Recruiting for Mexico’s Booming Manufacturing Industry

Jim Kozich, Senior Search Consultant, Gilbert Consulting Services, Inc.


jim kI can still remember the first time years ago when one of our client companies asked me to help with some staffing needs for their electronics manufacturing plant in Mexico. Because my Spanish vocabulary was quite limited, I assumed that I would have trouble communicating. It turned out recruiting in Mexico was not as difficult as I thought! Everyone spoke English and companies in Mexico face many of the same challenges in finding top EMS industry talent there as they face  in the United States.

There are some unique challenges however. Probably the biggest difference when recruiting in Mexico is the disparity in salaries of what different companies in Mexico offer individuals for the same job title and responsibilities. These variances can be the equivalent of up to $50,000! Another difference is when people are changing companies in Mexico, there can be unrealistic expectations as to the level of increase in base salary for moving to a position in another company. In the United States it is the norm that people understand their typical raise will be an increase of approximately between 10% and 15%. But in Mexico, people typically expect a raise of 25% to 50%. The compensation expectations for both the individual and the hiring company need to be managed carefully.

Recruiting in Mexico requires creativity when it comes to incentive packages. A good HR team will listen carefully to understand  the motivations and family context. One individual was hired by a company that led to him gaining his U.S. citizenship! Positions range from individual contributor through executive level across various areas in manufacturing related departments all across the country.

In Mexico, it is not uncommon for candidates to have moved around various manufacturing industries from electronics to plastics to metals to apparel to EMS to OEM. This can present a challenge when U.S. companies are looking to hire because they typically want to see a certain level of consistency of experience working within one industry. Mexican companies seem to view it all as all falling under manufacturing so they see no difference in that background.

Electronics manufacturing in Mexico saw rapid growth around ten years ago when the wages that workers in China were being paid increased sharply. The increases in Chinese labor costs were passed along and that reduced the manufacturing company’s own profit margins for those products. Cheaper labor rates in Mexico provided ample reason for more manufacturing to be outsourced to facilities south of the border. Plus the costs of shipping products and assemblies to U.S. locations went down considerably as they were now coming from a much shorter distance rather than from half way around the world. It also became much easier to interact with plants during normal North American business hours instead of having to place conference calls in the middle of the night to multiple time zones away.

The recent trade tariffs placed on China has also led to an increase in electronics manufacturing being outsourced to Mexico. Automotive manufacturing increased in Texas because of easy access to sub-assemblies that are being built across the border. Companies are currently building new facilities while adding to their square footage of manufacturing space which also requires they add to their employee head count.

These are just a few of the factors that are contributing to a currently thriving electronics manufacturing industry in Mexico. If you are looking to hire individuals for critical skilled positions at electronics manufacturing facilities in Mexico who can hit the ground running, please contact our search firm.


About the author: Jim Kozich is Senior Search Consultant, Gilbert Consulting Services Inc.,  a national award-winning search and placement firm that has been specializing in placing top talent in the Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) industry since 1994.