Engineering firms are busier than most of us have seen in our careers. Backlogs are at historic levels along with an overall economy that continues to set records. What this translates to for many firms is a labor shortage that is causing lots of long hours for many design and technical professionals.

Recruiting and retention are top of mind for many firm leaders right now, and they are looking hard for any and every solution to the problem. If firms cannot add staff to address this market demand, they risk valuable relationships with clients that have significant needs, while also losing dollars that can be used to grow the firm and provide better benefits.

I get to sit in on many high-level conversations where firm leaders are discussing solutions. One thing that is very apparent is that there are many gaps in these organizations that need filled. That spells opportunity for you.

Hiring from the outside is challenging but necessary to keep up with the demand in many firms. But what firm leaders are really looking for is people to step up internally first and then figure out who needs to be brought in after that. Priority almost always goes to internal candidates who show an ambition for growth and advancement.

Figure out what you need to do to fill any of these immense needs and go do it. Take a risk and throw yourself into the fire if needed and learn along the way. Never has there been a time with so much opportunity for advancement.

With such a strong economy, you don’t have to switch companies to make a major advancement. Look hard at the opportunities right down the hall from you. Firm leaders need you to speak up and step up. Seize the day now!

Chad Clinehens, P.E., is Zweig Group’s president and CEO. Contact him at