Most engineers in the U.S. work in the manufacturing industry, particularly in the production of electronic products, machinery, and transportation equipment. However, since engineers help to solve problems through the application of scientific, technological, and mathematical principles, they are highly sought-after across industries.
Hiring top-tier, experienced engineers can be challenging because there is more demand than supply in the field. At the same time, engineering positions are often so specialized and technical that it’s essential to find someone highly suited for the role.
If you’re trying to recruit engineers, you might be frustrated that there are more job postings for these professionals than individuals to fill them. This means you have to go out of your way to attract the best candidates and convince them that the open position at your organization is the best of all possible options.
Let’s talk a bit about the types of engineering and the challenges that companies often face when recruiting engineers before discussing some tips and tricks to help you out during the hiring process.
The Different Types of Engineers
Engineering can, in broad terms, be separated into four primary groups. While there are countless other interdisciplinary subjects and sub-disciplines that are a part of the engineering field, getting a basic sense of the main categories of engineers can help you zero in on the type of specialist you are searching for.
Electrical engineers can work in various industries, including manufacturing, research, telecommunications, and more. Specializing in the design, testing, and manufacturing of various electrical components, these engineers work in one of the broadest fields in the industry. Some examples of electrical components an electrical engineer might work with include communication systems, motors, power generation systems, and navigation systems.
The median salary in 2020 for an electrical engineer was $103,390. The position typically requires at least a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.
Mechanical engineers develop, design, and build mechanical devices such as tools, machines, and engines. Combining mathematics and engineering physics with materials science allows these engineers to design, manufacture, and maintain mechanical systems.
The median salary in 2020 for a mechanical engineer was $90,160. The position usually requires the candidate has a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.
The field of study surrounding the design and operation of chemical plants is known as chemical engineering. Through chemical engineering, raw materials are transformed into useful products using efficient commercial processes.
It’s common for chemical engineers to work in laboratories or offices to design and troubleshoot production processes for the manufacturing of fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, foods, and more.
Chemical engineers had a median salary of $108,540 in 2020. A Bachelor’s degree is generally required for the position.
Civil engineers primarily focus on the design, construction, and maintenance of the built environment, including bridges, roads, dams, canals, pipelines, railways, the structural components of buildings, and more.
These engineers deal with all things infrastructure and can work in both the private and public sectors. They commonly spend time both in the office and on project sites.
The median salary for civil engineers in 2020 was $88,570. The position typically requires a Bachelor’s degree.
Engineer Recruitment: Common Challenges
If you’ve already begun the process of recruiting engineers to work with your organization, you may have run into some difficulty along the way. Numerous online employment sites have ranked engineering as one of the most challenging jobs to fill. This means that you might have to go above and beyond your regular recruiting practices to attract the right candidate for the job.
High Demand, Low Supply
One of the most obvious reasons that it is challenging to hire high-quality engineers is that the demand is outpacing the supply. Many of the best engineers are nearing retirement, while not enough engineers graduate from colleges and universities to fill the gap. While there can be benefits to bringing on new graduates, you’ll likely notice that there is a learning curve that equates to a less efficient process overall.
Extended Hiring Process
The average time it takes to fill an engineering position is fifty-eight days, which is fifteen days longer than the average length of time for all job positions. This is more evidence that recruiters have to work harder to find the right candidate for the position.
These jobs can also take longer to fill because there can be so many technical aspects associated with them. This can mean that the hiring process is longer than usual, as more screenings and interviews are required for an organization to feel comfortable committing to a candidate.
This can also cause issues, though, because it means that your ideal candidate has more time to negotiate with other organizations while they are interviewing with you. That means you could get three-quarters of the way through the process with the ideal candidate, only to find that they decided to go with another position.
Tips For Recruiting Engineers
Anyone who has been looking to hire engineers in the current market likely knows just how challenging it can be. Let’s look at some tips to help your recruiting process be more effective and efficient.
Creating Your Job Posting
It’s essential to clearly communicate the expectations and responsibilities of a position when you’re writing the job posting. The highest quality candidates will only take the time to apply for positions that they believe they are well-suited for, so it’s important for the posting to communicate all the essential functions that they will be required to perform in the role. You’ll also want to include details about whether the position is permanent, full-time or part-time, and what candidates can expect from the company culture.
Assess Both Technical Skills and Soft Skills
When searching for an engineer, it’s easy to focus only on technical skills. Soft skills are also essential in the workplace, though, along with personal passion. Finding an engineer who is genuinely passionate about their work can make a massive difference in the outcome you receive. An engineer with the necessary soft skills can ensure they fit well as a long-term candidate within your company culture.
Every time you create a new job posting, you have the opportunity to collect and analyze data to inform your recruiting team and allow the next round of hiring to be even more seamless. Check out this recent post to learn more about recruitment analytics and how you can use data to improve your quality of hire.
Encourage Referrals From Employees
Whether you have full-time engineers on staff or you’ve been working with contract engineers, consider creating a referral program to help find the best candidates.
There’s a good chance that your existing employees have an expansive network within the engineering field. People that you are already working with will typically have a good idea of what your company is looking for in an engineer and which types of candidates would be best suited for open roles.
You can offer incentives to help encourage employee referrals, monetary or otherwise.
Consider Using Digital Channels
While employee referrals and well-written job postings can go a long way to help you find the right engineer for your organization, there are additional, non-traditional channels you also might consider using.
For example, you might find high-quality prospective candidates on engineering Slack channels or other online forums. You can also find digital networking channels supported by tech conferences, which could provide additional opportunities to connect with engineering talent.
Create an Internship Program
Depending on your engineering needs, you might find that creating an internship program creates a steady stream of future employees. If you can build a successful and attractive internship program, you can reduce the use of company resources in recruiting.
Internship programs often attract younger candidates that have recently graduated from college. By starting these individuals in a suitable, beginner-level position, you have the opportunity to cultivate a long and vibrant relationship with a new generation of talent.
If you’re considering starting an internship program, consider reaching out to local universities with top-tier engineering programs. It isn’t uncommon for universities to require students to participate in an internship program before graduating, and it’s possible you could partner with local colleges in a way that benefits all parties involved.
The structure of your recruiting process can significantly impact how quickly and effectively you can fill open positions at your organization. If your recruiting team has primarily been focusing on passive candidates when a role opens up, you might find that pivoting to an active recruiting strategy could save your company resources in the long term. You can learn more about the difference between proactive and reactive recruiting in this recent post.
Advertise Your Culture
Since there is more demand for engineers than supply, it’s essential to understand that engineers have their pick of the litter when it comes to jobs. On top of the salary and benefits that come along with a position, engineers will often look at additional factors such as the company culture.
To attract top-tier engineers to your organization, advertise the positive aspects of your culture. Include a few bullet points about the culture in your job posting to help prospective candidates see what makes your company stand out from the crowd.
Screen Your Candidates
Because engineers are in high demand, it can be tempting to take the first marginally qualified person that comes along. However, it’s essential to screen your candidates thoroughly to ensure they will be a good fit for the position for the duration of the job. Otherwise, you could find yourself back at square one in just a few months’ time.
Either through email or during an in-person interview, consider asking some screening questions that allow you to filter the candidate pool further.
Some questions you might ask during this stage of the process include:
- How much experience do you have in this field?
- What are your salary expectations?
- What are your long-term goals in this field?
Including an assessment can help you gauge the practical knowledge and skills of potential candidates.
Of course, you’ll also want to perform the necessary background checks to look into the employment history, criminal record, and qualifications of any candidate you are considering hiring. You also might need to verify the licenses or certifications of candidates, depending on the state your business operates in and the industry.
Have you been considering shifting to a blind recruitment process at your company? Learn more about how anonymous hiring works in this article.
Have a Long-Term Strategy
Chances are, this isn’t the last time you’ll be working to recruit an engineer for your organization. For this reason, it’s a good idea to devise a long-term strategy that you can turn to repeatedly as you build your team of engineers. Whether you periodically need to hire a contract engineer or your organization has dozens of engineers on staff, creating a system that helps you recruit and hire the best talent in the field will ensure the process is as efficient and effective as possible.
Do you have a position that needs to be filled in a hurry? Be sure to take a look at our complete guide to effectively recruiting during a time crunch.
Consider Hiring a Recruiter
Finding the right engineer can be a struggle, but it doesn’t have to be when you enlist some help. Recruiters specialize in finding the perfect candidate for open positions and can do so more quickly and with greater ease. This can be particularly useful in a competitive market, as they have highly developed knowledge that they can apply to the recruitment and screening phases of the process.
If you need a rock star contract recruiter to help grow your workforce, you’ve come to the right place. To learn more about what makes Contract Recruiter different than other agencies, sign up for a free consultation today.
Did we miss anything important about recruiting engineers in today’s market? Do you have any questions about the recruiting process? If you answered yes to either of these questions, please feel free to leave a comment below, and we’ll get a conversation started on the topic!