Six trends in engineering hiring for 2018 and beyond

In 2018, engineering companies are shifting their tactics when it comes to hiring, and some of these trends may be surprising—even to those in the industry.

By Evan McDowell, Austin Nichols Technical Search, Kansas City, Mo. April 13, 2018

Engineering positions are some of the most difficult to fill for many companies, and there are always new trends when it comes to hiring practices. In 2018, companies are shifting their tactics when it comes to hiring engineers, and some of these trends may be surprising to those in the industry.

  1. Hiring of entry-level engineers increases

The array of skills and experience that candidates may or may not possess can complicate the hiring process. One big change in 2018 is that more companies are willing to hire entry-level employees in lieu of experience.

Unfortunately, there aren’t nearly enough experienced workers in the engineering field for every sector at the moment, so employers are finding ways to hire younger, less experienced candidates and providing on-the-job training for them. This helps replenish the candidate field for the sectors of engineering that are seeing fewer and fewer numbers of students majoring certain engineering disciplines.

  1. More emphasis being placed on internships

Many college students seek out internships before they apply for their first professional position. In 2018, more companies will be seeking out engineering candidates that have internship experience in the hopes that they end up with entry-level employees that already have a good amount of experience.

Internships provide young professionals with a way to get experience in their field, as well as general experience in what it is like to work for a company. This experience is invaluable, and helps entry-level candidates gain an edge over other entry-level candidates.

As more emphasis is being placed on internships by companies seeking engineering employees, internships will become more and more competitive, which makes them even more valuable for students and young professionals. This may even lead to more internships popping up, which gives more young engineers the opportunity to get professional experience.

  1. Willingness to hire outside of industry

In the past, companies often searched for an engineering candidate that already had experience in their industry. Now, companies are willing to hire engineers that lack experience in their specific industry as long as they have the desired skillset for the position.

The willingness to hire outside of the industry shows that some companies are struggling to find a perfect match within their industry. This opens up the talent pool and gives companies a better chance at finding someone who can do the job regardless of their experience in a specific industry.

  1. Some industries face a shortage of talent

Specific industries are struggling to find candidates. In these industries, companies may be required to hire candidates that are outside of the industry and focus on more on-the-job training. Mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP), and controls engineering fields are both lacking in qualified candidates, which forces companies to find other ways to fill those positions.

The engineering fields that face a talent shortage may also be more likely to pay higher salaries to snag a qualified engineer with experience in the desired field. In addition, these employees may be asked to take on additional tasks that they may or may not have done in the past to prevent the need of hiring an additional new employee.

Another way that companies are drawing in top candidates is by offering better benefits or more perks. Employers can offer a variety of additional benefits such as a companywide wellness program, retirement plan matching, better insurance, and more. Many companies have also started to offer perks like free coffee, company events, tuition reimbursement, and more to their employees.

  1. Companies avoiding candidates with inflated salary requests

In addition to hiring more entry-level employees, companies are now avoiding hiring engineers that are asking for too much money based on their experience and skills. This reflects a willingness to do more training rather than paying high salaries. Instead of paying a high salary, the companies can better focus of hiring promotable candidate that they can invest in over the long-term. This provides the company with a candidate who is more likely to stick around long-term as well.

  1. Companies seek hiring help from recruiting services

As the search for engineering employees becomes more difficult, many companies have started reaching out to recruiting services to help find possible talent. A recruiting firm makes it easier for a company to bring in numerous candidates for interviews.

The key to using a recruiting firm is to find one that specializes in engineering staffing. An engineering recruiting firm will have a talent pool of possible candidates and the ability to filter through all of them to find the candidates that most closely match the open positions a company is hiring for. In addition, a recruiting firm can sniff out hard-to-find employees that won’t be on job boards. These recruiting firms have the ability to dig deeper to find the best employees for each job they are recruiting for.

In some cases, recruiting firms will even pre-interview candidates to determine the top candidates to send over to the company for interviews. Not only does this save the company time, but it also ensures that they are only meeting with the best of the best.

For many employers, the future of engineering is changing, and to keep up with the times, employers are becoming more flexible and investing in their new hires in ways that encourage growth and long-term employment. Only time will tell what will happen in the future for this ever-changing industry.

Evan McDowell is the research manager for Austin Nichols Technical Search, a Kansas City, Mo. -based engineering and manufacturing recruiting firm, where he has nearly 10 years of experience identifying the top candidates in engineering and manufacturing industries through database, internet, and telephone research.

Author Bio: Evan McDowell is the research manager for Kansas City, Mo.-based engineering and manufacturing recruiting firm Austin Nichols Technical Search, where he has nearly 10 years of experience identifying the top candidates in engineering and manufacturing industries through database, internet, and telephone research.