What to consider when hiring Additive Manufacturing talent
Kensington Additive has been headhunting in the specialist field of additive manufacturing since 2014. Some might say that’s not a long time, but we believe that our 6 years’ of experience partnering with some of the biggest names in the market has taught us many lessons about the wonderful world of 3D printing, especially how to bridge the skills gap and hire the best additive manufacturing talent across the sector.
So, with a predicted market size of $22billion by 2022, Additive Manufacturing is an industry that is scaling up its workforce to meet the continuing demand, and when it comes to hiring people in a niche industry such as AM; it’s not as straight-forward as some may think. Kensington Additive has highlighted some of the key considerations that need to be made before taking that leap of faith and hiring someone for your company.
The Skills Gap
It’s relatively common knowledge that there is a skills gap in AM, quite understandable given that the first 3D printers were considered commercially viable around the mid-2000s. Although 3D Printing is now in its ‘Adult Stage’ there is still a long way to go with the technology and there is still very much a shortage of skills in the sector.
Typically Universities have added the study of Additive Manufacturing to Engineering curriculums through smaller course modules, and only recently have some dedicated whole courses to AM. Due to this, from an academic standpoint there aren’t a vast array of graduates leaving University or College with a comprehensive grasp of Additive Manufacturing. Most professionals within the market have started their careers in a traditional engineering or manufacturing discipline, be it automotive, aerospace or material science and have found their careers drive them towards 3D printing.
From a head-hunting standpoint, trying to find years and years of experience in AM can be difficult. It can be done, but the market is only so big and AM is almost a family-community filled with well-known persons of influence. When hiring for AM talent, you must consider that the skills-gap is closing but at only a slow-rate and the experience you desire sometimes simply isn’t feasible. Looking at other considerations such as offering training, on-boarding correctly and the person’s knowledge within a traditional engineering sense, can give you an idea of how well this person can incorporate themselves into your team.
Of course, it’s important to note that the above really does depend on the seniority level of the role you’re wishing to fill. If you’re looking for a ‘Head of AM’ then experience is going to be key, but for entry-level or junior positions, then it’s worth considering broadening your expectations around AM experience.
The Active and Passive Market
You might have heard these terms being banded around a lot but never really considered what they actually mean. On the whole, the AM industry is made up of around 20% active candidates; these are candidates who are actively looking for work, and 80% passive candidates; these are candidates who are not looking to change their role and are happy at their current company.
So consider this; when you put an advertisement out on the job boards, LinkedIn and your company page, you’re only attracting the candidates who are seeking work. That’s only 20% of the talent in your industry who are interested in applying for your vacancy. Now, we’re not saying that these candidates aren’t suitable, however, by simply relying on candidate applications to fill your vacancy, you are ignoring a whole pool of passive and professional individuals who could be exactly what you need to fill your vacancy.
Attracting candidates from the passive market can take time, but in a tight-knit industry like AM, referrals and recommendations can be invaluable. As already mentioned, if you’re searching for someone to fill a niche or senior position, relying on applications (active market) will only get you so far.
You want to ensure you’re finding the best talent in 100% of the market, not just the active pool.
Hiring AM talent over the last 6 years’ has given Kensington Additive a great insight into the patterns of behaviour we see from candidates and hiring managers. Something we come across on a weekly-basis is the emphasis that clients put on finding candidates with the correct technical fit and forget about cultural-fit. Many of our partners agree that they have made the wrong decision when hiring before, by emphasising importance on the skill-set and less attention on the behaviours of the individual.
This issue transcends many industries, however, in AM we find that with a market full of start-up organisations, where trade shows, customer relationships, presenting ideas and more are absolutely pertinent; assessing cultural fit from day one is a necessity.
Kensington’s uses a unique platform where we are able to assess the behaviours of candidate’s right in the very beginning of the hiring process, using KC VIP. Our technology is a 2-way recorded video interview process, where we interview candidates; asking questions agreed beforehand with the hiring manager, and send this video interview alongside the candidate’s CV/Resume. Since launching the platform in January 2018, we have received nothing but positive feedback from candidates and clients on how much more streamlined this makes the hiring process.
Remember: you’re not just hiring a list of skills, you’re hiring an individual who should reflect the values and culture of your company.
Additive Manufacturing is still growing and there are plenty of your competitors out there also seeking top talent to strengthen their workforce. It is important to remember that candidates you’re interested in can easily end up working for a competitor. However, by remaining committed to providing feedback and a timely hiring process you increase the chance of your candidate also remaining committed to you. If candidates have a less than professional experience during the hiring process and are left waiting to hear about the status of their application, this can directly affect their perception of your company.
Again, this isn’t an issue that’s specific to the AM market, however, in a community as tight as 3D printing, word travels fast and you don’t want to be the company that candidates actively avoid.
Be mindful that whilst you may reject a candidate’s application now, in the future they could become your competitor or even your customer. Providing a recruitment service that is efficient and ethical is important; here at Kensingtons we ensure that all our candidates are treated with the utmost respect and can rely on our service to genuinely help them get a step-up in AM.
In addition to this, it’s possible that you will need to consider your job brief and ensure that you refine it to ensure that your potential new hire can see their progression opportunities with your company. Always consider what’s in it for the candidate who’s applying; how can you show them that not only is the company great to work for but what’s so intriguing about this job? If there’s opportunity for progression, training and other benefits then a candidate is far more likely to consider this over other positions in the market.
In conclusion, hiring in AM can be a little tricky at times. It is possible to hire yourselves if cost is tight or if your vacancy doesn’t require specific technical skill-sets or leadership qualities. Otherwise, Kensington Additive would always recommend you seek a headhunting partner to search and select both in the active and passive markets to ensure your hire is a success.
After all, ‘to win in the market place you must first win in the workplace’ – Doug Conant.