How Employers Can Increase Talent Attraction in a Candidate Short Market

Charmaine Vaz

Recruiting can be time-consuming and costly at the best of times, but when you are in a candidate short, job-rich environment it becomes even more challenging. Because there are so many opportunities available, the best candidates often have several options on the table, leaving you to vie with other employers to win over your first choice. And that’s after you’ve already waded through piles of unqualified candidates who don’t make the cut.

Drawing on 21 years of industry experience, here’s my insight into why we just don’t have enough engineers to go around, and why finding an experienced recruiter is your best bet to hiring the people you need. Plus, why not all recruiters should be tarnished with the same brush…

The State of the Engineering Market

The engineering market is tough right now and has been for years, with the demand for talent significantly outweighing supply. While there are plenty of people looking for work, the biggest challenge for businesses is that there simply aren’t enough of the people with the skills they are looking for. This is the case across the board, from Maintenance Engineers and Process Engineers all the way up to Engineering Managers and Directors. It’s a nightmare for companies who don’t have the resources to find the best engineers in the market.

This is a chronic shortage of skilled candidates in this sector that existed well before the challenges of the past year, and looks set to remain for some time. A notable factor in this is a lack of apprenticeships to bring in new talent, with the majority of sufficiently qualified individuals being in the over 50 age category. The apprenticeships that do exist are fantastic but often, these companies don’t have the resources to keep on all of their apprentices at the end of their training program. This means many talented graduates are having to look for work elsewhere once they are fully trained, making it difficult for them to build up the skills they need to be employable. On top of that, some companies just don’t have the structure to properly engage people with niche skill sets like mechatronics, which can result in their skills becoming quickly outdated or they aren’t given the support they need in order to be successful.

Other key factors influencing the skill shortage include:

  • Fewer school leavers pursuing Engineering, likely due to inadequate awareness and education about technical careers
  • UK companies not accepting European qualifications, meaning that candidates from overseas have to convert their qualification to the UK equivalent before they can get work
  • A lack of flexibility from employers around accepting transferable skills from other areas of Engineering and Manufacturing (e.g. someone with experience in automotive moving into FMCG)

The reality is that we’re about 10-15 years away from filling these skill gaps, so in the meantime, it will be crucial for organisations to be flexible with their requirements and offer a range of training opportunities for candidates who don’t have exactly the right skills you need. Otherwise, you’re just not going to be able to hire.

Find an Ethical and Knowledgeable Recruiter

When it comes to hard-to-fill roles and rare or highly sought-after skill sets, recruitment agencies are often best-placed to source the talent required – yet despite the challenges of the market, they are still an underutilised resource.

There are several common myths that we hear time and time again from employers when it comes to working with a recruiter, here I debunk them:

  • Myth: It’s expensive using a recruiter
    When you consider the time to hire, the cost of leaving a role vacant for an extended period and the risk of hiring someone who is a poor fit, not to mention the time employers have to invest in the hiring process and not focusing on their real job, the cost of working with a recruiter is minimal in comparison.
  • Myth: My LinkedIn network will be sufficient in finding the right people
    Good recruiters have extensive local market knowledge and a strong understanding of the unique needs of the client, as well as years of experience in matching competencies with company cultures. They also have vast networks that give them access to the best people available (including passive talent that is currently employed elsewhere) – all developed over a long history in the recruitment space. A LinkedIn network is good, but it’s not everything.
  • Myth: Recruiters aren’t trustworthy
    While most recruiters are hard-working, ethical and committed to doing right by their clients, every industry has its bad apples, and sometimes a recruitment experience falls short of expectations. Unfortunately, these stories can be the ones that stand out most, and this may prevent employers from making the most of specialist support that could mean the difference between a great hire or missing out. But we’re not all like that!

I 100% can appreciate how employers feel on this point. Back at the start of my career I was a fresh Engineer looking to move into recruitment. I spent hours calling and applying for recruitment roles but I was rejected over and over again by poor recruiters who couldn’t see the tenacity I had and the skills I could bring to the table. At one point my dad said to me: “why would you ever want to be a recruiter!?”…

Fast forward 21 years and here I am as a recruitment business owner, and my mind is always open to candidates who might not have the right skills but come with the right attitude and a willingness to learn. I wasn’t put off by the multiple bad recruiter experiences I had, and I urge employers to feel the same.

Although I still think there are some recruiters out there who should be made accountable for the games they play…

Hire Engineers Through a Specialist Recruitment Agency

At the end of the day, outsourcing your recruitment to a specialist Engineering, Technical and Manufacturing recruitment agency saves you the time and stress of hiring, gives you a competitive advantage and drastically increases your ability to procure those rare and skilled candidates.

Are you looking for a way to get ahead of other businesses and ensure you’re first in line for the best engineers in the market? Speak to the team at CV Consulting today to find out how we can help.