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How to use Inbound for Recruiting Millennial Engineers

Dec 9, 2016
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Recruiting top talent is typically at the top of “most important things” list for technology firms big and small. Having the right people on your team can be the difference between success or falling short. While San Fransisco, Boston, and San Antonio have their big city lifestyles to help them attract top talent, there are many firms located in smaller US cities that have a lot to offer as well. As more and more millennials enter the professional workforce, the traditional ways of recruiting top talent are becoming less effective.

Today’s younger generation wants more than just a big salary with benefits and a cool place to live. The old ways of motivating just aren't as effective. Companies have to pull at the intrinsic desires of their potential new hires in order to get them to move in their direction. A fancy compensation package isn't going to attract top talent if the job lacks meaning and purpose. Sure, money is important, but it’s not the primary motivator. Instead of hiring expensive staffing agencies, what if we borrowed a page from the inbound marketing playbook that has been proven to drive results? In fact, the same tools used for inbound marketing can also be used for inbound recruiting. While this post will focus mainly on the engineering and technology vertical, the rules for inbound recruiting apply across the board.

Reaching the Millennial Engineer

There are many misconceptions about the Millennial Generation. This has lead to marketing and recruiting practices that don’t align with the heart of this group of people. Contrary to common perception, the Millennial Generation is civic-minded, well-educated and has a global mindset (Lucky Attitude). At the heart of this group is the desire to change the world for the better. They are less concerned about making their millions and more focused on making a lasting impact.

Having a strong purpose and vision is the key to attracting top millennial engineering talent. This is one area where Silicon Valley has been very effective. They have built the image that if you want to change they world, you have to be there. The truth is, there are a number of amazing engineering firms doing world-changing work all over the country. Our agency is located in Melbourne, FL. We are surrounded by Lockheed Martin, Harris, Boeing, Rockwell Collins and dozens of smaller firms doing amazing things (Apple’s Touch ID button was created here!) We are less than 5 miles from the beach, down the road from Kennedy Space Center, an hour from Disney World and the cost of living is much lower than anything out west. In fact, Palm Bay FL was named the 3 best places for engineers to work by NerdWallet.

With all of this amazing, innovative work being done on Florida’s Space coast, why aren't more and more of the best millennial engineers flocking here? It comes down to the story being told. Compensation packages and the idea of “making more money” isn’t enough. In order to drive more interest in the region and the companies innovating here, you must create a compelling “why.” Now I know this may seem grandiose or obscure, but the truth is this generation wants to do work that has meaning. They want to be a part of something that is going to make a difference. Instead of focusing on what these firms can give to the new prospect, their focus should be on the impact the prospect can have on the world as a result of joining their firm.

Using Inbound to Recruit

Before we get into the “how”, let’s define the difference between inbound and outbound recruiting.

  • Outbound recruiting refers to a direct reach from a business to a candidate. It can be a phone call, a LinkedIn message or simply approaching someone at a conference or campus job fair to see if you can convince them to join. (Source)
  • Inbound recruiting focuses on building relationships with future candidates. It works by investing time in content, stories and projects your future candidates will find appealing. (Source)

While outbound does work, for companies in smaller cities it’s much less effective. The main reason is many don’t know anything about the smaller cities so they have no reference point. For instance, if I met you at a conference and asked you if you would be interested in talking about joining my firm in San Fransisco, what comes to mind? Now, if I asked you the same question but the location was Palm Bay, FL, your feelings would be different. The power of Inbound is in telling a well-crafted story that resonates with the prospective audience and leads them to take further action in the relationship.

Inbound Recruiting Tools

Blogging

While most engineering firms do have blogs, they are mostly filled with press releases. This is not blogging. Your company blog is one of the best places to tell your story. It’s a place where you can talk about innovation, where you can share how you are changing the world. Many of the firms I talk to initially aren't convinced anyone will read their posts, but once we get moving they quickly change their minds. We aren’t the only ones who have seen great results. In a study done by Trew Marketing, 93% of the engineers surveyed said that they found websites and search engines as valuable sources for the latest engineering news. Engineers are looking for great content and the companies that give it to them are the ones that will attract top talent.

Search

Along with blogging, having a presence in the search engines is powerful. When you have a question where do you go? My guess is Google, Bing or Yahoo (probably Google). The term "engineering jobs” has over 31 million results and is searched an estimated 30,000 times a month. People are looking. Having a solid SEO strategy is a powerful way to get your company in front of potential new hires and lead them to great content that drives them towards your business.

Social

In the same study by Trew Marketing, 31% of the engineers surveyed said they use social media for work, either to search or share information. Social media can be tricky. While most use it as an extension of their blog feed, that’s not the purpose. Social media is meant to be social. Companies that win in this area are the ones that connect online and share more than just content. Using social media to build relationships is a powerful tool. Take time to connect with those who “like” or comment on your posts. Be creative and share stories about what you are doing and how it’s impacting the world.

When it comes to attracting Millennial Engineers, you are going to need to do a lot more than create job boards and hire staffing agencies. Using Inbound, you can share your story in a way to speaks to the heart of your prospective hires - a story that shows how your firm is making a difference and that by joining your team, they too can change the world.

Inbound Marketing for Engineers 

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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