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How your AEC firm's brand affects recruiting top talent

Building Team

How your AEC firm's brand affects recruiting top talent

By Karl Feldman | Hinge | June 13, 2018

Finding, recruiting and retaining talent in our industry is a major challenge. A recent article by PSMJ cited a review of major job boards and the postings seeking licensed engineers in a major metropolitan area. The ratio showed one technically qualified candidate to fill 3.4 openings.

Why? There is a major shift in workforce demographics as upwards of 80 million baby boomers retire over the next fifteen years. How will your firm attract top talent in the coming years? It all starts with your brand!

Given that in professional services, it’s the quality of the people and firm culture that can make a difference, how can firm brand affect the recruitment and retention of top talent?

In fact, your firm’s culture can help differentiate you from competitors and help support your firm’s positioning in the marketplace. Having top talent will help you attract more top talent. Not to mention that such a prosperous pool of subject matter expertise will help you cultivate more Visible ExpertsSM . Those individuals who have attained high visibility and expertise in their industry, creating a personal brand that is recognizable industry-wide.

As more and more recruiting is done through platforms like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed and more, online recruiting is becoming increasingly more important to AEC firms. How can you make sure your firm stays ahead of the curve so you can continue to recruit top talent? Essentially, it all boils down to one key factor: your online brand.


Why Your Brand is Crucial for Employee Recruitment

Your brand is a combination of your reputation and visibility, and a strong brand can give your firm an enormous advantage when recruiting qualified candidates over competitors who don’t put as much effort into actively building their online brand. Let’s break down the two components of your brand and why they matter so much to employee recruitment. 



A lot of firms have a good reputation. Many of your competitors probably have a good reputation. But to really have a successful brand, your firm’s reputation needs to extend beyond simply “good” to great.

Building a strong reputation comes from living your brand, delivering on your brand promise, and exceeding the expectations your brand creates for itself. If a highly skilled employee is going to work for your firm, they want to know they are joining a firm with a solid reputation.



If your reputation is how people know your firm, your visibility is if they know your firm. Being widely known to potential employees increases your chances of being an attractive career option for top upcoming talent in your industry. Ask yourself, are potential employees aware that your firm not only exists, but also is relevant to their professional success and advancement?  Can they easily find more information about careers on your website? Do you share career opportunities on LinkedIn?

We often consider our visibility to prospective clients, but most professional services firms fall short of considering their visibility to future employees. Even if you have an unbeatable reputation with your clients and partners, if your visibility doesn’t extend to future talented employees, they might be more likely to join a firm that has a solid online brand.


What online components do you need?

Here’s the good news: our research has found that, compared to other professional services industries, AEC is a leader in online recruiting.

That said, the percentage of hires recruited online is still a relatively small number and expected to grow exponentially in the coming years. Your firm’s website and social media accounts are important elements in establishing your online brand and making your firm more attractive to the incoming class of top employees.

A job candidate may become aware of your firm via an Instagram recruitment campaign or via some of your other social media channels. Then, they might probe around LinkedIn to see how established your brand is through your Company Page and how socially engaged firm leadership and others are. Or they might check out your Twitter feed to see how involved relevant and involved in industry conversation your firm is. These are the places where your online brand has the ability to speak to jobseekers.

It’s safe to say that interested job candidates will also look to your firm’s website. If they find an outdated design, poorly updated content and a lackluster user interface, they aren’t going to get the best impression of your firm.

Potential candidates will be looking to gain insights not only on company culture, but also on the types of projects the firm tackles. After all, everyone wants to have interesting work to look forward to!

So, how can you use your website and social media accounts to become more appealing to top new hires? Think about how you can portray what it is about your firm that makes it a great place to work. This might mean sharing company photos, quotes, or profiles of your current employees to allow interested candidates to gauge the internal culture of your firm.

Consider adding a Careers section to your website where current employees can share their experiences. Allow your social media pages to show the true personality of your firm via video. Find little ways you can give interested future employees an idea of what it would be like to work for your firm so they will know if it is the right choice for them.

Online recruiting is going to become even more important as baby boomers continue to retire. Putting a strong emphasis on online recruiting sets your firm up to attract top talent as they search for their next opportunity. Make sure your online brand presents an accurate representation of your firm so your prospective employees have a strong understanding of which you are before they even walk in the door for an interview.

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