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Six Tips for a Smooth Start for Your Contract Engineers

Help contractors make a smooth transition by giving them ample information before an assignment
By: Leslie Stevens-Huffman

Finding and securing the right contractor for your project is only part of the battle. Next you want to ensure that you’re creating the best possible environment for your contractor to thrive.  Starting on a new project can be stressful. The intensity rises when engineers must simultaneously adapt to unfamiliar locales and different work environments.

While frequent travel and embracing new surroundings are part of the norm for contract engineering professionals, experts involved in engineering recruitment know how to facilitate a smooth transition. You can help contract engineers maintain their personal lives and focus on the task at hand by providing specific information about the project, worksite and targeted outcomes before beginning an assignment.

Pre-Assignment Information for Engineering Contractors

What to provide: Customized Job Description and Orientation

Why: Although the benefits of providing a formal, written job description may seem obvious, busy managers often rely on generic versions that don’t offer candidates precise information about the responsibilities or the environment. Paint a picture by describing a typical work day, the dress code, the size of the engineering department and the work group. Avoid surprises by providing prospective contractors with a list of the manuals and reference materials they must provide, along with the applicable engineering standards and version of CAD software.

What to provide: Written Scope of Work

Why: Since candidates rarely possess all of the desired technical skills, attributes and engineering experience, creating a detailed scope of work helps managers prioritize the critical requirements, conduct a cohesive interview and actively engage candidates in the selection process.

What to provide: Project Duration and Work Schedule
Why: Help prospective road warriors achieve work-life balance and fulfill their personal and professional obligations by specifying the duration of the project, the overtime requirements and the work schedule, so they can calibrate their calendars and eliminate conflicts before making a commitment.

What to provide: Clear Performance Expectations

Why: It’s hard for anyone to hit a moving target, so when engineering managers outline their expectations, the desired outcomes and timelines from the outset, it helps contractors focus on the priorities and meet critical deadlines.

What to provide: Local Intelligence

Why: Engineering professionals may choose to bring their families along, if they accept a long-term assignment outside their local area. Help them assimilate by sharing information about schools, lodging, car pools and transportation to and from the region. And remember, extending the company’s preferred pricing to contractors can lower per diem costs and other travel expenses.

What to provide: Go-to Resources

Why: Even simple things like ordering office supplies or garnering IT support can be challenging in a new company. Provide contractors with phone lists, security procedures and an experienced coach, so they have someone to ask about cultural nuances, best practices and project specifications, without bothering the boss.

Recruiting the best contract engineering talent is only part of the battle. By providing some relatively simple information up front, you can help them hit the ground running and maximize their productivity.

Leslie Stevens-Huffman is a freelance writer in Southern California who has 20 years of experience in the staffing industry.

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