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​How to Win Top Talent in a Competitive Market  

Posted on December 2022

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Covering what top talent in the Civil market is thinking, LVI Vice President Dylan Mather discussed the challenges hiring managers face specifically within Transportation Engineering when seeking to win talent at this year’s ACEC Conference. It’s never been more competitive and more important to value your workforce, and be valued at work, which is why as a top talent partner, we wanted to share with you Dylan’s insights in a quick summary, which also includes a number of highlights from our latest survey. So whether you attended ACEC or not, you can benefit from his thoughts on what is hot in hiring right now.  

What professionals are looking for:  

Here at LVI Associates we surveyed nearly 2,000 Engineering & Infrastructure professionals from across the US. Some of the standout findings according to Dylan included compensation as the most popular reason why people consider looking for a new role, at 64%. Interestingly, 30.5% chose poor work life balance and 29.5% chose flexible working, demonstrating just how important life outside of work really is for professionals right now. Dylan notes that, “Public sector companies can be more inflexible than say consultancies, who we have seen have embraced the post-Covid-19 working culture of hybrid with more vigor.” 

Four top tips on dealing with salaries:

Supply and demand of talent has driven the costs of salaries up significantly, but salary is not the only motivation behind looking for a new role, or considering whether to stay in a current one. As the above stats show, there are plenty of nuances, and a top talent partner such as LVI Associates will help Engineering & Infrastructure organizations to best understand their candidate needs and requirements. Here are four top tips employers should consider when thinking about salaries and offers:

1. Does your current workforce feel well compensated, and are you attracting new colleagues with a competitive salary? If you’re not sure, you need to find out. Professionals will do research and look at salary benchmarks, as well as speaking to colleagues and other industry connections. Top employers should also take on doing the same research and using this to form your own salary bandings.

2. 62% of our survey respondents said they would consider a lower base for a higher bonus, so are you being transparent about your incentive structure? We suggest being very open about any bonuses and benefits, and using them to your advantage, as they can be the differentiator between you and your competitor.

3. As noted above, often Engineering & Infrastructure are now valuing work/life balance and flexible working, so it is worth during interviews finding out how much someone values their time over money. It can also be a good exercise to work out how much top talent earns per hours per week, to really bring a salary to life.

4. Make sure talent is shown success stories in your business. If there are great examples of people progressing, particularly diverse talent that they can identify with, then you and showing them a path of opportunity, and the conversation then isn’t just about salary and benefits, but about what value they can bring to the role, and what value you can offer as an employer.

Being flexible:

81% of our survey respondents indicated that flexible working / WFH policies are important or very important, and 44% would not accept a job offer if it required them to come into the office 5 days a week, Dylan’s recommendation here is to be open and honest:

“If you simply can’t make a hybrid schedule work, you still have 56% of the talent market available, and you’ve preserved your reputation. It is worse to overpromise and underdeliver, and you want talent to fit into your culture comfortably.”

Relocation challenges & opportunities

Another highly discussed factor amongst Engineering & Infrastructure professionals is relocation. 40% of our survey participants would be willing to relocate to a new location, with the top three locations being Florida, Texas, and California. In addition to relocation the topic of commuting and/ or traveling for a remote role was surveyed and close to 30% of candidates are willing to travel five to ten weeks out of the calendar year. Less than 4% of candidates were not willing to travel or able to travel at any point for work in the calendar year.

Dylan has some thoughts on these top three locations:

“With a low cost of living, warm climate and an influx of new infrastructure projects, I’m not surprised Florida topped our polls. The state is also very family friendly. Texas too has a low cost of living and warm climate, and interestingly is the second largest hub of power and energy companies in the US. It is also seeing a number of exciting solar and wind projects come to fruition.

“Another warm area that is proving popular is California. With a diverse population, the state boasts the largest hub of renewable energy and emerging technology companies.”

Being personal as an employer:

26% of survey respondents picked company culture and good leadership as their top two motivators. Dylan elaborates on this point with a real life scenario he recently experienced as a top talent partner:

“One of the attendees at ACEC thanked LVI Associates for helping her find a new role and company, and she ended up joining people she had known for 20 years. When choosing between competing offers, which is more commonplace now, in my experience top talent will make their decision very often, almost exclusively based on who they felt they had more personal connections with.”

In other words, remember when interviewing talent that it is as much as an interview for you as it is for them.

Attracting diverse talent:  

Dylan states that top strategies to attract diverse talent in the Engineering and Transportation space are reflecting on your culture, promoting female talent within the company, having a diverse interview panel, and casting a broader net. In addition to attracting diverse talent Mather also suggests evaluating the ways employers could retain diverse talent better, such as having improved benefits and support, flexible work schedules, providing wellness rooms and/or childcare, as well as having inclusive work events – for example if all the work events are at a bar, not all employees will drink so consider what they may prefer.

Key takeaways for how to win top talent in a competitive market:  

The key takeaway Dylan highlights is that a high salary request is not the end of negotiations for employers. Flexibility is crucial in the modern workplace and connecting with your candidates is key. Therefore understanding how to sell your location and practicing the “relocation pitch” is extremely important as an example, if you need to attract talent to where you are based:

“From keeping traveling requirements to a minimum, to ensuring your company is reflecting the correct culture, and figuring out how to improve benefits and incentives so that you can appear more attractive to diverse talent are all key ways to win top talent in a competitive market.”   

Whether you’re an Engineering & Infrastructure firm looking for talent, or a professional seeking a career move, Dylan Mather and LVI Associates can assist you.