June 20, 2016

A Consistent Demand for Talent

 

As we approach the midpoint of 2016 we find continued optimism among both hiring managers and engineering professionals. Even absent immediate technical hiring plans, many clients have asked us to 'keep our eyes open' for candidates with specific skills/background, anticipating critical staffing requirements in the near future. Here are some relevant observations:

  • Massachusetts approached full-employment levels this spring as the jobless rate dropped to 4.2%. The AIM (Associated Industries of Massachusetts) Business Confidence Index rose to a 10-month high during May, a finding consistent with our own, entirely non-scientific querying of our clients. New Hampshire's unemployment rate was 2.6%.
  • According to the results of the AIM 2016 General Wage Survey, MA employers plan to increase wages by 2.78%, just a bit more than last year's 2.69%. This very modest pace of wage growth reflects caution in the face of continued mixed signals on the economy (as has been widely reported, the pace of job growth nationally decreased substantially over the past couple of months).
  • In the local engineering market, we project that demand will remain strong for mid-level (5-10 years of solid experience) engineers – particularly those with project, sales/applications or embedded/firmware background. After some challenging years, civil engineers are finally able to enjoy tremendous opportunities to advance in their field.
  • Our clients have engaged us in more frequent searches for leadership roles – VP's, Directors, Engineering Managers – over the past few months. Virtually across the board, candidates are expected to be highly hands-on.
  • Contract placements are up. When compared to the same time period last year we see more mid- and long-term opportunities for mechanical and electrical designers, along with CAD operators.

With another college graduation cycle recently concluded, we thought it timely to point out some of the benefits of contracting for those engineers who may have not yet found their ideal role:

  • Willingness to contract provides access to opportunities not found elsewhere. Most firms hiring contractors do not advertise those positions, nor do they recruit for them during career fairs.
  • Contracting provides new engineers with valuable experience within their technical discipline. Even if the contract only lasts a few months, the practical experience gained will result in more marketability when pursuing future opportunities.
  • Contracting provides a foot-in-the-door to successful, growing firms. Contracting can lead to direct employment, but even if it doesn't new graduates will have established contacts within the local engineering community and have begun the important step of growing their professional network.