Search Savvy: Change is good!

Dec 10, 2014

Five ways to increase your digital footprint in branding and recruiting the best and brightest in 2015.

As we approach the end of 2014, I’m amazed at how much has changed in such a short period of time. Let me preface this by saying this year was unlike any other for me. I stepped down from a position I had been in for almost five years; after hearing a profound EntreLeadership Podcast ( featuring a story about two men who had the opportunity to be mentored by Peter Drucker – arguably one of the greatest minds on Wall Street – and then reaching out to my own version of Peter Drucker in one Mark Zweig, for mentoring. Based on the time I spent with Mark, I decided to take the plunge and get back into management consulting in a way that I haven’t done in years; since my first “tour of duty” with Zweig White & Associates. Back then, I was one of those associates given plenty of rope to make things happen. When I left the industry, the technology that we take for granted today was in its infancy – we had a couple of career websites but that was it! There was no Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. If I remember correctly, Napster was the biggest game in town online and you were hip if you had an AOL account. In the Executive Search group at ZWA we got on the phone and made call after call after call. We sourced all the people we could find, recruited everyone who would speak to us and secretly hoped that the fax machine had enough paper in it for the résumé you were about to receive. Those were the days… But they are long gone. The A/E industry is all grown up now and more mature then ever. Just like every industry, profession, or discipline, HR and recruiting has had to come to grips with the changes in how we do things, workplace education and development, source candidates, call on clients, and recruit the best and brightest people. Tools like LinkedIn and Twitter and even Facebook have changed the way we work. Information flow is more instantaneous and if you don’t know how to parse and process this information you could get left behind. Having spent time outside the A/E industry and seeing information and data manipulated in new and profound ways has given me a unique perspective on things. Today, it’s no big deal for a company to develop and run cost-effective, simple software that allows them to operate more efficiently or provide a better bridge to a program that is the backbone of what they do or manage (Think Deltek or Salesforce or any other project management program). Inexpensive technology is everywhere. Here are five ways for you to increase your digital footprint in branding and recruiting the best and brightest to join your firm in 2015.
  1. Let social media be ‘social’ and not ‘so-cold!’ Don’t create a bunch of canned responses that make it look like you have a robot monitoring your social media accounts. There are great programs out there – HootSuite (, Buffer (, and Sprout Social ( to name a few. With proper planning and a thoughtful approach these social media dashboards can make things so much easier for you to have genuine conversations with clients and candidates, for that matter.
  2. Make sure that your brand message is consistent across multiple social media platforms. Your logo, tagline, vision, mission statement, or whatever you are known for should exist somewhere on all of your social media profiles. More and more AEC candidates are spending time online doing research and talking to peers through multiple social media channels before making job changes. It hurts rather than helps you to not have an active and organic presence online. Nowadays a website is just not enough.
  3. Tell your story the only way you can. Use video and audio to brand yourself and your message properly. When trying to attract the best talent you always have to put your best foot forward. Consider creating a series of short videos or podcasts that capture the essence of who your firm is, what it means to be a team member, and maybe even the benefits of working with your company. I learned an expression a long time ago: “It’s a pitiful frog who doesn’t praise his own pond!”
  4. Keep an electronic database or CRM on all prospective candidates who respond to any job postings or come in the office for an interview. Many firms may want to have their HR department keep a separate simple CRM to refer back when ready to hire. There are several FREE ones out there, including ZOHO Recruit ( and Insightly ( As recruiters, our database is our lifeline. You have to make sure that you have an adequate database in place to keep track of all of the amazing candidates you run across over time. Maybe someone you really like isn’t a fit now. Sticking their business card in the bottom on your drawer may not work so well for you nowadays. You need to keep that person’s information in an electronic format and if there is an opportunity to engage with them through social media you should consider that as well. You never know when you might be ready to hire that person and if you remain engaged with them even on the simplest of social media levels that call to recruit them down the road is much warmer.
  5. Don’t make social media and marketing your brand for recruitment purposes a chore. Keep the message on point and have some fun with it. Keep relevant data about your firm, your growth, and the project mix nearby so that you can always make it available through social media to potential clients and candidates alike.
Everyone is under a microscope to perform. But clients and candidates can see thru a smokescreen. Whether your firm is working with a recruiter or not you may only have one shot at a great candidate. Make sure it’s your best. Happy Holidays! Randy Wilburn is director of Executive Search with Zweig Group. Contact him at or find him on Twitter at @RandyWilburn and @ZGRecruiting.
This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1083, originally published 12/15/2014. Copyright© 2014, Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

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.