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How to Recruit Engineers when Engineers are in Short Supply

According to a report from Deloitte, the shortage of engineers in the manufacturing space leaves 600,000 positions unfilled annually. There are fewer candidates with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Technology) backgrounds and graduates with STEM skills are gravitating to the perceived more exciting software development field. Manufacturing recruiters face a considerable challenge finding qualified engineers in today’s marketplace. What are the best practices for recruiting engineers?

Scout Second-tier Engineering Schools

With competition for recruiting engineers being fierce, consider sourcing from second-tier schools. Students at these schools are gaining the same knowledge and experience as the students at MIT and Stanford. Universities like Lehigh, Widener, and the University of Delaware all have exceptional engineering programs but the students aren’t as relentlessly pursued as the graduates from top-tier institutions.

The Manufacturer's Guide to Hiring & Recruiting

Matt Rivera, vice president of marketing and communications at Yoh, a talent and outsourcing company, says, “The competition among colleges to attract more students has been a boon to the engineering industry. Competition for high-quality educators and instructors, even at the community college level, has led to better candidates than ever before. Where a candidate acquired a degree is mattering less and less than the experience they’ve gained while studying for that degree.”

Post Projects Rather Than Jobs

One of the reasons NASA is such an attractive employer for engineers is because engineering minded students are drawn to iconic projects. By emphasizing the nature of projects and their perceived impact, recruiters can better interest potential candidates.

Rivera continues, “Younger candidates today want to know what they’ll be working on at a company before they even start.” By detailing the projects and emphasizing the impact of these projects recruiters can better draw in the right candidates.

Build a Strong Employer Brand

In a competitive market an employer brand is critical. Building up your employer brand gives your company an edge when courting potential engineering candidates.

James Ellis, the host of a weekly podcast on recruitment marketing called The Talent Cast, says, “The perception potential applicants have about your employer brand has the biggest overall impact on your recruiting and hiring efforts.”

The perception of your employer brand when positive can attract potential applicants but when negative can drive away candidates. It is much easier to acquire skilled talent when they are beating down your door to work for you. But if you have no or low branding you will end up paying more of a premium in order to get candidates to work for your company.

Set Up a Strategic Employee Referral Bonus Plan

One of the best tools to recruit new engineering talent is an employee referral bonus program. By structuring an effective program you can attract the best talent who are already endorsed by a current employee.

It is important to structure an employee referral program in a way that is clearly defined and properly followed in order to avoid being demotivational for current employees. Make sure it is well publicized as far as the reward -- monetary or other benefits such as additional time off -- and deliver on what was promised in a timely manner.

By offering an employee referral program you should be able to locate new engineering candidates from one of the best sources, their engineering friends who are already working for you. Afterall, no one wants to bring in an employee who is going to make them look bad so current employees are likely to recommend decent and competent employees who will be a value add to your team.

Recruiting engineers in a highly competitive market can be a challenge. If your manufacturing business needs assistance with this search, you should certainly contact a firm who has the expertise and knowledge to help you grow your team!

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