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EMPLOYER BRANDS: WHAT DO ENGINEERS WANT?

by | Oct 28, 2021

When developing employer brands, we work to find a position that is both authentic to the company and that appeals to the whole spectrum of employees, from corporate functions to frontline positions. But most of our clients will say that engineering positions are the hardest to fill, and that engaging and retaining the engineers they do have is a priority. (For Five Ways to Compete in the Talent War, try this Forbes article.)

Over the years, we’ve conducted employee interviews and focus groups with engineers in industries ranging from software development to heavy manufacturing. When discussing what they enjoy about their companies and what makes them passionate about coming to work each day, we see some common themes surfacing across industries. The themes presented here are not the result of stringent analysis, but a thoughtful review (and gross generalization) of what we’ve heard engineers say in numerous industries and over the past 10 or 15 years. They’re offered just as food for thought, as you consider your own employer brand from an engineer’s perspective.

THEY’RE NATURAL PUZZLE SOLVERS

Engineers seem to relish finding a solution to a complex issue. We’ve heard them talk about problem solving in terms like “satisfying” and “enjoyable.” Many mention that it is gratifying to them to help their clients with problems. They enjoy being the one who can figure out what others can’t.

THEY CRAVE LEARNING

Maybe technology attracts people who get excited by the need for learning, because in the technology field, things are always changing. Engineers say things like, “If you’re not constantly learning, you’re falling behind.” While employees in other functions may see the need for learning as a necessary and sometimes unwelcome byproduct of change, engineers seem to find it one of the most appealing aspects of their jobs. They also seem to get excited by the chance to work with the newest technology out there.

THEY LIKE WORKING WITH OTHER SMART PEOPLE

The counterintuitive bit here is that many engineers seem to be introverts and enjoy the autonomy of working on their own. But we have consistently heard engineers over the years rave about the brilliance of the people on their team. They seem to enjoy collaborating with others, or being able to call up a colleague to talk through a technical issue. If collaboration is part of your employer brand or an important element of your culture, that could be attractive to engineering talent.

THEY THRIVE ON VARIETY

“It’s never the same thing two days in a row” and “Every day is something different” have been common refrains when we’ve asked engineers what they love about their jobs. Shifting priorities and dealing with sudden crises seem to get their adrenaline going and keep them interested.

THEY LIKE MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Whether it’s making the world a better place or just helping a customer get to the bottom of a technology issue, engineers seem to appreciate knowing that their brain power is helping others. This could be an important element of your employer brand — not just for engineers but for Millennial and Gen Z employees as well, since that tends to be a priority for younger employees. For more on what younger generations want, try this post on Ragan Communications.com.

Interested in refining your employer brand to be sure it’s appealing to engineers? Tribe can help.

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