In our most recent Nobody Likes Recruiters podcast episode, we delved into the world of recruitment with a focus on these industries with Alex Ingram, someone who has been recruiting for Engineering and Manufacturing jobs for fifteen years!
The Engineering and Manufacturing sectors have a rich history in Stoke-on-Trent, with many well-established companies in the area.
This was a focus for us on the show, but if you’re not a Stokie, don’t worry, the same rules will apply where you are…
The current market challenges can be significant. Finding candidates with the right skills and experience is difficult, especially in industries that require specialised knowledge.
As Alex points out in the show, there’s a BIG difference between recruiting for temporary and permanent staff.
When you’re asked to hunt for temporary workers, it’s all about putting ‘bums on seats’. There is less thought about the long term (obviously) and everything is geared towards having someone in place sooner rather than later.
Fees are generally paid through the agency, meaning, as a businesses owners, you’re able to hire and fire on a whim. There’s less risk.
However, the temporary employee also has more power to wield and is able to ‘jump ship’ quickly if a better offer materializes.
For permanent positions, the recruitment process differs.
You’re more invested in the employee. There is a focus on cultural fit and the personality of the candidate for obvious reasons. The recruitment process is more in depth.
Alex admits that she has immersed herself in the Engineering and Manufacturing industries – ‘geeking out’ on what different roles entail and the attributes needed to do them.
When she discovers elements of the roles she’s recruiting for that she’s not aware of, she’ll proactively seek knowledge in this area, improving her overall game.
For many years I was under the impression that any good recruiter could recruit for any sector, but of course, that was because I had experience within one industry and hadn’t yet branched out to recruit for multiple different spaces.
What I have learnt with Logic Resourcing, and this is another point Alex made, is that in order to really get under the skin of the company you’re recruiting for, you have to understand the nature of the role and industry you’re operating in.
Yes, like you, can assess a candidate for their skill sets and motivations, without a more detailed knowledge of what the role I’m recruiting for actually entails, I’m much less likely to identify the right candidate.
This is where Alex and her knowledge has been invaluable for us at Logic. We’re now able to work with manufacturing and engineering businesses with increased confidence that we’re going to be able to find them the right people due to the knowledge that Alex has!
So, what other advice does Alex have for anyone recruiting in these sectors? And what attributes are needed to do the job of finding the right people well?
Be prepared to put in the work.
Simply relying on job postings and online applications is not enough. Recruiters should be actively seeking and networking with potential candidates to build relationships to help them understand the unique needs and challenges of the businesses they may want to work for.
Knowing the company you’re recruiting for, and the intricacies of the industry, will take you a long way.
Alex speaks at length about visiting a site and seeing people at work. It’s evident that this has provided her with the intellect she needs to identify candidates better.
And by heading to the premises of the businesses you work with, you’re better able to build a stronger relationship with them.
This all bodes well for being able to spot that mega candidate that you’re so desperately seeking.
Alex also loves to put a hard hat on, so that helps.
It’s also important to be adaptable and creative. Circumstances can change rapidly, and recruiters must be able to think outside the box to find the right candidates for each position.
Alex mentions how, for example, there can be multiple versions of welders in the engineering space. Not all are created equally.
Without an in-depth understanding of the varying levels and competencies required, It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact skill set needed. When asked to recruit a Machine Operator for example, this raises a barrage of questions such as, operator, programmer or setter? CNC or manual? Miller or Turner? Press or Laser? What control systems will they be using?
A candidate with 5 years’ experience on a Mazak using Maztatrol language simply couldn’t just walk up to a Doosan using FANUC language and be able to understand how to use it.
You can foresee where a recruiter may slip up when trying to identify candidates if they’re unaware of the nuances. Hence the emphasis on really getting to know those you’re recruiting for.
As we referenced at the top of the article, many companies in this area are looking for candidates on a short-term basis, but for those who aren’t, retaining talent is key!
Providing opportunities for career growth and development, fostering a positive company culture, encouraging open communication, and showing your staff a bit of appreciation go a long way.
Remember, it’s always cheaper to retain staff than recruit them!
Moreover, having an idea of what other workers in this area are being paid for in the jobs that they do is helpful.
You can set the tone for the recruitment process by understanding what others are offering. If you miss this step, you may find that your advertisements, no matter how good they are written, are falling upon deaf ears.
Because Alex is aware of this, given her years of experience and her dedication to the craft, she’s able to manage expectations of the companies she recruits for and this potentially saves time and money.
If, for example, a company is offering a salary that is well under the range for a job of a certain nature, Alex is well placed to be able to spot this and ask a company to re-assess.
Put simply, most companies only think about some of the elements above when they’re proactively looking for new staff, which is why it’s important for you, as a recruiter, to stay abreast of market trends.
And just as a skilled engineer can design a system that maximizes efficiency, the latest NLR podcast offers insights and strategies to help recruiters streamline their hiring processes in the Manufacturing and Engineering space.