Career Advice

5 Tips for Evaluating an Engineering Firm Before You Join
Karl Feldman posted on October 27, 2017 |
No matter what stage of your career you are in, these key strategies can help you evaluate a firm be...

Are you ready to grow as an engineering professional? If you’re thinking about switching  to a new firm, you’ll want to do your research to ensure you find a strong fit for both your talents and needs. There are a number of strategies you can use to learn about a firm’s brand, and its reputation in the marketplace.

No matter what stage of your career you are in, these key strategies can help you evaluate a firm before you send in your résumé.

What’s Your Match?

As you grow your career, you will likely have a plan in mind for your professional future. Achieving your goals will depend on the support of your firm. That’s why it’s important to ensure the company you ultimately work with meets your needs. Finding firms that offer what you’re looking for also increases your chances of being the right candidate for whom hiring managers are looking.

Consider the following five tips to help find an employer that can help you attain your professional goals.

1. Read the Right Web Pages

As you skim through the career pages on potential employers’ websites, you’ll certainly want to see evidence of how the firm values work/life balance and pathways for promotion. However, you also need to look deeper to ensure the firm isn’t just hitting the right keywords. What evidence do they offer to support their claims?

For example, does the careers page include testimonials from engineering professionals early in their own career that speak to issues that matter to you? On pages about team members, do members of senior leadership promote their achievements alone or their approach to firm leadership and team development? Whether or not they make a specific mention of mentorship opportunities, you want to ensure senior leaders have the experience from which you want to learn or, if you’re further along in your career, that match your goals for professional success.

When you navigate to the page featuring firm projects, do these projects represent the type of work you’d like to be involved in? Then look closer: how are project leads recognized, challenges faced and successes achieved? How are seasoned executives building a legacy through their work? These clues may provide some early insight into how the firm’s teams work together.

2. Ensure Social Media Confirms the Website Message

Many companies and brands let their true personality come through on social media. Twitter and Facebook can be a good place to get a sense of how team members are recognized on projects.

Does the firm post blogs written by a range of workers, or are only one or two marketing employees building their brands through publications? Do posts celebrate employee interviews or mentions in the press? And does the firm post announcements or information about events geared toward employees? Take a look at firm mentions as well, to see how partners and employees are talking about the firm online.

3. Check the Third-Party Mentions

Mentions on sites such as Glassdoor, which allows employees to review their employers, can help provide insight into the corporate culture, and how well a firm makes good on its promises. However, these sites tend to feature posts from individuals who may have had problems with a firm or who have been let go, so you may want to take these reviews with a grain of salt.

Rather than ruling out a firm based on a bad review, consider using this insight as a starting place for conversations with your network or to guide your questions for interviewers.

4. Leverage Your Network

According to an Employer Brand Study published by the Hinge Research Institute, LinkedIn remains one of the most utilized strategies when searching for career opportunities. This is followed closely by in-person networking.

Both of these tools can prove equally valuable as research tools, particularly for professionals who have built a vast virtual network or who have a sizable email contact list. Reach out to contacts who have recent experience working with the firms of interest to you to get a sense of their personal experience with these companies. You are more likely to get honest insight in response to a question asked of a peer than through a review posted to any website.

5. Explore the Firm’s Visibility in the Press

While this may be particularly important for individuals who are looking to build their professional visibility, it can help any candidate. Review both trade and consumer press for evidence of the firm’s expertise. Look to see what types of resources the firm devotes to publicizing its work, and how it highlights individual professional achievements. Consider, too, the frequency with which new hires or promotions are publicized as evidence of turnover.

Time to Apply

Every firm seeking talented employees wants to put its best face forward, but to ensure a good fit you want to ensure that the information the firm offers matches its reputation in the industry. An employer’s brand can serve as a window into a firm’s culture, and show candidates what it would be like to be part of that firm. By taking time to do some simple research before you say yes to a job offer, you can ensure that your next employer will give you the benefits you need to grow.


About the Author

Karl Feldman is a partner at Hinge. He guides leading architecture, engineering, and construction clients through the complexities of research, marketing strategy, brand building, and web site development. Karl regularly blogs and speaks about professional services marketing and strategy. 

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