2016 Engineering and Construction Industry Trends

Construction and engineering job trends

We work to stay atop the latest news and trends of the industries we write for.  This article looks at the trends shaping the construction and engineering industries in 2016.

Original article click here.

It’s easy to pinpoint why the engineering and construction (E&C) sector is in the doldrums. Demand has fallen significantly as the sudden collapse of oil prices in 2015 led virtually every energy company to slow down, postpone, or outright cancel major projects all over the world. Commodity prices have also tumbled, and the mining industry has reduced its capital spending considerably.


The deterioration of energy and commodities markets is in large part a consequence of the skidding economy in China, which had been a major driver of global economic activity and infrastructure projects over the past decade. Anemic and inconsistent growth in developed markets has been unable to make up for the Chinese shortfall and similar weaknesses in other emerging countries. Continuing global economic instability will almost certainly drive E&C sector revenues down in 2016 compared to the year before, stalling the recovery that had followed the previous collapse in spending in the sector during the 2008-09 financial crisis.


That’s not to say that there are no bright spots for E&C companies. In the U.S., construction starts were up about 15 percent in 2015 and are forecast to advance another 6 percent this year. Also, infrastructure spending has been neglected since the 2008 recession and some analysts believe that worldwide annual infrastructure spending will grow to more than US$9 trillion per year by 2025, from a little over $4 trillion now — that is, if the political will can be mustered to support much-needed improvements.


In addition to the fundamental economic stresses on the E&C sector, established companies face intensifying competition from firms in low-cost nations, which weighs on E&C profit margins and has driven many in the industry to commoditize their services. To make up for it, some E&C companies have turned to a mergers and acquisition strategy centered on acquiring companies offering promising new sources of value in new geographies, new lines of business, or both.

The return of lean times shouldn’t come as a surprise to companies in the sector. For many years, E&C companies have struggled to disentangle themselves from predictable cycles of growth and decline and to find paths to profitable and consistent performance. Success has been fleeting, but in our view that’s because E&C firms have not adopted strategies that directly address the endemic problems their industry faces. Indeed, to break out of this vicious cycle, E&C companies must do two things:


Embrace engineering and construction technologies and specialization that lead the market, outpacing competitors.


The technology puzzle

In general, the engineering and construction industry has been slow to adopt new technologies; indeed, some firms are still using paper-based processes that can only be described as archaic. However, as a reaction to tight margins, a few E&C companies have recently automated and streamlined ways to carry out projects, not just in the design and engineering phase, but in construction as well.


Among the ways to cut costs, firms have offshored and consolidated design centers and adopted BIM (building information modeling) systems to automate much of the work of design and engineering and to supply critical information to workers on the construction site itself. Workers can also share information across project sites and send it back to the home office. These programs have reduced wasteful discrepancies and rework and boosted safety. Such technologies also let companies simulate the construction of just about anything before the project begins, instead of having to figure things out during the construction phase. Companies can perform detailed analyses of costs and scheduling as well.



In addition, advanced construction techniques that were pioneered in offshore oil and gas construction and in aerospace and defense, such as standardization and modularization, are becoming increasingly common in E&C. And the most cutting-edge firms are making use of newer breakthroughs such as 3D printing to produce components for modular construction and drones to inspect sites and monitor progress, quality, and safety.


Although these techniques have the potential to speed up the design and execution of projects and to lower costs considerably, they must be implemented as the centerpiece of a larger strategic platform. If they are not, the gains will dissipate within the ongoing commoditization of the services provided by E&C companies. Simply put, for E&C companies, the trick is not to delay the adoption of new technologies, but rather to figure out how to use these tools to differentiate themselves from the competition.


It’s a two-step process. First, the E&C firm must use collaborative technologies to develop a complete archive of every aspect of the engineering and construction process for current and past projects, gathering information from subcontractors and suppliers throughout the construction chain. The company can then leverage this data to provide its customers with a fuller and more transparent picture of the progress of their projects, and to do so nearly in real time. Second, having demonstrated to customers its ability to achieve better performance, better communication, and open interactions at lower cost throughout the project, the E&C firm will be positioned to outclass its rivals for future efforts.


With this strategic approach, E&C companies can win the volume jobs and use their skills with new technologies to profit from standardized projects, such as natural gas terminals, even as prices fall. And at the same time, they will be front-runners for more complex projects in difficult geographies, because their reputation for advanced capabilities will serve as a calling card.


Know your market

The E&C sector has been in the throes of consolidation for the past few years. Long a highly fragmented business, especially in design and engineering, the industry is finally shifting. Firms are now looking for greater value through acquisitions — they want to enter new geographic and vertical markets, to diversify or narrow their service offerings, to become more vertically integrated, and to boost their talent pool. The sheer number of deals remained high in 2015. There were few if any true megamergers; virtually all the deals involved big companies buying smaller companies to serve a particular strategic objective.


Sometimes expansion is the goal: AECOM’s 2014 acquisition of rival URS for $4 billion significantly enhanced AECOM’s global client base, primarily for power distribution and oil and gas projects. More typically, firms make acquisitions to target particular geographic markets. That can be risky — URS bought Flint Energy Services in 2012 to gain traction in western Canada’s oil sands region, a deal that might have struggled in the face of the recent collapse in oil prices. A further motivation involves buying another firm in order to gain entry into a particular services area, either to augment a company’s current services portfolio or to move up the value chain in search of less commoditized offerings.


As the talent shortage in the sector becomes more acute, E&C firms are also making acquisitions simply to build up their talent pools. This is particularly the case in construction, which is graying quickly and becoming more dependent on talent in specific locations. (Design and engineering, in contrast, have benefited more from globalization and technology, allowing firms to hire younger skilled people and put them to work anywhere in the world.)


Consolidation as a strategy, however, won’t succeed unless the engineering and construction firm understands its market well, to the point of being able to forecast growth areas that can be targeted better by an acquisition. Firms need to fully understand the markets they want to get into, the best way to get into them, and the particular differentiating capabilities those markets require for success. With that insight in mind, E&C companies can undertake acquisitions with a disciplined view of the skills they need and how they plan to use the acquisition to differentiate themselves from competitors. Acquisitions must be made carefully, with an eye toward how the combined companies are integrated and create unique value in the market. The deal must also complement the acquiring company’s current services portfolio, be accretive to earnings, and fit clearly into the growth strategy.


No matter what path E&C firms decide to take in order to escape the commoditization trap — whether through better technology, new geographies, augmented services portfolios, or fresh talent — success will be determined by those who can differentiate themselves from the crowded pack. Companies must ask themselves what their source of competitive differentiation is, what they do well, and what is no longer helping them. If they can’t answer these questions and then gain differentiation through new technologies, organic growth, or acquisitions, they won’t create value for their customers, or themselves. Differentiation means getting there first, and the coming years will soon sort out the winners in this race.


Power Writers USA wants to know what you think of this, and other blog articles we post.  Your career change is unique and PWUSA is here to help you along the way with Resume Writing Services, Cover Letter Writing, CV’s, LinkedIn Profiles Updates, and more.  Contact us now for a free consultation and resume evaluation!

10 Steps to Get a Promotion

10 steps to promotion

Don’t ask for a new job unless you are slaying it in your current role.

Don’t ask your manager. Find out what % of your clients are the companies biggest, most challenging, most critical. Are you getting more or less of those? Have you specifically asked for additional challenges within your current role as a chance to prove yourself?

Lets say you ask for a raise or promotion while your manager is not thrilled with your current work, expect to be seen as someone out of touch and discontent. Don’t play your hand, instead ask your manager how you “stack up” across the organization. I remember once someone who was doing poorly in a marketing role asked me for the COO role at Seer, I knew that person was out of touch and discontent, so I started interviewing like mad, so I would be prepared for the 2 week notice…It came 2 months later.

Lay out 5-10 wins in your current role, and make sure those wins actually matter. For instance if the amount of revenue your team is responsible for grew 20%, that is a great stat, just make 100% sure that the growth came from intentional and purposeful acts you’ve done. Not from the work of your manager or others.

Build a robust plan

Nights and weekends, are key, don’t ask your manager to give you 5 hours back a month to study up on how to become a web designer. Instead show them that you are willing to fight for what you want and will put in the extra time to get it. Get that plan in a Google sheet (link to my google doc) where you can use notification rules or a shared trello. Never let it get out of date, update it every week (use followupthen.com to remind you), that consistency will be impressive over others who just wake up and say “I’d love to do X” when you have been sharing a doc and updating it weekly for 4 months! That is 16 updates to your manager, vs someone else’s 0.

Once you do this tell your manager that “they’ll see” your progress, while you continue to slay it in your current role. Don’t ask for anything, just let them know “they’ll see”.

Self evaluation

Managers love people who can evaluate themselves. So after telling your manager the role you want, put your cons on the table. If you are asking for a role in management this is especially important. This shows a manager you understand where you are weak, build your 5-6 month plan around how to improve in the areas you are weak so you can go toe to toe with external applicants. This is especially important when you do not have the majority of the skills required for the job you want.

Keep in mind external applicants will come with that experience already, its your job to convince your manager with actions (not words) that you are worth the risk and the wait for you to get up to speed. Starting by saying the job needs XYZ, and I only have Z, but here is what I’ve been doing to learn XY, that is how you gain confidence & patience.

Don’t make your promotion your managers problem

Realize you are leaving a hole to be filled when you get promoted or moved to a new department.

Are you saying “toodles” and leaving your manager to back fill the role? Or are you showing your manager a plan on how you are going to train others in the organization to help them prepare / level up into your role.

Are you going to help do some recruiting to help fill it? You are getting the opportunity you want, and that is great, so don’t make it your managers job to fix, train up others and fill the hole. They will be more likely to help you move into the role you want, if you help show a plan on how you are going to make filling the role your priority, not their problem.

Study the role

If you are seeking a role that you don’t have a whole ton of experience in, ask yourself how you will show your manager that you are learning? Want to become a manager, ask your manager what books they’d recommend, and actually read them.

Heck, ask them if they’d discuss it over drinks with you. Want to become a designer? Go build out something…take a class. The goal is to show your manager that you didn’t just wake up yesterday and have the idea, but that you’ve been putting in work before you said anything.

Solve a big problem for your manager

This happens less than you would think, so it will give you a big leg up. Ask your manager what is something they have wanted to get to and haven’t for the last 3-6 months and get it done, don’t try to get it done. Get. It. Done. Sheryl Sandberg has said that she has interviewed thousands of people in her career, what stopped her dead in her track and made her jaw hit the floor? When someone asked her what problem she needed solved, When time comes around for that promotion or job change, you are able to let that manager know…hey even if I don’t have the skills yet….I have a track record to asking you about the big issues we face and finding a way to fix them. Just make 100% sure that you agree on what success looks like at the outset, so you don’t find yourself taking credit for a success that your manager won’t see the same way.

Understand the business dynamics

If you want a new project in a different department or reduced workload to work on a special project, that is great. Getting an understanding of how that move impacts margins and revenue for the business. Are you asking to work in a position that is overhead? Are you asking to spend 80% of your time in a new division that is losing money? If so, that doesn’t mean NOT to do it. It means you need to make part of your plan to accommodate for that hit in margin..

Mitigate risk

So you want to manage but have never managed people before….mitigate risk, your manager is thinking what if they suck and the whole team quits or becomes less productive and we don’t hit goal, then you’ll quit under the pressure making more work for them? That is how a manager might look at it, they have to balance the upside with the risks of the downside. How can you protect their downside? Get innovative.

Become a temp

Get to know the workload of that other division you want to work with. Find a way to help them solve issues without switching teams. Wanna be a manager, have you ever asked the managers if you could sit in on their meeting for some time? Even if they say no, you are making an impression! Wanna be a designer or HR person someday, have you ever asked to sit in on one of their weeklies? Have you done that every week for 2 months? If you get a Yes, and I hope you do, allows you to get exposure to the work. Ask the head of that department, what you can do to help them at 5 hours a week. Ask, if I gave you 5 hours of my week (on top of your current workload) what problems would you like me to help you solve.

Here’s the link to the full piece:


Power Writers USA wants to know what you think of this, and other blog articles we post.  Your career change is unique and PWUSA is here to help you along the way with Resume Writing Services, Cover Letter Writing, CV’s, LinkedIn Profiles Updates, and more.  Contact us now for a free consultation and resume evaluation!

Expert Advice: 13 Most Common Resume Mistakes

Resume advice

Tiffany Cruz is an experienced resume writer and editor at Power Writers USA and has been hired more than 485 times (!) on Thumbtack
Ready for a career change this year? Then it’s time to dust off that resume. We spoke to Tiffany Cruz, a resume writer and editor at Power Writers USA, to find out the most common mistakes most people make on their resumes. Read on to see which ones you’re guilty of and why hiring someone to help you with yours might be a good idea.

1. Forgetting the Resume’s Purpose

“The resume is a tool used to help you get an interview,” Cruz says. “It should be a high level overview of your accomplishments and what you’ve been doing professionally. You’re using it to capture the hiring manager’s attention, so you want to keep that person’s point of view in mind.” She advises you leave out things that may be too specific or detailed. “Once you’re in the interview, then you can go into the day-to-day aspects of your responsibilities.”

2. Not Making Your Name Stand out

Cruz says it’s crucial to make sure your name really jumps off the page. “I advise my clients to make their name bold and large—between a 22 and 28 font size, so that the person reviewing the resume remembers it.”

3. Including an Objective

“Objectives aren’t very common anymore,” Cruz says. “I see them once in a while, but I don’t think they’re useful in terms of getting you an interview.”

4. Spelling and Grammar Errors

“Make sure to dot the i’s and cross the t’s,” Cruz advises. “If you’re writing your own resume, get a second set of eyes on it.” Not only will that person be able to provide recommendations about improvements you may want to make, there’s also a good chance she’ll spot any typos you missed.

5. Using a Crazy Font

“You want the hiring manager to see your resume the way you set it up regardless of how they open the file,” Cruz says. “So it’s important to use a universal font, like Times New Roman or Arial. Yes, those fonts are a little more straightforward and boring, but a universal font gives the resume a refined and professional look.

6. Forgetting the Basics

Put your name, physical address, email address, and phone number at the top of your resume. “You’d be surprised how many people forget to put a phone number on there,” she says. “And then they wonder why no one’s calling to set up interviews.”

7. Leaving Out Some of Your Education

Sure, you remember to put your formal education on your resume, but Cruz says you want to be sure to include any type of education that’s relevant to the job. “If you’ve taken additional training courses that might potentially relate to the job, that should go on there.”

8. Using a Passive Voice

Use action verbs to relay your accomplishments and achievements. Instead of writing “I am responsible for x, y, and z,” choose verbs like managed, coordinated, assisted, and performed.” Cruz says, “You may only have a couple of seconds to catch the hiring manager’s attention when they’re skimming through that stack of resumes. It’s really important to use words that will make them take notice.”

9. Not Paying Attention to Formatting

“Formatting is really important,” Cruz says. “Is it symmetrical? Is it nice to look at? Make sure you’re putting the same information for each job in the same place. Then, when it’s finished, print it out and look at it from a few feet of way. When you’re in a stack of 50 other resumes, you want yours to be eye catching.” In fact, she says, consider bolding certain words or phrases to make them stand out.

10. Omitting Basic Information

Cruz says, “Make sure you’re including the company name, city and state, and dates you worked on your resume.” Leaving that stuff out just gives the hiring manager more work to do and no one wants more work.

11. Including Your Hobbies

A resume’s purpose is to show a potential employer your skills and abilities. Or as Cruz says, “No one is going to bring you into an interview because you’re awesome.” That means unless your hobby is directly related to the field in which you’re applying, leave it off your resume. Same rules apply for volunteer work, which Cruz says is better off being mentioned in the interview if it seems applicable.

12. Keeping It to Just One Page

“If you have an amazing career, don’t stop at one page,” Cruz says. “A two page resume is fine.” That being said, you don’t want to go back any further than 15 or 20 years. “If you have over 30 years of experience in the industry, put that in a summary towards the top,” Cruz suggests.

13. Leaving Out Quantifiable Numbers

“People love to see numbers,” Cruz says, so look for ways to quantify your accomplishments. Whether it’s sales numbers, that you’re managing a staff of five, or showing that you’ve met your annual goals, numbers are a great way to break up the monotony of reading text.

If you’re actively looking for a new job, a qualified resume writer and editor can help you create a resume and cover letter that will reflect who you are and your accomplishments, look professional, and most of all: help you land the interview. And she can do it in a fraction of the time it would take you. Find a pro on Thumbtack to help you get your dream job in 2016.

Tiffany Cruz is the owner of Power Writers USA. You can hire her to help you with your resume via Thumbtack or on her website.

Bonus tip!  Reach out to an industry recruiter and have them take a look at your completed resume.  They may be able to offer some constructive feedback.  Plus, networking with recruiters while you are looking for a new job can really help your job search.


Power Writers USA wants to know what you think of this, and other blog articles we post.  Your career change is unique and PWUSA is here to help you along the way with Resume Writing Services, Cover Letter Writing, CV’s, LinkedIn Profiles Updates, and more.  Contact us now for a free consultation and resume evaluation!