Recruiting, Trends & Data

How to Take Advantage of the January Talent Gold Rush

January 6, 2015

This week, aside from being the first week back at work after the holidays, is also notable for one phenomenon in particular: more people will look for a new job this week – or, to be more precise, the next several weeks – than at any other time during the year.

In last year’s engineer hiring survey, only 15% of human resource professionals were “very confident” in their organization’s ability to find and hire the engineers they’d need. We hope to turn the tides on that this year by arming you with a little knowledge.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to reach as many candidates as possible and retain the engineering talent you already have. Let’s get started.

Reach as Many Engineering Candidates as Possible:

There is no bad month to advertise an open job, but right now is a really good month to source candidates you may need to hire in the near future. A quick look at Quantcast site statistics for Indeed, EngineerJobs, Glassdoor or any other job-related website will tell you that more people are looking for work in the next 6 weeks than at any other time this year.

Here are a few ways to make the best use of this period:

Post All of Your Available Jobs

Sourcing is a numbers game. Each job you post buys another opportunity to be seen by the right engineer at the right time.

The other, often overlooked benefit? Job posts are a platform to communicate your employer brand to those that might not be right for this job – but liked what they saw and go on to investigate other open jobs at your company.

If you don’t have a widely recognized employer brand at your disposal, you can build a strong employer brand for your company by posting all of your jobs. 

Read more: 3 Ways to Avoid Wasting Money on Job Ads

Accept Resumes via Email

Yes, you read that correctly. Not only will this boost the number of applications you receive per job posting, but it will also increase the likelihood passive candidates (who don’t really need a job, but are just scoping out what’s available) will apply.

If you’re still thinking “this is way too much work,” or “I have too many jobs to manage all of this,” we understand. But even if you don’t implement this tactic for all of your jobs, test this method on the jobs that matter the most: competitive and narrow talent pools.

Read more:  1 Simple Way to Boost Job Applications

Track Your Source of Hire

For the love of all things Drucker, please, if you change nothing else this year – track your source of hire! What is not measured cannot be (intelligently) managed. If you know what’s working you can spend more money/ attention on that channel and eliminate channels that are taking up budget and not producing solid candidates.

The web is littered with recruiting process flow charts, but the common points are:

  1. Source candidates.
  2. Attract candidates; compel them to consider the position or apply.
  3. Interview / qualify candidates.
  4. Send best suitable candidates to the client.
  5. Measure the efficacy of the campaign for each candidate source in terms of both volume and quality.
  6. Scale what works. Eliminate what doesn’t.

Internal hiring managers are very good at steps 1-4 but tend to overlook steps 5 & 6.

Read more: Are you Tracking Source of Hire?

Don’t Neglect Networking

Engineering is “a culture that sticks to what – and who — it knows.” And this might be particularly relevant recruiting advice for companies looking to attract female engineering talent – as they indicate they’re more likely to use personal contacts to make introductions with prospective employers than anything else.

Regardless of discipline, when these engineer students apply for jobs they rely on well-connected alumni networks to get their foot in the door: Not recruiters or the company representatives they meet at job fairs.

The students Valle currently works with throw LinkedIn into that mix and often connect to their teachers in order to access a more personal network of alumni, she said.

Read more: Women engineers don’t look to recruiters, they look to the ‘good old girls’

We also noticed this missed connection in our Engineer Hiring Survey; human resource professionals are turning to LinkedIn as their primary method of choice to survey engineers. However…

“75% of our surveyed human resource professionals first look to LinkedIn to source engineers… but surveyed engineers look first at specific company websites, followed by niche job boards, and then their peer network.”

Retain the Engineering Talent You Already Have:

Here’s a little secret you may not know – this majority of candidates searching for jobs right now are probably surfing them at work.

Job Searches by Hour

About 54% of job searches the first Monday after New Year’s Day were conducted between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST. If you extend the hours to 8 p.m. to account for West Coasters – that number jumps to 74%.

Retaining engineering talent, for some companies, proves even more difficult than obtaining it in the first place. As Craig Fouts of Yoh pointed out in How to Hire & Retain Top Engineering Talent, “There are simply too many opportunities for top engineers to seek employment elsewhere if they are not happy.”

Here are a few questions to consider as you evaluate your own workplace and look for opportunities to improve talent retention:

How much agency do engineers have over their work?

Developers love to have as much agency as possible – they like to be able to pick their own tools, take out chunks of time to work on open-source code, and have a say in company decisions.

Olex Ponomarenko in 7 Things Engineers Want Recruiters and Employers to Know

Is there a clear path for career advancement? Are you communicating it well?

Most top producers have lofty career aspirations, so to keep them engaged and happy there must be opportunity to participate in various projects, and there must be a track for career advancement.

– Craig Fouts (Yoh)

…empowering them [in their careers]. Asking, ‘do you want to be in a leadership/management pipeline, do you want to work on proposals, client meetings, do you want to project manage? Or do you enjoy engineering and want to continue bettering yourself and learning your craft?’ Giving them options.”

– Tom Jonjak (bb7)

Read More: How to Hire & Retain Top Engineering Talent: 5 Perspectives

Can your employees achieve Work/Life Balance?

Only 35% of human resource professionals thought that work/life balance was “very important” to their engineering staff, but an overwhelming majority of engineers (91%) responded that work/life balance was either very important or somewhat important when considering a new job offer – edging out even compensation.

But engineers’ advice here is two-pronged: they want to be fairly compensated, but how they work and what they work on is going to play a much larger role in the job they choose than how much you pay them. (Conversely, the same is also true of whether they’ll stay.)

“Engineers do seek a fair salary; that is, a salary in line with the average value for the location and experience/education level. Engineers are not driven by money but like to see an increase in salary every year to feel appreciated.

They are driven by work-life balance and novelty.”

Todd Rhoad, MSEE in 7 Things Engineers Want Recruiters and Employers to Know

And work/life balance is a particularly critical issue for female engineering talent:

Work-life balance is crucial and consequential for women engineers furthering their careers, Valle said. “The percentage of women on boards of (engineering) companies or in C-level jobs is abysmally low,” she said, and due to many factors, ranging from a real glass ceiling in some engineering disciplines to focusing more on families or other obligations being incompatible with leading a company.

Read more: Women engineers don’t look to recruiters, they look to the ‘good old girls’

Do your employees feel well-respected?

The largest threat to happiness and retention is always respect. Lack of respect reveals itself in a number of areas: micro-management, compensation and promotions based on tenure instead of merit, lack of technical resources, no communication on career progression, and mundane repetitive tasks.

– Jeremy Bennett in How to Hire & Retain Top Engineering Talent: 5 Perspectives


The next 6-8 weeks will set the pace for your company’s talent acquisition and retention all year.

By implementing a few new ideas to expand the number of candidates you source and critically evaluating how you can do a better job retaining the engineering talent you already have – you can use this period to your massive advantage. Good luck!


Photo Credit: Adam Lerner/ Flickr