Winning the war on talent – 5 steps an employer can take to ensure their offers are accepted and they’re securing the best talent in the market…


Let me start by throwing a couple of statistics at you:


STAT 1 – Unemployment levels in June 2018 were at 3.8%; the lowest in the US for almost 20 years

STAT 2 – Unemployment among Engineers was even lower than the national average at 1.2%; almost 99/100 Engineers are currently employed


STAT 1 + STAT 2 = a highly competitive talent-war to attract the best Engineers…


Whilst there has never been a better time to be an Engineer in the US economy, there’s also never been a more challenging recruitment landscape for this type of talent. I recently spoke with an Electrical Engineering candidate who sent his resume out to one recruiter in May. A month later he was considering 5 job offers (one being a counter offer made by his current employer in a desperate attempt to retain him).


So how do you combat such intense competition in hiring for your business-critical roles and ensure that your offer is the one in five the candidate accepts??? These five steps will help…



 It’s a simple fact that “length of process” has a direct correlation on your ability to secure the talent you want. It’s another simple fact that the best candidates are employed and the idea of conducting 2 phone screens, 2 onsite interviews, a technical test and a personality assessment, will deter anyone worth their salt. Thoroughly assessing talent before making a hiring decision is essential, but you need to create a process that allows you to do so in a time efficient manner. You should be able to glean all the information you need in a 30-minute phone screen and a detailed multi-person onsite interview.



I was recently on a Job Qualification call with a client discussing the requirements of a Controls Engineering position they’d been struggling to fill. The role had been open for 6 months. They’d interviewed a handful of unqualified candidates and were at loss as to why they hadn’t been successful in finding the right talent (blaming the various agencies they’d partnered with). After delving into their wish list, I discovered they were looking for an industry veteran with 10 years + experience in Controls Engineering; a bachelor’s Degree in Engineering; experience programming various PLCs; experience maintaining various robots; a good cultural fit who lived within a commutable distance of their facility and was willing to make the move for $85,000 a year. VISA transfer / sponsorship was not an option and we couldn’t recruit from one of their local clients.


I did my typical “market map” are shared the findings with the client:

  • There are 87 Controls Engineers within a commutable distance of your facility
  • 8 of them work for you
  • 12 of them work for your client
  • 4 of them you’ve already interviewed
  • 37 of them have less than 10 years’ experience
  • 12 of them have no degree

Total viable talent pool = 18 candidates


This might be an extreme example, but I’ll give you the same council as I gave my client: you have to open your mind and be flexible in your requirements. Flexing on your requirements increases the talent pool you’re fishing in, and you want that pool to be as big as possible in the current climate. Consider the following:

✓ Can we consider 7 years’ experience rather than 10?

✓ Can we hire someone without a degree?

✓ Can we offer a VISA transfer / sponsorship?

✓ Can we flex our compensation by 10%?

✓ Can we offer a sign on bonus to cover relocation?

✓ Can we drop any of our “essential requirements” and train on them instead?



Whether I’m interviewing the best or worst candidate in the market, I want them to leave that interview praying they get an offer from my firm. Taking an extra 10 minutes in each interview to talk to your prospective hire about the exciting elements of your company, team and position, can help elevate it above others. Consider your interview panel. Do you have a particularly dynamic Engineer who could spend 20 minutes talking to them about what an incredible environment you have? Could you offer them a plant tour? Could you do lunch with the candidate and your team? Anything that helps the candidate get closer to your environment and visualize themselves working there, will help your cause.



 There are many variables that factor in to a candidate’s decision. The vast majority of which can be addressed prior to an onsite interview:

  • Compensation, Benefits & Vacation
  • Location & Commute
  • Travel
  • Relocation package
  • Time frames on decision

Ensuring alignment on the above, prior to interview, will lead to a smoother offer process and increase your acceptance rate. Do this correctly and the only post-interview questions that remain will be: do we like the candidate? Does the candidate like us? If the answer is “yes” to both of those question, you’ve got yourself a hire. Bumps in the road occur when the above issues are left to the final hour.



Getting a formal offer letter out within 24 hours of the final interview will drastically improve your acceptance rate. Final stats of the day: if you deliver an offer 7 days after the final interview, your candidate is 19% less likely to accept than if you did so within 24 hours. If you wait 14 days to deliver an offer, your candidate is 36% less likely to accept. Below are 10 things that can happen in the two weeks between onsite interview and offer:

1) Candidate receives another offer

2) Candidate receives a promotion at their current firm

3) Candidates get another interview at their dream company

4) Candidates husband or wife gets cold feet on the move

5) Candidate gets in their own head and starts second-guessing their decision

6) Candidate gets struck by lightning

7) Candidate gets put on a new, exciting project at work

8) Candidate reads a bad Glassdoor review on your company and withdraws

9) Candidates investigates the location in greater detail and decides not to relocate

10) Candidate speaks to their buddy who used to work at your firm and had a negative experience Creating a robust and time efficient offer process that results in an offer letter being presented within 24 hours of a final interview can be a straightforward method of positively impacting your acceptance rate.



Talent is the most important commodity a business possesses and the war on talent is heightening. Winning this war could be the most important thing you do as a leader and I hope these steps will help you fight the good fight.



Christopher Atiyah

Chief Executive Officer

Engtal – Engineering Talent