Recruiting never ends

Dec 16, 2016

If you think there’s too much recruiting, then you probably don’t realize there is no ‘season,’ but an unending grind.

There is no preseason or final game for recruiting. A/E firms that don’t understand the 24/7 nature of the recruiting season may be caught off guard when candidates begin to either refuse to have a conversation after submitting a resume, or face the inability to fill a high-level need. Similarly, you may be a hiring manager, recruiter, or human resources professional who is facing hiring woes. Here are three things you and your firm can do to get into recruiting season form.

Candidates can see through a Glassdoor. Ask yourself this question: Who is monitoring your Glassdoor account?

If you don’t know, do yourself a huge favor and Google your firm’s Glassdoor account. More often than not, firms will be happy to see that they are well reviewed. Unfortunately, some firms discover lower ratings or a few unaddressed negative comments. Those two or three nasty comments, no matter when they were posted, may overshadow every other review that is positive about your firm.

Therefore, monitor Glassdoor carefully. Every firm should have at least three employees that are notified whenever an update is given. This will allow criticisms, just or unjust, to be addressed. If it is discovered that your firm’s reviews contain one- or two-star ratings, then they need to be responded to so that the noted, public problems are dealt with. If the issues raised are not addressed, then potential candidates may be scared off and the ability to recruit effectively can be compromised due to a poorly developed online reputation.

The process is the enemy. We can’t tell you how many times a firm has called because a position has been open for more than six months. Once candidates are presented, the firm inexplicably goes quiet. Then, about another week later, an email is received wanting to schedule interviews but the candidates are no longer interested. The candidates all interpreted the lack of response from the firm as a “WE ARE NOT INTERESTED” insult.

The bottom line is that if firms receive an application, they need to respond with a definite yes or no within 48 hours. Qualified candidates should be scheduled for an interview or a phone meeting as soon as possible. The overall goal should be a 14-day hiring process.

On the other hand, time after time, we see A/E firms drag their feet for no reason. Excuses usually revolve around items such as being too busy or scheduling too many steps in the hiring process.

Remember that every interview a firm decides to schedule after the second one means that the candidate has probably applied to 10 more open positions per day with other firms. A/E firms that have it together will show up at the second interview with an offer letter prepared. If the interview goes well, it’s time to make that offer and instill the qualified candidate with confidence rather than leaving he or she with the impression that the firm isn’t interested.

Overall, interviews need to be focused, decisive, and well organized. It’s easier to make excuses that lead to a culture of not wanting to hire rather than streamlining methodology that treats candidates with respect and competency. Lastly, candidates who are not responded to in an expeditious manner may communicate their experience on social media. Glassdoor, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all have groups and posting methods where A/E candidates can share their frustrating experiences with other professionals. Whether A/E firms like it or not, this can damage the firm’s reputation and restrict both its hiring and growth potential.

Pay architects and engineers. The current A/E market has settled after a huge boom and candidates are showing more reluctance to make a move. What’s more surprising is when firms botch an offer letter and insult a candidate after their salary background has been discussed.

Recently, a large firm presented an offer letter to a senior project manager candidate that matched his current salary. The candidate immediately lost motivation to make a move since a higher salary was part of the reason he was looking around. The next week, another firm made an offer that would add $10,000 to his base salary and he signed it immediately.

The point here is that firms need to know what is important to the candidates they want to hire. But many A/E firms often try to sell a benefit that the candidate doesn’t care about in order to side-step paying more in base salary. Current A/E candidates, especially ones that are employed but are looking for a change, aren’t going to do the following: take a salary cut or accept equal salary, be happy with reduced PTO, get really excited about profit-based bonuses that don’t guarantee more income, or the wonderful team culture that your firm has.

Yes, selling your culture is always important, but it’s not worth a $5,000 to $10,000 base salary reduction to any candidate. Every firm should be prepared to up a candidate’s salary by at least 10 percent. If that doesn’t happen, the firm isn’t going to do well in the current A/E market.

Thus, monitor your firm’s online reputation. Glassdoor requires users to leave a negative comment, or a suggestion for management, or both. There aren’t many A/E trolls, but there are an inordinate number of unaddressed comments from former employees who thought they were wronged in some way. If your firm is so named, you need to take care of the problem.

Lastly, firms that want to hire can close positions within 14 days. They have a successful model to build upon and are focused. In a settled economy, firms that don’t really want to hire are going to have to eventually turn down more projects than they want to. These firms are not in recruiting season form.

Chris Patton is the team leader of executive search at Zweig Group. Contact him at

This article is from issue 1177 of The Zweig Letter. Interested in more management advice every week from Mark Zweig, the Zweig Group team, and a talented list of other guest writers? Click here to subscribe or get a free trial of The Zweig Letter.

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.