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Recent blog posts
Strong Rebound for Architectural Billings Index

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) returned to positive territory after a slight dip in August, and has seen growth in six of the nine months of 2015. As an economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the September ABI score was 53.7, up from a mark of 49.1 in August. This score reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 61.0, down from a reading of 61.8 the previous month.

“Aside from uneven demand for design services in the Northeast, all regions are project sectors are in good shape,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Areas of concern are shifting to supply issues for the industry, including volatility in building materials costs, a lack of a deep enough talent pool to keep up with demand, as well as a lack of contractors to execute design work.”

Key September ABI highlights:

Regional averages: South (54.5), Midwest (54.2), West (51.7), Northeast (43.7)

Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (52.6), institutional (51.5), commercial / industrial (50.9) multi-family residential (49.5)

Project inquiries index: 61.0

Design contracts index: 53.2

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.



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NCARB Unveils New Tool to Help Architects Prep for Exam

The Transition Calculator for the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) will help licensure candidates transition from ARE 4.0 to ARE 5.0.

A tool to assist architects in transitioning from the current licensing exam to the new version debuting in late 2016 has been unveiled by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). NCARB released a Transition Calculator tool for the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) that will help licensure candidates transition from ARE 4.0 to ARE 5.0. A version of the nationally used exam, ARE 5.0, will launch in late 2016 and run concurrently with ARE 4.0 until June 2018 to allow candidates to select the transition plan that works best.

The ARE is a multi-division test developed by NCARB and taken by all candidates seeking architectural registration in the United States. The release of ARE 5.0 will be the latest update to the exam.

When determining how to transition candidates to ARE 5.0, NCARB developed options that will help candidates when making a plan:

Dual Delivery. ARE 4.0 will continue to be available after ARE 5.0 launches in late 2016. Candidates will be able to transition anytime during the period of dual delivery up until ARE 4.0 is retired on June 30, 2018.

Self-Transition. ARE candidates who began the testing process in ARE 4.0 will have the option to “self-transition” to ARE 5.0 as soon as it launches—or at any time before ARE 4.0 is retired. This will allow candidates to continue testing in the version that is most convenient for them. Once a candidate begins to test in ARE 5.0, however, they may not transition back to ARE 4.0.

Tools and Resources. NCARB is introducing more interactive tools and resources as the launch of ARE 5.0 approaches. NCARB representatives are available to help candidates determine the best strategy for the transition. In addition, the ARE 5.0 Transition Calculator has been created to assist licensure candidates immediately.



NCARB has designed the ARE 5.0 Transition Calculator to help candidates develop a personalized testing strategy. Candidates can log in through their My NCARB account to import their current testing status to the calculator. 

The calculator will help candidates develop a personalized testing plan. It also shows how the test divisions used in ARE 4.0 will evolve in the ARE 5.0 test structure, to help any candidate plan for successfully completing their test taking. For candidates who have already begun testing, the calculator will help track exam expiration dates for individual divisions so that they can complete the ARE within five years.

The calculator is used in conjunction with NCARB’s Credit Model to determine which plan works best for each individual.

Practicing architects, who volunteer to serve on NCARB’s Examination Committee, partner with a test development consultant to review the content covered in each of the divisions of ARE 4.0 and ARE 5.0 to find a reasonable level of alignment. As a result, candidates have the opportunity to receive credit for ARE 5.0 divisions based on ARE 4.0 divisions passed.  

For more information on the ARE 5.0 Calculator visit: For the ARE 5.0, visit: 



Tagged in: Architect License
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Tips for Conducting the Employee Exit Interview

In today's war for talent among AEC companies, many business leaders wish they knew what they could have done to keep a departing employee. Effective exit interviews can give you that insight. They can teach you how to replicate good experiences, and help to avoid bad ones.

Exit interviews are the one of the last meaningful conversations employees have with their company. It represents a chance for employees to provide a review of their experience; an opportunity to affirm the contributions they've made to your company.

Although it may be tempting to vent, when both parties focus on understanding and knowledge sharing, exit interviews can help professional relationships end on a high note. Many times the feedback employees provide is positive, and when it's not, it gives insight on how to course-correct for existing employees.

Planning the Meeting 

Whenever possible it is best to meet face-to-face for an exit interview. Employees appreciate the gesture, and it is conducive to more productive conversations.

You can also issue a written exit survey, and then follow up with an in-person meeting. Some employees may want to reflect and gather their thoughts in advance, but responses tend to be less candid when written.

Schedule the exit interview at the very end of the employment; ideally during the final days.

You may want to explain why you are conducting the exit interview, and have your questions planned ahead of time.

Questions to Ask

While you never want the conversation to appear scripted, there are a few key topics to hone in on while conducting an exit interview. You may want to also consider asking some of the same questions for every exit interview. Doing so helps to compare answers and identify common themes.

Open the interview by telling the employee that he/she doesn't have to answer any or all of the questions. Also ask permission to share responses with other internal management.

Here are some questions that are beneficial to ask:

  1. Why did you decide to leave?
  2. What is the company doing well, and what is the company doing poorly?
  3. How could conditions be improved?
  4. What would you do to improve the situation that is causing you to leave?
  5. How do other employee's feel about that same situation, and the company overall?
  6. What can the company start doing that would improve things?
  7. Please describe your overall experience working here? If possible, please help me understand why you are leaving.
  8. What are three things you enjoyed most about working here?
  9. What are the top 3 things you would change?
  10. Are there any ideas that you would have liked to implement while working here?
  11. Please describe the pros and cons of working with your supervisor
  12. Who are the three people who have made the most positive impact on your time here?
  13. What advice would you give to the next person in your position?

What to Avoid

Try to keep the focus of the exit interview on the company. The information gathered should be helpful, constructive feedback that can be used to improve the company.

It's important to be wary of discrimination, harassment complaints or bad management that is pointed out, but you don't want to fuel the fire. These conversations give employees an opportunity to share their opinions, however be careful not to engage in negative discussion.

  1. Don't feed into office gossip. The reliability is questionable, and won't be constructive.
  2. Don't ask targeted questions about specific issues or people. You should not interject your own opinions, but it is okay to ask for general feedback on a supervisor.
  3. Don't lay the groundwork that may indicate someone will be terminated. An employee's status and performance within the company should not be shared.
  4. Don't say anything that could be mistaken for slander. You should listen without agreeing or disagreeing with the point being made.
  5. Don't get into personal issues. Keep the conversation work-related and professional.
  6. Don't use this as an opportunity to present a counter offer or stay with your company.

Processing the Feedback

Every exit interview should help identify areas for improvement within the company. Share key takeaways from the meeting with the employee's supervisor or the next level up.

Look for patterns in feedback from departing employees to identify potential organization issues. It may be helpful to input meeting notes into a spreadsheet in order to scan the information and find similar comments. If you do notice a trend, take it to leadership with recommendations for actions that can be taken to avoid losing additional employees.




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Companies Use Recruiters for Hiring Speed

Many architecture, building engineering, and construction companies outsource some or all of their job openings to a recruiter. The number one reason for doing so is speed; they want the job filled fast.

The recent findings of a Society for Human Resource Management survey indicate the majority of respondents turned to recruiters because there was a need to hire quickly. The next leading reason to leverage an outside recruiter was to gain access to an agency's talent and recruiting expertise. 

There are great disparities in the speed at which architecture recruiting agencies in Minneapolis / St. Paul can fill positions. AEC Resources' average time-to-hire is currently 18.7 days. This is the time it takes us to fill an open position from the day we receive it. 

You work with a staffing agency and a recruiter to quickly and easily fill open positions, which is why our process emphasizes speed and quality of talent. If you are evaluating temp agencies for architects and engineers, work with a company that focuses on AEC positions only, and reap the rewards of a highly specialized process that delivers great people - fast.

The recruiters at AEC Resources can help you quickly fill the following positions: Architect, Architectural Intern, Project Architect, Project Manager, Drafter, Designer, Drafting Technician, Mechanical Engineer, Structural Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Civil Engineer, Engineer In Training (EIT), CAD/BIM/VDC positions, and many more.


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Average Job Vacancy Reaches Another All-Time High

The average time-to-hire statistic climbed to 27.8 working days in May of 2015. This is another all-time high, and is 3.3 days above its May 2014 value, according to the July DHI Hiring Indicators recently released. 

This mean vacancy duration figure is 23% greater than in May 2007, before the onset of the recession and financial crisis. 

The duration measure reflects the vacancy concept in the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Specifically, a job order gets "filled" when a job offer for the position is accepted. So the vacancy duration statistics refer to the average length of time required to fill open positions.

Elevated levels of vacancy durations suggest that it is becoming harder to for employers to find the right person for the job. In particular, the demand for talent in professional services is increasing while the pool of available talent is shrinking, and competition for this smaller pool is intensifying. This trend is making it increasingly difficult for employers to find top talent. 

Architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms are subject to the same challenging hiring conditions. The business climate is such that many firms have opportunities to capitalize on with projects underway or starting soon, however the critical issue is securing the right talent needed.

The average time-to-hire for positions AEC Resources has been engaged to fill in 2015 is 19.7 days. In many instances, this includes the two week notice. AEC Resources outperforms the national average, meaning we bring you great people - fast.

If you are struggling to fill an open position within architecture or engineering, and would like the assistance of a recruiting agency to quickly secure the perfect fit, contact AEC Resources today. AEC Resources provides temp workers for short term project assingments, and recruiting services for permanent positions.

We specialize in providing top talent for the following AEC positions: Registered Architect, Intern Architect, Project Architect, Mechanical Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Plumbing/Piping Engineer, Engineer in Training (EIT), Structural Engineer, Civil Engineer, BIM/CAD Manager, BIM/CAD Coordinator, Technician, Drafter, and many others.


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Nationwide Job Openings Increased 2.89% in April

Job listings in the U.S. rose 2.89% month-to-month in April, up from month-to-month increases of 1.38% in March and 2.47% in February, according to Simply Hired's April 2015 U.S. Employment Outlook.

Twenty-four of the Top 25 major metro areas saw an increase in job listings, and there were nearly 20% more full-time permanent entry-level positions available than the same time last year.

About 5% of all job listings were targeted at new college graduates, which includes entry level drafters and technicians, as well as Intern Architects and Engineers in Training (EITs).

Job openings increased in 24 of the 25 largest U.S. metros in April 2015. Pittsburgh and the Seattle and Tacoma, WA, area experienced the largest month-to-month gains at 5.27% and 4.94%, respectively. A notable exception was Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, which saw a small dip in job openings (-0.29%) over this period.

With a hyper competitive AEC job market and extended time-to-fill statistics, rely on AEC Resources to help you quickly secure high caliber candidates for your open positions. We excel in providing temp help and recruiting for architects, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, structural engineering and civil engineering. 


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Contract Staffing to Grow 6% in U.S.

The U.S. contract staffing industry has been forecast to grow 6% in 2015 according to the "U.S. Staffing Industry Forecast" released by Staffing Industry Analysts in April. The increased usage of temp staffing is prevalent across all industries, but is rapidly rising in popularity within architecture, engineering and construction firms.

What is driving this trend?

There are external factors like the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and increases in administrative and insurance costs which are driving incremental adoption of temporary staffing, however contract staffing is being used as a competitive advantage to the AEC industry for other reasons.

Yep, I said it. The word that keeps us in the office long hours during the day and unable to sleep when we get home. Deadlines loom and Murphy's Law generally applies. Contract staffing can fill short term needs with highly qualified talent to help keep projects on time and clients, and bosses, happy.

Winning New Work:
Has your firm ever been awarded a new project you never imagined would be won? It is not uncommon. When AEC firms need to build new teams quickly, the assistance of a staffing agency can help you ramp up on short notice.

Scaling Up & Down as Needed:
Say goodbye to seasonal spikes or workload fluctuation nightmares. Contract staffing services can help architects, engineers, and construction companies adjust to accommodate your backlog. Manage the demands of your business by quickly increasing or downsizing your workforce.

Try Before You Buy:
Ever had a candidate embellish in an interview? Ever made a bad hire? Didn't think so. But just in case, AEC firms like observing and evaluating performance before making a permanent hiring decision. Contract staffing can be leveraged as an effective hiring strategy to test a potential employee's fit.


AEC Resources specializes in providing top talent to architecture, engineering, and construction companies through temp staffing services. By focusing on the AEC industry, we have a deep understanding of your unique business needs. With a refreshingly new approach to supplementing your workforce, including free technical training for all our employees, we have become a staffing solutions provider to AEC firms nationwide. 


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Thank you for visiting the AEC Resources blog. You may have noticed that we have a new website, and with a new website comes new and very relevant blogs relating to hiring within architecture, engineering and construction firms. Our blog entries have information relevant for both employers and job seekers alike. 

From an employer's perspective, we encourage you to visit our blog often for news relating to temp staffing and evolving recruiting solutions for architecture, engineering and construction companies. Hiring trends and best practices are covered.

Job seekers will find a plethora of information that will assist in the daunting task of uncovering and pursuing new career opportunities.

AEC Resources is a leading provider of staffing and recruiting services for AEC firms nationwide.

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