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How to Hire Top Engineering Talent in a Candidate-Centric Market 

The Great Resignation, The Great Re-Evaluation, The Sansdemic… whatever you want to call it, there’s no doubt that the tables have turned in recent years regarding the labor market. Employers don’t necessarily have the upper hand – it’s a candidate-centric market, and employees know they have the leverage.  

In the field of engineering, the demand for qualified engineering talent is higher than ever, both because of the candidate-centric market and the increasing number of industries looking to become more software-driven (healthcare, manufacturing, and retail are just a few examples). Today, finding the right engineering talent for your organization is harder than ever – but it’s also more important than ever.  

So, what are companies like yours to do? Simply posting your open engineering jobs and hoping for the best isn’t going to cut it. You need to be proactive about candidate sourcing, and you need to recognize where candidates are in today’s market and what they’re looking for. When your organization provides it, you beat the competition every time. 

Here, PEAK Technical, an experienced engineering recruitment agency, tells you about the best ways to attract top engineering talent in today’s tough market: 

Entice Engineering Candidates with Career Advancement Opportunities 

Engineers are in high demand, so they tend to have their pick of top jobs. That means you must make your open roles more enticing than the other choices. And one of the best ways to do that is by providing clear pathways for career advancement. The best engineers don’t want to languish in one spot forever or remain at the same level their entire careers. They want to learn more; they want to grow their skills; they want to take on more responsibility, and advance their careers. 

Think about it – why would a top engineer take a job if they don’t see a future with your organization? A big part of that future involves growth and development. And it’s important to understand that career advancement doesn’t necessarily have to mean moving up the ladder in terms of rank. Some engineers don’t wish to manage people or become a boss. Some want to become specialists in a certain technology or field or become multi-faceted in their expertise. Providing pathways for this to happen is just as important as opportunities for hierarchical growth. 

Go Beyond a Paycheck 

There’s no denying that pay matters – and engineers interviewing with your company will certainly expect to be compensated fairly, and well. But recognize that a paycheck isn’t everything, especially for the top engineers out there. If you really want to win over top candidates, you’re going to have to go above and beyond a basic salary package.  

Part of that means offering a great benefits package and including perks as well. Go beyond a paycheck by including things like: 

  • Signing bonuses 
  • Paid time off 
  • Personal flex days 
  • Flexible work arrangements 
  • Transportation reimbursement 
  • Wellness allowances or gym memberships 

Offering more than a paycheck isn’t just about added perks, though. For engineers, knowing what purpose their work has is very important. Engineers are problem-solvers, and they want to know what problem they’ll be solving and how their work matters. Be sure to give clarity on what problems engineering candidates will be expected to solve, who they’ll learn from, and what kind of values and culture your organization has. Engineering candidates want to know the “what” and “why” just as much as they want a good paycheck. 

Measure with Real-World Situations 

Attracting the top engineering talent to your organization might mean adjusting your interview standards a bit. The interview process should not just be a series of questions that a candidate gets right or wrong. It shouldn’t be a test – it should be a conversation that helps you evaluate the candidate and helps the candidate evaluate you at the same time. 

There is an increasing preference among companies hiring engineers and the engineers themselves to include real-world assessments as part of interview processes. Engineers want to know about the actual problems they’ll be working on should they accept the job offer – and it helps to give them an idea of what a typical day might be like, too.  

Including real-world assessments in your interviews has benefits for everyone. For engineering candidates, it helps them see what kind of problems they’ll be solving and what it’s like to work for your company. For hiring managers, it is a great way to assess a candidate’s abilities – both hard and soft skills – as they solve a company-specific problem.  

Be Flexible 

Do you turn away candidates if they don’t have the exact experience you’d like or if they’ve only worked in the field for four years instead of five? Adhering to this kind of 100%-fit rule only harms your chances of hiring top engineering talent. You’re restricting the already tight candidate pool, which simply isn’t effective or productive. 

Today, it’s important that you look at the whole package of an engineering candidate – not just the lines or their resume or their specific experience, but what kind of potential they have. Engineers are intelligent and adaptive; even if they don’t have experience in a specific area that you’d like, there’s a good chance they’ll be able to learn and grow in that area without much trouble.  

Be flexible with your hiring choices. Go for candidates who have 75% of the skills required to do the job and train them on the remaining 25% to make them the perfect candidate. Consider implementing a mentorship program at your facility to aid with this. It’s a great way to use your existing talent – whether it’s senior engineers or simply people with more experience in a particular area – to bring new engineering talent up to par. 

Focus On Employer Brand 

For the tech giants of Silicon Valley (Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc.) their employer brand is in and of itself a huge pull for candidates. But smaller companies don’t always have that luxury. Your company’s name and reputation alone might not be enough to attract and impress top engineering talent. That’s why pushing your employer branding is so important and effective in hiring.  

“Employer brand” doesn’t mean your company’s logo and color scheme. It’s about culture and the work environment. Is your organizational culture fun, relaxed, and hip? Professional and collaborative? Values-based and personable? Be sure to accentuate these qualities during the interview process and throughout your messaging in job postings and candidate communication. Top engineers want to know they’re working for a company whose values and mission they align with – and the way they’ll know that is through your employer branding.  

Stay In Touch 

The final tip for attracting top engineering talent in today’s tough hiring market is one of the simplest: Keep in touch with your engineering talent throughout the entire recruitment and hiring process.  

Continuous communication throughout the interview and hiring process is essential – when candidates feel they’re dropped into a black hole after initial contact, they’re likely to ghost you. And drop-offs tend to be higher in technological fields, engineering included, than others. Keep your engineering candidates updated, even if it’s simply to let them know a decision is still being worked out. They’ll appreciate the honesty and will be much more likely to stay engaged with your company.  

PEAK Technical Can Help Navigate Today’s: Candidate-Centric Market 

How can you attract engineering talent to your open roles in today’s candidate-centric market? It’s not always easy, but taking a proactive approach is key. You need to showcase career advancement opportunities, offer more than a paycheck, measure talent with real-world assessments; be flexible when screening candidates for skills and experience, focus on your employer brand; and stay in close contact throughout the interview and hiring process.  

Another way to navigate a candidate-driven engineering talent market? Partner with an experienced engineering staffing agency like PEAK Technical. Since 1968, we have been connecting employers with top engineering professionals across a variety of engineering specialties, including manufacturing, entertainment, defense and aerospace, civil engineering, construction, bio-med, and more. 

Interested in hiring top engineering talent? Connect with PEAK Technical today! 

Here at PEAK, we’ve been perfecting our recruiting process for over 50 years. If you need engineering talent on a contract, contract-to-hire, or direct-hire basis, we are the engineering recruitment agency that can help. We seek to understand the underlying staffing and workforce challenges your company is facing – from there, we’ll develop a tailored strategy to address them. We leverage our engineering industry knowledge to identify candidates who are a true fit for your organization.  

Ready to get started? Contact the PEAK Technical team today 

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