mean increases in other basic driving during the “day off.” But, the benefits seem to outweigh the costs. Employers need to change their way of thinking and become “more flexible” and practice a more “outcome-oriented management” philosophy.

Typically, happy employees are productive employees! And, think how much easier it will be to attract that tough to get talent with this benefit…sign me up!

July 31, 2008 at 12:25 pm 1 comment

zzzzzzzzz….WAKE UP! (Your Job Descriptions)

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

At any given time I can go to an A/E firm’s employment page or to a job board and see the same advertisement for the same job, but for eight different firms. Everyone in southern California is looking for a PE with 12+ years of experience in highway/roadway design. It was not too long ago that every civil engineering consultant in the Washington, D.C. area needed a land development engineer with 4-8 years of experience. The job descriptions that you see for these jobs are like a t-shirt store on the boardwalk of your favorite beach — you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all. How is your potential candidate going to be motivated to join your firm when his job looks identical to the one he is staring at in your advertisement? How can you get a job seeker to apply to your job only when there are 10 more exact same job descriptions out there?

Differentiate yourself

The biggest obstacle in the A/E industry is finding talent. Remember the Wonder Twins cartoon that used to be on Saturday mornings? Get your HR group to pound fists with your Marketing group and form an exciting job description. Marketing people earn their living differentiating your firm to clients – co-opting their expertise to address staffing issues is proven strategy that can make a difference.

Here’s an example of how you can do this:

A. Project Manager-Highway Engineering- The Highway Project Manager will provide coordination of project execution and control of highway design projects, to achieve continuity of purpose within scope, budget, and time schedules from conception through final design…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. This individual will also be accountable for handling specific…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…. design aspects on highway design projects; coordinating efforts of assigned highway design team to ensure completeness and accuracy of design effort; and…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….. serving as technical liaison with client on project efforts. A bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and at least eight years of experience on DOT highway design projects is required. PE license is also required.

B. Project Manager-Highway Engineering- Our office softball team has won 3 League Championships in the past 4 years. A couple of our engineers come in at 9:30 AM because they have to make sure they get their kids off to school safely. Each year we take two consecutive PAID days off as an office to build a home for Habitat-For-Humanity. Last year, our firm was part of the Wilson County Toll Road Design Build Project, we completed the design of an award winning 4-Level Interchange and we burst into the ENR Top 500 List for the first time in our 10 year history. If you have your BSCE, your PE License and a stable work history with 8+ years highway engineering experience, we would love to talk to you.

As a job seeker, which of these jobs are you more likely to apply for?

Here is another great example that I pulled (with permission, of course) from Bohler Engineering, one of the leading civil engineering firms on the east coast. It is fun, it is entertaining and it easily gives you some insight as to who the hiring manager is; I highlighted in red the commentary that stood out to me.  They are looking for recruiting coordinator…wait…a ROCKIN’ RECRUITING COORDINATOR! (THAT IS REALLY THE TITLE POSTED ON THEIR WEBSITE!) This is exactly what I am talking about…good stuff:

Job Description:

Play a vital role within a growing company in Land and Site Development. Imagine a career where your opinion counts, where you can ask questions everyday about your work and career and get answers from experienced professionals; your future is important to us, our company and our community.

Bohler is the premier Land Development Civil/Site Consulting Firm in the eastern U.S., providing civil engineering, surveying, planning, landscape architecture and permitting services throughout several industries. Bohler employees produce high quality project documents and continuously communicate with team members, managers and outside entities.

Be part of the Recruiting and Marketing teams to help grow the organization. If you are ambitious, results-oriented, and dynamic and would like to build upon your recruiting career, Bohler may be the right place for you. If you get to the bottom of this job description and are still laughing, well then, Bohler is probably a pretty darn good place for you to work.

We aren’t looking for just anyone; we are looking for a Rockin Recruiting Coordinator in our Sterling, VA office.

What you’ll be doing: (Isn’t that what you really want to know)

*Provide support to the Recruiting and Marketing Managers in various, customer-serving aspects. I know it’s vague but we’ll explain.

*On the recruiting side you will coordinate and schedule all phases of interviews through the offer process.
You will assist in identifying qualified candidates (we can teach you) and schedule them for the Recruiting Manager to conduct an initial phone screen. The good news is that we use Ceridian (Applicant Tracking System, ATS) which makes this process seamless.

*Please help keep us productive by entering resumes on a regular basis. Also, maintain the integrity of the data in the ATS; after all it’s way more efficient if you have good data.

*Preparing general correspondence (meeting minutes), create and maintain tracking spreadsheets and provide administrative support to Recruiting and Marketing.

*Assisting in coordinating marketing events, recruiting events and assist in maintaining vendor activities. You will also register people for events; please do it on time so we don’t miss out. Also you will maintain and update all event activity.

*You will be filing and maintaining the filing system. Why? Well, that way you can find things when you need them.

Minimum Qualifications:

*2-5 years of experience in Recruiting, Marketing, Communications, Human Resources or related field.
Bachelors Degree in Psychology, Marketing, Communications or related. (If it’s unrelated and you are interested and feel you are qualified, please apply).

*Superior verbal and written communication skills are a must (really; do we need to explain, come on you’re reading what we wrote). Oh, we really need someone who is tactful.

*Must be proactive and have the ability to multi-task while maintaining a positive and enthusiastic attitude.
Must be proficient in MS Office. Proficient means you know the programs as well as if not better than we do and typing is a must.

*Do you have the ability to work under minimal supervision and resolve issues independently based on project/company standards and verification of facts prior to releasing documents? If so, please apply.

*Strong attention to detail while maintaining consistent workflow and meeting deadlines; Capable of processing impromptu requests as needed.

Bohler Engineering is an equal opportunity employer and affords equal opportunity to all applicants and employees for all positions without regard to race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, veteran status or any other status protected under local, state or federal laws.

SOOOOOO…engineers, recruiters, marketing professionals and many other members of the civil engineering community are in high demand these days.  Your competition on the floor below, the building across the street and in the corporate park down the road have the same position available.  Candidates can afford to be quite selective these days as they are in high demand; get their attention right off the bat with a unique and attention getting job description that gets them in the door before anyone else.  Good Luck!

April 24, 2008 at 11:42 pm Leave a comment

4 Ways to Get Recruiting Back on Track

4 Ways to Get Recruiting Back on Track
By Carol Metzner
President, The Metzner Group
Managing Partner,

In my 20s, I was a young and feisty headhunter. A national E/A firm hired me to reduce outside recruiting fees and to build a recruiting team. Back then, as now, recruiting was tough. Not enough engineers, architects, planners or surveyors. Companies needed to be innovative in their recruiting efforts. Working for a professional services company, I never lost sight that I was corporate overhead. If my managers didn’t have the staff to do the work, they couldn’t bill the client and in turn couldn’t pay my “overhead” salary. What’s a recruiter to do? One day, while sitting around trying to think creatively, it was suggested that I go to the local “watering hole” and meet with the surveyors who visited it after work. “You want me to go to a bar?” When I presented it that way, it was quickly decided that maybe it wasn’t the best idea – although it was creative! So, what can a company do when the shortage of talent won’t even out for at least 10 years?

Here are just a few ideas to get you on the right track:

Revisit your retention plan.

Are you paying attention to your employees’ career development or are you just concerned with getting today’s project out the door?

Create an employee referral plan.

Be careful not to turn your staff into full-time recruiters just to get big bonuses. There needs to be a balance between rewarding staff and bribing them.

Evaluate your old advertising plan.

Success for Internet recruiting has moved from the large generic job boards to specific niche industry-related job boards. Attract the right talent and let the job board drive candidates to you.

Encourage staff involvement in industry-related associations.

Paid time off for paper presentations, use of administrative staff for industry-related correspondence, and company-paid sponsorships for staff to join associations will pay off in the future.

As the old saying goes, “Look to home first for your answers,” then go outside for help!

Carol Metzner is President of The Metzner Group, LLC, a professional search firm specializing in the search and recruitment of engineering professionals nationwide. To contact Carol directly, call 301-293-4206, or visit her on the web:

January 30, 2008 at 3:53 am Leave a comment

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