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How to Hire Top Quality Engineers After Covid-19

  • by: Jenna Beard
  • On: 18, Jan 2021
5 min read

Whilst the coronavirus pandemic caused chaos and misery for many industries in 2021, the outlook for this year is far more positive.

James Reed, CEO of job board Reed, advises, ‘I think there will be more jobs, more opportunities for people and we will see a lot of people moving. A lot of people have stayed put or have been furloughed during the pandemic and I think they will be looking for new opportunities. With the research we did, what I felt came out really strongly was that people felt positive about looking for new opportunities, and didn’t feel unduly anxious about the year ahead.’

Reed’s recent research found that a third of respondents are already actively looking for new jobs this year. Over 60% of individuals would be willing to take a pay cut or transfer across industries in a new role, with 53% willing to relocate despite the upheaval caused by Covid-19.

With hiring predicted to grow in 2021, VHR’s experienced technical recruitment specialists provide our three best strategies to find the right job applicants in the year ahead.

3 Ways to Recruit the Best Engineering Candidates in 2021

1. Quality Over Quantity


Whilst the redundancies generated by the pandemic have led to a significant increase in job applications across industries – the average job advert is receiving 250 applications – the formerly candidate-led market will prove challenging as well as beneficial for recruiting. Rather than simply spending a lot of money on advertising, mass emailing or posting job adverts on social media, taking a more tailored approach to hiring will filter out unsuitable applicants and instead reach only those who will be both suitable for and interested in your offering.

Companies can generate job applicants of a higher quality through methods such as:

  • Developing a Candidate Persona – Building a candidate ‘persona’ enables leaders to get inside the heads of their potential hires. Conduct research into and brainstorm the ideal candidate: not only their skills and experience, but what they’re interested in, what their current challenges are, their careers goals and personal responsibilities, in order to tailor your advertising efforts to attract this ideal person.
  • Advertising on External Channels – Once you have a full profile of your candidate, think about the channels they might visit, and build up a presence in these places. For example, advertising jobs on online publications such as RacecarEngineering and F1 enthusiast blogs to find Automotive Engineers, or joining Facebook groups dedicated to Aviation trends to find skilled Aircraft Technicians.
  • Building a Strong Employer Brand – Working culture and values are of high importance to jobseekers; millennials and Generation Z in particular aspire to work for a company whose values they feel match their own. Get help from your marketing team and recruitment agency on how to create an external perspective of your organisation as a great place to work and how to communicate this on your we website, social channels and anywhere that applicants may come across your brand. Conduct research by asking the high performers amongst your existing employees what they most enjoy and value about working for your organisation, and utilise this to attract other potential high performers.
  • Creating an Employee Referral Programme – Your existing employees will know your company, its working styles and its challenges better than anyone, meaning they are best placed to identify others who will succeed in the business. Incentivise your employees to refer their friends and former colleagues through financial rewards, benefits or gifts that they would find valuable (pending their referrals successfully obtaining a job offer and completing their probation).

2. Offer Apprenticeships & Back to Work Schemes

With the financial prospects of individuals and families across ages looking bleaker due to the pandemic, younger people are likely to reconsider University debt and enter the jobs market straight after school or college. Whilst in previous years, Engineering business leaders have struggled to fulfil open Apprentice positions, the ability to earn-as-you-learn will prove ever more popular in 2021 and beyond. To capitalise on the changing priorities of younger talent pools, Engineering employers can build alliances with schools to promote the career opportunities of the industry, and give talks and workshops to help students choose the right GCSEs and A Levels to set them up for an Engineering Apprenticeship.

As UK redundancies rise to a record high, older demographics present a fresh opportunity to grow target talent pools. Half of UK residents reported considering a career change in 2020, with finding a real purpose or meaning to their role cited as a key aspiration. Others who have been out of the job market for a period of time, to have children, care for others or pursue education, may also be keen to enter the job market rather than worry about financial instability. Engineering businesses can harness this desire for job security and achievement by targeting these groups and tailoring their message accordingly with the training, progression and benefits a career in the sector can offer.

3. Revolutionise Your Screening and Assessment Techniques

To find the best Engineering candidates, take time to tailor your hiring process to the high standards that your company needs:

  • Rigorously Test Your Applicants – The best way to find out how a candidate would fare in the role is to set them a task that they would commonly be challenged with in the position. Between first and second interviews, ask your applicant to prepare a presentation or plan on how they would design a piece of software or go about major repairs; making this task relevant to the products and services of your own business will enable you to assess this against the skills of existing employees. For more technical roles or to test for quick thinking and urgent problem-solving, provide them with an example problem on the spot during their interview – ask the same question of every interviewed candidate and compare each answer.
  • Find Out How They Work – Competency-based interview questions most accurately assess not only a candidate’s accomplishments but how they have achieved them. Asking your prospective new hire to tell you specifically how they overcame certain difficulties or dealt with conflict, or how they worked on an idea to develop it from iteration to completion, will reveal your candidate’s thought processes and approach to work as well as their creative and problem-solving skills.
  • Assess their Personality Fit – Whilst skills, knowledge and experience can be assessed on paper, interviewers will have to dig deeper in phone conversations and interviews to get a feel for candidate personalities. Personality fit encompasses much more than simple morality or values, but can determine the way that a new hire will relate to, collaborate with and support their teams, and their emotional stability and type of response to problems and challenges. Business leaders and hiring managers can choose from a wealth of personality tests that cover temperament, emotional intelligence, communication style and resilience.
  • Get a Second Opinion – As every individual brings their own unique worldview to the table, involving other staff in the selection process can help to reduce unconscious bias and provide different perspectives on candidate personalities. Inviting existing team members in to meet with their potential new colleague will help to test whether the new hire would be a good fit with existing team structure, communication and ways of working. At the beginning of the process, test your interviews on your current staff to see if they feel your questions reflect their job role and how the interview style makes them feel.

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Discover 5 Ways the Engineering Industry Will Change After Covid-19.

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