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Delivering critical roles that will drive success.

Posted by: Mark Jones 8 Oct 15 - 5:02PM  | Automotive

The automotive sector is enjoying a period of acute growth, with millions being invested by industry and government to drive performance and ensure the UK capitalises on global opportunities. But as the market grows so does competition for talent. While the headlines focus on attracting the technical and engineering stars of the future, the vital role that operational and logistics performance plays in driving the success of the automotive industry is often overlooked.

Jason Cole, Lead Consultant at Jonathan Lee Recruitment, argues that commercial roles in the automotive sector, such as procurement, materials planning, logistics, finance, sales, marketing and HR will be critical in ensuring that market opportunities are seized and value is optimised, especially in this highly competitive environment.

Earlier this year the Government launched the Automotive Industrial Partnership to drive funding and research and address the skills challenges of the entire sector.  It has already identified that 17% of businesses in the sector have skills gaps, rising to 31% for SMEs. The shortfall of skilled candidates collectively with the automotive sector’s unprecedented growth is creating a challenging environment and increased competition for the best candidates.

Automotive procurement, purchasing and commercial professionals are highly specialised individuals. The demand for candidates that are able to respond effectively to the rigours of this fast-paced environment is undoubtedly higher than at any time in over a decade. Indeed it’s not just applications for engineering roles that have spiked over the past year, we’re also seeing a surge in demand for high calibre candidates in purchasing and procurement, supply chain, logistics and technically biased sales and marketing roles.

According to the LinkedIn survey, Global Recruiting Trends 2015, 75% of potential employees are passive i.e. not actively seeking for a change of role.  True to the findings, we have found the candidate biased marketplace has led to many organisations outgrowing established recruitment techniques. More than ever, employers need to be flexible, creative and proactive in their approach to attracting the talent they need to fill procurement, purchasing and commercial roles. This can be achieved by observing the following points.

Plan ahead

Too often businesses are reactively responding to recruitment needs, but when candidates hold all the cards, businesses must be far more proactive and strategic in their approach to attracting talent.

Every organisation should have a thorough understanding of the skills-sets needed to support their ongoing business strategy. Consideration should also be taken into account for the skills required in response to potential scenarios such as a rapid increase in orders. An organisation needs to have a clear plan of how it will manage rather than lose out on such opportunities.

It is also beneficial to have a collaborative recruitment partner engaged when planning. If future skill requirements are shared then the recruiter is not reactive either. Instead relationships with potential candidates can be developed from an early stage and introduced timely with the business needs.

The automotive sector is very dynamic and if recruitment needs are planned effectively then a workforce can be quickly adapted to meet the changing market conditions.

Employing flexibility

As competition for a limited supply of candidates grows, many companies are being forced to be more flexible in their requirements. Understanding the core and non-core skills that are needed for a role are only part of the story; identifying transferable skills and looking at a candidate’s enthusiasm to adapt and change to meet the needs of an organisation should be valued and not overlooked.

The direct approach

Faced with a shortage of active candidates, employers struggling to attract applications of the desired quality, will often consider making a direct approach to passive candidates. In the age of LinkedIn, specialists working for respected businesses may receive approaches on a near daily basis. Indeed, many businesses now work with specialist recruiters who have existing relationships with high calibre candidates as they are able to make more personalised approaches, whilst exercising the maximum level of discretion.

Sending the right message

Companies in the automotive sector, particularly those further down the supply chain that are not trading on a big name reputation, should think carefully about how they are perceived externally and what information they share with prospective employees to convince them to join their organisation.

Effectively, in a candidate-led market, companies need to ‘sell’ their businesses as vibrant and exciting organisation that offers clear career development opportunities and attractive benefits. Many candidates will look on a company’s website or LinkedIn page before making the decision to apply for a role, making it vital that businesses ensure that they are well represented online and don’t put off prospective candidates.

Employee engagement

Hiring great talent is only half the battle. Keeping them engaged is just as important. Mentorship can be key to retaining talent and encouraging individual and professional growth. Being generous in the provision of training and development opportunities can also aid employee retention. By encouraging employees to develop – and making it easy for them to do so – companies can strengthen their workforce as well as build loyalty.

There are exciting times ahead for UK manufacturing, and those businesses that have the right logistics and commercial team in place will be able to compete effectively on a global stage and reap the benefits of taking a more strategic approach to recruitment. For more information on our Automotive and Engineering Recruitment services, download our latest online brochure by clicking the HERE

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