How to hire A-level engineers in a competitive job market

by Greg Harper and Heather Kivett
Senior Vice President and Associate Practice Leader at Charles Aris Inc.

Effective recruiting practices are a unique balance of art and science. Experts in each function and industry of business tend to respond differently to a variety of terms and tactics which can be employed by internal human resource teams and external recruiting firms.

Whether you manufacture a niche product or compete as a Fortune 50, engineers can be some of the more difficult people to identify and attract to new opportunities. As you look to leverage your organization’s most attractive traits, consider these points:

  • University specializations: Around the United States, you’ll find top engineering programs with specialties which might fall directly into your area of focus. For supply chain talent, Penn State University and Michigan State University are two of the best. Motor design? Check out Clarkson University. If reciprocal compressors are your thing, look no farther than the University of Virginia. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into recruiting only from schools known for “engineering” … take it a step farther and identify programs which are exceptional in your specific field.

  • Know your contact’s preferences: Many engineers spend their workday on the production floor or in a laboratory, often removed from their phone and email. This can make contacting A-level engineers difficult. Make sure you’re attempting to connect with them outside the normal 8-to-5 daily timeframe to maximize your chances of them answering the phone. Be flexible with your availability to discuss career opportunities to fit their needs.

  • What makes your role compelling?
    • The team: Engineers enjoy working with people who are as smart – if not smarter – than themselves. Is the team they might join up to par with other A-players who can help facilitate personal and professional growth? If so, use the team as a selling point.
    • The opportunity: Are there opportunities for mentorship and collaboration? Engineers are usually not soft-skill experts. If there is potential to align a newcomer with a great mentor on the team, it can be a great addition to the value proposition you’re offering a candidate.
    • The product: Are you bringing new products to market or revamping current products? If so, you’re likely seeking innovators and creators. When there’s opportunity to generate new ideas and innovations, be open to feedback and the opportunity for continuous improvement across your production floor.
    • The tech: Engineers often enjoy being surrounded by the latest and greatest tools and technologies. If your organization is on the cutting edge, let it be known. If there’s room for improvement in this space, sell it as an opportunity for the person to be your resource for innovation. Problem solvers enjoy these opportunities to shine.

If your organization needs A-level engineering talent, we’d love to explore the opportunity to partner with you. Learn more about our Engineering & Operations practice and how Charles Aris Executive Search can serve you.