Recruiting Trends for the EMS Industry – Sustaining Demand for EMS talent

Recruiting Trends for the EMS Industry – Sustaining Demand for EMS talent

By Jeremy Vanselous, President of The SearchWorks Group


jeremy2019 has continued to offer most EMS companies challenges in locating skilled talent across most disciplines. The shortage of experienced people compounded with the continued increase in manufacturing volumes in the US/North America and compounded yet again by the aging/exiting skilled workforces makes for a talent environment that we’ve been anticipating for several years.

Today, EMS companies have the unique challenge of maintaining their current senior leadership while grooming the next generation of leaders and at the same time planting seeds for the future in the entry levels. Fortunately, most EMS companies are embracing this change, recognizing their gaps and are starting (or continuing) to build brands and cultures that are attracting a new generation of workforce. The momentum is there, we just need to keep the foot on the gas.

PresentationA recent analysis looking at ~130,000 jobs within the “Electronics Manufacturing” industry segment on LinkedIn supports these trends in industry growth and the generational changes.

When we look at the breakout of disciplines Engineering and Manufacturing account for 67% of the total demand. This is reflective of the technical skills that had been outsourced for decades. Ops, Programs and Supply Chain remain consistent with previous years and Sales at just 16% is far below the normal demand, also indicating a healthy business environment. (See illustration on left)

The Associate level jobs represent the large majority of the overall demand at 85%. This is reflective of the increase in volumes and the need for junior engineers and operators to fill the tactical void that exists in day to day operations and production. This is our hourly labor. Experienced Professionals, Department Heads and C Suite represent 15% of the total demand which we believe is predominantly driven by promotions/backfills.

As expected, compensation nearly mirrors Seniority. That said, compensation levels are increasing even for Entry and Mid-Level talent. The gap between Supply and Demand is driving higher wages for these levels. Though the data reflects jobs over $100K are just 8% of the total demand, any technical or managerial skill set will command that salary or more. In reality, that number is closer to 30%. LinkedIn’s compensation data has always missed the mark a bit, but I think the % breakout is still fair.

So as an employer in the EMS Industry, what should you be doing to make sure your business is prepared to support and attract the right talent? I’ll give you a few suggestions:

1 – With the generational shift that is occurring, you must be mindful of your Culture. If you want to fill that 85% of entry level talent with people who will give you 100% and stay loyal, you have to lead by example. One slip of culture and your best and brightest will say good-bye and your competitors will welcome them with open arms. You have to walk the walk with respect to culture.

2 – Once you have committed to your culture, you can build your Brand. This isn’t just a company Brand, it’s an Employer Brand. And you HAVE TO BE visible on social platforms. I’m surprised how many EMS companies don’t even employ a simple weekly post on LinkedIn promoting their business. I personally have more “Followers” than most companies. That shouldn’t be the case. Make it a priority to be visible and promote your story. Imagine great people coming straight to your door because they like what they see. It happens.

3 – With Culture and Brand addressed, it’s time to Build your Bench. Most business leaders have pretty good vision and can anticipate where their needs will be within a 3, 6 or even 12 month window. Speed will win this game. Get proactive and start courting people now so that when you need to fill a spot, you pull the trigger and it’s done.

4 – I just said it, but I’ll say it again. Speed will win this game. Your Process is critical. When you engage a candidate or an agency like ours, be ready to move. Good candidates will have multiple opportunities in this market. Even if a candidate “wasn’t looking”, they’ll start once that seed of opportunity and change has been planted. Don’t waste time and money putting people through a process that isn’t streamlined and decisive. If you start by gaining consensus of your needs up front, you’ll have the confidence to make decisions quickly. Clearly define your need and gain consensus. Then execute an efficient process that will yield positive results. (I could write another article on Process alone…)

5 – Once these pieces are in place, be ready to Retain your new talent. Make onboarding special. Reinforce their decision to join your company by celebrating. Not extravagant, but something. Even a “Welcome to the Team” post each Monday that mentions your new people. That social recognition begins to build the loyalty we all want in our teams. Be thinking about retention day one, not the day someone resigns.

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