Jack Welch once so eloquently and succinctly stated that “The team with the best players wins.” This quote is timeless and will ring true today, tomorrow and always. Unfortunately, the economic downturn followed by the recent economic resurgence resulted in not having the right talent to meet the demand for many industries. This is particularly magnified in the field of civil engineering where infrastructure repair has reached a critical point nationwide. Yes, the days of the easy to fill empty seats are gone, and the ability to keep talent from joining a competitor is more challenging than ever.
Randstad Engineering conducted a 2015 national survey addressing the need for talent in the engineering field. The following are a set of questions presented to engineering leaders. The percentage of respondents who agreed with the questions are as follows:
- There is a skills shortage within engineering: 67%
- Our business is negatively impacted by the skills shortage: 69%
- When positions are available, we struggle to find talented candidates who fit the criteria: 77%
- Our firm is not adequately staffed to serve our clients: 74%
- You are using temporary or contract workers to fill open positions: 86%
It is quite obvious that talent acquisition is a top human capital management priority for consulting engineering firms. So the question that hiring authorities and leaders have is: How can we differentiate ourselves from the competition? The answer is not simple, there is not a quick fix and it requires a multi-faceted approach to solve a complex issue. Here are some ideas which can help attract talent to your firm:
1. Increase your firm’s visibility in the marketplace. It is important as a consulting engineering firm that you make yourself visible to top talent, at all levels. Whether they are thought leaders, seller/doers, worker bees, or junior engineers.
- Encourage your top talent to engage and participate in trade associations at the local, state, regional and national level.
- Encourage them to volunteer for upcoming events, head committees, author white papers, and speak at conferences.
- When invited to industry functions, or events where other engineers are sure to be present, make sure your firm is well represented with your best and brightest people. Explain that you wish them to participate because you see them as ambassadors to your firm. This will not only help in the recruiting process, it will give them a sense of ownership and pride in being an integral part of the team. Which in turn, will make them loyal employees, less likely to leave when another firm comes courting.
- When specific high profile or challenging projects are completed, author and distribute a press release.
2. Create an environment that fosters successful, happy and engaged employees. Employees who are highly engaged and challenged, find their jobs more fulfilling and rewarding. Successful, happy, and engaged employees who make themselves visible in the marketplace are then able to attract top talent, by default.In studies conducted by the Queens School of Business and by the Gallup Organization, businesses with happy and highly engaged employees enjoyed 100% more job applications. Additionally, these same studies found that disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors and defects.In organizations with low employee morale and engagement, they experienced 18% lower productivity, 16% lower profitability, 37% lower job growth. Clearly, creating a positive and healthy work environment not only assists with attracting top talent, it also helps increase productivity and profitability, while reducing absenteeism, workplace accidents, employee errors and defects.
3. Invest time in developing a social media strategy. A well thought out and executed social media strategy engages both active and passive candidates evaluating their next potential employer. A company with an active and impactful social media presence (be it LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc) allows potential employees to get a taste of your company before even considering an active opportunity; it allows them to envision what it might be like working for your company.
Blogs, whitepapers, technical papers, company news, promotions, project spotlights, speaking engagements, recruitment videos, etc. are just a few examples of the types of postings that can be contributed to a social media campaign. This is particularly effective with millennials and new graduates (your future leaders!), who will carry on the legacy your firm. An effective social media campaign, can be managed very easily and your return on the time invested can be significant and a catalyst to your continued success.
One great example of an effective social media recruiting video is what Burns and McDonnell, an international engineering, architecture, and consulting firm based in Kansas City, recently produced. It is a video titled “I want to work for Burns and Mac.” specifically designed to attract Millennials and new garduates. They are receiving over 100 resumes a day because of this video. It is targeting interns, entry level and beginning students, however, it is an ingenious way of hiring today for tomorrow’s leaders! Click here for the link to the video.
4. Utilizing internal and external executive search services. Finding experienced executive search consultants, both internal and external, who specializes in your industry niche can be an invaluable asset for your company when it comes to attracting and recruiting top performers. As you know, the person you are looking for is likely not out actively pursuing a new opportunity; the best and brightest are working hard to serve clients and must be sought out.
Experienced and successful search consultants in your industry will have hundreds or thousands of contacts to actively recruit or network with, exposure that you likely do not have. For the larger firms, or those small to mid-sized firms who are positioned for significant growth, a dedicated in-house professional focusing their efforts on talent acquisition is critical. While your executive team is focusing on the business operation, developing clients and driving revenue, an experienced recruiter dedicated to the art of talent acquisition can be a catalyst to capturing top talent.
Putting together a well-rounded recruitment strategy can be the differentiator between the success or failure of a business. After all you cannot serve your clients well by having an under staffed and over worked team. At the end of the day, the quality of your projects will be compromised resulting in lost clients, a diminished reputation and ultimately less revenue opportunities. Those companies that recognize this and see the value in designing a talent acquisition strategy will reap the rewards. Human capital planning should be a top priority, and not one taken lightly.
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