President of The Smith Consulting Group, Juli Smith, Featured in GoodCall


President of The Smith Consulting Group – A member of the Sanford Rose Associates® network of offices, Juli Smith, Featured in GoodCall, 40% of Women Engineering Students Earning Degrees Quit or Never Enter the Field, MIT Study Finds

Dallas, 9/22/2016

Engineering remains one of the highest-paid fields requiring only a bachelor’s profession, and much has been done to try to open the field to more women. But a recent study at MIT shows that 40% of women who earn engineering degrees either quit or never enter the field.

Juli Smith, president of the Smith Consulting Group, which specializes in civil engineering and IT, tells GoodCall that she’s spoken with many women engineers and the reasons for leaving the profession often vary by age. “Many experienced women hit the ‘good ‘old boy’ glass ceiling, rarely making it into the executive suite; they become disenchanted and they get into other careers.”

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Juli Smith, President of The Smith Consulting Group, Featured in GoodCall


Juli Smith, President of The Smith Consulting Group – A member of the Sanford Rose Associates® network of offices Featured in GoodCall, Companies Struggle Finding Workers in Five Fields

Dallas, 9/7/2016

While many college grads lament the difficulties of finding meaningful work with good wages, there’s another side to the employment story. Companies lament the difficulties of finding workers – especially skilled ones – and keeping them. According to Randstad’s 2016 Workplace Trends Report, 79% of hiring managers say it’s difficult to find applicants who meet the job description for open positions.

It’s a sentiment shared by Juli Smith, president of the Jackson, MI-based Smith Consulting Group – especially in civil engineering. Smith tells GoodCall, “If you were going into your freshman or sophomore year of college during the recession or graduating during the 2007-2011 years, there were very few civil engineering firms hiring interns.” As a result, she says many engineers went back to school and earned a degree in another field. “So now, there is a large vacuum for talent in the market for civil engineers with 5-10 years of experience.”

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Why Engineers Screw Up the Interview…

…because they are engineers and they can’t seem to help themselves?

Engineers by nature and by training (is it nurture or nature?) are trained to look for the reasons why something will fail and too often, this translates right into the job interview.  Too many engineers are looking at the potential candidate and trying to find reasons why they aren’t a fit instead of looking for attributes that add value to the organization, and by sharing a value proposition to make them WANT to come to work there.

Your interview process needs to change based on the current job market.  Look around.  If you haven’t noticed, we are in one of the hottest job markets I have experienced in 16 years as an engineering and architect recruiter.  So, if you are conducting interviews like you did back in 2010, you need to stop and re-evaluate your process.  The candidate sitting in front of you has options.  More options than you do currently, so in light of that fact, if you want to increase your options of actually attracting that candidate to to come work for you, you need to make some slight shifts in your mindset.

I invite you to consider the following:

  1. Interviewing is like dating: Just get to know them first.  Do you even like this person?  Is this someone you would want hanging around your office for 8-12 hours a day?
  2. Screen in, then screen out- too many engineers are screening out first and missing a lot of potentially good people for minor things that aren’t really that important at the end of the day.  Good companies and good managers know that a person with integrity, intelligence and personal drive can learn skills germane to the job.  Would you rather have a person with the exact skills but who has a low personal drive and an annoying personality that disrupts the team?
  3. Know your value proposition and key in on what you have to sell the candidate.  Here’s a tip, folks: your value proposition isn’t having a paycheck to offer and good benefits.  When I ask my clients this question, this is the most common response.  If you don’t know your value proposition, you need to create one.  What is unique about your company in the marketplace?  Why do YOU like working there? What do other people find compelling about continuing to work at the company? Take some time and figure this out and then actually talk to candidates about why your organization is a great place to come and spend 8-12 hours a day!

How to Invite a Candidate to Reject Your Offer

You’ve probably heard this saying before: “Nature abhors a vacuum.”

The fact of that matter is that candidates looking for their next great career opportunity abhor a vacuum, too . . . and I have a recent experience that illustrates this.

One of my clients conducted both a telephone interview and a face-to-face interview with a candidate. Afterwards, company officials said they loved the candidate and wanted to have them return for another face-to-face interview, and most likely, an offer of employment.

However, after the second face-to-face interview, I encountered “total radio silence,” so to speak, from my client. It wasn’t until four weeks later that the hiring manager called to inform me they weren’t moving forward. I passed that information along to the candidate, who said the following:

“Yeah, I was already starting to think that the location wasn’t that great and maybe it wasn’t the best fit for me.”

So how did a candidate who went on two face-to-face interviews with a company effectively talk themselves out of the opportunity? Because the company did not provide timely feedback. In fact, after a certain point, the company did not provide any feedback at all.

In a situation like this, the candidate “abhors a vacuum.” In other words, when presented with no feedback or new information, their mind begins to search, subconsciously or otherwise, for reasons why the job is NOT a great career opportunity.

And the longer there’s no feedback, the more reasons the candidate comes up with.

This is a lose-lose situation for the company, regardless of whether or not they decide to move forward with the candidate. Here’s why:

  • If the company does decide to move forward, they now have a half-interested candidate at best. At worst, they have a candidate who has already accepted an offer from a competitor.
  • If the company does not decide to move forward, the candidate feels that they’ve been strung along and they’re left with a “bad taste in their mouth.” As a result, they’re far less likely to speak highly of the company in the future.

When the interviewing and hiring process drags on too long, candidates start to mentally protect themselves against possible rejection—especially if the company does not communicate or provide timely feedback during the process. Candidates fill their own heads with what might or might not be going on behind the scenes, and regardless of what is actually happening, they talk themselves out of the opportunity.

So effectively, companies are inviting candidates to reject their opportunity. And in the majority of cases, candidates are accepting that invitation.


Why would I use a recruiter?

That’s a very good question and one that seems to surface more during the good economic times. Here’s a few good reasons why it makes sense to further your career with the help from a good recruiter who works in your niche:


  1. Confidentiality– A recruiter is generally working with the hiring manager and the human resources team so your resume will be seen by a limited number of people. Recruiters rely heavily on referrals so it’s extremely important to maintain strict confidentiality to protect their reputation in the marketplace as being someone you can trust.
  2. Access– A good recruiter will learn your “why” and be able to match that up with clients who have similar cultures and they will package your background to present you in the best possible light to those firms who may have a need for someone like you. Good recruiters have relationships with firms who use them as an extension of their internal HR departments as talent scouts in the market. Many positions are filled without ever having been posted.
  3. Speed- A good headhunter will source the top opportunities, present them to you, arrange your interview, prepare you for the meeting, give you feedback after the interview and help negotiate your offer.


Anyone can sell their own home, but it’s simpler and faster to turn that over to someone who does it every day and the same holds true for advancing your career with the help of a recruiter.   The key is to develop a good relationship with a recruiter who specializes in your niche BEFORE you need one. You never know what crazy curveballs life is going to throw at you….AECOM acquiring URS?


The next time a recruiter calls you, talk to them and learn about their recruiting philosophy. Are they likeable or do you get the sense they just want to place you to collect a fee? Do they know your market? They should be a specialist in your niche. You wouldn’t have your local family doctor also repair a torn ligament in your knee. Good recruiters spend years developing specialized knowledge in a specific niche so it’s important to work with a specialist who knows your market. A relationship with a recruiter can mean access to plum opportunities in the market.


Juli Smith, President of The Smith Consulting Group – A member of the Sanford Rose Associates® network of offices Featured in Recruiter


Juli Smith, President of The Smith Consulting Group – A member of the Sanford Rose Associates® network of offices Featured in Recruiter, 7 Ways Hiring Managers and Recruiters Can Work Better Together

Dallas, 2/12/2016

Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers! Have a question you’d like to ask? Leave it in the comments, and you might just see it in the next installment of Recruiter Q&A!

Today’s Question: The relationship between recruiters and hiring managers isn’t always so amicable. Let’s fix that: What are your top tips to help recruiters and hiring managers work better together?

It’s All About How You Communicate

“Set and share expectations for how you will communicate with each other. Don’t be afraid to share negative feedback about candidates with each other, and be prompt with your communication. Dragging the process out with delayed communication just hinders the relationship. Also, don’t communicate bad news by email. If you want to grow the relationship, pick up the phone,” says Juli Smith, The Smith Consulting Group, LLC.

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Juli Smith, President of The Smith Consulting Group – A member of the Sanford Rose Associates® network of offices Featured in LadyLUX


Juli Smith, President of The Smith Consulting Group – A member of the Sanford Rose Associates® network of offices Featured in LadyLUX, The Best Careers for Women in 2016

Dallas, 2/5/2016

Opportunities for women in 2016 and beyond are far more vast than our grandmothers could have ever anticipated. And while women want to believe that wage inequality and workplace harassment are things of the past, it isn’t always the case.

Top careers to consider

Executive Search

“With all the press about glass ceilings and equal pay for women, there is no greater pay equalizer than executive search as a top career choice for women. As an executive recruiter, I have had the joy of personal and financial success based on pure meritocracy, independent of what a male boss thinks of me. If I work hard, I succeed,” said Juli Smith, president of The Smith Consulting Group.

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Juli Smith, President of The Smith Consulting Group – A member of the Sanford Rose Associates® network of offices Featured in Jobvite


Juli Smith, President of The Smith Consulting Group – A member of the Sanford Rose Associates® network of offices Featured in Jobvite, How to Decline the Wrong Job Applicant

Dallas, 2/2/2016

By Matt Singer

Selecting the best candidate for a position means turning down dozens of other applicants that you interviewed or spoke to about the job. What, if anything, do you owe the ones you don’t select? Should you offer an explanation? What if they ask? How much feedback should you give?

Email is fine for candidates you never met with, but go the extra mile and pick up the phone for the people who made it to the final rounds of interviews. As President of The Smith Consulting Group, Juli Smith helps businesses find the right executives, and takes her personal experience into her own business.

“I interviewed for a sales position with a Fortune 500 company. I made it through four rounds of interviews, and it was between me and another candidate. I did not get the job, but I clearly remember how grateful I was for the personal call from the VP. He explained the reasons why they selected another candidate, and it allowed me to have closure. This was just prior to taking a job with MRI as a recruiter, so I remember what that felt like. I vowed when I became a recruiter to always tell the candidate something about why they didn’t get the job—to give them the dignity to move on. The VP had the courage to personally call me on the phone and not hide behind an email.”

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Useless Interview Questions

We are in a very competitive candidate-driven marketplace and if you think the interview is all about you, the employer, you are going to have your feelings hurt. Now more than ever, it’s critical for you and your leadership team to sharpen your interviewing skills and make yourself and your company stand out from your competitors by asking thoughtful, intelligent questions. Here’s a short list of the most ineffective and banal questions to eliminate from your interview:


  1. What are your weaknesses?

One of the most ridiculous and useless interview questions! Interview questions should be designed to uncover and explore and this question like no other, causes people to hide, candy-coat or outright lie about themselves.  I know of no example where this question somehow magically uncovered a candidate who has a chronic problem with being on time to work, substance abuse issues, or the inability to play nicely with others in the sandbox.   A better version would be “Tell me about a time you failed at something and what you would do differently?”, or “What things have your previous managers coached you to improve upon in the workplace?”


  1. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

This question does nothing to help the interviewer learn how the candidate would be able to perform the job duties for which they are interviewing. The world is unpredictable and life can throw curveballs at you so it’s not going to truly accomplish anything meaningful in the interview process. Why not ask “Why did you pick civil engineering as your field?” It would at least enlighten you as to their reasons why they are passionate about their career.


  1. Why are you looking?

This question has a tone that puts the candidate on the defense. I ask my clients not to ask this question because most often, the candidates I present are not actively looking. A better question to ask is “What are the factors that would have to be in place for you to make a change?”


Interviewing is a skill. Take some time to train to sharpen your skills and become a better interviewer. If you take one thing away from this, put yourself in the candidate’s seat and remember that they are interviewing you and evaluating your company on the quality of the interview.


Extreme Home Makeover: Workplace Edition

For nearly a decade, Extreme Home Makeover reigned supreme on Sunday night television. In less than seven days, the crew is tasked with rebuilding an entire house – every single room, plus the exterior and landscaping. Residents, neighbors, and viewers watch with joy and perhaps a twinge of jealousy; wouldn’t it be nice to have an overhaul so significant that it changes every moment and experience? How exciting to take what is commonplace and make it new again!

For some organizations, they have taken the Extreme Home Makeover to their workplace environment. The beginning of the new year could be an ideal time to look through an elevated lens at the status quo within your daily rituals, within a department, or throughout an entire organization.

Change can be a great thing, when the change is calculated and purposeful. Take some time to reflect on the current standard operating procedures within your department or company. You might find that the reason some best practices are the way they are is because nobody has taken the time or effort to evaluate any alternatives. The old adage of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” can be the antithesis of workplace innovation! Keyless automobile entry is a perfect example; using a key to open a vehicle door is a perfectly acceptable way to enter a car. Someone was creative and innovative enough to take something that worked well and make it just that much better, and we can have the same outlook on our own businesses. Constantly evaluate what’s not working, and even with what is working, be open to how to make it just a little more effective, or innovative, or differentiating.

Workplace Makeover: Life is Good
John and Bert Jacobs, the founders of New England-based apparel company Life is Good, have evolved to become a $100 million firm with over 250 employees. They, like most, were inundated with emails and realized the more they sent the more came back.

John and Bert made a pact: no more emails. They are now only directly available by cell. Their team summarizes the most important communication every two weeks, allowing them to spend more time on high level questions and the creative aspect of their business. The result? Increased productivity and happiness. Though it is easy to pull people in to a minor issue via email, they have found that people think twice before calling a cell phone – questioning if it’s important enough to warrant a true disruption.

Workplace Makeover: TED
TED is one of the few organizations that grants employees the gift of a forced two-week summer break; try getting in touch with employees at the end of July and you’ll have some trouble. Summer vacations are not unheard of, as employees at most companies take staggered vacations in the summer so that someone is always around. But because the entire staff is never quite available, things don’t get done as efficiently as they should. When everyone leaves at the same time, productivity remains at a high level before and after vacation.

Workplace Makeover: Netflix
Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, prides himself on making as few decisions as possible. Relying primarily on his team to lay groundwork and line out details, large decisions such as the one to produce the popular House of Cards required 30 minutes of Hastings’ time before it was green lit. Freedom is only one part of the Netflix culture; the other is responsibility and this has resulted in a culture of high performance. Acknowledging that they turn over a lot of people, Hastings is adamant that giving people great freedom will of course result in mistakes, but a more important result will be that of a lot of great ideas.

Workplace Makeover: ThinkPARALLAX
ThinkPARALLAX, a creative agency in Southern California, decided to send its employees away from the office. Each employee is given a $1,500 travel budget to go anywhere in the world, with a few expectations. Employees have to go somewhere they’ve never been before, the destination has to be outside of their comfort zone in some way, and they have to go in the final four months of the year. “When you don’t put a timeline behind things, people tend not to do them,” says Jonathan Hanwit, a co-founder at the company. “It also forces everybody to realize that they can pick up the slack, and creates a more cohesive work environment.”

Workplace Makeover: FitBit
Thirty of the Fortune 500 companies participate in Fitbit Wellness, ultimately saving bottom line dollars in regards to medical costs and reduced sick days. FitBit Wellness uses the trackers as a motivator as part of a rewards program or company-wide competition. BP, for example, has run a one million step challenge where employees who hit the mark over the course of a year are eligible for a more deductible health plan.

Part of the appeal? A huge budget is not required in order to create exciting incentives. Small rewards go a long way; casual dress day, charitable donations, catered lunches, or scratch-off lotto tickets are all examples of great prizes for winners.

Workplace Makeover: Your Organization
Some of these “Extreme Makeovers” might be too extreme for your organization, but all are examples of ways to get creative when approaching innovative and rewarding workplace environments. Involve your staff when soliciting feedback; you may find group energy surrounds subjects such as workplace efficiency, cultural initiatives, wellness programs, or charitable endeavors. You may find that you are the lead architect of a very talented team of designers!

Finding People Who Make a Difference®
Executive Search Review has recognized the totality of the Sanford Rose Associates® network as being one of the Top 10 Search Firms in North America. Sanford Rose Associates has 60+ offices worldwide and is a member of the International Executive Search Federation (IESF). To learn more about achieving professional excellence both personally and with those on your team, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.

—Karen Schmidt

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