A New Recruiting Approach

January 30, 2024

By Jesse Sievers, WSB

Published by Zweig Group in this month’s issue of The Zweig Letter. TZL 1518

Enhance recruitment by focusing on individual connections, forming partnerships with diverse institutions, and building robust internship programs.

The most important part of recruiting new staff is building meaningful relationships with potential prospects. Campus recruitment and career fairs are a staple in the industry but, while they are still an excellent choice to stay connected with new talent, there are a variety of ways to meet the bright minds of the next generation. It is critical to review your strategy and identify what works best for your company. Reflect not only on what has worked in the past, but also think about what new approaches can help you moving forward.

PREVIOUS CAMPUS RECRUITMENT. In the past, campus recruitment was more narrow-minded. Typically, firm selects a school (or schools) with a lot of potential talent, connects with students, posts available positions, and waits for applications. This is a typical standard approach that has been done for years. Yes, there is still value in presenting your brand and physically being at career fairs, but other sources of recruitment have proven to be equally, if not more, effective and have recently led to more successful opportunities.

A NEW APPROACH. Today’s society is focused on the future. This not only applies to data and technology improvements in all industries, but it applies to recruiting tactics as well. Rather than following a traditional model, the focus needs to shift to finding better ways to form relationships with potential hires. With that in mind, how can you differentiate yourself from the crowd and make a lasting impression?

There are a variety of new approaches worth exploring:

  • Target the individual. Rather than focusing on a large university, it is important to get to know the people you are looking to hire. Instead of focusing on the general public, shift gears and target individuals and chapters at universities to really get to know each person. Create ways to engage with this demographic and consider hosting events or outings to provide insight to the culture of the firm and gain meaningful interactions. It is important to remember to not simply fill the open position, but to fill it with the person who is best suited to join the firm. Pursue building relationships with potential prospects instead of having the mindset of filling a position.

“Campus recruitment and career fairs have been the go-to recruiting tactic for decades, and, while they still do their job, there is greater opportunity and higher impact by exploring new approaches.”

  • Form partnerships. Creating connections with all universities is a great idea, and additional opportunities arise when partnerships are extended to community colleges and training programs. There are many roles available in our industry and we need a wide variety of people to fill them. In addition to finding people who fit well into the culture of your firm, it is also important to place people in jobs that they are passionate about and want to do long-term. Consider partnering with community colleges or training programs to prepare candidates for duties of specific jobs in the workforce to help them excel in a position for many years to come. This method reaches a new group of potential talent and can be extremely beneficial.
  • Robust internship programs. Having a thriving internship program is beneficial to not only your firm, but it is beneficial to all the students with the desire to learn more about their field from subject matter experts as well. These programs provide real-life opportunities to work on-site, train, and engage with mentors. Experiences like an internship cannot be replicated in a classroom, thus building workforce development and preparing students for life after graduation. To maintain a thriving intern program, it is critical to try to accommodate interns as best as possible and utilize their talent while providing opportunities in the workplace. A robust intern program provides a handful of great in-house applicants that could join full-time.

Campus recruitment and career fairs have been the go-to recruiting tactic for decades, and, while they still do their job, there is greater opportunity and higher impact by exploring new approaches. The world is evolving and adapting tactics and strategies to find more effective methods in recruiting will lead to exceptional outcomes. Take the time to review your current recruiting strategy. What is working and what can be improved? Avoid the cookie-cutter approach of recruiting and differentiate yourself.

Jesse is the Talent Acquistion Manager at WSB. He leads the recruitment function across the business and oversees the campus recruitment strategy. Jesse brings over 15 years’ experience in both agency and corporate setting. He is an experienced leader and is passionate about delivering top talent to the WSB teams.

Emotional Intelligence Header

Emotional Intelligence

Originally published in the Zweig Letter on December 18, 2022
By Jay Kennedy, Vice President of Texas Operations and Julie Thiel, Vice President of HR, WSB

Be thoughtful in how you approach and manage your emotions, and you will find success building and maintaining meaningful client relationships.

You have a meeting with a potential new client. You have the skills and expertise to bring meaningful results to their organization, but in today’s competitive market that’s just not enough. Approaching a new client relationship through the lens of emotional intelligence is critical to not only win and maintain new business, but it can also set you apart from your competitors.

Here are some ways you can think about your EQ when approaching a new client relationship.

What is EQ? What does emotional intelligence mean? It is the ability to perceive, use, understand, and manage internal emotions. It also means understanding how to read the emotions of others to foster positive outcomes. EQ can help you overcome conflict, manage nerves and anxiety, and empathize with others. It takes practice, self-reflection, and self-awareness.

When approaching a new client relationship, flexing your EQ skills can also put you at an advantage to better listen to and really understand the client’s needs. Think of EQ as a tool in your toolbox, along with the technical expertise and skills you also bring to the client relationship.

Eight tips for approaching new client relationships. Having a high EQ means you can make emotions work for you in a constructive way. Here are some things to consider when approaching a new relationship with a client:

  1.  Practice self-reflection and self-awareness. Emotional intelligence is something that takes practice and ongoing self-reflection. Do you have weaknesses you need to overcome? Are you too informal in initial relationships before you know someone? Do you struggle to speak up and be assertive in group settings? Do you dominate conversations and cut people off during team meetings, rubbing some people the wrong way? Identifying your strengths and weaknesses and learning how to manage emotions will put you on a better footing with new clients.
  2.  Don’t approach a potential client meeting thinking you know everything. Clients are seeking your expertise, and they want to know what you bring to the table. But that doesn’t mean you should approach a new client meeting thinking you need to have all the answers. Stop, listen, and really pay attention to what the client needs, what they say, and how they say it. You’ll be able to offer more insightful solutions, as well as build a stronger working relationship.
  3.  Speak up. Listening is important, but clients are meeting with you because they want to hear what you have to say. Often, people feel more comfortable speaking up and offering contrary opinions when they are with people they know well. With new clients, understanding how to offer constructive critique or differing opinions is important to guide them in a positive direction. Find a balance to ensure you’re listening and offering input without dominating the conversation.
  4.  Prepare, prepare, and prepare. Meeting with a potential client is a high-pressure situation, and many people feel anxious approaching a new business relationship. But EQ is about managing emotions, and that means managing your anxiety. Preparing thoroughly for a proposal or presentation and doing your research can help you overcome nerves and make a stronger case on why you are the best person or firm for the job.
  5.  Reframe your state of mind. It takes conscious effort to change negativity into positivity, but reframing your emotions is helpful to build self-confidence. Feeling anxious about a client proposal? Instead, reframe your thoughts that you are feeling excited. Are you feeling overwhelmed? Instead, you’re feeling motivated to succeed. Your internal “talk track” can make your emotions work to your advantage.
  6.  Put yourself in the client’s shoes. Empathy is vital to growing your EQ, and putting yourself in the client’s shoes can help you better understand their ideas, concerns, challenges, and how you can best help. It’s also important to remember that they view their time as valuable, and they are giving you some of that time because they want to hear what you have to say. Approaching a client meeting with that attitude can help foster a positive relationship with your new client.
  7.  Watch out for anything that triggers a fight, flight, or freeze reaction. In a client meeting, are there answers you didn’t expect or prepare for? Did someone say something that put you on edge? Don’t get defensive. Understand that certain things may trigger your fight, flight, or freeze emotions. Managing your emotions during meetings and knowing you may run into something that makes you uncomfortable can help you redirect your emotions positively.
  8.  Approach client relationships as a partnership. As a consultant, your job is to help your client succeed. Understanding the give and take of client relationships can set the foundation for long, fruitful partnerships.

EQ can help grow your business, grow your career, and grow positive relationships. Be thoughtful in how you approach and manage your emotions, and you will find success building and maintaining meaningful client relationships and securing new business.  

Jay has over 30 years of experience managing municipal and civil engineering projects, including streets, storm sewers, water distribution systems, sanitary sewer systems, water and wastewater treatment, site grading, land use planning, and park improvements. Jay is particularly skilled at leading multi-discipline projects, developing capital and maintenance programs, and communicating with city staff, elected officials, and constituents.

[email protected] |  512.518.1819

Jay Kennedy

Thiel has more than 25 years of experience leading talent programs across multiple industries and is known for helping organizations amplify their current talent, build an attractive work culture and develop the next generation of authentic leaders. She focuses on driving implementation, developing actionable solutions, and creating a culture of inclusion and collaboration at WSB.

[email protected] |  612.237.1623