Since joining Gresham Smith’s recruitment team in 2018, I’ve experienced wide swings when it comes to the job market. The labor market was strong during my first year, but became uncertain during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the AE job market is strong once again. In fact, it’s even stronger than it was prior to the pandemic. Throughout all of the ups and downs, however, my goal has stayed the same: Recruit talent to help bring our projects to life.
Since I joined Gresham Smith, I’ve helped add hundreds of professionals to our team. These talented people have not only helped our firm grow, but they’re also helping to mentor the next generation of engineers, architects and designers. And, they’re leading community outreach programs, enhancing our firmwide initiatives and, above all else, contributing to our strong Gresham Smith culture.
Are you interested in joining the Gresham Smith team? Read on to learn what I’m looking for in job candidates!
What’s the Latest News?
Since we’re looking for candidates in the architecture, engineering and construction industry, it’s important that we stay up-to-date on the latest, relevant news. That means starting every morning by reading industry-specific publications and newsletters. This gives me an understanding of the larger industry trends and provides insights into the skills that candidates will need to be successful in their roles. I also make it a point to catch up on the latest recruitment news. To effectively recruit new employees, we all need to be aware of the latest trends and best practices in our fields!
Timing is Key
I recognize that candidates are most likely working full time, which means they can’t check their personal emails and can’t answer their phones during the workday. As a result, my job—as well as those of my recruitment colleagues—often stretches beyond the typical eight-to-five workday. We know that it’s important to respond promptly to candidates who are interested in joining Gresham Smith. It’s also important to mention that email isn’t the only form of outreach. We often use LinkedIn, phone calls and more to connect with candidates.
Every time a resume is submitted for a position, we prescreen it through both a technical and empathetic lens. The resumes that really stand out are the ones that provide insights into the candidate’s prior work as well as their personality while generating enough interest for a recruiter to pick up the phone to ask more questions.
On the technical side, it’s important that the candidate positions themselves as a subject matter expert. While all good resumes include examples of projects, providing personalized details about how the solution was innovative and surpassed a client’s expectations will set someone apart. We’re also trying to determine whether the candidate has been involved in work that is similar to the work our firm does, and whether they can either serve as a mentor for younger professionals or have a teachable mindset that enables them to be mentored by our more experienced teams.
When looking through an empathetic lens, I look at a candidate’s previous experiences. If they’ve had the chance to learn from and adjust to others, I know they’ll be a good fit. At Gresham Smith, we touch many areas of life as a multi-market firm, which means having someone who is collaborative and well-versed in teamwork goes a long way.
In my experience, architects, engineers, and designers have very different interview styles. Similarly, I look for different characteristics when meeting with each candidate.
We often find that architects and designers tell stories about their projects. Through our conversations, we not only seek to understand whether they have the skillset to do the job, but we’re also interested in whether they’re able to communicate and showcase the projects they’ve worked on. In short, can they set aside their technical expertise and really speak to the client or project’s vision?
Engineers often discuss their processes and the nitty gritty of their work during interviews. In this case, what we’re really interested in is how they’ve collaborated with other departments and worked through problems to find solutions. Our engineering projects are intricate and innovative, and we expect that from our engineers as well.
Recruitment is about building relationships. Our firm’s goal is to be a change maker on college campuses. This means that we’re not just attending career fairs. Instead, we’re also offering our employees as valuable experts, mentors and leaders to build relationships with both students and staff.
Creating connections in the community is just as important as building relationships with universities. For example, I am a member of The Table Action, a non-profit organization dedicated to making Nashville the model city for equity and inclusion by taking action to create opportunities for people of color to prosper. I am also an active member of the Tennessee Pride Chamber of Commerce and collaborate with the LGBTQ+ business community as often as possible. I focus on being welcoming, honest, transparent and optimistic when talking about our firm and the work we do—you never know where your next candidate will come from!
Corporate recruitment is always evolving, and there will always be new ways to reach candidates and up our game. Staying on top of trends and going the extra mile to connect with professionals will require innovative strategies, but will help lead to the long-term success of our firm. I hope some of the tips above will benefit you in your job search. Be sure to check out our open positions and consider joining the Gresham Smith team!