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Gear Up! How to Hire an Engineering Project Team Leveraging Your Staffing Partner


By: Leslie Stevens-Huffman

When a client or manager green-lights a project, there’s no time to lose. But assembling a team of contract engineers in short order requires teamwork, efficiency and a well-executed strategy. Without these, you’ll inevitably waste time, money and make poor hiring decisions. Plus, a lengthy or disjointed selection process may cause you to lose out on talented professionals. Here’s how to avoid missteps and costly mistakes when it’s time to tackle a project.

Step 1: Assemble your team

Gather the managers, coaches and staffing firm employees who will be responsible for selecting and supporting the contractors. Early involvement begets collaboration, creative solutions and ownership of the recruiting process and the results.

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Establish each member’s role and responsibilities. Avoid mistakes by providing training on everything from interviewing to mentoring from the outset. If adding contractors will overtax your leadership team, first bolster your infrastructure by hiring temporary project managers. Your team needs to competent, confident and committed before you bring on the contractors.

Step 2: Create a toolbox

Gather or produce the necessary tools to select, assimilate, mentor and manage a contract engineering staff. Start with the job descriptions and scopes of work since you need that information to create the hiring profiles and requisitions.

Next, author the interview questions, performance expectations and a list of benefits. Every successful high-volume recruiting effort includes a value proposition to attract the best candidates and a marketing plan, says Bill Humbert, who has successfully recruited large volumes of highly skilled professionals.

Finally, don’t forget handbooks and other orientation materials, engineering manuals, tools and parking passes. That way you won’t lose a beat when the contractors start their assignments.

Step 3: Create a recruiting and marketing plan

After you’ve identified the skills you need and the positions you’re trying to fill, the next step is to work with your staffing partner to assess the candidate pool and create an effective recruiting and marketing strategy. The best plans identify the most prolific sources, the outreach tactics, the number of projected hires and the estimated cost.

For example, the recruiting manager may suggest a job fair or open house at your firm – or tapping the candidate pool in another region or city based on your needs and timeline. Discussing the project on engineering forums or social media may garner interest from highly skilled professionals. Or, staggering the start dates may make it easier to recruit and assimilate a large number of contractors. Your staffing partner will know the techniques and tactics that have been successful in the past.

Step 4: Streamline your selection process

If high-volume recruiting is to be successful, internal recruiting practices and procedures need to be streamlined, according to Dr. John Sullivan.

He suggests creating a process map to help you spot and eliminate redundancies and low-value hiring processes and steps. He also recommends deploying special hiring tools, such as one-day interview/offers as well as telephone and computer interviews, to speed-up the selection process. Or, conduct interviews at your staffing firm or an offsite location. Selection becomes easier when managers are focused and forced to make immediate decisions.

Don’t let valuable contractors slip through your fingers. Streamline the hiring process and remember to sell the benefits of your project when it’s time to hire a project team.

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