I am a member of the social networking site “Nextdoor” (I call it a nosy neighbor site). I joined for the COVID updates and to volunteer my superpowers as a relatively young, low-COVID-risk person. But I stayed for the complete insanity that is village gossip. I was a little shocked to get a notification from my county saying “Civil Engineers!!! We need you!” I clicked on the post and it sounded a little desperate. It seems my county doesn’t mind what stage of your career you are in, what area of civil engineering you are in, or even if you get your job ads from a site used primarily to discuss whose dog is barking at what time.
In the same week, I got an email from a city not too far from me, where I had unsuccessfully applied for a job in 2016, asking me if I would like to apply for a job again. They provided a link to the job they were thinking about, but stressed that if anything else caught my eye I should apply for that too.
The following week I got two messages on LinkedIn from recruiters about civil engineering jobs, located about two hours away, that they thought I might like to apply for.
Now is a good time to point out that while I have worked as a civil engineer before, until now I have never been recruited as one. There is a convincing argument that when you get a Ph.D., you will no longer be a good engineer. Clearly this is an oversimplification, and an enjoyable discussion can be had on this. But I would say that I can’t think of a person I know, or know of (other than me), who has done graduate-level research and then gone into an EIT or P.E. role exclusively. So it should make sense when I tell you that previously, all the messages I got recruiting me to apply for a job were for jobs in R&D, teaching and talking about research, or in one fun case setting up experiments for a TV show. But not civil engineering jobs. As such, these latest recruiting messages conjured up visions of a barrel and an entire HR department reaching as far as they can to the base.
So what’s happening and should we be worried? Well, lots, and yes, always.