The talent acquisition strategy for many Electrical manufacturers and distributor companies has changed dramatically as business itself becomes more complex. Today’s executives need to have an entire new toolset to compete for today’s top positions and command top salaries.
The hiring process itself has changed. Many companies have their own talent acquisition teams internally. These have been received with mixed results as many of the internal staff has no actually experience in the field they are hiring and are basically harvesting resumes for managers to look at and make decisions on. This can be time consuming and costly. Executive search firms are also changing with a much deeper specialty and niche go to market strategy capitalizing on the strengths and real world experience of their team.
The interview process is lengthier for top positions and the candidate gets numerous looks from different staff members to assure chemistry and cultural fit. In addition, many companies now insert assessment testing into the mix for top hires. Companies such as Wonderlic, Chally and Caliper are very prominent in this mix and serve up an additional layer of facts and details on a candidate which may not be apparent from the traditional interview process or resume. Numerous companies now also use online reference checking, in which a reference is asked to login into an online service and answer 20-30 questions about the candidate. These steps, assessment testing and reference checking is now conducted earlier in the hiring process as a means to collect as much information on a potential top hire upfront thus eliminating candidates earlier in the process and getting to the short list quicker.
There is also a new breed of candidates that clients are looking for. Sales management needs to not only impact bottom line revenues but have a keen eye for analytics and finance. They need to be able to be comfortable out in the field , in the board room and also in the office. Clients are looking for executives that have the ability to have balance. Even the traditional product marketing management roles are changing. Being a strong marketing person is not good enough anymore in companies that sell technical products. Having an engineering degree and a strong technical background can propel and average marketer to the top of the list.
Distributors are also much pickier. Sales reps have to be able to bring an existing book of business that is transferable to command the large salary. A strong outside sales rep that has an inside sales rep that will make the move with them is also desirable as a new team for the distributor.
The role of HR has also changed. Today’s top HR executives are much more diverse than just knowing about the companies benefit plans and 401k program. Strong HR managers understand their companies business inside and out. They clearly understand the roles of the positions that they are hiring for and are actively involved in every step of the hiring process. They tend to ask questions that the typical candidate wouldn’t expect. They probe on past history, ask technical questions and are very involved in providing their interview team with information derived from assessments which are typically conducted after the candidate has made it through the first round of interviews. The assessment’s information can be used as a “knock out” upfront on a candidate so that executives do not waste time interviewing potential hires that will not eventually “fit” within the team environment already in place. The actual weight that companies put upon these test results vary from company to company but are becoming much more prominent and standard practice, especially with larger companies.
The hiring environment
Securing the top job is very competitive today and there are many factors that play into the decision making process. Experience, length of service, years to retirement, compensation, relocation, blend of skillset and cultural fit are now extremely important. Some companies do not want to pay to relocate executives or middle management, they task recruiters to source local talent. For some positons, being a “remote” employee now can take away some appeal because the candidate is not in position to demand a large financial package because they are not visible enough on a regularly basis or by being remote they basically become more of an individual contributor over time.
There is a big demand for certain skillsets today , especially in Industrial and Commercial workplaces. High tech skills in Automation specialties such as PLC, Drives, HMI and Motion Control are in big demand as is lighting and switchgear specialists. These specialists allow their companies to sell on value versus price and can command higher salaries and typically have many job options to select from.
Where to next?
In order to remain competitive today, companies need to have some sizzle and need to attract employees that see that they have a future in an exciting company. Today’s workforce is very savvy and with an infusion of youth and technology will continue to attract top talent.
Candidates looking for new opportunities need to focus on sharpening all their technical skills, avoid job hopping and develop a business acumen that is surrounded by a understanding of finance with a desire to be analytical and technical, while being good on their feet in customer facing situations. The candidate that possesses strong technical, analytical and customer facing skills will be a very valuable investment and asset to any potential new employer.
Copyright © 2015 by John Salvadore
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