By Tonya Hendley, Senior Executive Search Consultant
While recruiting the right candidate for the right role can be difficult, hiring managers often find that filling manufacturing and engineering positions can be a particularly daunting proposition.
The statistics are scary too. Latest research suggests the industry will need to add 4.6 million jobs, and that 2.4 million of those positions will most likely go unfilled. Among the challenges companies are facing include:
- Engineers are passive candidates who require an active recruitment outreach.
- The skillsets that engineers are expected to possess have changed.
- Companies are having to redefine expectations as tenured engineers exit and a new generation of engineers enters.
The Passive Engineer
Unlike other professionals, engineers aren’t always behind a desk. A significant portion of an engineer’s time can be spent in the field, on the floor of a manufacturing plant, or on site with a client. As a result, desktop access to Career websites and LinkedIn is fairly limited.
Reaching this population requires that recruiters engage in an active search approach. This includes not only seeking out professional organizations, but also connecting with engineering professionals and asking for individual referrals. At FGP, our recruiters spend a significant portion of their day building relationships that, in turn, lead to a network of strong candidates.
In my role as a professional recruiter, I make it a point to visit the site where a candidate will be working. This allows me to provide firsthand insights into challenges and opportunities, future colleagues, and the inner workings of the department or organization. Engineers are detail oriented, and the more information a recruiter can provide, the better the chances are of finding the right candidate.
While the functions of industrial engineers have become more specialized, the required skillset for their roles has expanded. Companies increasingly expect their engineers to interact directly with customers taking on the role of product manager as well. Today’s manufacturing engineer must possess soft skills in addition to hands-on technical skills. Finding candidates who possess both skillsets is the aim.
Preparing for the future
Reports from the Society of Human Resource Management state that 27% of manufacturing workers will retire over the next ten years, which will lead to a big loss of specialized skills and knowledge. One of the answers to this challenge lies in the development of formal succession plans. We encourage our clients to develop programs that foster the active mentorship of younger staff by experienced colleagues.
As the manufacturing industry continues to grow, the need for talent will remain strong. Using strategic, proven talent acquisition processes will help companies succeed in an increasingly competitive environment.