Brent Wardell

Senior Recruiter, Kimley- Horn

A Day In The Life of a Senior Recruiter for Kimley-Horn

  • Brent is a senior recruiter for Kimley-Horn. His main focus is to help the company grow by hiring key, mid and senior-level partners. That means he’s looking for established, passionate and driven engineers to bring their talents to Kimely-Horn. Although Kimely-Horn is a national company, Brent is responsible for hiring in the mountain region, which includes Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.

  • Headquartered out of North Carolina, Kimley-Horn is a national Engineering & Planning firm. The company consists of 95 offices and 4000 employees where anyone can be an owner. Kimley-Horn spreads it’s ownership among many different partners, whereas the highest percentage owner only owns 4%. It’s truly a people-first organization proving that quality is only as good as the people behind it.

  • Brent first entered the recruiting world when his brother who’d been in the industry extended an internship offer to him. After years of working as an external recruiter, Brent made the switch to the corporate side of recruiting.

  • Today on the agenda, Brent was actually on a plane heading to the Phoenix office. He had several recruiting meetings set up with candidates, along with a quarterly meeting with the entire HR team and various calls with leaders and partners at Kimley-Horn.

ADITL

Tuesday

Woke up at 4:45 AM

On this day, Brent had to fly to Phoenix, AZ for a few meetings. Brent had to be at the airport by 6:30 AM so this was an early morning, but he said, his typical day does usually begin around 4:45 AM anyway!

When he isn’t traveling, he likes to begin his mornings with a workout. It’s a good way to clear his head and get focused for the day. For about a year now, Brent has been getting into Spartan racing, so his workouts are mostly focused around training for those events. He makes sure to include a HIIT workout—lots of burpees, hill training, pull-ups, and heavy lifts, oh my!

 


“Spartan races are tough, but the more you prepare, the easier the race is!”


 

He’ll usually work out at the house, so he’s able to spend time with his family in the morning and help out when he can. Fitness is important to him, so twice during the workweek, he’ll go to the gym in the mornings for some of his longer workouts. Usually, those start at 5:00 AM. His weekends are also used for some of his longer training days. After workouts, he’ll get himself ready before getting his three children awake, fed and ready for school.

 


“With three kids, varying from 2-8 years old, everyday is an adventure.”


 

But that would be a typical day. Remember, Brent had a flight to catch…

Left for work at 6:30 AM

Brent arrived at the airport and completed the normal airport routine.

On a typical day, after driving the kids to school, he would normally trek over to the office, which is about eight miles from his home. Traffic in a city like Denver can be tricky though. He usually avoids the highway at this time and it usually takes about 25-30 minutes to drive in.

On days he is commuting, Brent usually makes good use of his time, often fielding calls with recruits or someone on his team.

Arrived to work at 8:15 AM

This is when Brent will typically arrive. Remember, today… he was on a flight, so he was in the sky on this day 😉

The office is located in the Denver Tech Center, which is just south of downtown Denver. Brent works on the 15th floor of the building and Kimely-Horn set the entire floor up to have a 360-degree view of the Rockies.

There are about 100 people in the Denver office. There are glass office doors so everyone can see each other and cubes that aren’t too high so everyone can easily coordinate. There are shared spaces throughout the office for collaboration and team meetings that are used frequently throughout the week.

The break room is home to a ping pong table which is the stadium for their annual Wimplepong tournament! And yes… the games get intense!

From his office, Brent has an incredible view of downtown Denver and the Rocky Mountains in the background. He has a standing desk with a Bluetooth headset, so typically he spends most of his day on his feet and on the phone.

He decorated his office with pictures of his family, and memorabilia from his alma mater, Michigan State. He also has his trusty putter in the office to practice when on some long calls.

8:20 AM

Brent always starts his day with a coffee, which has become more of a habit than anything. This day was no different, even though he was on a plane.

 


“Before I dive into the day, I like to ask myself , ‘what are the 3 main things I want to accomplish by the end of the day?’ It keeps me focused on my main priorities and tasks for the day.”


 

There are so many things for Brent could be doing in his role in a day, and that’s why it’s important to prioritize and focus on what NEEDS to get done. If you were wondering… yes, some days there are more than three main priorities!

8:25 AM

As Brent was traveling, he conducted research on the different recruits he had meetings scheduled with while he was in Phoenix. Knowing a decent amount about the person he’s meeting with helps him understand their current role, company, and experience.

Taking a step further, he likes to research the recruits’ latest and best projects. When researching recruits, he needs to try to understand their technical and personal skill sets. Brent and Kimley-Horn call people with both strong technical and client relationship skills, “Practice Builders.” It means that they are likely to be fantastic engineers, but also know how to consult with clients and build a book of business.

Knowing all of this about a recruit enables him to be prepared with targeted questions and talking points of areas he wants to focus more on the discussion.

While on the plane, Brent took the opportunity to catch up on any notes he needed to send out to the team from the meeting he had with recruits from the last few days. He typed up a detailed summary of the conversations he had.

 


“I am very intentional about saving all my notes and team’s notes into a folder for every person we talk with. This helps to keep our notes from previous meetings so we are not starting at scratch when it comes to the next meeting.”


 

Brent and his team use an applicant tracking system called UltiPro and Microsoft office suite to record all notes for both internal and external matters.

In Brent’s job as a recruiter, he travels about twice per month. His biggest tip for work traveling is to pack extra clothes, but try to find the balance where you are also packing light.

9:15 AM

Brent’s first meeting in Phoenix was with a recruit for coffee. Before arriving in Phoenix, he had reached out to a number of recruits to see if they were able to meet. He ended up getting meetings set up with six people for the two days he was in town. Typically, Brent speaks to about 10 recruits every, single, day!

He had never met with this recruit before but this person came recommended by someone he knew in the industry.

 


“Recommendations hold a lot of weight!”


 

Being that they hadn’t met before, this was more of an exploratory conversation to learn more about them and to share some more insights into Kimley-Horn’s company culture, and benefits.

Normally, Brent is using these types of meetings to determine if the recruit has the right attitude and experience. Negativity is a no-go. And usually Kimely-Horn is looking for well-established engineers, so bouncing around from company to company is not a great sign. That said, it’s not a deal-breaker by any means. Although this particular recruit could have been labeled a job hopper by some, Brent took the meeting anyway. Which goes to show how much weight a good recommendation can actually hold.

One of Kimley-Horn’s partners from the Phoenix office joined Brent for this meeting. They left the meeting on a positive note and set some time to meet again in a few weeks to introduce him to a few other partners.

10:45 AM

Brent then returned to the office, which was about 5 minutes from where they met the recruit for coffee.

Once back in the office, he had another meeting with a recruit. But this wasn’t an exploratory meeting, this meeting was set to present an offer. The Phoenix team met with them the day prior and everyone was a thumbs up to move this forward. Knowing Brent would be in the office the next day, they invited her back in.

Brent told us that this is the fun part of his job where he gets to tell people all about Kimley-Horn and brag about what a great firm they are and why it’s such a great place to grow their career.

The offer presentation went very well, however the candidate needed some more time to think about it and review her options.

11:30 AM

After that presentation, Brent and one of the senior partners took a recruit out for lunch to check-in. They went to a great local place in Phoenix that they often take recruits and clients to.

This recruit is someone they had previously extended an offer to but decided to stay with their firm at the time. They focused the discussion on catching up on this person’s accomplishments over the past few years. He told Brent about his recent projects and Brent shared more about the job openings, along with why they still think they would be a great fit at Kimley-Horn.

 


“Recruiting can sometimes be like dating and we were still on the first or second date. Still a long ways to go, but he is someone we are very interested in.”


 

They left the lunch with plans to stay in touch in the near future.

12:30 PM

Then it was time for a… second lunch?

This was a little unexpected, but a few partners from the office took another person to lunch at the same place he attended lunch with the other recruit. He wasn’t kidding when he said this spot was a company favorite.

When he wrapped up with the other recruit, he walked back in to say hi to the other person. He’d had spoken with this recruit on the phone and set everything up, so he wanted to put a face to the name.

This was a senior recruit who they were trying to learn more about to see if they could be good for Kimley-Horn.

This was a good first meeting and the next steps were to run through a business plan to learn more about his practice and how he could incorporate that into their culture.

1:15 PM

Brent then had a team call with their Senior Recruiting team. The purpose of this call was to get together on a monthly basis with everyone that does his job in the entire firm along with the EVP who oversees the recruiting team.

This was a very interactive call where they all are a part of the discussion, so they all need to be on their game to give updates and be ready to chime in with thoughts. Every month they talk about different topics, but usually start the calls with “around the horn”, sharing some news about upcoming key senior hires in the firm, pending offers, areas they are struggling in or areas they need help in.

Next, they reviewed their progress thus far as a firm and transitioned into strategizing how to accomplish their goals. They plan ahead at Kimley-Horn, they are already finalizing next year’s business plan for their staffing and recruiting operations.

As mentioned before, Brent is responsible for the mountain region, and each person on the call is responsible for one of the seven regions. They made sure to discuss which region and teams seemed overloaded with work and how the entire group can work together to help those team members who have more on their plate. and which areas seem overloaded with work and how and can we all work together to help other regions that may have more on their plate.

2:00 PM

Remember that offer presentation from earlier in the morning? Well, the candidate didn’t need that much time to think about it because, by the afternoon, she stopped by the office again to drop off the signed offer letter!

This is great news for Brent and the team as they believe she will prove to be a great partner. Had Brent been an external recruiter, the signed offer letter would have meant a payday for him. As an in-house recruiter, Brent is paid a salary with bonuses. This is just one of the differences between external and internal recruiters. Something to think about for aspiring recruiters. Nonetheless, this is a big win for Kimley-Horn and Brent!

2:10 PM

Then it was time for one of the main reasons Brent was in town, the HR quarterly meeting.

They all spent the next three hours with the entire Mountain Region HR team. They have a small team of seven who support a region of about 500 Kimley-Horn employees. They ensure to get together on a quarterly basis to talk about collaboration and teamwork.

They focused this discussion around a few areas including:

  1. Overview of roles/responsibilities
  2. Next 60 day goals
  3. Shifting of tasks/responsibilities
  4. Next years goals
  5. Improving the process and team

Since they had three new teammates join the team in the past year, a large portion of this meeting was getting to know each other and explaining the accountability process among the team.

They all also participated in exercises that helped them all learn about each other’s DiSC profiles. The DiSC Profiles is “a non-judgmental tool used for discussion of people’s behavioral differences.”

By using this, they are able to identify each team member’s strengths and weaknesses. They can really drill down on people’s personality types and how to best work together.

5:00 PM

Two of Brent’s “must-do” tasks for this day involved following up with recruits that he has extended offers to. He called both to check-in. One is close to accepting the offer, and the other opted to set up another coffee meeting.

As a result of his earlier internal meetings, he took this time to coordinate a few future meetings with other senior recruiters.

Lastly, he also needed to set up another work trip. This time, to Las Vegas, which Brent described as having the biggest need for recruiting at the moment. The Las Vegas office is working on many exciting projects including the Raiders stadium. This is a big project, but there are several other projects happening as well, which added up equals a busy team and office.

When not traveling, a big part of Brent’s job requires researching firms, prepping teams for meetings, coordinating, meeting with recruits and team members, sourcing for candidates, cold calling candidates, organizing various lists along with internal conference calls with various members of staff.

6:00 PM

Brent attended dinner with the team—another great opportunity to get to know the partners and team in Phoenix.

8:00 PM

If you travel for work, it might be a good idea to get to bed early. Which is exactly what Brent did… He checked into the hotel, caught up on some emails and went to sleep.

Typically, when he’s not traveling, he helps with getting the kids bathed and in bed by 8:00 pm latest.  After that, he usually finishes up some work from the day and catches a game or TV show.

Brent is also in the habit of planning his next day at night. He plans out his workout and coordinates what he’ll wear the next day. One less task for the morning.

Fell asleep at 9:30 PM

Experience & Advice

How did you get your current job?

Brent graduated with an undergraduate degree in Finance. In the last year before graduation, he still wasn’t sure what career he wanted to pursue, or what he wanted to do with his degree in finance…

But during that year, his older brother, who had been a recruiter for an agency, offered him an internship. Having no real direction in finance, Brent made the decision to join his brother. The job was simple, his brother provided a list and told Brent to “start calling people.”

Although there was room for more training, this was an opportunity for Brent to get his foot in the door. He found a mentor within the firm and upon graduating, they brought him on as a full-time recruiter.

Brent then spent the next 10 years as an external agency recruiter, helping multiple companies hire engineers. With all of this experience on the agency side of the industry, he became curious about the other side. That’s when someone he’d known for ten years approached him with an opportunity for his first corporate position as an in-house recruiter.

After a few rounds of interviews, Brent joined Kimley-Horn and has been there for almost 5 years as a senior recruiter.

 

What is your advice those who aspire to be like you?

Brent says take the time to build genuine connections with people. Get to know your partners. Ask questions and be curious always. Sometimes you just need to go out and talk to people. Be upfront and honest that you’re trying to learn and people will be willing to help you learn. You just gotta dive in and learn from those around you.

Another important piece of advice Brent gave is to “get organized from the start.” In this role, you’re talking to a lot of people in different disciplines and locations and Brent said, “the quicker you can find something that works for you for organizing all your information the better. It will pay off down the road, trust me!”

If you do your job to the best of your ability, what value do you bring to the world?

When Brent can bring in the best engineers and practice building partners to Kimley-Horn, there is an obvious financial benefit that will help the company grow. By bringing quality talent to the organization, he is setting everyone else in the company up for success and the resources and people needed to succeed individually and as a company.

What is your favorite part about your job at Kimley-Horn?

Brent’s favorite part about his job is the friendly company culture. A culture that promotes productivity along with personal career development and company-wide collaboration.

One of the other differences between internal and external recruiting is the ability to really see the people you hire mature and grow their careers. This is an extremely rewarding feeling that Brent has cherished about his job. Brent reflected on his first hire at Kimley-Horn, who actually signed the offer on the spot. That person has gone on to grow her role as a leader within that organization. It makes Brent feel good to know that his efforts were the catalyst for a win-win situation for everyone.

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