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finding new engineers to join the team
4

finding new engineers to join the team

finding new engineers to join the team

(OP)
We're a small firm of five employees but we're needing to add one more engineer. What avenues have been the most successful for other firms in terms of how to locate quality candidates. We've gone with craigslist and indeed in the past. Looking to expand on that and hopefully get a few more quality candidates to choose from.

RE: finding new engineers to join the team

2
Put you best engineer face down on the copy machine. Push COPY. Voila! Instant engineer. smile

Seriously, though, finding and getting good talent is hard. In addition to where and how you look, you also need to persuasively sell the advantages of your firm and your location. In my current position, I'm not involved with hiring, but I have been in the past. At most now, I may refer someone to our company or suggest one of our managers pursue someone.

I live and work in Fresno, California (population 500k±; metro area population 1M±). We have a quite a few negatives to overcome (some real, some perceived) and this can make it difficult to attract good professional talent from outside the area. We are in the San Joaquin Valley in central California, but most people seem to prefer the coastal areas like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Fresno gets hot in the summer (not Phoenix hot, but only one notch below; our max is 115°F) and we often get dense fog in the winter. The south half of the San Joaquin Valley is one of the worst air basins in the country, but it's not nearly as bad as it was when I was in high school in the mid-1970s. Most of our Valley communities are below average economically compared to the rest of California, crime is a bit higher, etc.

Now, selling hat one: We have a lot of positives, too. We generally have a much better salary to cost-of-living ratio than the rest of California (including much more affordable housing), lower development densities, far less congestion, a good university, some good school districts (not all, of course), etc. Find the right community and school district in our area, get a house with a nice yard (a pool is a necessity here, not a luxury), and it's a much better environment to raise a family than a bigger and more congested city. Also, we are not devoid of "culture" (as the big city folks claim) even though we have fewer offerings than the big cities. In addition, Yosemite National Park and King Canyon National Park can be reached in one hour, Sequoia National park in less than two hours, and Pinnacles National Park in about two and a half hours. The first three national parks are in the Sierra Nevada mountains, which offer endless recreational opportunities besides the national parks. So, easy access to excellent mountains is one of our best selling points for people like me who prefer mountains to the beach. But, if you really must get to the beach, 2.5 hours will get you to Monterey. Morro Bay, Avila Beach, or Pismo Beach, which makes an easy day trip or an easier long weekend.

So, with regard to location, you need to do the same analysis to put your city's best foot forward and a similar analysis for your firm.

Now, about finding your prey. At this point in time, it seems that nobody advertises professional jobs in the newspaper anymore and I see very few few such ads in the big industry magazines like ENR and Civil Engineering. You can certainly put "help wanted" ads on your company's website, in Craigslist, etc., but this is a passive approach that requires people to find you. It's hit-and-miss. That being said, my previous job (2015-2017) was the result of me searching and finding an opening on the company's website.

However, all my other jobs in engineering were the results of the employer using some sort of active approach and I think that's where you need to devote the most effort. Here is my experience:
- Summer internship at Caltrans. Caltrans listed nine openings for civil engineering students through the university's job placement center, but more importantly made direct contact with the chair of the Civil Engineering Department about the openings. The chair passed it along to his professors, but also contacted several of us directly and suggested we apply.
- First job out of college: The local manager for a multi-office firm contacted one professor at my university (who happened to be my advisor) asking for good candidates. My advisor passed this along to three of us, two of us applied, and I was hired.
- Second job: Personal contact (a friend from high school).
- Third job: The firm found me via a client.
- Fourth job: Personal contact (back to the firm I was at out right out of college).
- Fifth Job; Company website (the one above)
- Six job: Personal contact (an ex-coworker finally convinced his boss that they needed somebody with my experience).

I know people who have been "snatched" through participation in professional organizations, a chance meeting at a seminar or conference, etc. I know people who have been hired via contact by a search firm (I almost was one time). Every so often, I get a letter from one of the smaller cities near San Francisco offering insane amounts of money to work for them. I'm not interested, but somebody will bite.

I don't know what will work best for you, but you will see from my experience (and I know others with similar experience) that personal contact is often the best approach. Who do you know in the area that would be a good fit and is looking to move? Any contacts from college who might be willing to move to your area? And so on.

I realize that my essay is long on anecdotes and short on specifics, but I hope something here will help you out.

Fred

==========
"Is it the only lesson of history that mankind is unteachable?"
--Winston S. Churchill

RE: finding new engineers to join the team

I've seen it before, but Jesus... are people really listing (and finding?) engineering jobs listed on Craigslist?! The site was meant for buying/selling junk locally, but now companies are using it for high-end job posting? SMH...

Grow your personal/company network, but make sure you're growing it with quality people, not just whomever wants to join (I deny a LOT of people from joining my LinkedIn profile because I see little to no benefit to having them in my network).

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: finding new engineers to join the team

Staffing services can do a decent job steering candidates in your direction if you are able to give them sufficient detail as to what you need.

You can poll your trusted customers and suppliers (who are familiar with the work that you do) to inquire within their circle of contacts for "someone who might fit in/be interested"

If you have enough time, start an internship/co-op program with local college or university to identify potential future employees.

Hollywood movies/TV have shown the cloning yourself option to be less than optimal. One close always goes bad and will try to kill you

RE: finding new engineers to join the team

Finding a new person to fit into an existing small shop is hard. You want the person to be fully up to speed and ready to hit the ground running quickly or they will be a liability rather than a help.

Once you achieve a little more critical mass, interns are the way to go. But those first couple people are hard to find. Generally the personal network is the way most people go- if you have to look more broadly than that, you're in for a lot of effort, time and money to do a proper search, and the availability of that time is the problem you're trying to solve by hiring...

Professional help- i.e headhunters- is the conventional shortcut, and definitely no guarantee of success either.

RE: finding new engineers to join the team

We have a local university across the street. It includes a good program in Architectural Engineering (i.e. masters degree in structural, mechanical, electrical disciplines).
What we do is hire several students to intern - either over the summer or part time during school. This allows them to get some experience, add to their resume, etc. and it allows us to get to know them well and eventually we have hired several of them through the years.

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RE: finding new engineers to join the team

I would suggest a combination of ads on the various public and society job boards with notice of a bonus paid to headhunters, then moving onto contacting staffing services. If you're lacking for applicants after a few weeks then I would reevaluate your needs vs compensation. From the OP, I'm assuming you want an experienced engineer and not a fresh grad, which would beg the question - are you searching for an employee or a partner? Personally I get a chuckle every time I receive an offer from a tiny firm that wants an employee to do a partner's work for (typically) substandard pay/benefits.

RE: finding new engineers to join the team

2
I recruit for us, we're not as small as you but think experience is still relevant. Posting jobs on craigslist and indeed and then sitting and waiting for qualified candidates to roll in makes about as much sense as posting an ad in an industry magazine and sitting and waiting for the work to roll in. You may occasionally get lucky but you won't want the vast majority of people/work it brings. We've hired maybe 4-5 new people in our office in the last couple years. Most came from a job fair, industry connection, or university connection. I think only one came from indeed. Granted he's worked out well so far but that's pretty rare of the indeed resumes we get. We're talking under a 5% rate of resumes that come in to people we actually interview and even less who we actually hire.

What's worked for us for new grads is go to college job fairs, preferably civil engineering specific. The top colleges charge money to attend their fairs now (most expensive I've seen is $750), but you're guaranteed to walk away with tons of resumes and at the top colleges they're probably tons of good resumes. You can also do mini interviews with people who visit your booth to help narrow focus a lot. We've paid probably $4000-$5000 to attend these fairs in the last 2-3 years, hired 4 good young engineers out of them and could have hired more if we wanted to. We're pretty happy with all four of them. For more experienced people, the job fairs can still pay dividends though not right away. For those types I've had luck reaching out to industry connections, participating in professional societies, etc.

For experience I'd temper expectations a little too. Since the recession was 6-10 years ago now, finding people with 6-10 years of experience in the building industry is practically impossible. I'm in that experience range and I don't think I need more than two hands to count the number of my ~100 graduating class of structural engineers who are actually doing structural design of buildings. Is a gap generation there because practically no one in the industry was hiring when they graduated.

RE: finding new engineers to join the team

As someone who has had to pound-the-pavement from my days as a non-coop undergrad student to now a professional engineer, I'll give you my experience. I fit in best with small companies but all the small companies want me to get lost in a big corporation. FML. Here is how I looked for jobs and my experience:

1. University Job Boards
This is where I looked as a student. It always seemed more legitimate and direct compared to the "big" career websites. I never had a positive response with these boards. I think you'll get a tonne of undergraduate/inexperienced applications, so find the absolute most promising candidate from the herd of sheep.

3. The "big" career websites (workopolis, indeed, etc)
I've used these websites quite a bit. They all seem very sterile and indirect to me. I never really understand if my resume gets in the hand of a supervisor, or if it's read for buzzwords by a bot. 60-70% of the interviews for these types of jobs has been a let down.

2. Listing on the company's website
Still my favourite way to find out about really good companies that are hiring. It also makes the cold call (#4) more appropriate.

4. Cold call
If you have a phone number and an address on your website, someone will approach you looking for a job.

5. Recruiters
The big bot-type recruiters never have given me anything I couldn't get except...

6. Craigslist
One small-ish type firm used a recruiter to post a Craigslist ad. I noticed the ad while applying for other jobs (I took a break from engineering jobs for a bit). It caught my eye enough to answer the ad. The recruiter ended up being a work-from-home parent who gave me a preliminary interview. What I didn't like was having someone with an HR background explain to me the structural engineering concepts necessary for the job.

6. Networking and networking websites (LinkedIn)
I hooked up one or two jobs through personal networking, neither was a result of LinkedIn. I think people can be too protective on LinkedIn and they don't communicate as a result.


Posters above are mentioning some good ways to advertise. I always look up "structural engineering in ______" when I start my job search. If you have a website, have a career option where you mention the opening. Advertise with your professional organization in your area too. Those are good job posting websites (similar to #1) that I would use as a job seeker.

@MrHershey points out a really good observation: It's tough to find someone with that 6-10 years of experience because of what happened between 2007 and...well...now. I think employers need to get relieve the numbers game a bit because it's incredibly difficult these days to get that longevity with a company/industry/etc. and also have the education requirements.

EDIT: Because I lost my job yesterday, so I get to make one more point while I'm on the soapbox. Be aware of applicants that don't have the qualifications to practice in the area.

RE: finding new engineers to join the team

I have an ill-begotten LinkedIn network of 13,000 or so, mostly north american construction industry people. I routinely sport advertise positions for friendlies and get some decent results. Maybe 200 expressions of interest with eight of those having some degree of desirability. It's trolling, to be sure, but it is a numbers game to some extent. And odds are that you're best possible candidate won't ever find out that you exist. JAE's way is the best, in my opinion, but you need to be of a certain scale to work that system effectively.

Quote (skeletron)

EDIT: Because I lost my job yesterday...

I've also been known to place an applicant two. Should be easy as you don't strike me of the kind of guy likely to get sacked for any reason other than waning workload / lack of seniority.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: finding new engineers to join the team

Yes, I second Koot, if you are looking for someone with experience (even just a little) try LinkedIn.
You can get a subscription to the high powered version that gives you more search options.
A couple of times a month I get contacted there with 'we are looking , do you know of anyone that might be interested messages.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, Plymouth Tube

RE: finding new engineers to join the team

Quote (EdStainless)

A couple of times a month I get contacted there with 'we are looking , do you know of anyone that might be interested' messages.

Careful with that...
Many people read between the lines:
"...do you know of anyone (perhaps yourself) that might be interested..."
If I were to do so with many of my Linkedin connections, it could be seen as an insincere attempt at poaching them from a competitor.
Not that I'm completely against poaching talent from one's competitors, but some are. All I'm saying is mind the consequences.

No one believes the theory except the one who developed it. Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.
STF

RE: finding new engineers to join the team

Spar, of course that is the message that hey intend. I only pass on about 1 out 20 that I get. It has to look solid for me to waste other peoples time with it.

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P.E. Metallurgy, Plymouth Tube

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