Firms Recruit Recent Grads in Effort to Overcome Staffing Challenges

Sept. 24, 2007

Natick, MA - Competition for talent in the A/E industry is fierce, prompting firms to aggressively recruit top grads. Today's students are fielding multiple offers, which include high salaries and large signing bonuses, before they even receive their degrees.

''The hiring pressure is a result of a booming economy and the tight talent pool at higher levels. In response, firms are making more hires at the entry level with the intention of training them up,'' says Lori Oakes-Coyne, a principal with ZweigWhite's Human Resources Advisory Group.

Firms must take a strategic approach to recruiting in order to be successful at attracting and hiring the next generation of top performers. The most popular growth strategy utilized by today's firms is to increase hiring and recruitment activities, according to ZweigWhite's 2007 AEC Industry Outlook - Strategy and Insight for Design & Construction Firms. If a firm can understand the next generation's preferences, they will gain the competitive edge needed to attract these up-and-coming stars. The following are Oakes-Coyne's tips for attracting top grads:

Leverage your young stars. If you have young stars working for you who can successfully represent your firm and demonstrate the opportunities your firm can offer potential recruits, they can be invaluable in the interview process. Bring them to you and put on a show. One of our clients puts on an open house at its corporate office for local target students. They transport students there on high-end luxury buses, and really lay out the red carpet. There are a number of stations, including free food, demonstrations of the latest technology and chances to meet with the staff.

Create a relationship. Once you make a connection with specific individuals that you'd like to hire, stay in touch. Send them e-mails once a month, put them on your firm's mailing list, or share with them some of your promotional items. The message is to show them that you care, and it will be received by this generation.

Give them what they want. Believe it or not, it's not all about the money. Today's grads are looking for aid in developing their careers, a team environment, work/life balance, and real learning opportunities, not busy work.

Over communicate. You will need to make today's generation feel as special as their parents and schools have made them feel growing up. If someone at another firm is sending them more letters, gifts, or e-mails, the other firm will win their attention.

Involve the parents. Some of the world's largest firms are recognizing the deep bond many of today's generation have with their parents by sending an offer package with fully spelled out benefits details to both the student and his or her parents. Some young grads are even showing up at interviews with mom or dad in tow. While we might not want to go to the extreme of inviting the parents along, consider parents in your conversations (''Have you discussed this with your parents? What are their concerns?''). If you can get mom and dad on board, the battle is half won.

ZweigWhite's Human Resources Advisory Services Group (HRAS) has been the A/E/C's recruiting and retention solution since 1988, with more than 95 percent of searches filled. The group specializes in the A/E/C industry, and uses their knowledge and experience to help firms overcome human capital challenges. Consultants provide access too hard-to-find, top tier industry professionals through executive level search and recruitment process outsourcing. They provide guidance and advice through the entire recruitment, interview, offer, and hire life-cycle, functioning as an extension of the firm's H.R. department.

ZweigWhite is a leading source of management consulting, information, and education for the design and construction industry. ZweigWhite brings together experts in strategic business planning, organization, operations, business valuation, ownership transition, human resources, recruitment, finance and administration, information technology, mergers and acquisitions, market research, marketing, project management and project delivery methods. The firm is headquartered in Chicago, with additional offices in Natick, MA, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

For further information, contact Caren Tortorici, [email protected], or visit

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