Approach, Recruit, and Retain Passive Engineering Candidates

If you’ve been struggling to attract qualified engineering candidates to your firm, you’re by no means alone. Unemployment rates within engineering are under 2%, which is at a 30-year low.

With the unemployment rate as low as it is, your applicant pools are dramatically smaller than they would be otherwise. How can you overcome this challenge when it comes time to add to your team? By pursuing passive candidates.

Why Passive Candidates are so Common in Engineering

A passive candidate is a professional who is not actively searching for a job but is open to hearing about opportunities. An active candidate, on the other hand, is diligent in their search for a new job. Your firm will receive applications from active candidates, but to attract passive candidates, you’ll need to recruit proactively.

Passive candidates are especially commonplace within engineering for a couple of reasons. First, engineers are usually more passive individuals with introverted personalities, which is not a personality type that will typically pursue opportunities. Secondly, as you’re aware of running your firm, the engineering industry is doing tremendous right now, meaning everyone is heads down and busy. When an employee is very busy in their work, they are less likely to take the time to search and apply to other jobs outside of work.

Which means your firm will need to go and find them.

How to Approach Passive Candidates

The first step to recruiting passive candidates is to identify them. A great place to start identifying candidates is by looking at other firms in your market. It’s especially advantageous if you can identify candidates at firms that are smaller than yours. A smaller firm might not be able to offer the same level of compensation for your firm, and also might not offer as engaging of work.

Once you’ve identified passive candidates, start the process by reaching out. A brief LinkedIn message detailing your vacant position, your interest in talking with them, and some information about your firm.

For candidates that express interest, bring them in for interviews. What about the ones who are not interested? Thank them for their consideration, set them aside, and follow up in six months. Just because a candidate isn’t ready to explore a new opportunity today, doesn’t mean they won’t later. Also, by reaching out, you have planted the seed. Check back down the line and see if the interest has grown.

How to Recruit Passive Candidates

Once you’ve confirmed interest from the candidates you’ve reached out to, bring them in for an interview. During your interview and recruitment, keep in mind that you’re selling your firm and the job to the candidate more than they are selling themselves to you. In a traditional labor market, the employer holds the leverage, but in today’s talent-short market, the talent holds all the cards.

How do you appeal to passive engineering candidates during the recruitment phase? Check out these 4 tips for recruiting engineering talent.

How to Retain Passive Candidates
Retaining your employees is crucial in today’s current labor market. With other firms hoping to pry away passive candidates from your firm, it’s important to take a proactive approach to employee retention. Employee retention is a process, and there is no magic elixir. Driving employee retention may require a different strategy for each member of your team, as their wants and needs to remain content in their employment may vary from person to person.

A general strategy to take with all employees is to have regular one-on-one meetings. These meetings could be weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly. During these meetings, have open and transparent conversations with your employees. Ask them about their workload, goals, and any concerns they may be having. Regular meetings of this nature will allow you to mitigate employee turnover and keep your staff engaged and committed to your firm.

Need help hiring engineering talent? Contact Smith & Wilkinson today.

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