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Becoming a Client of Choice for Contract Engineers

By: Leslie Stevens-Huffman

If your engineering firm relies on contractors to meet its goals and objectives, making a concerted effort to become a “client of choice” could turn your organization into a talent magnet.

LinkedIn’s Winning Talent report found that organizations that earned a reputation for being a great place to work enjoyed reduced turnover, lower cost-per-hire and increased interest from candidates as compared with competitors with average work environments.

Engineer at Blackboard

Based on our research and feedback from working professionals, focusing on these six areas can help your firm become a preferred client for contract engineers.

Holistic Alignment

According to Jon Younger, co-author of “Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts,” alignment needs to occur on four levels for an organization to become more attractive to agile professionals.

For instance, when top contractors have their choice of opportunities, they prefer a role where they can make a significant contribution, which Younger calls strategic alignment. And they like an environment where they are treated like valued colleagues, which he calls relationship alignment. They also prefer a company that’s easy to work for. In short, having a clear strategy for integrating contractors into your organization’s culture, team and processes improves results and makes it more likely that they will accept additional assignments.

Streamlined Hiring and Onboarding

If you wait weeks to review resumes or schedule interviews, you could lose a top contractor to another firm. The first step is to create an efficient vetting process that can be completed in a single day. Make hiring decisions within 24 hours, and get successful contractors up-to-speed quickly with a thorough and detailed onboarding process.

Also, think about how you can make your interview process stand out. Contract engineers look for companies that have a clear vision for the role and project, a detailed job description and a clear scope of work. Everyone they meet needs to convey a cohesive and compelling story about the project’s mission and why the contractor’s work matters. Creating line-of-sight from the outset fosters engagement and furthers your firm’s reputation as a great place to work.

Frequent Feedback

Many contractors would like to receive more feedback from the companies with which they work. Providing feedback both during and after a project reduces errors, accelerates assimilation and improves results. It also helps a contractor improve his or her skills.

Steve King, a leading researcher of the independent workforce and contributor to SmallBusiness.com, suggests you “regularly revisit the statement of work or contract and be clear about whether they’re hitting their targets. If they’re doing a good job for you, thank them, especially in front of others.”

Everyone likes a pat on the back if they’re doing a good job, even contractors!

Status Updates

Engineers with specialized skills and expertise are in high demand. If you want to be sure that your expert is available for your next project, give them a heads-up.

Letting contractors know about future assignments, and booking them in advance, gives them stability and helps you win their loyalty. If an engineer likes working for your firm, he or she may turn down other opportunities if they know you’ll be needing them. Keep engineers engaged between assignments by inviting them to participate in “lessons learned” debriefing sessions and post-project celebrations. Build strong and lasting bonds by making contractors a member of your extended family and team.

Inclusive Teams

Whether you are assembling a remote team of contract professionals or augmenting an in-house group, teammates need time to gel and develop a cadence for getting work done. Based on comments posted by engineering contractors on Glassdoor, they truly appreciate the opportunity to take part in team meetings, attend get-togethers and participate in project planning sessions.

Reuniting contractors and full-time engineers as projects arise shortens the learning curve and boosts productivity by assembling a team of professionals who already understand your culture, expectations and reporting requirements.

Fun

Why do engineering professionals clamor to work at companies like Google, Netflix, Facebook and Twitter? Having fun is part of the culture. Reducing stress and creating an enjoyable environment boosts morale and productivity. Most importantly, injecting a little bit of levity and comradery into the workplace can go a long way toward positioning your firm as a client of choice for contract engineers.

Other information of potential interest

4 Workplace Trends You Can’t Ignore

Secrets to Competing with Google & Facebook for Top Technical Talent

Compensation Planning 2016: 4 Forecasts and Trends in Engineering

It’s Time to Re-engineer Your Relationships with Recruiters

5 Ways to Get an Engineering Contractor to Accept Your Offer

Modern Tools for Managing an Engineering Team

Staffing Firms vs. Independent Contractors: What Engineering Managers Should Know

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