Making recruitment a priority

Apr 27, 2015

A/E/P and environmental firms have tons to juggle, but ensuring that your company is finding the best candidates to fill openings should top the list.

Recruitment is important to the health of a company, and, if you are not seeking the best and brightest to join your team, you are making a mistake. Most AEC firms don’t prioritize recruiting the way that they should. It is usually an afterthought or a knee-jerk reaction to seek the help of recruiting specialists, and, once a fee is generated for the service, many firms opt to go it alone. According to Zweig Group Executive Search Director Randy Wilburn, good recruiters make their clients more successful by helping them overcome shortcomings in creating the narrative for why a potential employee should work for them or any objections that come up during the hiring process and easing the transition process for the candidate. “Especially in the AEC industry, where firms want to hire the best and brightest, they have to take this approach,” Wilburn says. “Most of the people that we recruit are happy where they are, but it is incumbent on me, as a recruiter, to get them to change their minds. When I work with a firm that understands this, we almost always succeed in making a successful placement.” Wilburn says it’s crucial that A/E/P and environmental firms make recruitment a priority and a consistent line-item in their budgets. Firms can determine how much to budget for recruiting based on their needs, staff turnover rates, and growth projections. “For instance, if a company currently has 200 people and an average turnover rate of 8-10 percent – near the industry average – it can expect to lose 16-20 people each year. If that firm wants to grow by 15 percent annually, it will need to hire 30 people, plus make up for the 16-20 that will likely be lost through attrition. This equates to a total of 46-50 people the firm needs to hire over a 12-month period,” he says. “If the firm has a strong HR apparatus in place that can hire and onboard all of those people in that timeframe, it should be OK. But, the average AEC firm is not set up for this and needs additional help.” The HR department and hiring managers should coordinate their efforts to ensure that the latest technology, social media, and techniques are being utilized in searches, Wilburn says. In addition to implemented targeted social media campaigns, savvy firms should make sure that they are projecting a strong digital footprint though their website, videos, podcasts, and any other online media they produce. “Does your online presence make clear the benefits you offer employees and why working at your firm is enjoyable? Too many AEC firms don’t take the time to accentuate their organizations as positive places to work via easy-to-use infographics or gratifying digital spaces, where so many candidates go first for information,” he says. It’s also paramount that firms’ websites are mobile-friendly. “More than 40 percent of job seekers are getting information on their smartphones,” Wilburn says. “Not optimizing your website for mobile is a recipe for disaster! This is an additional cost, but, as we evolve and entertain younger and savvier candidates, firms have to be on the cutting-edge of delivering their value in a way that caters to how candidates obtain information.” Lastly, Wilburn emphasizes prioritizing interviewing. “Flying good candidates in is also important,” he says. “Don’t vacillate on whether to spend the money to bring in that all-important candidate for a position that’s been open for the last eight months! That’s the kind of short-sighted thinking that will keep that position open. A good candidate is a good candidate, and if they are willing to come visit you, that’s half the battle. Always be willing to put your best foot forward with a good candidate, and, if that means spending a little money to get them physically in front of you, I highly recommend it.”

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.