Everyone knows that finding the right specialist skills at the right time in the ‘independent contractor market’ has become even more difficult over the past few years. Demand continues to outstrip supply and consequently we are all left fighting harder than ever for whatever skills might remain on the market at the time when we urgently need them. Rarely do we have the luxury to plan our exact skills requirements three months in advance. Things change so fast in today’s embedded engineering market that we are usually left looking for the best engineers at a moment’s notice and to start ‘yesterday’. The result of which generally leaves us with long waits, project disruption, compromising on skills, quality, experience and often having to pay premium rates for the privilege.
The Status Quo
Most companies are still using the same methods to recruit contract engineers today as they were in the 1980’s. Every other aspect of the market has changed extensively since then, but unfortunately we are all still left looking to secure the world’s leading specialist embedded engineers and consultants as if we were recruiting ‘temporary workers’ using traditional recruitment steps:
- Identify a need
- Go to your Preferred ‘Recruitment’ Suppliers List.
- Have them churn the regular market for the best CV’s.
- Arrange some face-to-face or telephone interviews to identify the best engineers.
- Once you have spoken with them all, make an offer to the best engineer hoping that they are still potentially available by then and prefers your contract option to all the other offers they may have received during this process.
Top embedded engineers and consultants don’t want and don’t need to subject themselves to an outdated ‘temporary recruitment’ selection process which often takes weeks or even months to navigate. All the best engineers and consultants are now cooperating with highly specialist contract embedded engineering suppliers who can secure exciting new assignments for them in line with their exact requirements, within days. Many of them don’t use regular recruitment companies anymore, so if customers are stuck with the old recruitment model, they probably never even get to see the best engineers, never mind having a chance of securing their services.
The New Delivery Models
The most successful new delivery models are all based around six key factors:
In order to be successful in today’s market, suppliers must have extensive knowledge of their specialist sector and all the best independent engineers working within it. They also need to be focussed on top independent contractors and not distracted by permanent recruitment activities that requires a completely different skillset from the supplier.
2. Extensive Global Network of Talent
Although there may be severe skill shortages in certain countries and regions, when you look at it from a global perspective, there is an abundance of quality engineering talent available. Companies who can structure their projects in a way that they can incorporate some remote working into their project plans, can benefit greatly by dipping into this talent, taking advantage of high quality, less competition and better value.
3. Strategic Focus on First-Time Contractors
In order to continue to expand the supply pool of contract engineers, it is good to have a supplier who has a pro-active focus on attracting ‘first time contractors’ to the market. Unless the supplier already knows these engineers in advance, it may take months to find and secure the services of this type of contractor for your projects.
4. Customer Alert Systems
If you are working with a supplier who really knows your market and understands your R&D project portfolio well, they will be able to highlight the impending availability of exceptional engineers to you, allowing you to review your projects for gaps. This can help customers gain access to exceptional talent without having to go through the whole traditional contract recruitment process.
5. Candidate Driven Approach
The quality of the service received depends almost entirely on the quality of the experience the engineers have with the supplier. Supplier companies that offer a quality ‘candidate driven approach’ are able to offer a far better qualified contractor, more committed and with better value for money, simply by providing exactly what is wanted. Extensive candidate qualification is imperative in today’s complex market and by working in this way, suppliers can dramatically increase delivery ratios of securing the services of engineers that are needed.
6. Customer Qualification & Process Control
As mentioned earlier, the traditional recruitment model is no longer viable for finding and securing the services of the best contract engineers. In order to compete for skills successfully in this market, the supplier needs to be able to discuss the project in detail with the engineer or consultant and also be able to agree a timetable for the complete process, which shouldn’t really exceed a couple of days.
The better the supplier, the more information they will need from customers regarding the project, skills, application, methodologies etc. In addition they have a process to fast-track a teleconference or meeting in order to discuss the project and confirm the order.
In this model, the supplier has done all the hard work upfront, so there are no lengthy delays when it comes to delivery. These specialists’ suppliers will already know who the best engineers are, where they are and when they can be available to start on your project, as soon as you press the ‘GO’ button. Traditional recruiters will only be starting to look for engineers at this point and of course you’ve still got to hope they know the difference between an ‘embedded software engineer’ and regular ‘software developer’.
The market is changing rapidly and the ability to acquire highly specialised skills effectively, on demand, is fast becoming one of the most crucial components of a company’s successful R&D project delivery strategy. There are only a handful of companies focussed exclusively on providing these types of solutions at the moment so let’s hope we see a lot more of them soon, to avoid even more disruption caused by the lack of quality skills in our market.
John Ryan is CEO of CIS Electronic Engineering. With over 25 years in the recruitment industry John has a wealth of experience and expertise in the positioning and placement of Electronics Engineers in the fast moving Advanced Electronics market. Having started as a contract recruitment consultant with The Span Consultancy John quickly developed his career as Managing Director with NTR in UK before moving to Valencia where he set up CIS (now CIS Electronics Engineering) in 2003.