“Always be recruiting! That has to be the mantra for anyone who’s an owner or manager in an AEC firm today because finding people is crucial to your growth.”
Always be recruiting! That has to be the mantra for anyone who’s an owner or manager in an AEC firm today because finding people is crucial to your growth. Even if you don’t want to grow, you will still have attrition and need people to replace those who leave your employ for any number of reasons.
I find that if you get tuned in to certain qualities that make for good teammates, these people will regularly present themselves in the course of your normal day. People who are nice, pleasant looking, friendly, responsive to calls/emails/texts, quick-witted, calm, move quickly, have a positive attitude, and are passionate about their work, can be found everywhere. Yet, there is a great shortage of them and we all need more of them.
You have to tune in to the people you interact with every day. People such as restaurant workers, retail clerks, service providers, and more. There are plenty of jobs in AEC firms that don’t require technical or design degrees. But they still need to be filled by energetic, trainable employees who have a good attitude and work ethic.
Technical and design talent can be spotted at professional society meetings. Look around and talk to people. Even better yet, get on committees. Those who create an initial favorable impression should be asked to coffee or lunch. If that goes well, invite them to the office. Courtship takes some time and effort. Expend it!
Also, look to vendors for possible employees. Some of them have architects and engineers working for them in roles where they interface with people in firms like yours. The HVAC and electrical equipment manufacturers in particular often have very smart and capable people on their payrolls – with relevant experience that could benefit your firm.
Finally, get your best people out there teaching at local colleges and universities. As a professor myself, I speak from experience that teaching really provides a great opportunity to see what people are all about. You can learn a lot about your students over the course of a semester. How well they work in groups, whether or not they can write, how prepared they are for class, and what kinds of questions they ask. All good input for whether or not you might want to hire them. Even better is a real co-op or internship program. “Try before you buy” really works!
Recruiting has to be something you do, 24-7. That is, IF you really care about the quality of your team.
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.