The changing face of engineering recruitment

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I have had cause to start looking for a new position (more on this, possibly, next month). Although I had a bit of a dabble not so long ago it is only this time around that I’ve picked up on what seems like a significant change in approach.

Back in the day when design engineers still used pencils and French Curves you approached an agency who essentially acted purely as an introductory service. There may have been a bit more to it than that but based on what I saw of it, this is what happened. As a system it was rather successful too, but perhaps that was just my innate genius doing all the work – or perhaps not.

Anyway, now it appears that contacting an agency is merely the first step in something akin to an elaborate mating ritual.

One has to undertake phone calls and discussions so that they can build up an idea of the sort of person you are, and to get a real feel for the areas of industry you would like to go into. This is followed by talk of “portfolios” and the like. It is all so much more personalised now with, I am led to believe, a desire on the part of the agents to only work with the engineers who they can form a professional relationship with.

I must admit that part of me is sceptical but the people I have spoken to on the other end of the phone, and they do come across as people rather than mere drones, seem to be sincere.

Having considered this I believe that a couple of factors may have helped lead to this change.

Firstly the “job for life” is now a very rare thing so there is more likelihood that any given engineer will be a “repeat customer”, making on average much more moves than previously before. The time taken in building up a rapport and mutual trust will be repaid in the long term, especially as this is compounded with each engineer knowing even more people to whom he or she can recommend the agency. Secondly it could be one of the first signs that the shortage of engineers is becoming a real problem. The emphasis has moved from spending the time and effort with HR departments to spending it with us. If this is the case then a good engineer is a rarer commodity than a vacancy.

Of course this is merely conjecture on my part but if I’m right then perhaps, at last, that oft muttered complaint of insufficient wages will be addressed? After all, we live in a capitalistic society and when demand outstrips supply, then money is to be made.

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