Welcome back to #WeAreGreenKey, where we shine a spotlight on our powerhouse agency team.  

Recently, we got the opportunity to chat with Tim Coonan, a Director of Architecture, Engineering and Construction.

Tim started his recruiting career almost five years ago when he transitioned from an accounting and sports marketing career. Within a short time, and due to his performance, Tim landed his first leadership opportunity at his previous employer, leading their Wisconsin construction division to one of their top performing groups in the Midwest. After which he moved on to his career at Green Key in 2022.

How did you get started in recruiting?

Right out of school, I started in the audit group at a Chicago-based accounting firm, but quickly realized this was not an industry I was interested in staying with long-term. So, after some serious soul searching, I began working on the sales team of a sports marketing company where I fell in love with the sales process. Then in July of 2019, I got a call from my previous employer and after a week of interviews, I received an offer to start work in the world of recruitment. Within 18 months, I was given the opportunity to manage my previous employer’s Wisconsin Construction division and after 3 years, I helped launch their IT practice focusing on software engineering and development. I quickly made the realization my true passion at that time was for the construction and real estate industry and wanted more autonomy to build out a group the way I saw fit. So, through some extensive networking, I met Richard Egloff and Dan Katz at Green Key, which was a match made in heaven and I haven’t looked back since.

Are there any hiring trends in Architecture, Engineering and Construction right now?

At the moment, it’s hard to be a recruiter in the AEC sector (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) due to a number of factors, which include a low unemployment rate, interest rate fluctuations, technology advances, increased competition and more. To separate from that competition, it’s up to our recruiters to find value where others don’t. The bottom 10-15% of recruiters today won’t exist in a few years. We’re operating in a time where the market demands specificity, and it’s crucial to understand every aspect of a client’s business model, organizational structure and growth strategy to excel in delivering to your client. It’s not about the best talent at the moment, it’s about the right talent. A great candidate is different from firm to firm more now than it has been in the past, and decision makers are at a greater liberty to see what the field has to offer rather than make a quick decision. It creates less crossover selling opportunity when pitching roles to candidates, in addition to slower interview processes with less negotiating power for the candidate.

Why should someone want to work on the AEC team at Green Key?

I think the autonomy, flexibility and ownership we give to our recruiters is fantastic. Additionally, the level of sheer talent we’ve brought in over the last 18 months has led to a naturally higher standard of recruitment that is more competitive than at other firms, at least from what we’re able to see on the surface. Our account managers are, for the most part, all Top 10% billers at their previous employers…that is rare! It’s created a healthy level of internal competition and promotes learning and development rarely found at other groups we compete with day-to-day. The perks of being able to bounce ideas off of proven and highly successful recruiters are endless and frankly is what’s needed to excel in today’s market.

Our group’s leader, Rich Egloff, has also been integral to our success early, and I very much admire his mentality when it comes to oversight. Rich is brilliant in many ways. He’s constantly there to provide support, guidance, advice and strategy, but will let recruiters run with the skills they’ve already developed and have demonstrated on previous leaderboards. He’s consistent in his ability and willingness to jump in on pressing issues, but provides a healthy balance of management and oversight to his performers. Rich doesn’t constantly try to break the wheel; this engine is already a well-oiled and high-performing machine. But often, that engine needs to be checked, tuned up, even updated. Rich is Mr. Dependable in that sense and always provides a fresh perspective that I, and countless others, truly value.

What advice would you give someone trying to break into or succeed in AEC recruitment?

Be the bull in the China Shop. Be the loudmouth on the phone your neighbors hate, be the displacer. You don’t build a team by being complacent. Half of this industry is timing and figuring out how to be there first, which unfortunately is going to be a turnoff to many but requires a significant level of outreach today. The other half is finding value for both candidates and clients that others can’t. Get to know your clients, visit them face-to-face often, find out what makes them tick, build as many relationships with top talent as possible, and don’t try to sell everyone you talk to the best job on earth while they don’t exist. People respond to people, let your personality shine through on both sides of the coin, especially in this industry. Clients want to work with you, not your fee structure or your business card headline. So, find the right balance of being enjoyable to work with, but also know that your intangibles can only get you so far. Like any industry, the Fortune 500 are there because they have the best product to offer, or they were there first. Same goes for recruitment, the best recruiters have the hottest jobs and the hottest candidates all just one phone call away. You don’t get there without a lot of hard work, learning from your mistakes, some creativity and letting your personality shine through when it matters.

What are you and your team’s goals for the rest of the year?

Personally, my goal is to continue to develop our Houston group and maintain the strong grip we have on the commercial market there. I’d like to do the same this year with San Antonio and give my absolute best to the very impressive folks we have in our group, developing them into big-time account managers and finding even more success than they already are with top talent.

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