How to know when it’s time to leave your job: 10 indicators

Leave your job

Sometimes the signs are obvious, sometimes you get so caught up in the daily grind that you forget to stop and think about it.  Take a few minutes of your day to read this great article and decide for yourself if it’s time to leave your job.

Original article click here.

If you’re unhappy with your current job, it may be time to consider these 10 important factors that indicate a bigger change is needed. When is it time to leave your job?

Thinking about leaving your job and actually doing it are two very different things.  While everybody has some bad days at work, you need to pay attention to symptoms like regular sleep disruption, constant fear of termination, physical and/or emotional illness, alcohol and drug use to cope, and chronic unhappiness.  If you are experiencing even one of these, you probably should consider a job change NOW.  Take a look at the following specific indicators and see which ones resonate strongly with YOU:

1.  You are bored, stale, and stuck.

Your alarm clock rings in the morning, and you push the snooze button twice.  You groan when you think about facing the day.  Once at work, you watch the clock and give in to every distraction that comes your way.

2.  You no longer support the organization’s mission, philosophy, and/or culture.

You find that you are trying to convince yourself that you can still work for this company despite the recent mission shift, growing philosophic differences, and/or unwanted culture changes.  You tell yourself that the misalignment doesn’t really matter, yet you feel like a fish out of water every day.

3.  You conclude that you are not well suited for your job.

You have the right skills, but you don’t like the work.  Although people regularly compliment your expertise and productivity, they have no idea how drained you feel while working to reach your goals.  You are tired of smiling and pretending that all is well.

4.  Your professional growth has stagnated where you are.

Your boss doesn’t offer you development opportunities such as attending conferences and seminars, signing up for online webinar trainings, or registering for college courses.  Further, your boss doesn’t take the time to invest in you through mentoring and coaching.

5.  You find reasons not to expand your skill set.

Although you realize that you could do an even better job if you learned an additional skill, you make excuses for choosing to get by with the skills you already have.  You look for work-arounds, dodge situations that require the needed skill, and/or tell yourself that you lack the time to learn something new.

6.  Your morale is low.

You discover that you are simply not motivated.  People ask you why you never smile.  You procrastinate about starting projects.  You only do what is expected and nothing more.

7.  Other people don’t respond favorably to you.

You notice that coworkers avoid you.  When you voice your opinions or provide input to conversations, people seem to resist your contributions.  When they see you in the hallway or in meetings, they ignore you, pretend you don’t exist, or treat you badly.

8.  You resent the work.

While you do your work and submit it on time, you know you harbor a negative attitude about it.  You frequently feel overwhelmed, and you “fight” all the responsibility you shoulder.  You think about how unjust it is that you appear to be carrying a bigger load than many of your peers.

9.  You resist the changes coming down the pike.

As your boss outlines certain departmental or organizational changes slated to go into effect within the next few months, you silently reject them—even if you know they will be positive and beneficial to everyone involved.  You decide that you don’t want to make these changes because they require effort you’d rather not expend.

10. You have stopped making a positive difference and being a positive influence.

You go to work and do your job, but you don’t go out of your way to add noticeable value to relationships, situations, and the overall culture.  You do what is expected of you—nothing more.

If you see yourself in one or several of the above indicators, it’s probably time to take action.  Create an exit plan, set a time frame, and seek support for your big move.  Staying around for another year isn’t going to serve you, your colleagues, or your company.  Face the fact that you are no longer fully engaged, and muster the courage to cut the cord.

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Power Writers USA wants to know what you think of this, and other blog articles we post.  Your career change is unique and PWU 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!

How To Hunt For Jobs In Silicon Valley In 2018

Silicon Valley Job Trends

There are a lot of dynamics involved when looking for a job, especially in Silicon Valley.  This article looks at job positions in demand, salaries for popular jobs and which companies are big players.  As we stress, it is always important to prepare yourself for any type of career transition.

Original article click here.

Silicon Valley is the dream for thousands of tech professionals. Big companies, high salaries, great perks, and California weather make it an attractive place to imagine living and building a career.

That said, it’s not easy, either. High cost of living, fierce competition for work, and often penchants for workaholism are the usual trade-offs.

For those who decide the pros of Silicon Valley outweigh the cons, job-seekers in certain careers will have better luck than others. These key findings from an Indeed study on the state of hiring in the Bay Area in 2018 illuminate which careers are most in-demand and which companies are looking for applicants.

1. Overall job postings are down in the Bay Area.

Job growth in Silicon Valley has been on a steady decline since 2015, meaning that there are less overall open roles available there than in the past.

 Based on their data, Indeed postulates that the tech jobs could be going to other cities. Seattle in particular has experienced growth, and D.C. and Baltimore listings have increased as well. “There are now more tech job opportunities in other locations such as Austin or Seattle where there weren’t as many before,” says Raj Mukherjee, SVP of Product at Indeed. “Or it could be due to the high cost of living, as the San Francisco Bay Area is noted to have some of the highest housing rental costs in the US.”

So as far as locations go, Silicon Valley is still the tech king–but the competition is rising.

2. The high cost of living requires a career with a high salary.

The housing market in the Bay Area is notoriously brutal–which means that while a $120,000 salary may be impressive elsewhere in the country, it’s downright average in the Valley.

That’s why it’s typically only worth it to make the move if you’re in a high-salaried line of work. According to Indeed’s survey, these are the top ten roles with the highest annual pay in Silicon Valley:

  1. Product development engineer ($173,570)
  2. Director of product management ($173,556)
  3. Data warehouse architect ($169,836)
  4. DevOps manager ($166,448)
  5. Senior architect ($161,124)
  6. Principal software engineer ($160,326)
  7. Senior solutions architect ($158,329)
  8. Principal Java developer ($156,402)
  9. Senior software architect ($154,944)
  10. Platform engineer ($154,739)

Perhaps interestingly, it’s not the straight technical roles that take the top spots. Rather, it’s those who combine specialties: product know-how with programming or management, technical knowledge with big-picture vision and leadership.

3. These are the titles with the most job openings available.

If you’re pursuing one of the following careers, you’ll have a much greater chance of landing a role in Silicon Valley. These are the top ten jobs with the highest amount of openings:

  1. Software engineer
  2. Front-end developer
  3. Full-stack developer
  4. Product manager
  5. Development operations engineer
  6. Software architect
  7. Java developer
  8. Software test engineer
  9. Senior product manager
  10. Engineering program manager

Sadly, none of these overlap with the highest-paid roles–but you can always pursue promotions and work your way up. In this case, having those hard technical engineering and development skills will pay off.

4. Big companies dominate in job openings.

It’s up to every individual whether they feel more drawn to small, exciting startups or big, established companies. But the numbers don’t lie: the big companies are where the bulk of open jobs are.

These are the top ten companies with the most job openings in the Valley:

  1. Apple
  2. Amazon
  3. Cisco
  4. Oracle
  5. Google
  6. Facebook
  7. Salesforce
  8. Intel
  9. GE Corporate
  10. Intuit

Of course, there are new startups every day in the area as well, so you’re not limited to the behemoths. That said, five of these companies are also on Indeed’s list of best places to work in the Bay Area, so weigh that as you will.

If you’re ready to make the move to Silicon Valley, it can certainly be rewarding for your career, finances, and life. But make sure to go in with your eyes open and your skills polished.

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Power Writers USA wants to know what you think of this, and other blog articles we post.  Your career change is unique and PWU 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!

5 Tips for a Midlife Career Change

Don’t ever be afraid to consider a career change.  Life is short and there’s more to it than staying in the same job, especially if you don’t like it.  We get that it can be hard to make a change, particularly if you and your family depend on the income, but there are a lot of resources available to help guide you.  This article offers some useful suggestions for those in the middle of their career.
Original article click here.
When it comes to midlife career change, experts say it’s important not to rush a career transition. Develop a process that includes friends and advisors, and stick to it.

Midlife Career Change SignpostsSo it’s time for a midlife career change. You’re at the midpoint of life; your first career leaves you bored, empty or worn out. But how do you assess the options, get advice and determine a new path?

You want to do something different but haven’t got a clue. Run an alpaca farm? Join the Peace Corps? Take up sculpture? Launch an Internet venture? Midlife is also a time to realign work—paid or unpaid—with personal values, a chance to leave your mark on the world.

Midlife career change is a scary business, fraught with obstacles—a resistant spouse, financial concerns, fear of failure. Where do you start? What should you consider? Such fears have prevented many a high-achiever from reaching beyond their comfort zone, but the biggest rewards come from taking the biggest risks, says life coach Caroline Adams Miller, author of “Creating Your Best Life” (Sterling2009). “Otherwise, you may be filled with regret at the end of your life—and that prospect helps put steel in your spine,” she says.

Studies show that up to 80 percent of baby boomers plan to do some sort of paid work until age 70 to stay mentally sharp, keep engaged socially and achieve financial security in retirement. With three or more decades after age 50 to work, play and give back, “this isn’t just a new stage of life, it’s a new stage of work, and one for which there is a lot of confusion and few models of what constitutes success,” says Marc Freedman, CEO of the California-based think tank Civic Ventures.

That could mean wearing multiple hats—for example, writing, doing public speaking, teaching and consulting. Or it could mean creating a portfolio of work, leisure, volunteering, learning and travel. In any case, it means finding a customized solution that puts you in control of your life and provides a sense of satisfaction.

Experts in the life-planning field say it’s important to resist the urge to find a quick fix, and to devote sufficient time and energy to doing your homework. Ask the hard questions, get help from friends and colleagues and consult with career counselors, coaches and financial planners for insight, guidance and inspiration.

5 Tips for Midlife Career Change

Here are five tips for getting started, drawn from the What’s Next special report, Career Change & Life Balance.

1. Understand your priorities and needs.

Who are you and what do you want? Simple questions, but the answers aren’t always easy to find. For those accustomed to achievement, carving out time to do nothing is a challenge. But you need that time to assess what gives you joy, what excites you and fills you with passion.

New Directions, a Boston-based consulting firm, provides advice and guidance to C-level executives and professionals on how to make career transitions. That process, which the firm calls Me 101, takes months and costs thousands of dollars. New Directions clients are hard-driven Type A’s, and not prone to navel-gazing, says Jeff Redmond, a company partner. “But you’ve got to slow down and decompress in order to do the R&D on yourself,” he adds.

2. Use a tool or take a test.

Besides taking time out to contemplate your options, there are other ways to jump-start a midlife career change. In an initial consultation, career coaches and counselors often use tests or comprehensive questionnaires to assess a client’s skills, interests, values and personality traits. You can play career counselor yourself with dozens of self-assessment tests, many of which are available online. Some are free, while others require a fee and sometimes require evaluation by a trained evaluator. Just don’t expect them to provide all the answers.

3. Tell your story.

Mining the past for clues is another time-tested way for midlife career changers to find a road map to their future. Writing an autobiography highlighting critical events, influential relationships and significant achievements often leads to surprising revelations.

  • What were the high points in your career that gave you a jolt of energy and pride?
  • What makes you happy?
  • What do you want more or less of in your life?

It’s just human nature to miss things about ourselves that are apparent to others. You can’t see your own eyes light up or hear your voice change when you talk about the volunteer job at the local elementary school, or that environmental vacation spent cleaning up Mexican beaches. For that reason, career coaches and counselors often advise assembling a team of advisers to help one recall childhood aspirations and career high points. The team might include former bosses, professors, coaches and high school friends. “Just like a corporate board, you want diversity,” says corporate career counselor Richard Leider.

4. Call in the pros.

A major career transition may require expert help. Career coaches and counselors can help clients identify skills, set goals and draw up action plans, as well as provide support during the process. Certified financial planners can help crunch the numbers to make sure the plan is affordable and that retirement is secure. And increasing numbers of planners are adding life-planning skills to their portfolios, so they can help clients with the non-financial aspects of life. With the right help, you can travel down the road to reinvention faster, with fewer bumps along the way.

5. Test the waters.

Research indicates that midlife adults are more likely to make successful transitions experientially rather than analytically. The big revelations come from jumping in and trying new things to see what works.

Luckily, midlife career-changers have plenty of options. Prospective teachers can substitute in elementary, middle and high-school classrooms to sample work with different age groups and teaching environments. Volunteer at a hospital before applying to nursing school. Take a low-paid job at a plant nursery before signing up for a horticulture degree. Internships, sabbaticals, college courses or even brief apprenticeships allow a career-switcher to step out of the daily routine, gain hands-on experience and test-drive that new pathway before quitting a day job.

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Power Writers USA wants to know what you think of this, and other blog articles we post.  Your career change is unique and PWU 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!

Thinking About Working With a Job Recruiter?

Recruit me!

A job recruiter can be a powerful ally when it comes to you finding the right job.  But don’t mistake a recruiter for a career coach who will give you strategic guidance and a greater clarity of purpose for your career.  Recruiters are in business to get people hired. 

Recruiters typically work in 2 capacities, Internal and External.   Internal recruiters, also known as “corporate” recruiters, work inside the employer’s organization and usually collect a paycheck (salary) from the employer who has the jobs open.

Their office will typically be on the employer’s premises, and their email and phone will typically be part of the employer’s email and phone system. So, their email will probably be Jane.Doe@[employer] or possibly HR@[employer], recruiting@[employer], or something similar. To reach them by phone, you may call the employer’s main number and then ask for their extension, or you may call them directly.

External recruitersalso known as “independent” recruiters, do not receive a paycheck from the employer who has the open jobs. They work for someone else, a recruiting firm or agency, which issues their paychecks. Some, of course, work for themselves. None are on the payroll of the employer with the open jobs.

How to Work with Internal Recruiters

Very carefully. They are not “on your side” in this process. No matter how friendly, they are not your friend (yet). Always present your “best” self to them. Do not confide in them, or ask them to do you any favors. Be professional and business-like in all your communications with them. Wear your interview outfit if you are invited in for a meeting with them.

Typically, they are your official contact for the process. So, when you have questions or concerns, you are usually advised to contact the recruiter. Be careful not to abuse this contact function because it can have a negative impact on your opportunity with that employer. Do you best to avoid the “difficult-to-work-with” label, because that will greatly reduce (if not eliminate) your opportunities inside that organization.

How to Work with External Recruiters

The best part about working with an external recruiter is that you both usually have the same goal — getting you placed with the employer. Again, don’t tell them your deepest secrets, but do be honest with them about your interests and experience. If you have gaps or other issues, they may be able to help you strategize a way to present yourself in the best light.

Don’t expect them to help you figure out what you want to do, but do expect them to provide you with some insight into what is going on inside the employer’s organization – what the “hot” issues are, who are apt to be your allies in the hiring process, and who the real decision makers are.

After you have been in for an interview, they may be your primary source of information on what is going on “behind the curtain” during the often extended hiring process. Try very hard not to drive them crazy with daily calls, but do stay in touch.

If you land a job through an external recruiter, be sure to send them a thank you. A good relationship with an external recruiter can be an asset to your career for many years. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Send cards during the holidays. Refer top performers you know to these external recruiters to strengthen your relationship with them and help them to remember you with positive feelings.

Connect with Recruiters

Most external recruiters, and many internal recruiters, are open to LinkedIn connection invitations. Being connected to as many people as possible in LinkedIn is an advantage to them because it enables them to do a substantial amount of research in LinkedIn without paying the extra fee LinkedIn likes to collect from recruiters.

Recruiters often use LinkedIn Groups to find, connect with, and monitor good potential candidates, so join the professional and industry associations appropriate for your career. (Huffington Post).

When it comes to your job search you will probably want to exhaust your resources to give yourself the greatest opportunities.  Working with a recruiter may be a good way to do that.

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Power Writers USA wants to know what you think of this, and other blog articles we post.  Your career change is unique and PWU 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!

 

6 Networking Tips for Your Job Search

Networking tips for job search

Sometimes the best job offers are only a few handshakes away or a couple degrees of separation from your inner circle.  It’s important to approach networking for a new job with a good strategy.  This article gives some great tips for networking as a part of your job search.

Original article click here.

The biggest mistake people make in networking is focusing on what they want rather than listening to others.

Networking with other professionals in your industry can be beneficial when you’re looking for work. You might meet the hiring manager for a company and hear about an unadvertised position, find a new consulting opportunity, or get some insight into the best way to apply for a position.

The biggest mistake people make in networking is focusing on what they want, rather than on connecting and listening to others. If you want your networking to be truly effective, the goal should be focused on helping others and making memorable connections.

The Importance of Professional Networking

 Anything you can do to stand out against the sea of job-seeking competitors can help you get the job you want. Having the right contacts (made through networking) can get you the inside scoop that can help you tailor your resume for what the company really wants, or can even provide the hiring manager with a good word or two about you. Considering that most jobs come through personal connections, building your network should be a high priority on and off the job search.
Networking for Success

Networking takes work and practice. Here are a few tips to help you make your networking truly successful.

1. Give as much as you get.

When you think, “how can this person help me,” you’ll be disappointed. However, when you are offering help to others, you’ll find them far more open to the idea of helping you down the road. Forming relationships built on trust will help you be the person your contacts think of the next time they can find a way to help you.

 2. Be proactive.
Networking doesn’t just happen. You need to be active in your efforts and make sure you get out and meet people. Start by talking to everyone you meet at business meetups, trade shows, and conferences.
To find upcoming events, pay attention to the newspaper or go online. Sites like meetup.comEventfulEventBrite and LinkedIn Events are all very useful when you need to find places to network.
 3. Develop your networking strategy.
Prepare your elevator speech explaining who you are and what you do, and practice enough that you sound like a natural. Schedule at least two or three events a month, and find groups that you want to join so that you build relationships through the monthly meetings.

Have a stack of business cards ready to hand out. You don’t want to be the person who works the room racing to collect and hand out your cards, though. Save the exchange for when you have a conversation. People can sense greedy networkers who are there to work the room and add as many contacts to their mailing list without permission. Being genuine sells, so be prepared to ask plenty of questions of others, and keep in mind that you’re trying to help them first, not the other way around.

4. Stay positive.

It’s easy to let yourself get down and lose self esteem when you’ve been rejected in the job hunt, and this can affect everything, including your networking skills. Staying positive makes you approachable and memorable. Consider each networking event an opportunity to learn something new or meet someone interesting.

5. Take full advantage of opportunities.

With networking opportunities abounding, make sure you actually attend them. Networking only works if you put yourself out there and to start talking to people. Let your guard down and be aware of what your body language communicates.

 6. Don’t forget social media.
While it’s true that in-person meetings solidify relationships, when it comes to networking, many relationships can either start or flourish through social networking. Use sites like Twitter and Facebook to stay in touch with people you’ve met in person, as well as to network with others, such as people who work at the company you’re interested in.

Honing your networking skills will serve you well throughout your professional career, especially when job searching. Networking takes time and relationships won’t develop overnight, so be patient. By making a point of consistently meeting new people, you will learn from others about your industry, profession, and the companies you’re interested in. You might even find your perfect job you would have never known about otherwise!

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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!

6 steps to a successful career change

Career Change

Although this article originated in Australia, the lessons on how to manage a successful career change are almost universally applicable.  These are 6 excellent points to consider when thinking about your next move.  Best of luck!

Original article click here.

Making a career change can be a daunting experience. But gone are the days when most of the workforce stayed in the one stable job for decades. In Australia, 57% of people have made a career change before; 19% have done so in the last twelve months. So, how did they do it?

  1. Self-assessment. A good place to start is with an honest self-assessment. Changing careers can present you with a number of significant challenges; you may find yourself being forced to confront difficult questions about your past work experience and performance. You’ll be best served if you’ve already thought about these before a hiring manager puts them to you. Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself:
    • What do you want from your career?
    • What sacrifices are you prepared to make to achieve it?
    • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  2. Seek adviceSpeak with people who’ve taken the plunge and changed careers before. They might be able to guide you on some of the pitfalls you should try and avoid. It’s also worth seeking out people in the industry or role you’re interested in joining. They might be able to provide you with a plan about how to best go about achieving your goals.
  3. Speak with your boss. It’s important that you ensure you have a strong support network when you decide to change careers. Being open and communicating can make the transition much easier; explain the reasons for your decision and a little about the direction you hope to move in. If you’re particularly worried about how he or she will react, this can be a good way to alleviate some of the stress involved with changing careers.
  4. Set goals. “Set yourself a series of short, medium and long-term goals,” says Wayne Baker, Chief Operations Officer at Symmetry HR. “They can be as simple as applying for five jobs or cold-calling companies you’d like to work for.” Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and then set process-oriented goals. So, for example, rather than setting one of your goals as getting your dream job, set yourself the goal of acquiring the skills that will make you the best candidate for getting that dream role.
  5. Network. Seek out people you know working in the industry or role you want to move into. Be up-front with them about your desire to change career; be bold in asking for their help. Ask whether they know of any opportunities currently available and tell them you’d appreciate it if they kept you in mind if they heard of anything in the future. Maintain personable and regular contact with these people while you’re looking to change careers, as they’re often among the best resources for information.
  6. Volunteer. Volunteering can be a great way of gaining experience in a field you’ve not worked in before. If you’re unsure about the change, volunteering can be a way of getting an idea of whether you want to go down a particular path. One of the advantages is that you can usually volunteer outside of your normal work hours, so you don’t have to quit your job before making any firm decisions about your future.

Changing careers can be daunting, but it can also turn out to be one of the best decisions you will ever make. If you’re unhappy where you are or just wish you were doing something else, why settle?

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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!

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.

 

Twitter/LinkedIn

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.

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