Why Engineers Aren’t Applying to Your Job

June 16, 2014

You already know that it’s hard to find good engineers. And you may already know that finding them through classified advertising is even tougher. But what you may not know is that your ads could actually be working against you.

In the 18 years we’ve been in business, these are the three problems we’ve see most often — and how to solve them.

Problem #1: They Never Saw Your Job

Let’s suppose you’re looking for a mechanical engineer. There are roughly 250,000 of them in the U.S. How many have the skill level you’re looking for, though: maybe 25,000? How many of those 25,000 are willing to live in your location: maybe 250? And with an unemployment rate of 2% or less among engineers, how many of those 250 are actually looking for a job right now?

See the problem?

With virtually all job types, you always have a good pool of candidates looking for the next role. Advertise the job, review the resumes that come in, and hire the best one.

Engineers are completely different, though. For mid- and senior-level positions especially, you quite likely don’t have anyone relevant searching on any given day. For that reason, relying on a 30-day posting usually doesn’t work.


When that perfect engineer has a really bad day at work and decides to see what other opportunities may be out there, your job better be where he can find it. That’s why we allow you to post all your jobs for what the big boards would charge you to post only one or two.

You get constant visibility for just peanuts, and you can take your (significant) savings and apply them toward going out and actively recruiting engineers.

Problem #2: It’s Just a Job Description, not an Advertisement

Virtually every job we see is just a list of Responsibilities and Requirements: “Here’s the job. If you meet the requirements, please apply.”

That’s not going to work with engineers, who have way more opportunities than they could ever possibly take advantage of. You’re competing with countless other companies who also want to hire that engineer. Your job description has to compel them to apply.


Sell them on why yours is a job they should really want. There are at least three things you that really want to drive home:

  1. How great the job is
  2. Why your company is great to work for
  3. What’s great about living in your area

See the jobs for Company X, Company Y, and Company Z for some good examples of jobs written more like advertisements than just postings.

Problem #3: They Got to Your ATS and Said “Nope”

If you use an ATS, you know what we’re talking about. Most companies we talk to lose half the engineers we send them because the engineers aren’t willing to slog through the application process on your website. We’ve even seen it as high as 70%. With countless other opportunities available, they’re simply not willing to a) register with your site and b) spend 15 to 30 minutes filling out several pages of information. (Whether it actually takes that long or not doesn’t matter; that’s their perception, and it keeps them from moving forward.)

This is easily the biggest problem working against your success. Not only are you losing 50% of the engineers who are already interested, the ones who leave most often are those who aren’t desperate for a job — i.e. the exact engineers you want to hire.


Fortunately, your biggest problem is also the one that’s the simplest to solve.

In almost all cases, engineers will go through your ATS process if they believe there’s a good enough reason to do so. And what is the most compelling reason you can give them? That you’ve reviewed their information and are interested.

The process we’ve found that takes your abandonment rate down to almost 0% is to allow them to submit their resumes via email. You then respond with something like this: “Thank you for your application. We have reviewed your information, and you may indeed be exactly who we’re looking for to fill this position. To continue the application process, please fill out your information here so that we can get you to the right person right away: [link to application]”

Your goals for the response are:

  1. Let them know that a real person has looked at what they submitted.
  2. Let them know that there’s a real possibility that they could be hired for this role.
  3. Give them a sense of urgency about completing the full application.
  4. Link them directly to the form so they don’t have to search for it.

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Questions? Comments? Leave them below, tweet us @HireEngineers, or contact us. We’d love to help!

Photo credit Daniel Kulinkski