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If you’re having trouble finding well-qualified, experienced engineers for your company, you are not alone. CareerBuilder says that, of all the positions listed on their site, engineering jobs are the most problematic. Manpower agrees. For eight years, they have ranked engineers among their Top Ten Hardest Jobs to Fill. There’s a good reason for that: demand is high, but supply is low.

The most recent Engineering Talent Supply and Demand Survey clearly shows the magnitude of the problem:

  • 92% said they needed to hire engineers in 2016
  • 82% of engineering employers said it’s tough to fill open positions
  • 20% don’t believe they can find the right talent for their organizations

Hiring professionals say the small pool of candidates is just one discouraging factor. They say candidates lack hard job and technical skills, soft skills and workplace savvy as well as actual engineering experience. In spite of all that, hiring managers complain that salary demands are too high. Perhaps you can relate to these challenges.

 

Why the shortage?

Many of your best, highly-experienced engineers are approaching retirement age. But American schools aren’t graduating enough new engineers to fill the void. When you do bring on inexperienced grads, they still face an on-the-job learning curve. You can’t expect them to be as productive as your “old hands.” This makes it difficult to maintain company-wide momentum, and that can damage your competitiveness.

You’d love to find more experienced candidates, but there is good news and bad news on that front, too. On the good side, from a hiring perspective, more than 40% of professional engineers report they are actively looking for new opportunities this year. Another 28% say they are exploring their options.

Engineers express very high satisfaction with their career choice. But if they are so open to changing employers, that could spell trouble for your retention. Keeping the great people you have now is at least as big a priority as hiring the best new candidates.

 

Increase your chances of landing (and keeping) ideal candidates.

Your firm needs to find and attract the best of the best engineering candidates. To do that, you will need to be creative and proactive. Considering it’s a buyers’ market, you have to sell your organization like never before. And be the organization top candidates want to work for.

Adopt policies that differentiate you from the competition. Start by understanding what engineering candidates are looking for. Respondents to the Engineering Talent survey identified these as their top five considerations:

  1. Salary, bonuses and/or incentives
  2. Health benefits (up from #6 in 2015)
  3. Work/life balance
  4. Work culture/environment
  5. Professional/career development opportunities

How does your company stack up in each of these areas? It’s time for some self-assessment, so you can devise a strategic plan to out rank competitors in the minds of candidates. Involve the engineers you employ now. You’ll get a better, more realistic plan. Including employees in planning and decision-making also increases loyalty.

 

Sell your industry as well as your company

Producing more engineers isn’t only the responsibility of our education system. It’s your responsibility, too. Forward-thinking employers realize they have to get involved in promoting STEM subjects and careers to young students, because these are tomorrow’s employees. You can do that through career day and job fair participation, talking to classrooms of kids, supporting science fairs and so on.

Mechanical engineers are in the highest demand this year, followed by electrical, manufacturing, chemical and control systems engineers. In 2015, mechanical engineers were listed at #5, whereas electrical engineers were most-wanted. Regardless what type(s) of engineers your organization needs, taking steps to make your company a Most Desirable workplace will help you attract and keep the best of the best candidates.

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