Feb 3, 2011

You're such a little cutey!

I'm an HR professional.  I am not an engineer.  I have however worked with engineers for 23 years.  By working with engineers I mean, hiring them, firing them, laying them off, counseling them, promoting them, listening to them bitch and accepting their resignations. Today was filled with the fun part of my job.  Hiring them.

I spent the day talking to and shaking hands with about 50 young engineering students/grads at a recruiting fair.  Some of them are such cute little things I just wanted to pinch their cheeks.  Today's fair was quite different from previous fairs.  Back in the day the job market was exploding and they all graduated with multiple offers.  Today job offers are scarce, making the engineers eager to make a good impression.  They're all so nervous that their palms sweat and they nervously twitch as they talk to you.  (Hand sanitizer is a must at these events.)

It's satisfying to be the one to offer them their first real job.  The salary we offer is usually the most they've ever made in their lives.  They are so happy and grateful. Everything changes after about five years.  It's like clockwork.  All the training we've patiently bestowed on them leads them to believe we couldn't possibly run the company without them.  They end up in my office demanding promotions and pay hikes.

I especially love when they print out some totally uncontrolled salary survey from online to prove that we are only paying them 70% of their market value.  As if I use a Ouija board to determine what to pay them.  They don't realize how insulting they are being.  I work hard to make our pay as competitive as it can be.  I track the market.  I make sure we don't underpay anybody.

My company would go bankrupt if I gave every five year engineer what  they think they are worth.   Don't get me wrong.  They ARE valuable to the company.  But if I let a five year engineer be indispensable I wouldn't be doing my job as an HR person.  The trick becomes making them feel appreciated without caving in to their every demand.  

Engineers are a unique group of people.  A bunch of nerds with a little bit of arrogant thrown in.  Being a nerd myself I really do like them.  I also know that our company couldn't be successful without them.  That's why revel in days like today.  Finding our future superstars.  I try not to think about the unscheduled appointment in my office, five years from now where they set me straight on how much they are worth.  


  1. I live with an engineer. He is such a cute nerd.

    There is nothing more wonderful or exciting than that first real job. it is nice to bask in their joy.

  2. Mom - Engineers are a unique breed and the world wouldn't run without them. Not to mention how boring it would be.

  3. I had to deal with engineers all the time at work. they drove me crazy. Many times I'd tell them that while they are busy worrying over every little detail, I'll go out into the plant and get the changes made! They hated it when I did that...