Recruiting The Brightest Engineering Talent

Recruitment of any professional is a balance of art and science. Smart firms and their leaders know talent acquisition is not about matching. It’s how well you understand the need, how deep beneath the surface you search, how successful you are at bringing that talent to the table and how capable you are at managing the process to a successful conclusion.

Despite the intense battle for talent in many technical verticals, there are still some organisations that believe talent acquistion is a basic chore or that its simply HR’s role to bring in the talent. These are the mediocre environments where average candidates exist and little innovative happens. The companies that place the highest value on human capital, attract the best talent and are the highest performers in their sectors.

If you want to attract great engineers to your organisation, you need a winning recruitment strategy. One that is unique to your firm and appeals directly to those you seek to attract. This is your TEVP (Technical Employee Value Proposition) and is key, because engineers are ultimately attracted by the technology that your firm works with. Furthermore, engineers typically require more evidence that the proposition you present actually exists. They want detail on what that will mean for them.

HRM has been recruiting engineering talent for over 25 years. We regularly conduct engagement surveys, with a full range of professionals, to understand the different buying and engagement, needs and signals of each professional type. Borne from this, we identify the following five must dos for those seeking to recruit great engineers.

1. Describe and contextualise your firm’s commitment to innovation. How does this compare typically with competitor firms? How free will the new hire be to fully innovate? Will they work on existing processes/ products or work with new concepts?

2. Share with the potential hire your existing technology driven innovation, as is being applied to process improvements, product designs or in R&D. Give evidence of how solutions were identified and implemented.

3. Be clear as to what precisely will be expected of the new talent, what they will be required to achieve over the first 6, 12 and 18 months. Give evidence of future career growth, outlining an existing employee who has experienced similar.

4. Get to the heart of what type of technology and challenge appeals to the target hire. This is not just the key to recruiting great engineers but also to retaining them. There should be alignment between your needs and their professional interests.

5. Be up front as to the resources that will be available to support the target hire in achieving their objectives. Engineers are realistic, if there is a resource issue, share it. For some, it adds to the challenge.

In general, the best professional talent is attracted to organisations who show great respect for their employees. Those firms that provide coaching and mentoring support to their career development. Twenty years ago, a ground breaking McKinsey study, which is still as relevant today, into the role of talent in achieving corporate objectives coined the phrase “The War for Talent”. McKinsey describe three levels of talent, A players – who are outstanding employees, B players – who show development potential and C players – who need to be removed immediately.

If you still believe talent acquisition is about matching and do not have a competitive recruiting strategy for your engineers, are you the home for the C’s?

Aisling Clements is an Engineering Selection Lead in HRM’s Science and Technology Practice.