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Thread: Is it difficult to hire?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Is it difficult to hire?

    OK, so those of you who have recently tried to hire somebody, how has it gone?

    We are a well-known firm (though not as much in planning) and are among the top-ranked businesses to work for locally and nationally. We have recently been trying to hire senior people in planning, landscape architecture, and engineering, but have not been seeing the candidates we want. We get few resumes and then the ones we get often do not meet the requirements listed in the ad. From my discussion with competitors, they are seeing the same issue. Is this your experience? What do you think is going on? And how are you being successful with your recruiting?
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Cardinal Being close to you're issue I'd say yes. Especially since the firm has a "no poach" policy, meaning you can't actively recruit from clients or competitors. (For other cyburbanites - If one responds to your ads, it is okay though).

    "Mrs. Doubtfire" in HR is poor at advertising for planners - she doesnt understand the difference between a planner and an engineer. That doesn't help you. I've seen your ad campaign to date. Pretty poor. The breakdown in your GIS post-2005 had alot to do with bad recruiting too.

    To some extent I had the same issue with the new branch office. However, we dissed HR and have 3 new hires on board in the next 3 weeks. And all 3 bring clients with them.
    Off-topic:
    I bet TGB got no bonus this year

  3. #3
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    I'm not a boss or an HR person or anything, but I do think that sometimes employers are too strict in the hiring process by turning away potential employees who "do not meet the requirements listed in the ad" and such.

    For example, many times, someone with a bachelor's degree may have more experience or more knowledge or know more what they're doing than someone with a master's degree. You might never know until you actually interview them. I think it would be better to choose from a wider field, since it might be you might find someone who would be a better fit who may not necessarily meet such high requirements or standards.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Flying Monkeys's avatar
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    We can't find experinced engineers or planners. It seems that I am always having to train new people. For us the problem is combination of being located in a college town (lots of fresh meat, most moves on after grad school) and being in a smaller urban area (not miami, NY, etc).
    What’s in a name? – Your reputation….:)

  5. #5
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    If I use my last employer as an example, they have not filled my job 4 months after I left and 6 months after they advertised, they took over a year for another position in the Department.

    I'll also add that I had 2 interviews in less than 2 weeks and had an offer from one a week later.

    The job market is really hot here, so people are not really looking or if they are know they can be picky. Based on what is going on here, I expect this trend to continue for at least 2-5 years.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ruralplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner View post
    I'm not a boss or an HR person or anything, but I do think that sometimes employers are too strict in the hiring process by turning away potential employees who "do not meet the requirements listed in the ad" and such.

    For example, many times, someone with a bachelor's degree may have more experience or more knowledge or know more what they're doing than someone with a master's degree. You might never know until you actually interview them. I think it would be better to choose from a wider field, since it might be you might find someone who would be a better fit who may not necessarily meet such high requirements or standards.
    I have to agree with IP on this one. We recently advertised for a new director's position and AICP was REQUIRED or needed to be obtained within 6 months of hire. Huh! For a county of 55,000 population! I know of a number good people who did not apply because of this.

    I have to commend the firms that have a 'no poach' policy. There is one firm that we have consistently worked with over the years that has contacted four people in our office about opportunities. One head hunting session culminated into a Saturday afternoon wine and dine session, or so I hear. I just got a letter. At least before I got my letter, this firm contacted my boss first to see if it was ok.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Sounds to me like these companies are setting their bars too high. Too many teams and not enough fireball relief pitchers, so to say. You cannot decide only to have the top, most experienced people for your staff and expect to have enough people to get your work done - especially if most or all of your competitors do likewise.

    Time to lower the bar a smidgeon, IMHO.

    How does one get the job without the requisite experience?
    How does one get the experience without the requisite job?
    Chicken?
    Egg?

    Mike

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    From the stand point of being a former HR manager at one point in my career, I remember attending various HR managers meetings and I had a problem with what I heard at the meetings, how they felt about employees, and potential employees. This was at HR professional organizations both in training and during lunch and after hour get togethers. This was for both the public and private sectors.
    Recently I have attended HR mangers meetings because my position included that function and things have not changed.

    When employed in large organizations and went through HR, I was usually disappointed in the canidate pool.

    This is why I prefer smaller organizations where I had the power and time to become directly involved and was always able am able to to get good canidates and for the compensation that we could afford.
    My experience with HR has not always been a positive one.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    To what extent does the current state of the housing market affect the "mobility" of planners? That is, why change jobs when you know either it will be a long time before your home sells or that you will lose $20k in equity in order to make the transition to the new job faster?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mgk920 View post
    Sounds to me like these companies are setting their bars too high. Too many teams and not enough fireball relief pitchers, so to say. You cannot decide only to have the top, most experienced people for your staff and expect to have enough people to get your work done - especially if most or all of your competitors do likewise.

    Time to lower the bar a smidgeon, IMHO.

    How does one get the job without the requisite experience?
    How does one get the experience without the requisite job?
    Chicken?
    Egg?

    Mike
    Seven years of experience and one of two specific skills is asking too much? We have less experienced staff. We need people who have the experience to lead those staff, manage complex projects, present in front of a room full of people, and help to get new clients. I don't have years to train somebody - we are already doing that with the younger staff. They will get there. But right now we need people who can immediately step up and take on the work. It seems these are the people who are hard to find. We can, and we do hire staff that are just starting out, but not in this role.

    One thing I see is that most planners have a lot of experience doing development review, permitting, and similar work. There are very few who have broad experience in long range planning or economic development or urban design. The landscape architecture guys tell me the prblem they have is that their candidates either want nothing but the high-profile work, or are simply glorified CAD technicians. The engineering field in some markets just seems to be tight, with a lot of turnover.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    My considerable experience with hiring, being hired, and dealing with HR folks has led me to the conclusion that HR is best suited for eliminating candidates, not finding them. If you've got the time, and your company policies allow it, have all applicant resumes come to you first for filtering. Then ship them off to HR with instructions on who to schedule interviews with and who to reject out of hand. Don't expect them to see possibilities and potential in your candidates.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    One thing I see is that most planners have a lot of experience doing development review, permitting, and similar work. There are very few who have broad experience in... economic development...
    (((ahem)))

    Seriously, finding well-rounded candidates, especially planners with experience in economic development, can be very difficult. When I worked for another consulting firm, we often received resumes from people who didn't even know what economic development was.

    There's no question that there's a lot more competition for senior-level positions. I think Wanigas? makes a good point. Maybe some changes are needed in the areas of perks and benefits to entice qualified people to relocate.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    I just took an economic development position that was open for 8 months. My employer was willing to wait given I am the first economic development professional our town has had. I have been encouraged to apply for two economic development positions in the state and I have been here for only 4 months. Needless to say poaching is a problem. Everyone I talk with in Arizona tells me it is hard to economic development professionals with even 2 years experience.

    Have you tried to post the position with IEDC, APA or other national type organizations?
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  14. #14
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mgk920 View post
    Sounds to me like these companies are setting their bars too high. Too many teams and not enough fireball relief pitchers, so to say. You cannot decide only to have the top, most experienced people for your staff and expect to have enough people to get your work done - especially if most or all of your competitors do likewise.

    Time to lower the bar a smidgeon, IMHO.

    How does one get the job without the requisite experience?
    How does one get the experience without the requisite job?
    Chicken?
    Egg?

    Mike
    Pretty much my thoughts as well. While I am still in grad school finishing up the masters, I still peruse the job listings to get a feel for what's out there and am beginning to wonder how in the world does a new planner crack open the door. Obviously it's going to be a while before I even think about AICP, if ever. I don't have a whole lot of practical planning experience, but I come from a different career path and a host of other jobs I've had in school that have given me a pretty interesting skill set but few people are willing to see how things can relate unless there is an MCRP, experience, AND an AICP certification attached to your resume. This is going to be interesting.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    AICP means nothing to my former firm. Have fun with that.
    I'm the guy Cardinal is trying to replace.

    This firm pays well, has the best benefits around, and is well respected locally. If they have issues hiring, it is one ot two things

    -Bad HR
    -Bad PR

    Word on the street is divided beween the two

  16. #16
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet View post
    I'm the guy Cardinal is trying to replace.
    That explains the first post. I wasn't sure if I was smelling grapes souring or bridges burning.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ofos View post
    That explains the first post. I wasn't sure if I was smelling grapes souring or bridges burning.
    Just for the record, when Chet left, I stepped up into his role. Technically, I am hiring a replacement for me.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    In my opinion, the main thing I see is that you are listed/advertised/positioned as a big engineering firm. That was a problem with the private firm I used to worked for. Planning was kinda the red-headed step kid and although we did excellent work with an award winning portfolio, in many potential clients eyes we were not see as a design or planning firm. Many mid/upper level planners are probably shying away for that reason and looking more for design work.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    It took me eight months to hire a new planner for a low to mid level position in long range planning. This is in a large metropolitan area with a growing population. Some of it is an HR problem (I think HR is incompetent in all areas I have ever worked), but some of it is that there were just few qualified people. Most of the people I talked to were either under qualified or extremely over qualified (making 80K in last position as Director and applying for a position advertized at 40K). I think the housing market is an issue, but I also think supply is low. There are not enough people graduating with degrees in City Planning or similar professions for the demand that is currently in the marketplace.
    Satellite City Enabler

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    Just for the record, when Chet left, I stepped up into his role. Technically, I am hiring a replacement for me.
    DAMN. SORRY FOR YOU!

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    It just took me almost 6 months to hire a junior level civil designer.

    All I was looking for really was a year or 2 experience, and AutoCAD. Knowing what I know about our retention goals, we try to keep those who work here happy.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    We get pigeon-holed on this side (public sector). If we stay here too long, we may miss our chance to broaden our experience. Finding and retaining clients isn't exactly the governments business.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    Finding and retaining clients isn't exactly the governments business.
    Off-topic:
    All too often, neither is finding and retaining quality employees.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    We get pigeon-holed on this side (public sector). If we stay here too long, we may miss our chance to broaden our experience. Finding and retaining clients isn't exactly the governments business.

    That is true. What I look for are things like 1) if the person is known for the work they have done (i.e., reputation); 2) have they published or presented; 3) have they only worked in one community or in several, perhaps even different states; 4) have they participated in or preferably led some high-profile projects that will stand out on their resume; 5) do they have a good professional network or have they been involved in professional organizations; and more generally, 6) when a prospective client looks at the project team, is this person's resume strong enough that the client will want to have them involved in the project.

    Hiring somebody who has worked in two (or more) states is a plus, because when we send in a proposal on a project in one of those states, we can show that we have somebody familiar with the statutes and practices of that state. Being able to pad a proposal with reprinted (relevant) articles is a plus because it lends an air of expertise. Those are examples of how a public sector employee may demonstrate value in bringing in clients for a private sector position.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  25. #25
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    The landscape architecture guys tell me the prblem they have is that their candidates either want nothing but the high-profile work, or are simply glorified CAD technicians.]
    You know, it can be really difficult to work up some enthusiasm for doing the basic required-by-code planting for yet another strip mall. I've really struggled with the brain-deadening crap I'm expected to produce. If you're just doing it for the money, I want to believe, you might as well be an accountant or a stockbroker, where it doesn't matter that you're producing basically the same thing as everyone else, and you make more money for less hours.

    Hmm, maybe I should send you my resume for some feedback. The position is in Wisconsin?
    Adrift in a sea of beige

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