8 Hiring Practices to Keep up with the Latest Engineering Workforce Trends


Sometimes it seems impossible to find good engineers in this tight market. Without talented people, your company may struggle to stay competitive. Many recruiting tactics that were successful in the past have lost their effectiveness due to market changes. New hiring trends are emerging to adapt to this new recruiting landscape.



Demand Outstrips Supply: Aging workers are retiring faster than they can be replaced with new engineering graduates. The demand for engineers is expanding while the number students pursuing engineering degrees remains stagnant (or is even decreasing in certain disciplines).

The Competition is Stiff: Well rounded engineers are growing harder to find. Most companies recognize that finding technically qualified candidates who fit the culture, communicate well and have strong leadership potential is challenging.

Old Hiring Practices are Not Producing the Same Results: It used to be that you posted an ad on Monster.com and then sat back and watched the resumes of overly qualified candidates come flowing in. With a glut of online job search engines like Monster, Indeed, ZipRecruiter and CareerBuilder (just to name a few), it is getting harder to post openings that stand out in such a crowded space.



Firms that are attracting the most qualified candidates, as well as the hottest new talent, are turning to unconventional methods that defy some of the hiring trends of the past. It is not enough to offer competitive wages or other forms of compensation. Companies are rethinking everything from where they are scouting for desirable candidates to how they deliver their pitch.

#1 Go Where They Are

The demand for desirable engineering candidates has exceeded the supply, creating a buyers’ market for job seekers. Many companies have become more aggressive in actively seeking out qualified engineers by leveraging public information on social media sites like LinkedIn to identify potential candidates. As the popularity of digital networks increases, more niche groups and forums are created to cater to them.

#2 Think Like the Candidate

Some companies report “stalking” the social media accounts of potential candidates in order to understand them better. Having an idea of what interests a candidate gives you the ability to tailor an offer of employment that speaks more directly to that specific candidate. People are eager to publicize their opinions and experiences in this new era of digital sharing (and engineers are no different). Reading the blog, following the twitter feed and reading public posts on LinkedIn or Facebook reveals a lot about a person’s motivations. Aside from getting a better idea of who you may potentially be hiring, you gain a better understanding of what informs their decision making.

#3 Learn the Lingo

Staying current on industry trends by following social media outlets popular with engineers helps you remain up to date with the language and norms of your target demographic. Companies perceived to be “out of touch” with current hiring trends and market terminology are finding it increasingly difficult to win over highly sought after candidates.

#4 Gamify

By nature, engineers are analytical and love to solve problems. Many companies have used this to their advantage by re-envisioning their recruiting process. Instead of following the standard cover letter/resume submission routine, they have created puzzles or challenges to determine the most desirable candidate(s).

Some companies have gone as far as creating video games for candidates to play that demonstrate problem solving skills and the ability to work as a team to achieve a common goal. A widening segment of the industry is drawn to a company culture that assigns a high value to creative competition and rewards the accomplishment of reaching a goal.

#5 Paint the Big Picture

Now more than ever, attracting talented candidates requires having a clear purpose and vision for your business. The social, environmental and economic impact of your business plays an instrumental role in the decision making process for today’s engineering job seekers. How your company’s brand is perceived in the global marketplace holds greater sway with a generation of engineers now more concerned with the overall footprint of their work.

With so many career options available at this time, engineers have the luxury of selecting a company whose mission is aligned with their personal goals and concerns. Choosing a company based on its record of environmental stewardship, how well it cares for its employees and charitable works in the community factor into a candidate’s decision.

#6 Create a Culture that Listens

Companies have to be transparent with their employees and encourage open communication. Especially in engineering fields, companies which cultivate an environment where suggestions and feedback are considered from everyone on the team report higher employee satisfaction and retention. Candidates are more likely to join your team if they feel their voice will be heard.

#7 Lay out the Leadership Path

Enticing well-rounded candidates to join your company now demands a path for growth if they join your organization. The most talented candidates are more than just engineers. The demand for graduates with engineering degree has increased over the last decade. Many students, who would have otherwise pursued a business degree 10 years ago, have been attracted to engineering as a major. As a result, many people in the recruiting industry are calling an engineering degree the new liberal arts degree.

Today’s engineer brings more to the table than just experience and a specialty in their field of study. If their current employer fails to provide a path for promotion into a leadership role, a highly valued candidate may consider their options elsewhere.

#8 Focus on Retaining Your Best and Brightest

Many companies have opted for a “good defense” strategy of devoting resources to retaining their best talent in favor of spending money on recruiting those hard-to-find candidates. By reducing turnover, companies can mitigate lost productivity and realize greater returns on investment in some of their key players.


The hiring trends that once attracted qualified candidates for engineering positions have lost their effectiveness. Changes in market conditions – and a shift in how engineers are evaluating their value in this new market – are forcing companies to reshape the ways in which they recruit and retain the most desirable employees. Finding the engineers that will make your business thrive in this new marketplace will require you to engineer innovative hiring strategies.


~Alissa Marshall


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