HAVING TROUBLE HIRING ENGINEERS? CHANGE YOUR RULES

By Steve Reimer, VP

lego-programer-700x325Tech companies live or die depending on the talent of their engineers – and these days, pretty much every company is a tech company. Whether you’re actually selling a technology product, you’re using it to buttress your value proposition and differentiate you from the competition. As such, engineers are in high demand – and some of the hiring rules you are used to just don’t apply to this unique class of professionals who can pretty much write their own ticket, often right out of school.

Look at the Candidate, Not their Code. Engineers who create today’s technological wonders are often well-versed in a number of computer languages and tech tools – but their value is really not dependent on any one of those proficiencies. We’ve seen companies that require engineers to know obscure and even obsolete programming languages, just to try to cull the herd of candidates – which is dumb. A good engineer can adapt and learn what they need to do; indeed, it’s not uncommon for coders to have a relatively superficial understanding of a particular coding tool when they get hired, who then spend the next week or two training themselves up before being onboarded.

Instead of focusing on the technical background (which by and large, they will have anyway, at least on paper), pay more attention to their ‘soft skills’: emotional intelligence, integrity, reliability, fitness for your business culture, etc.

Test them Out

Again, you’re not necessarily looking for specific coding skills, but the ability to think and adapt on-demand. An interview and a resume will only get you so far. The test should give an idea of their mindset, process and ability to deal with specific constraints that apply to your business. Make it repeatable and with results in mind that can show a real difference between your candidates.

Speed Up Your Hiring Process. Engineers are in particularly high demand and can command higher salaries and benefits than candidates for most other positions in your company. If your hiring process typically runs through four to six weeks or more, with up to seven different interviews (yes, we’ve seen this happen) then you need to streamline your process. Get it into your head: you need a good engineer more than they need you. They have the leverage. And if you don’t hire faster, they’re going to go to your competition.

This doesn’t mean cutting corners, necessarily. Do your due diligence, but train up the executives who are interviewing your candidates so that there’s no redundancy in the questions you’re asking. After all, the candidate is only going to get discouraged and question why they keep coming back if they’re subjected to many repetitive interviews; if it seems like the internal communications of the company are broken, why would they want to work with you?

Speed up your own process so you can get to the hire faster – because another company might pick them up faster.

Pay the Market Rate. Engineer salaries and benefits are higher than for other professionals and barring a devastating turndown in the economy generally, they’re only going up from here.

This is not the area where you can afford to look for discounts. You’re competing with Silicon Valley and a half dozen other major tech hubs across North America (and a dozen more up-and-coming business sectors from coast to coast).

Sure, it hurts your bottom line – but not having engineers to get your projects from Beta into prime-time launch is going to hurt worse.

Need help finding engineers that can help you build your business? Contact us today.

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