The Vice President of Operations has asked you to hire an engineer to replace an engineer who has recently retired. You ask for some details and learn that the candidate must have a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from a good school, preferably with good grades (at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale). Other criteria include a minimum of three years of work experience, but the VP would prefer 5+ years. Though it will be difficult to find, she would prefer a candidate with experience working in the same industry as your company’s. Additional engineering certifications (such as PE licensure) would be a plus, but are not necessary. A master’s degree (either technical or managerial) would also be advantageous, but may price the recruit out of your budget. You both agree that the person must be legally able to work in the U.S., since visa costs and additional time required for immigration-related issues (up to 12 months) make the counterpart case problematic.
Your company is small, with only fifty employees, which may appear as a drawback to some engineers coming from larger companies with deeper pockets, while others may see it as an opportunity to advance more quickly. (Consider how you will position the issue with candidates). The starting salary range you are able to offer is $50 – 55,000 per year, plus relocation expenses up to $10,000. This salary is about average in your location (approximately fifteen miles outside a medium-sized city in the Midwest), but it will be difficult to find a qualified engineer locally. The odds of finding candidates are better with a national search, but then the allowable salary is below the national average, and in some higher-cost areas (e.g. California, New England, New York) it would be far below competitive. There will also be hotel and flight costs for out of town recruits during the interview process.
You can try to recruit an engineer locally to save relocation costs and other expenses, but you must think ahead if this effort fails. You cannot afford to lose time in a low-probability effort. The VP of Operations has made it clear that this hire is a priority and that she needs an engineer on board and able to go full speed, as of yesterday! More realistically, she would like this person on board and working within 90 days. This may sound like plenty of time, but by the time you advertise, screen resumes, interview candidates, make a decision, make an offer(s), and get results from the person’s references, background check, and drug test – you will barely make it. This will be especially true if you choose someone already employed (because of the need to give notice to the current employer), someone moving a good distance, someone with a family, someone buying/selling a house.
Additionally, the VP of OPS wants to keep recruiting costs down as much as possible while still finding the person who is the best choice overall. The last engineer hired cost approximately $20,000 to bring on board, including research, ads, interviews, flights, hotels, and follow-up.
The focus for this question is on your process: What are your first steps? Where and how will you search?