How to Attract Top Engineering Talent

Sell the merits of your project to win the services of hot engineering contractors

By: Leslie Stevens-Huffman

With the market for engineering talent heating up, an experienced contractor may have several irons in the fire by the time they meet with you.

In fact, a remarkable 86 percent of IT/engineering workers who participated in a recent CareerBuilder survey said they’re actively looking for a job or are open to new opportunities.

So how can you keep a prized contractor from slipping through your fingers? Go out of your way to sell the merits of your project to top prospects.

Go big picture

When asked to rank the advantages of contracting, the opportunity to work on interesting, challenging assignments was surpassed only by the chance for great pay according to a survey of engineering professionals by PEAK Technical Staffing.

Naturally, contractors need context to evaluate the merits of a specific assignment, and storytelling is a great way to get the ball rolling. Explain the project’s mission and the engineer’s role to ignite their passion and garner their interest. People will naturally become more passionate about their work when they clearly understand they are part of something bigger than themselves. Will the project push boundaries, create cutting edge products or solve complex engineering problems? A dynamic project is irresistible to great engineering contractors – as long as the price is fair.

Stress the professional benefits

Contractors are always looking for ways to enhance their marketability and earning power, so get personal once you’ve painted the big picture.

Will the contractor have the chance to learn new technology or acquire global experience or critical thinking skills? Will your project expand his or her testing, documentation or research skills? Will they have a chance to expand their network or boost her value by completing the assignment?

Improving skills and keeping up-to-date with technology through on-the-job experience was critical to engineers based on a survey by the U.S. Chemical Industry. Therefore, your willingness to provide coaching, a stretch assignment or the latest technology might tip the scales in your favor when a contractor is considering several offers.

Sell your team and work environment

Without teamwork, collaboration and support, even a project that looks fabulous on the drawing board can turn off savvy contractors. Cite your team’s commitment to inclusiveness and willingness to engage in knowledge transfer as a key benefit and enabler of project success. Better still, let contractors bond with prospective teammates so they can gauge the chemistry and cooperative spirit for themselves.

Commit resources

If engineers have to beg for resources or funds, their enthusiasm for a project will wane. Veteran contractors have probably experienced the frustration of a project where resources were hard to come by. Outline the assets that will be available and emphasize the commitment from senior leaders and stakeholders to keep hot contractors from slipping through your fingers.

Act Quickly

There is a misconception that the best way to get a great contract engineer is to take your time, interview a number of candidates, and don’t rush in. In fact, when you have a solid staffing company partner, typically the first candidate they’ll show you is the best one. If so, odds are that if you don’t jump on hiring that candidate, someone else will. Try to schedule all your interviews in the same day, and be prepared to close the deal while you still can.


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