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When you’ve got a project that needs to be completed, deadlines to meet, and a skill set missing from your team, many engineering managers turn to a technical consultant to fill the spot. Contract engineers can be a valuable asset to any engineering team, if they’re the right fit for the role. How can you tweak your search so that you save time, money, and find the right engineer to fit your needs?

There are many pitfalls that leave managers vulnerable to making the wrong contract hire. Finding a balance between time, money and skill set needed lead to your success in finding an engineering consultant.

What are some easy mistakes that managers make while searching for a contract engineer?

  • Partnering with a general staffing agency

Many staffing agencies will tell you that they can fill every role under the sun – from customer service, to accounting, and of course, engineering. This broad range of positions can lead to longer wait times for you and less accurate candidates. Make the most of your time is by using a contract engineering firm that is specialized to roles that you need.

Need an ASIC Verification Engineer? You want to hear, “No problem, we just recently matched 3 ASIC engineers with strong SystemVerilog and UVM out at X,Y,Z Silicon Valley tech companies.”

You don’t want to hear, “ASIC Verification? Is that software or hardware?”

By narrowing your search to a consulting firm with a focus in technology, you’ll get the technology expertise and experience along with it. Time isn’t wasted on candidates that don’t fit the bill. With deadlines to meet, a crucial position to fill, and a boss breathing down your neck, you don’t want to waste time in your search.

  • Bringing aboard the wrong consultant

Your deadline is nearing, your need is urgent, and you are missing critical skills on your team. When you’re in a crunch, it can be tempting for a manager to make a fast hire instead of the right hire.

Making a fast hire could cost you and your project big time. Consider the hours it took for your team to create a job description, interview, build a contract, set them up with equipment, and get them up to speed with your project. Not only did that bad hire take a bunch of time already, but you will have to DUPLICATE your efforts to find a replacement.

Don’t settle for the first average candidate that walks in the door. Interview a few engineers for your position before making a hiring decision. If you’re working with a quality consulting firm, they’ll be able to present you with more than one candidate who fits the bill. This gives you to choose the best fit, instead of pressuring you to hire the first engineer you meet. While this does make your process a bit longer, it means that you’ll be able to make a well-informed choice of consultant.

Before bringing a candidate onboard, consider taking the time to set up a homework assignment for an engineering candidate. This way, you’ll know that they can tackle the tasks that your project requires. Whether it be uploading a problem to GitHub or writing out code on a white board, it’s crucial to know what the engineer can do before bringing them on. ERG often hosts candidates in our office to complete coding challenges so managers can rest assured their skills are legitimate.

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  • Basing your hiring decision solely on price

It’s no surprise that the demand for quality engineers is extremely high in the Silicon Valley. It’s not uncommon to hear about companies poaching engineers from their current role. How do you as a manager make sure that your engineer stays through the duration of the project?

Partner with an honest consulting agency that has a long-standing reputation for treating their consultants fairly. Ask your account manager about the benefits offered for to consultants. Staffing firms that boast the lowest rates cause high turnover of engineers. Low rates for you typically mean more scarce benefits and below market compensation for the consultant. Your consulting agency can be your strongest ally in the fight against turnover.

A trustworthy consulting firm will pass along raises to consultants without increasing your bill rate. They’ll do what it takes to keep your consultant happy, without nickel and diming you for benefits and pay increases. There’s a high probability that your engineer could jump projects if you’re working with a firm who is reluctant to give raises.

Get the most out of your search

When you plan to bring onboard a consultant, you have to look at the big picture. Before you even start your search, you should determine project length, figure out your budget, job description, and find the right partner to help you in your search. When you pair up with a consulting agency that has expertise and long-standing relationships with engineers, you’ll get better results. Consulting firms like ERG can not only help you tackle the search; they’ll also help you retain consultants for the duration of the contract. That way, you’re not left high and dry in the middle of your project.

Partner with a company who knows the Silicon Valley, understands your unique requirements, and wants to innovate alongside you.  If you’re interested in learning more about the services ERG offers, or hear how ERG can augment your engineer search, contact us today.

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