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Six Tactics to Find Engineers

It is hard to find engineers and technical candidates. The unemployment rate for architecture and engineering occupations nationwide has fallen to 1.3% from 2.2% from a year earlier, and the trend is downward.

The National Federation of Independent Business reports that:

  • Job creation plans and unfilled job openings both set new records.
  • The percentage of small business owners saying it is a good time to expand tied the May 2018 all-time high.
  • Inventory investment plans were the strongest since 2005 and capital spending plans the highest since 2007.

Further, our experience at PEAK across most industries, disciplines, and engineering software packages confirm this trend.

In 2016, some of PEAK’s hardest finds were anyone with REVIT software – it had only been popularized a few years before and everyone seemed to want to utilize candidates with this experience to update their business processes. Now, just about every software package is like Revit was in 2016.

Another industry observation: there is a much higher likelihood that any technical candidate on a job board will have his rate “bid up” by the number of recruiters calling him or her. This creates higher costs for companies looking to hire these candidates.

Companies looking to fill technical roles may find a bright spot in the Bureau of Labor Statistics “quit levels.”

On the bright side, you have a greater opportunity to identify someone who is willing to leave their current employer. This mobility created an opportunity to add to your team. The bad news is that there is a greater likelihood than ever that your current employees will leave, or have done so already.

Following are some tactics to deal with a labor market where everyone is employed.

1. Increase compensation

Let’s just come out and say it – the money you are offering matters a lot. If you can, this may be the economic climate where it is necessary to reevaluate your pay rates and benefits to employees, for recruiting and retention purposes. If you can’t upset your pay scale, consider bringing in a temporary expert contract resource at an above-market rate through a staffing company to get through this period of heavy economic expansion.

2. Target passive candidates

Candidates that have applied to your job probably have applied to other jobs. Candidates who have listed resumes on the job boards have been contacted by several staffing companies and HR departments before you even see them. Your target should be passive candidates. Sometimes, you can get an unsatisfied candidate for a market rate. Remember, though, that to make a move in this environment, many technical candidates will demand an increase – although not as much as the “job board” candidate. Plan accordingly, and enlist a recruiter to spend eight or more hours per day dialing the phone to find this person for you.

3. Feed the sales instincts of your recruiter

Recruiters are generally paid with a strong incentive package. Convince your staffing company of your urgency. Let them know what the consequences are if you don’t fill the role. If it is known that you will move fast, the recruiters will prioritize your opening to get a quick fill.  Avoid sending out an order prior to your vacation. Recruiters will find candidates, and lose them all before your return, and you will get a reputation as a slow mover.

We recently had a large toy company in Massachusetts call us for candidates. They had four engineer openings all paying over 100k. The human resources person who called us had come from a staffing background.  He knew how hard the nationwide search would be for this highly specialized talent, he had been working with other staffing companies for months. He made us an offer we couldn’t ignore: “for any candidates submitted in the first 30 days, I will pay a thirty percent fee.

They achieved a level of targeted effort, late nights, and results out of our recruiting team that was impressive, even to me. Consider that sales managers are not the only ones that can run promotions.

4. Avoid creating “artificial demand”

If you send your job out to three staffing agencies, you will likely cause three recruiters to call some of the same candidates.  In the worst case scenario, a company will know that a candidate was already submitted, and offer the following to the candidate: “if you go through us, I can get you another three dollars an hour.” This is extra pay is coming out of your companies budget, or may cause you to lose the candidate. Note that many staffing companies – PEAK included – are moral, and will not use recruiting tactics that damage your business.

5. Close the deal, or close the file

When you find a candidate that is a fit, move the process forward. Interview the same day or the following day. If you are very excited, flatter the candidate by offering a few thousand more than the candidate’s target rate. Once that person is on your payroll, the likelihood that the candidate’s job search will continue dramatically decreases. If you know the candidate is not a fit, communicate it to the staffing company. Force yourself to make a decision quickly, within a day.

Avoid the tendency of many managers to want to see another candidate for comparison purposes. In the worst case scenario, at takes another several weeks to find an alternative. You lose the first candidate and the alternative is not as good or not interested. In this environment, it is safe to assume that it could be several months before you find another candidate that is better.

6. Plan a strategy

Don’t be blindsided. It may be six months since your last hire, but the staffing office you work with is hiring people every week. Leverage that knowledge. If you are working with an experienced technical staffing salesperson, ask him or her to help you plan a strategy unique to your company and the type of person you are looking for. The strategy may include some combinations of the above tactics, or may be something else entirely.

Any staffing salesperson worth their salt would be happy to meet you in person or teleconference to help you be successful.

Questions? Contact us! Let us know how you would like us to respond; email or phone call.

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