By: Leslie Stevens-Huffman
Engineers are among the toughest spots to fill in the U.S., with 49 percent of employers struggling to find talent. In fact, employers advertised more than 280,000 open engineering positions in 2013 – setting a new high.
While Congress and universities have enacted programs to support the education and future development of scientists and engineers, engineering managers need immediate solutions. Here are some high-impact strategies to help you compete for top talent today.
Adopt New People Practices
Forty-eight percent of employers are adopting new “people practices” to overcome talent shortages. They’re using professional growth and development to court Gen X and Gen Y engineers according to Shirley Ramos, a training consultant with FMI. Popular offerings include in-house training programs, tuition reimbursement, memberships in professional associations and stretch assignments.
They’re also reshaping their culture, leadership teams and HR policies to satisfy the desire of millennials for adequate pay, community involvement, mentorship and collaboration.
Promote Your Brand
How important is your firm’s reputation and online presence? A whopping 53 percent of Gen Y’s are applying to jobs through LinkedIn, followed by 19 percent on Google+ and 10 percent via Facebook according to a recent study.
Leading engineering firms aren’t relying on job fairs or ads to connect with young engineers; they’re using social media and blogs to build the brand of their engineering team, market interesting projects and tout the caliber of their engineering challenges.
Once you’ve defined your stories around your engineering challenges, software engineer Pete Soderling suggests that you get your best engineers to tell those stories publicly through meetups, blogs or video interviews. He says smart engineers are like catnip for other smart engineers.
With an increasing number of women graduating with degrees in STEM disciplines, engineering firms need to embrace diversity and create an inclusive and support environment to attract the best and the brightest stars.
For example, O’Brien & Gere uses employees as recruiting ambassadors to attract engineers and scientists with diverse backgrounds. The engineering solutions firm created committees of employees with common interests to assist in outreach initiatives. Committee members offer female STEM graduates resumes reviews, mentoring and encouragement while promoting the firm’s unique work environment.
Engineering giant Atkins is offering flexible work schedules to retain and attract female engineers. The strategy not only appeals to women looking to balance work and family, but also to veteran engineers and retirees who want to stay engaged – as long as they can work part-time.
Expand your talent pool
Many U.S. companies are looking overseas to fill critical engineering positions. While others are using CareerBuilder’s Supply & Demand Portal or WANTED Analytics to identify plentiful sources of talent right here in the U.S.
Engineering firms are opening satellite offices in talent-rich markets or offering telecommuting, relocation benefits, higher salaries and other perks to entice out-of-town engineers. They’re also using contract staffing and blended workforce models to expand their talent pools. A great recruiter at a contract staffing company will sell candidates on the value of your organization and the job opening. Specialized recruiters have access to, and rapport with, highly competent candidates who are not accessible to a less specialized recruiter.
Given the projected talent shortages, and the project nature of engineering work, many firms not only view contractors as an immediate solution to their staffing needs, but also a long-term business strategy.
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