Talent Acquisition in Automation and Robotics

Wayne Passmore

Wayne Passmore

Manager of the Retail, Robotics & Supply Chain Technology division

Hiring in a highly competitive landscape – best practices for talent acquisition in automation and robotics

Industrial robotics and automation have found their way into numerous areas of manufacturing. From welding, to assembly, shipping and packing – manufacturers are utilizing robotic automation at an accelerated pace, and for an ever-expanding array of tasks.

Of course, one of the first questions posed when robots were first used in the early 1960s came from a place of fear. “Will automation take jobs from humans?”. But to the contrary, the industrial robotics and automation market has supported the creation of many additional jobs. The machines haven’t replaced people – they’ve made manufacturing work smarter and harder, swapping monotonous, sometimes dangerous manual processes for efficient and safe mechanical automations. Of course, there’s still an important role for people to play. In fact, it’s a highly competitive labour market.

Programming, engineering, end-effector design, operators, analysts, manufacturers and system integrators are all very much human, and very much needed. As more businesses seek to automate their industrial processes, so too are they seeking senior and skilled professionals to helm the navigation of their new robotic horizon. Robotics and automation workers are being hired at record rates in US companies. As with any rapidly changing industry, the candidate pool is struggling to keep up with the increasing demand for specialized roles.

So, how can business leaders, HR professionals and internal talent acquisition functions attract the best talent in robotics and automation? Let’s unpack it.

Move quickly, but carefully

When candidates are in demand, they’re in control of the market. A short supply of talent and wide demand for it means that they’re in the driving seat. In any competitive, candidate-led market, you need to act fast if you want to lock talent in. The most sought-after candidates could be fielding multiple offers at a time, and so you’ll need to act decisively.

Of course, a prerequisite for this is that you’ll need a firm idea of your requirements. And in some cases, particularly if you’re entering a new market, vertical or region, it might be hard to get your head around these. Carrying out thorough research is an important step that shouldn’t be skipped. Having a comprehensive understanding of your needs will avoid delays in the hiring process. If you’re particularly short on time, bandwidth, or resources, it might be worth outsourcing this – or consulting with experts in the field.  

Take an agile approach

Whilst you’ll need a firm understanding of what you want, the robotics and automation market moves quickly. So, your requirements are likely to change as well. Cutting edge today could be old news tomorrow. To stay firmly at the helm of a rapidly changing industry, you’ll need to learn to go with the flow. As new products are launched and new technology enters the market, you may find that you need to adapt your hiring strategy. Again, this may well be an overwhelming task to undertake alone. Particularly if you’re juggling multiple roles or responsibilities. Don’t feel like a failure if it’s simply too much to manage. Consulting with external specialists can be a necessary move in situations like these.

Expand your net

Where are you looking for senior, niche or highly specialized candidates? If the answer is online job boards or simply the applications you receive from your own job postings, you’re probably missing out. Even in the most competitive markets, the candidates are there. They exist – but they’re unlikely to come to you. When hiring in competitive markets like the current robotics and manufacturing landscape, you’ll need to cast as wide a net as possible to get your catch.

So, rather than waiting for them to come to you, go where the candidates are. ‘Where are they?’, I hear you ask… Unfortunately, the best ones are probably busy at work; making money for their current employers (your competitors!). To put it simply, the best talent often won’t be job hunting.

This is where headhunting comes in...

Headhunting can be a scary word. It’s already loaded – conjuring extreme, combative imagery. But it’s not as ‘Lord of the flies’ as it sounds. And it could be your best friend if you’re seeking niche talent in a highly competitive market. Headhunting is a specialized form of proactive recruitment best suited to senior or technical roles. It’s the act of identifying and approaching specific, suitable people employed elsewhere to fill positions.

The drawbacks of headhunting? There are a couple. It won’t make you any friends in your market, for one. Whilst they might be your competition, the companies you’d be canvassing for potential employees won’t take kindly to having their talent pinched. And in most cases, it’s best not to ‘get your hands dirty’ by doing it yourself. There’s a reason so many recruitment and Executive Search agencies exist. And having an agency act on your behalf can alleviate any potential market tension. A neutral middleman, so to speak.

Another – It’s time-consuming. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can be a massive drain on your energy and resources. ‘How hard can it be?’ well, actually, quite hard. You’ll need to have a thick skin, a super resilient nature and a crystal clear idea of exactly who you want to target, and how. If you don’t have much knowledge of the market, region or technical specifications you’re seeking, you won’t get your foot through many doors.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

All that being said, there are experts for whom, the specialized task of headhunting is second nature. For every drawback to headhunting, there are multiple positives. It’s a tried and true method for sourcing top talent in the midst of a competitive landscape. And with the right approach and the right partners, headhunting can deliver exceptional results. You’ll find the type of talent you never even dreamed of. You’ll save time scouring through applications, and you’ll avoid the fuss of tedious back-and-forth with applicants who just don’t cut it. But to achieve the best results, and do so efficiently, you’ll need to enlist expert help.

An Executive Search partner:

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Here are some of the senior roles we recruit for:

 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

All that being said, there are experts for whom, the specialized task of headhunting is second nature. For every drawback to headhunting, there are multiple positives. It’s a tried and true method for sourcing top talent in the midst of a competitive landscape. And with the right approach and the right partners, headhunting can deliver exceptional results. You’ll find the type of talent you never even dreamed of. You’ll save time scouring through applications, and you’ll avoid the fuss of tedious back-and-forth with applicants who just don’t cut it. But to achieve the best results, and do so efficiently, you’ll need to enlist expert help.

Meet our manufacturing, robotics & automation team

Find out how Gillespie Manners sourced a first-on-the-ground CRO for a micro-fulfillment startup:

And if you’d like to discuss your growth in the robotics and automation manufacturing space, get in touch with me today. Email me at wayne.passmore@gillespiemanners.com or use the form below.

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