Why It’s Crucial for Engineering Firms to Attract College Grads

As we approach the end of 2018, it’s a great time to ask yourself if your firm has the team in place for success in 2019. If your firm doesn’t take a moment to assess how your team is set up for the coming year, you might find yourself in a difficult bind in the near future. Just because your firm is able to handle all of your work today, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be hiring.

One of the best ways to prepare your firm for unexpected challenges is to actively and aggressively recruit college grads. While consulting firms have to be pay close attention to the balance of having just the right number of staff to keep everyone properly utilized on projects. Entry level hiring is the one area it’s a sound strategy to over hire. It can be expected that you’ll have at least 1 out of 3 employees leave in their first three to five years for any number of reasons. If your firm is bringing in an extra 2-3 college graduates each year, you’ll be set up nicely to handle unexpected challenges on the horizon.

Here’s a few reasons why it’s crucial that engineering firms attract & hire the best graduates.

Prepare Your Firm for Unexpected Changes

It’s hard to forecast when you’ll need to hit the market for a new hire. There’s no shortage of unexpected changes that may force your firm to make a new hire: a sudden uptick in projects, an employee unexpectedly taking a job elsewhere, or an employee underperforming and requires your firm to make a change. When you do have to hire, it will probably be more challenging than you expect.

Any firm that has had to fill a position in the last year can attest to how difficult it is to find qualified talent in today’s labor market. With unemployment in the engineering industry hovering below 2%, it’s imperative that engineering firms are aggressively pursuing college grads, so you can get through these unexpected events.

If you have the workforce on hand to continue to get the work done while you’re searching for a new employee, your firm has the advantage of being selective and patient with the hiring process. Without young labor on staff, the workload piles up and firms have no choice but to pull the trigger on whatever talent they can find—good fit or otherwise. By actively recruiting college graduates, your firm will have a constant supply of engineering talent ready to bridge the workforce gap between hires.

Provide Your Firm with Doers on the Cheap

At the end of the day, your firm has a fixed amount of work that simply must get done and your mid-to-senior level staff can only get so much done each week. To pick up the slack, your firm will need to have a nice bullpen of junior level staff to get work done.

Not only do junior-level employees provide you with workforce needed to get your work done, they do so on the cheap. A college graduate or junior-level employee will be far cheaper than a more senior-level employee.

Succession Planning

As baby boomers continue to retire at a high rate, it’s more important than ever that engineering firms are proactive with their succession planning. The fresh college grad you hire today will become a valued member of your senior staff in 7-10 years. In some cases, they might have to in 5.

Firms of all sizes are going to have to start accelerating their succession planning soon, to deal with the impending talent shortage. To account for all the baby boomers who will be leaving the workforce, firms will need to have younger employees on the fast-track for promotion.

When planning for the future, it’s best practice to bring in two or three college grads per year as you’ll almost always need to hire more than you think. If you only bring in one, and in nine months it doesn’t work out, or they decide to move to a new location, you’ll be forced to start back at square one. However, if you bring in two or three, the odds that one or two are still with you in five years is pretty strong. And, the loss of a departing employee will hurt far less if there’s a constant resupply coming in.

Keep Fresh Ideas Coming In

While your senior staff may complain that college grads today aren’t as equipped to join the workforce as they were back in their day, the fact is college graduates bring your firm a ton of fresh knowledge and youthful energy. By regularly adding college grads to your staff, you also are supplying your firm with fresh ideas that can improve your business.

Young employees will have different training and life experiences than your existing staff, and those differences may lead to them identifying opportunities that your firm is leaving on the table.

Hiring college graduates will help prepare your team for unforeseen challenges, supply your firm with cheap labor to get work done, enable succession planning, and bring fresh ideas and energy to your workforce. To stay on top of your college recruiting, make sure you’re aggressive and timely in your efforts. Hit career fairs, post job openings ahead of time, and make early commitments before all of the young talent is gobbled up.

Need to make an engineering hire? Contact Smith & Wilkinson today.

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