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Where Have all the Good Engineers Gone…and How Can I Attract Them To My Company?

The skilled trades and line worker shortages have been the top concerns for most manufacturers over the last few years, and with very good reason.  However, if you haven’t hired an Engineer recently you may be in for a shock when you place your job posting.  That shock will likely come from both the candidate response rate and the salary demands of the degreed engineers you actually manage to attract.

As with any downturn, the bounce back tends to bring heavy hiring to refill the positions lost through layoffs.  This last recession was no different, and as the job market tightened, salaries tended to increase.  Over the last three years, our region in particular, experienced numerous hiring spikes in engineering.  GE’s re-shoring efforts, Ford and Toyota’s expansion, as well as new manufacturers moving into the area at record pace, have all added to the talent shortage and salary hikes.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries rose for all manufacturing jobs for our region nearly 5% year over year, from 2011 to 2014. The BLS lists the median wage for a Mechanical Engineer in the Louisville Metro area in 2014 as $83,060.

Regardless of the facts at hand, manufacturers still need to hire experienced engineers that will be productive and not cost prohibitive.  Even though the market is extremely tight, 45% of employees are open to speaking to Recruiters about new opportunities, according to LinkedIn.   Knowing what might motivate a potential job candidate and where to find them is much more critical in today’s job market.  Even with more than 20 years of recruiting experience at Talis Group, keeping up with new technology and trends in talent acquisition continues to be a top priority in our search for great people for our clients.  Here are a few tricks of the recruiting trade that may help you generate a better flow of potential job candidates.

Motivation – Understanding a potential job seeker’s motivation will help you craft a successful recruiting and retention plan.  Active job seekers are primarily looking for opportunities for advancement, while passive candidates list salary and benefits as the top reason they change jobs, according to a recent LinkedIn annual report on recruiting trends in 2015.  Work-life balance and company culture are top priorities for young professionals.   According to CareerBuilder, work-life balance was also listed as the reason 50% of employees, at all levels, will stay in their jobs in 2015.

Branding – According to Linkedin’s recent report, 77% of the leading recruiters in the U.S. agree that branding has a significant impact on talent acquisition.  In a tight job market, a good branding / marketing campaign can open a flow of job candidates that job boards will not reach and allow your company to beat out the competition.  Social media is an inexpensive yet effective way to promote your company.  Your company website can also be a powerful recruiting and branding tool.  Employee video testimonials, for example, are a great idea to showcase your company culture on your website.

Job Posting – This is not merely the job description written by HR to assist with talent performance and reviews.  A job posting should be a combination of company branding, using all you have learned about job seeker’s motivation, and a summary of highlighted duties and requirements of the job.  The job posting should list things like:  opportunity for career growth, salary range, benefits available, company culture, company awards, and length of time in business, etc.  Try using video job clips on the social media sites to attract more attention to your job openings.

Easy to Apply – The section should be titled ‘How to Lose a Job Seeker in 5 clicks’.  Save the application for the interview.  Don’t make the job seeker spend 15 minutes trying to get their resume and personal history entered into your website so they can apply for a job.  Apply for a job on your own company website and see how long it takes.  If you can’t quickly attach a resume and enter a few key items in under 2 minutes, you are likely losing job candidates you have spent time and resources attracting.  

Diverse Recruiting Plan – Gone are the days of the 4 line posting in the Courier Journal.  Today’s mobile technology and social media have created a vast web of places to attract the job seeker.  The best place to advertise your job often depends on the job seeker’s level, job function, age, experience and the even the job location.  Our advice is to keep it fresh and don’t stop looking for new ways to attract the talent you need.  Talis Group uses a variety of job boards, aggregator sites, social media, databases, networking, colleges, associations and marketing to attract talent.  One size does not fit all in talent acquisition.

For more information on this topic, don’t miss Susan Woods and Renee Fulton, from Talis Group, speaking on the “Secrets of Great Recruiting” at this year’s Kentucky Society for HR Management (KSHRM) Conference in Louisville on September 23, 2015.  Click here for the 2015 KYSHRM Conference Brochure.

Talis Group is a regional recruiting company with a focus on hiring for manufacturing companies. We recruit  for Engineering positions , and mid to upper level Plant management area along with Accounting, HR, Admin and Legal areas.


Susan F. Woods 

Director of Recruiting, Talis Group, Inc.