Conquering Recruiting Challenges

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff September 29, 2004

The most profitable A/E design firms have one thing in common—a commitment to aggressive recruiting. At least, so says Saman Chaudry, a principal with Natick, Mass.-based ZweigWhite’s staffing solutions division.

“The ability to fill positions with talented candidates who will make a long-term commitment to the organization hinges upon firm leaders investing in a formal staffing program,” says Chaudry. “A staffing program is a strategic approach to recruiting that positions a firm to hire quickly and cost efficiently. Such a program helps firm leaders overcome the most significant challenges in recruiting: lack of time to recruit, lack of qualified candidates and low acceptance rate on offers.”

Chaudry shares some advice for firm leaders who want to improve their recruiting success:

Appoint an internal staffing leader. While management needs to take an active role in strategic recruiting, they often lack the time to invest in staffing activities. Appoint an internal point person to manage the recruiting process. Work with an outside recruitment firm through a longer-term agreement vs. having a separate contract for each opening for which the firm recruits. When selecting a recruiting firm to manage your staffing program, find one with industry-specific experience, a proven track record filling similar positions and a fee arrangement that ensures a commitment to a successful, long-term placement.

Bolster your candidate list. The best and most qualified candidates are currently employed and require a direct approach. Targeting people who are not looking for a job ensures superior candidate quality. Create a wish list of candidates you would love to hire and stay in touch with them. This long-term investment will pay off when you need to fill positions quickly.

Understand candidates’ motivation. The best way to get an offer accepted is to understand your candidates “hot buttons,” such as compensation range, ownership opportunities, vacation time, and tuition reimbursement. Extend the offer verbally first, preferably in-person, then protect your recruiting investment by asking employed candidates how they plan to respond to a counter-offer from their current employer.

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