6 tips to hire, retain top engineering talent

According to the 2013 Manpower Talent Shortage Survey (by the Manpower Group), engineering is the second most difficult profile to fill, after skilled trades. Six tips provide help.

01/08/2014


From the Control Engineering article, “6 tips to hire, retain top engineering talent,” look for these qualities in engineering job candidates. Courtesy: National Forklift ExchangeTechnology is advancing at a quick pace and, now more than ever, there is a need for skilled engineers. But recruiting the best talent available is not easy. Many countries are battling high unemployment rates, but hiring for engineering positions has not slowed down. The truth is, employers struggle to find suitable candidates for engineering positions, and the demand is growing. Some companies are even expecting to lose 60% of their engineering workforce to retirement in the next 10 years. 

So how do you get the best engineering talent on board? Here are a few things that good candidates look for in prospective employers and how you can tap into their aspirations to get them to work with you. Below are traits you should look for in talent, questions to ask them, and how to retain top talent.

1. Tips to get high quality engineering candidates

You should define what your company stands for. Write down a purpose for your organization. You do not have to be different, but you must show focus. Good prospective employees will quickly “buy-in” to a company that shows that it has a vision. Try to generate enthusiasm for your company's mission. This will speed up the interview process and improve your company's retention rate.

2. Showcase cutting-edge technology

When you are recruiting, make sure that you articulate the technologies that new trainees in your company will be exposed to. It is also a good idea to reinforce the technological advancements that you have made.

3. Encourage creative thinking

If you have a creative thinking culture in your company, make sure that your new engineering trainees know about it. Engineers are trained to be analytical thinkers and problem solvers. Positions that will allow them to apply their creative skills and come up with innovative solutions are highly desirable to them.

4. Reinforce opportunities for advancement

Like any other profession, engineers want to work for companies in which they can grow and advance to higher positions. You do not have to promise them the moon, but you can certainly promise them opportunities to enhance their knowledge, influence, and involvement.

5. Stress how the engineers' work will help the bottom line

Engineers want their work to make a difference, and they want to be part of projects and departments that impact bottom lines and drive organizational objectives. You can talk about this when you are interviewing them.

6. Pay new employees well; give them good benefits

It is a buyer's market out there, for top-notch engineering graduates. Good compensation and benefits will go a long way in attracting the right talent. Some companies also offer their employees flexible working hours. See if you can offer something like that to your staff.

Candidate qualities

What qualities should you look for in prospective engineering candidates? Keep these qualities in mind when interviewing.

Ambition: You want people beside you who will share your hunger for success.

Initiative: Look for self-starters. You would want people who can organize their work and go about it, without being told what to do or needing constant supervision.

Commitment: An individual who will stick to his or her work even when the going gets tough or a person who is willing to go the extra mile for himself and his company is an asset to any company.

Why do employees leave?

Employees leave for many reasons. Most of the time, the reason is not money. When you understand why employees leave, you can use the information to change and reduce turnover. Here are the most important reasons why people may leave a company:

  • Not receiving recognition in the company and career is not progressing.
  • Management has not kept its promises.
  • Relationship with supervisors and coworkers has deteriorated.
  • Unable to fit into the company culture.

If you do not recognize what is important to your employees, it can translate into job dissatisfaction, voluntary turnover, and lower productivity.

Know that employees want to feel valued. They want good compensation, they want to be challenged on the job, they want their work to be meaningful, and they want work-life balance. If you can provide all of these, attrition rates will drastically reduce.

Job portals for engineering positions

Many job portals are dedicated exclusively to engineering jobs. One advantage of posting openings on these sites is that you will receive only relevant resumes. In conventional sites, almost anyone can send a resume. You may receive hundreds daily. In the process of sifting through them, you may overlook some really great and deserving candidates.

If you do not recognize what is important to your employees, it can translate into job dissatisfaction, voluntary turnover, and lower productivity. 

Another benefit of these sites is that you can post jobs for a very small price. If you have a large requirement, and if you try to post on sites like Indeed.com and Careerbuilder.com, you will have to pay a small bundle. Here is a small list of job portals that are catering only to engineering positions.

EngineerJobs.com – The website claims it is the most visited engineering job site in the world. Nearly 300,000 jobs are listed on the website, in various engineering disciplines, across the U.S. and Canada. Disciplines range from aerospace engineering and geotechnical engineering to software engineering.

Engineer.net – The Engineer.net website has a conservative interface, but if it can deliver candidates, why not try it? The website is already catering to many well-known companies.

TheITJob.com – If your company is in the information technology field, check out TheITJob.com. The site has an easy-to-read interface and is visited by many job seekers from the IT field.

Hiring and retaining top engineering talent is something infrequently discussed; however, there are certain practices and stipulations that will ultimately benefit the bottom line. Use the best outlets to find talent, entice employees with a rewarding culture, and deploy the best practices in the workplace to reap the benefits.

- Tom Reddon is a forklift specialist for National Forklift Exchange. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, and Consulting-Specifying Engineer, mhoske(at)cfemedia.com.

ONLINE

Control Engineering manages a LinkedIn group with a job board. Link atop www.controleng.com.

www.nfe-lifts.com 

Key concepts

  • Hire and retain top engineering talent.
  • Use best practices in searching, hiring, and retaining talent.
  • Use the best outlets to find talent.

Consider this

Approach hiring and retention like an automation or controls project; more time spent earlier can result in time savings and greater benefits later on.

Atop www.controleng.com, the LinkedIn logo links to a group moderated by Control Engineering. It has a job board.



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