You’re ready to grow your field service business, and that means hiring new engineers. Or maybe you had enough engineers—until one quit, and now you’re on the hunt for a new employee. But how do you hire the best?
Bringing on fresh, highly skilled talent can help your business grow and thrive. The bad news is that attracting good engineers is no longer a simple matter of placing a job ad in the local newspaper or throwing an ad online.
A 2015 article in Field Service News reported, ‘It is well documented that many of the UK’s engineering employers are suffering from skills gaps, shortages and an ageing workforce’.
With skilled engineers in short supply, how can you—the small or medium-sized field service business—compete with the larger companies?
If you’re not the biggest, you need to be the smartest (and most creative). Here are four steps to hiring skilled engineers even if you don’t offer the top wages and benefits in the industry.
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1. Go Back to School
If you need to hire engineers but your competitors are snapping up all the good ones, get first dibs on talented prospects while they’re still in school by connecting with local vocational schools.
However, there’s more to it than asking instructors if they have any students about to graduate who would like a field service job. In an article in Columbus CEO, Melissa Kossler Dutton writes that employers ‘must address some of the challenges career and tech schools face. The schools need clear directives about what skills businesses want, access to the equipment that manufacturers use, internship opportunities for their students and help attracting students with the right aptitude for the work’.
If you have the resources to groom engineers at vocational and technical schools through internships or mentorships, this can be a great way to build a pipeline of talent as your field service business grows.
2. Be a Good Place to Work
Maybe you can’t lure engineers with wads of cash, but money isn’t the only thing employees are looking for.
Let’s say an engineer is deciding between a high-paying company that’s got a rep as a bad place to work and a lower-paying company that employees rave about. There are no guarantees, but the lower-paying business has a pretty good shot at landing that engineer.
Right now you’re probably saying, ‘Yeah, making the ‘Top 100 Companies to Work For’ list is super easy. I’ll get right on that’. (And yes, we do hear the sarcasm in your tone.) But according to this Huffington Post article, it mostly comes down to being nice. Treating employees fairly and helping them with their career growth may seem like no-brainers to many field service business owners, but you’d be shocked at how many employers don’t even do that.
Other benefits trump cold, hard cash as well. For example, an article on the TruckingInfo website says that ‘offering benefits such as tool allowances, tuition reimbursement and discount programs can tip the scale in your favor’. While the article focuses on diesel technicians, the advice applies to engineers in all fields.
Then there are the little extras that simply make a company a fun place to work, like contests, pizza Fridays, magazine subscriptions, thank-you notes for a job well done, and holiday parties. For more inspiration, check out the 101 ideas for incentivising employees without spending money on American Express’s Small Business site. And for even more ideas, keep an eye out for our upcoming post on how to incentivise employees without emptying your business’s bank account.
3. Make Your Job Ad Stand Out
A friendly office manager, skilled co-workers, top-of-the-line devices, and holiday parties are all great—but these perks won’t help you attract the best engineers if potential hires don’t know about them. That’s where the job ad comes in.
First, let’s get the basics down; an ad that’s missing key elements will scare away job-seeking engineers. The Yesware website suggests creating an ad template to make sure you have all the info you need, starting with key questions like these:
- What’s the exact job title?
- Where is the company located?
- Is the job full-time or part-time?
- Who is your ideal candidate?
- What’s the salary range?
- What does your company value?
- Who will the engineer be working with?
- What will the engineer’s responsibilities be?
- What skills, experience, or abilities, does a potential hire absolutely have to have?
Once you have the facts down, infuse your ad with personality. Big companies tend to write bone-dry ads that sound like 1950s business memos; you can compete for skilled engineers by creating job ads that showcase your business’s values and character.
Don’t be afraid to use humor (‘Job location: All over Northamptonshire’), be extra-transparent about what it’s like to work for your company (‘Things can get chaotic at times’), and brag about the work environment (‘Two words: Pizza Fridays’).
4. Spread the Word
Of course you’ll want to post in the usual places like local papers and job sites such as Indeed and Jobsite. However, everyone else is also advertising for engineers in these places, so going beyond the usual and getting creative with your ad placement can help you slip right past the competition.
Your business website, Facebook groups (like this one), and other social media like Twitter are more creative choices, but you can go even further. Depending on your budget, how about:
- Buying ad space in a trade journal or on a website read by engineers?
- Offering a prize to the Twitter follower who retweets your ad the most? (Here are 10 apps for running social media contests.)
- Mentioning the job opening in your email newsletter?
- Asking local businesses that complement (but don’t compete with) yours to help spread the ad around?
While huge companies with their strict systems and processes might miss these opportunities, you have the chance to get creative when it comes to attracting skilled engineers.
The more your business grows—thanks to your amazing hiring skills—the harder it is to keep track of your projects, your engineers, and your documentation. Commusoft creates workflow management solutions that can help with all of those things—and more.