Spotlight on... Garry Hart - Principal Consultant in Engineering and Construction

6 min


Garry, based in our Melbourne office, is responsible for providing tailored search solutions for the civil engineering sector, partnering with consultancies and main contractors in this space. Adept at forming partnerships with both SMEs and large corporate businesses, Garry is experienced in delivering exceptional talent to his clients. He supports them in attracting and retaining talent for civil engineering jobs; including project managers, geotechnical engineers, civil/structural engineers, designers and C suite.

Garry has a strong background in engineering, having previously worked in construction and served in the Royal Engineers. When he made a move into recruitment, it was a natural fit to utilise his knowledge and expertise in this sector. He has since worked as a recruiter in the UK specialising in field engineering and later in design engineering. When Garry relocated to Australia, he decided to focus his discipline on his love for both construction and design and build a civil engineering design desk.

Tell us about the civil engineering sector and the civil engineering jobs you recruit for?

I’m a specialist recruiter in Civil Engineering. The most apparent thing in my sector is that there are not enough skilled people to do the work, and as a result, the industry is candidate-driven, meaning the candidate is key. The challenge in my space is finding a market-leading candidate who is engaged and willing to make a move for the right reasons. Plenty of options are available for them, and it becomes quite competitive. When you find the right people, you need to get them in front of clients quickly, as it is often a race against time before they are snapped up somewhere else.

CSG Talent covers all roles within a consulting environment. I tend to focus on Designers, Civil Engineers, Structural Engineers, Geotechnical Engineers, and Engineers for Building Services. These are engineering roles that are currently in great demand across the market. There are many different skills required in a consultancy; you can have consultancies that focus on structural design or multi-disciplinary consultancies that have building services, sustainability, as well as structural and civil. There is a lot you can cover, and though I’m aware of it all, I specialise with Civil Engineering and Building Services because I understand them best. I also have experience with clients in these areas, I know the people within these businesses, and I know the types of projects they are working on. This means when I speak to a candidate and ask them what they do, when they start telling me the projects they’ve worked on, I already know the types of companies that do those projects. This is how I feel I work best, and this is why I tend to stick to my roles; it allows me to offer a deep understanding of the market.

What challenges do businesses currently face within civil engineering?

Some clients are holding off committing to start work on some projects due to the current economic conditions. Changes in government can be definitive of whether or not projects will go ahead, and as a result, recruitment has been halted until they understand what’s going to be happening.

National infrastructure jobs are greatly impacted by government spending, for instance, one of our clients is working on one of Victoria’s large infrastructure jobs, and the government is deciding on if it should reallocate a large part of its budget which means they will have to change the number of resources put into it, redesign it and make many other adjustments. The impact on them impacts us. It is still very competitive, and businesses still need people, but these types of things can have a significant effect. 

What are the main motivations for candidates within the civil engineering jobs market?

More now than ever, it’s money. The majority of people always want to move for an increase because of inflation, interest rate rises, cost of living in general, rental, mortgage, fuel prices, food and everything, it’s all gone up so much. Everyone wants more money but now more than usual. Normally you can be pretty confident that people want a 5-10% increase but lately, we’re getting a lot of candidates requesting 20-30% package increases which is a significant jump. It’s all about money at the moment. If you get a candidate when the primary motivation isn’t money, then that’s a considerable benefit. Generally, if they are good at what they do and are only motivated by money, there is a high chance their current company will match any offer, and they won’t move. They don’t want to risk starting with a new business they may not like and also going through a probationary period. Why bother when they have the security and now a pay increase that they were after? The biggest issue is managing people’s expectations while still making it work for them and the client.

Apart from money, other motivations are usually around better development. It happens pretty often that people join a business and don’t feel particularly well supported, and a lot of that in my industry is because everyone is just so busy working long hours. They often don’t have time to sit down with the new person and give them extra guidance and support. I find many people are looking for places that can give them better training, development and, with that, better opportunities in the future with that business.

What makes the civil engineering sector such an exciting industry to be recruiting in?

I think one of the most exciting things about the industry is that the people in it are building everything around us. I like the idea that I’m recruiting people that are helping to build, not just buildings but civil infrastructures such as the Victoria’s West Gate and the North East Link project and many more. By recruiting in this space, you feel like you’ve had some involvement; you’re getting the right people into these teams to help achieve this. I find that exciting.

I also love it when we find people a job they are thrilled with; I recently placed a candidate who is studying as well, he wanted to find a role that could support him and the time he needs to study. I knew of a company that had done this before and connected them. This candidate now has a role that is relevant to his studies, and the client has accommodated time for him to go to university as well - it’s great to connect people like this. There are also people we’ve relocated from the Philippines who have found better opportunities here in Australia and a better way of life because we’ve helped them make that move. I get much pleasure from knowing I’ve genuinely helped someone.

How does your approach to recruitment make you stand out from others operating within civil engineering recruitment?

The way I get to know a candidate when I interview them is a lot more in depth then what some other recruiters may do, I always come off the phone knowing pretty much everything about that person. From their family life, to career aspirations, main motivations and much more. Sometimes people are a bit surprised by the level of questioning I go through because their previous experiences with recruiters has been less thorough. I do this to really understand the candidate beyond just the role capacity and to understand them as a person. This way, I can ensure, not only that they are the right fit for the role but also that the client is the right company for them. With this approach, there are very few times that the client will ask me something about a candidate, that I don’t have an answer to. I also investigate people’s reasons for leaving, more often than not the default answer to that question is that they are looking for a new challenge but with considered questioning around this you can often get to the key reason for them leaving. It may be that they don’t get along with someone, or they’ve been rejected for a pay review or the most common is that they are feeling demotivated in their role. Once you understand what the true reason for leaving is, you can see if their current business can do anything to combat that before you present the candidate to your client. If you address that then you can get around counteroffers. We aren’t reinventing the wheel; this should be a pretty standard approach but the honest answer is it doesn’t happen enough in recruitment.

What makes CSG Talent successful and stand out from other executive search firms?

We have some particularly great people working for us, with any recruitment business the success comes from the people in it. A business can do certain things to assist that to make it better and I think CSG is particularly good at that. What the company does in terms of bringing us all together is like nothing I’ve seen before. Even though we’re all in different offices, it feels like we all work together and help each other out. We all get together quite a few times during the year, from team lunches to incentive trips as a business. The company goes beyond work and has a strong focus on culture.

We also have a lot of flexibility; our Managing Director Chris and Associate Director Alex are fantastic. I’ve had a few personal things going on lately and they’ve been amazingly supportive, I’ve never been questioned, just supported and that makes a world of difference.


Garry is an experienced consultant within Civil Engineering, if you’re keen to explore current civil engineering job opportunities available or the areas within civil engineering recruitment Garry and the team operate, click here.

If you’re an experienced recruiter, keen to explore current recruitment job opportunities in Australia, Dubai or the UK, take a look at our careers at CSG Talent. To find out a little more on Life at CSG, click here.