How to recruit electromechanical engineers

Do you know anything about sales? Specifically, about selling high-end products or services? Something that costs a small fortune, and cannot be found in a supermarket.

In any case, imagine for a moment you are doing just that. Do you think slamming an ad on a website or two would cover it?

I hope not.

Instead, you would probably begin by searching out people and companies that might be interested in your product. These are usually called prospects, as far as I know. You might proceed by educating these prospects about your product. How it would solve their problems and make their life or business better. Before this, you might even have to make the prospects realize that a solvable problem exists in the first place.

Then, and only then, you might start the final selling part, hopefully ending up getting paid.

This is all pretty basic information.

Unfortunately, many companies fail to apply the same principles to recruiting.

How businesses fail at recruitment

Allow me to expand on that a bit. At least here in Finland, electrical machine experts are in short supply. Baby-boomer professionals are starting to retire in ever-larger numbers, and not many young students are majoring on the field.

So, the situation is bad, and getting worse as I write.

Still, many companies still take the slam-a-web-ad-and-call-it-a-day approach to recruitment. Like, we have a position opening up in two months, come work for us.

And I hear it’s not working well. Anyone surprised?

What to do instead

In my opinion, companies should approach recruitment as a high-end sales process. A skilled engineer does bring in annual profits close or in the six-figure range after all, right? They have to – otherwise they’ll be a net loss with the combined salary costs. And at the moment, the demand is poorly met.

So, they should begin by educating prospects that they have a problem, and that our company has a solution. And by prospects, I mean university students in the early phase in their studies. Students that haven’t chosen their Master’s yet.

That’s the point where you have to demonstrate them that hey, electrical machines can be quite cool too. Fail that, and the students will pick the-hot-major-of-the-year instead of boring electromechanics. And once they do that, it’s largely too late.

How to do it

And one of the best ways, if not the best way, to accomplish this is via summer employment. For those unaware, summer employment is basically a decently-paid internship during the summer months.

Hire a first- or second-year student for three months, and give them some meaningful work to do and to learn. Do that, and they will probably (I’d estimate a 50+ percent chance) come work for you again the next year. And even better, they’ll realize that hey these machines are actually quite interesting too, maybe I won’t pick hot-major-of-the-year after all.

Sadly, nobody wants to hire early-stage students. They don’t know anything yet, after all. And ideal summer employee would be close to the end of their Master’s studies, with a few summers of prior experience.

Except, they largely don’t exist. Everybody’s studying something else by that time.

Conclusion

How to hire skilled professionals in an employee’s market, in bullet points:

  • Treat recruitment as a reaaaally long high-end sales process.
  • Invest time and money accordingly.
  • Hire early-stage students as interns, and treat them well.
    • Think of it as taking an awesome prospect for lunch. Or 20 lunches. To Hawaii.
    • Yea, it takes time and might not yield an immediate reward. Business as usual.

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Machine Industry Sucks at Recruiting

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