Reaping the benefits of transferable skills and sector experience

By September 9, 2013news

When looking to recruit in a technical market the chances are it will be candidate driven, that is the supply of people looking to recruit exceeds the number of available, suitable candidates.  There are a number of reasons for this.  Firstly skills in the technical space tend to be high demand and short supply, the second is that many sectors experience a recessive period and during this period the candidates still need to work so they migrate out of the sector.

lee-narrawayDuring an upturn, the sector looks back to the market and suddenly finds that all the candidates have gone and they struggle to fill the roles that they may have.  But don’t worry there is something you can do in order to counter this.

The first thing that you must do is change your mindset, the market has changed and so has the availability of candidates. On the plus side the skills candidates posses have developed and changed, allowing them to adapt to diverse markets and new challenges, this is a good thing for you so don’t discount them at first screen stage if they are not currently working in your sector.

I have placed a number of candidates back into a sector that they once left behind and they have all gone on to do great things. One candidate had been out of the automotive sector for over 10 years and the client was a little unsure whether to interview them at the first screening stage.  At the initial brief with the client I spoke about this particular person who I felt matched the role perfectly.  The client wasn’t keen initially but I managed to convince them that this candidate was very much worth looking at.  He now heads up the business and has turned them around from a loss-making situation into a profitable position.  The candidate had learned some very valuable lessons in other sectors which really allowed him to bring those lessons into the automotive sector; he developed a new way of looking at things whilst maintaining the values of the new business.

I was also in a meeting with a client recently who was a senior manager in a very large automotive company, this particular individual had taken some time out of the sector into FMCG. He expressed to me that he felt the FMCG sector was way behind automotive in terms of process and systems.  For the FMCG sector this would tell me that they need to look at automotive candidates who may be able to help them with the process and systems needs they have, I know from my experience in FMCG that there is a huge need for good systems people, finding processes which take care of Health and safety, quality and efficiency are so vital to any manufacturing company that they simply cannot ignore this.

Another example would be that aerospace candidates tend to get nowhere in the automotive sector as they are considered to be less urgent than the automotive sector requires.  I personally have found that aerospace people tend to be very detailed and methodical and this sometimes translates into the automotive sector as perfection paralysis.  It really isn’t always the case though as we placed a program manager from aerospace into an automotive client and they have been a revelation for the client concerned. He has taken on a massive workload and is managing the load very well, and developing the team accordingly. He has also brought in other project engineers for the team, some from the sector and some from outside the sector.  He has a calm approach, which is considered and detailed whilst still maintaining an urgent sense of attitude. He has been a real breath of fresh air for the client who ordinarily would not have recruited him.

Other examples of how we have helped clients build teams in a sector.

One of our clients won a contract to maintain a large capital asset, they needed to build a team that were familiar with the asset but also up to speed with the latest more efficient methods of machine management.

Once we had established what the organizational chart would look like we focused on the positions that were likely to be more demanding in terms of sector experience and knowledge.  Once we had completed this assignment we could then blend non sector candidates alongside and look for other complimentary sector skills sets around the maintenance piece. We also looked at some of the more routine roles and recruited ex-forces people into these roles, as they tend to find routine more comfortable and take a rigorous approach.  The result was a really well balanced team, which has contributed to the asset being the world’s most productive machine in the sector.

Another of our clients wanted to build a middle management team, which needed to have a different culture to the current team.  The client was going to redeploy the current team and we were assigned to search and bring in skills to help drive culture change and improve productivity.  During the search we identified complimentary skills from a broad range of sectors and built a strong team which has taken the client forward to a level they have not seen before, this is something we are particularly proud of.

In both of these examples, the single most important factor to making the assignment work was to demonstrate to clients the benefits of opening their minds to taking non-sector people on board.

It’s not always the answer but it certainly goes a long way to opening the market up further, providing a greater range of candidates to consider for your roles.  I confidently predict that the future of recruitment in technical skills will demand clients take from other sectors, those clients that stick to their own sector will fall behind their competition and lose out on the best skills, to the detriment of their own business.

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