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Industry Insiders: Kyle Provost on Recruitment in Manufacturing and Engineering

Summit Search Group

Kyle Provost

Director, Recruitment

Kyle Provost

Director, Recruitment

Recruiting today is a very different story from even a year ago. In just a few short months, the novel coronavirus changed the way we socialize, learn, communicate, work, and yes — how we hire and find jobs.

In Ottawa, COVID-19 hasn’t been all bad news. In fact, some industries have seen a serious boost in response to the shifting landscape.

“Manufacturing, engineering, construction — all of these industry specialties are unique, but the different areas inform each other. And the broader picture of this experience right now is exciting — it’s definitely a silver lining,” shares Kyle Provost, the Ottawa Recruitment Director here at Summit Search Group. “Manufacturing, especially in the medical sector, has really ramped up. We’re actually fighting talent scarcity!”

We sat down with Kyle to learn more about what’s happening in Ottawa today, and what we can expect to see from manufacturing and engineering recruitment.

Industry Challenges in Manufacturing and Engineering

The biggest hiring challenge for Kyle’s teams comes down to skills.

“The talent pool is always challenging, because these industries demand highly specialized skills. Any areas that tend to be more remote or have a smaller population can be especially tricky, as it can make the skills gap seem even more dramatic there,” he says. “Manufacturing talent, in particular, is often already established somewhere. They’ve got loyalty where they are right now, and don’t feel inspired to explore new opportunities — especially if that means sacrificing stability or having to work through a probationary period.”

Manufacturing and Engineering Recruitment and COVID-19

“The questions candidates have now — and the expectations for their potential employers — have really changed. They want transparency around COVID-19,” Kyle notes.

Curiosity about company culture, details about compensation and benefits, or the fine print in a job description easily lead candidate conversations in the past. Now, Covid accountability dominates the discussion in a world where day-to-day employee expectations may have changed completely in the past few months.

“What happens, or is happening, with Covid? Did you lay anyone off, and why? Did people work remotely, and will they continue to do so? What are you doing now for your workplace practice?” lists Kyle. “Were you able to ride the wave of the pandemic? That’s what candidates want to know.”

A particular point of interest lies in the commute: many of these candidates haven’t had to commute lately, and may not be interested in doing it again. “Especially for roles that are currently remote, or for interviews happening remotely, candidates are curious about what’s next,” Kyle adds. “Will the job be remote moving forward? Can they work from home after the pandemic? Even though it may not have traditionally been the case, some companies are choosing to embrace the situation — they’re pivoting.”

Hiring Tools for the Manufacturing and Engineering Sectors

Hiring for manufacturing and engineering today can be complex: the client and the candidate have two very different expectations. While candidates want instant gratification and a quick, simple recruitment process, many companies are deeply concerned with the search for the right long-term fit — and they build a thorough process to find it.

“It can be a challenge, because good talent doesn’t last long,” Kyle says. “If a client adds lots of steps to the process — personality tests, for example, or maybe extra rounds of interviews — they risk losing really good candidates because it’s too much. That said, thoughtful recruitment processes work. You’re more likely to find someone who will stay a long while when they understand what the company is about.”

Kyle recommends leveraging talent to inspire growth and momentum in your organization, and considering succession planning in the hiring process. He also notes that digital tools can help to balance and expedite the time it takes to thoroughly vet and onboard great talent:

“Remote interviewing, remote onboarding, and e-learning: these are real options for the future. Embrace the digital classroom. Make training at the head office shorter and less necessary, so employees can build better balance with their families.”

Tips for Finding Top Manufacturing and Engineering Talent

To find the best talent in manufacturing and engineering, Kyle’s first focus is on tangible results. “I like to see succession through an organization, someone who has been offered more responsibility over time and obtained key achievements in their role. That record of performance is key, as is loyalty to an employer,” he adds. “A lot of candidates are very humble and don’t like to brag — if none of your accomplishments are on your resume, we don’t know what you’ve done! If your resume is very generic, it won’t stand out. I want to know what you did and how well you did it.”

It’s all the better if those successes are backed up by factual numbers and data points: sales, costs, facts, and figures.

Finally, Kyle notes that it’s critical to explore. “Meet lots of people. Be open. See what you like, and what you don’t. For clients: trust your gut. You know your business and your needs better than anyone else, and a fit is something you can usually tell early on. For candidates: your next best fit might be something you’ve never even heard about. Most people don’t even know what’s out there — don’t be afraid to find out!”

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Industry Insiders: Kyle Provost on Recruitment in Manufacturing and Engineering

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