Unless you have moved into an underground cave in a far off country, you cannot avoid the mounds and mounds of bad news out there on the streets. There may be some hope with the stimulus package; however, construction is going to take off first and it likely won’t be until the end of this year, in my opinion, that the funds will finally have trickled down and begin to make a positive impact on engineering. The mortgage and housing crisis seems to get worse each month, creating a longer expected recovery in land development. Every week we hear of another A/E firm that is laying off staff. The psychology behind all of this would lead you to believe that your best bet is to hang on to your existing job, if you still have one, and continue to hold on tight… right? I say, not necessarily.
Even during these tumultuous times, companies are hiring. And many of these companies that you hear about laying people off are also hiring. Speaking to prospective candidates on a daily basis, they are fearful that if they make a move right now, no matter how great the opportunity may be, they will be the first one let go as “low man on the totem pole” should new rounds of layoffs occur.
NOTE: No joke, I kid you not, as I was just in the midst of typing this entry I received the following email from a candidate I was attempting to recruit:
“Also, given the current economic conditions, I am hesitant to be the last person joining a new firm, just to be the first person out.”
And, this was from a candidate where our services were actually retained. Ummmm, I am pretty sure that if a consulting civil engineering firm has retained the services of a search firm, then they are pretty serious about the position that they are looking to fill.
I digress. Back to the “low man on the totem pole theory;” this theory may hold true; but believe it not, this is mainly if you make a move during prosperous times, NOT recessionary times. I’ve recently spoken to a number of senior civil engineering executives about this particular issue. Each one of them felt that in order to fulfill your career goals and to elevate to new levels, you are going to have to take some of these “perceived” risks. Companies are heavily evaluating their current staff and business plans. As a result, they are now hiring strategically, making tactical investments in great candidates who will be ready to lead when things begin to turn the corner…and they will begin to turn.
I understand that this concept may sound counter-intuitive and is hard to fully get a grasp on when you are getting beaten down everywhere you turn with bad news. But, realize that there are a lot of good opportunities out there that you should not be afraid to consider; opportunities that have been well thought out by the hiring company and that should be well thought out by you as well.
Keep your head up and keep your door open; there very well may be some good news out there for you if you are willing to listen and think about things from a different perspective.
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