Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Monday, 11 July 2016 11:28

Solving Engineer and Technical Staff Shortage

Written by Dean Altman

dean altman

Recruit from colleges and provide mentors for new employees

In 2015, ManpowerGroup surveyed 41,700 hiring managers to identify the proportion of employers having difficulty filling positions, which jobs are difficult to fill, and why. Two of the three hardest-to-fill jobs were skilled trades and engineers. Information technology (IT) staff was ranked number nine as the most difficult to hire. A lack of available applicants was the most common reason employers gave in the study to explain why they face challenges filling openings in their corporations.

College recruiting is one solution for engineers, technicians and IT personnel who have the latest knowledge. The downside is that more training is required for someone fresh out of college as opposed to someone who is more experienced. The upside is that you can train them to be most effective for your organization and build loyalty from day one. Having successfully established and managed college recruiting programs for several organizations recruiting engineers and technicians, let me share some proven practices.

Attracting the right college graduates effectively

The demand for top graduates exceeds supply. So you will need to establish a relationship with schools and build on those relationships. Here’s how.

1. Decide from which school(s) you want to recruit graduates. Evaluate a school’s reputation and how well a program’s curriculum matches your needs. Lower ranked schools may offer graduates that meet your needs while giving you a greater chance of attracting them. Have the expectation that you will hire at least one graduate from each school annually.

2. Meet with each school’s placement office or career services director and create a relationship with them. Their job is to find jobs for as many graduates as possible, so they will spend their time with companies who will help them meet this goal.

3. With the help of the placement director, meet and establish a relationship with a key instructor—possibly a professor— who can potentially influence students to consider working for your company.

4. Ask the placement director and instructor what you might be able to provide to help them. For the instructor, it might be lab equipment that your company is not using. Let them know that the expectation is to hire at least one of their graduates each year and that you want to establish a long term relationship.

5. Assign a technical manager to be a liaison for each school. Instructors often enjoy interacting with technical professionals outside of academia to help ensure that what they are teaching is still relevant.

6. Invite the placement director to lunch or dinner, and ask for their recommendations. Do the same with key instructors. Continue this practice annually.

7. Market your program. This would include creating a brochure or handout on your company and opportunities for recent graduates. With the shortage of engineers, technicians and IT specialists, you want to attract the best.

8. Make sure interviewers leave students with a good impression of your company. They can be a good resource for candidates throughout their careers, even if you do not make them a job offer. Students will be evaluating your company too. Create a strong brand experience.

9. Once you establish a relationship with a school, continue to have a presence there, even if you have no current openings.

Having been recruited directly out of college as an engineering graduate, I can share what my first employer did to attract me. During the on-campus interview, the company’s recruiter seemed to take a sincere interest in my career goals and me as an individual. At the following interview, the hiring manager seemed like someone who could mentor me. As it turned out, he was a great mentor. The company made me feel valued, allowing me to grow professionally and listened to my ideas when I had them. Research says the millennial generation wants that too. According to Forbes Magazine, seventy- nine percent of millennials want a boss to serve as a coach or mentor. Studies also indicate that career opportunity is one of the strongest reasons that millennials choose to remain with the same organization, not money.

Consider setting up a college recruiting program for your hard-to-fill technical positions. These hires could be your organization’s future leaders.

Dean Altman, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, has established college relations programs, served on college technology program advisory boards, and recruited experienced engineers and technology professionals. He established his human resources consulting practice in 2015 after working more than 20 years for mid-sized and large organizations in various HR management roles.