Competition for skilled job seekers is tighter than ever in the tech sector. For a smaller company, a focused approach and open communication can help bridge the skills gap. We spoke with Jan-Phillip Bombek, Head of Talent Acquisition Kendrion Automotive, on today’s recruitment landscape and how authenticity is at the heart of a successful strategy.
What does today’s recruitment landscape look like?
Today’s recruiting/talent acquisition landscape is evolving rapidly, influenced by factors such as the pandemic, digital transformation, skills shortage, and changing employee expectations.
The wide acceptance of remote working means job seekers are extending their searches globally. People are also changing jobs more frequently because of the many opportunities. To find the right people in this new environment, we as companies must put our genuine selves out there, while making the recruitment process more user-friendly and effective.
What are the absolute ‘musts’ for a company to attract and retain the right people?
For me, authenticity is the only way to go. People will quickly see through insincerity, and in any case, realize if you’re not a good fit and leave. By being genuine and honest, you attract like-minded people who will be a good fit, short- and longer term. Therefore, we present ourselves as we are: hardworking, pragmatic, with a powerful drive to make things better.
A strong presence, on- and offline, is also important, but so is having a clear profile of the person you’re looking for. We’ve found that by narrowing down the profile and search, we attract more compatible applicants. A fast and easy recruitment process is another must. For me, anything beyond three steps is too long. And finally, a supportive company culture. Job seekers today want to work for organizations with a strong purpose and values that align with theirs, and that promote wellbeing.
What are some of the key challenges you face?
The perception of the automotive sector for a start. Many young people are drawn to careers in aerospace, renewable energy, and biotech. But the automotive industry is also becoming ‘smarter’ - think electric vehicles, and the integration of AI and HMI. Also, everyone in our sector is ‘fishing in the same pool’ for talent - including our customers, who are renowned vehicle manufacturers. And while people can relate to a Mercedes or Audi, they don’t generally consider our products: the sensors, valves and sound systems that go in them. So a key focus for us is to create awareness around our products and the difference they make in people’s lives.
Why would a potential candidate choose Kendrion?
As a ‘smaller’ company, we can be more responsive, with shorter, less formal processes. Furthermore, working in smaller teams makes it easier for everyone to see more directly how their contribution makes a difference. Our products drive safety and performance in many different sectors, from automotive to medical equipment, robots and wind turbines.
Growing together is at the core of our company culture, ‘The Kendrion Way’. By building on each other’s strengths, we can create valuable products and a successful company for many years to come. People can work from home, in global teams: we trust them to manage their own hours.
How is your recruitment process effective and application-friendly?
First, we identify who we need – including mindset, personality, and drive – and how we can best connect with them. Instead of getting as many applicants as possible and then seeing ‘who sticks’, we prefer to focus on finding the right people, i.e. those who match our culture and values and bring the exact skills we need.
We use professional social media and have greatly increased our presence on LinkedIn. I will personally contact someone who fits our profile. If I believe they are a viable candidate, and they are interested, we move to the 2-step interview process: a quick chat with the hiring manager and (if positive) an interview with the hiring manager and a team member. It’s a great example of how we like to work: pragmatic and direct. We don’t need to involve 10 people: we trust our interviewers to know what we’re looking for.
Recruiting via LinkedIn is a new field for us. Within the first months, we’ve hired several talented people from around the globe who are bringing new expertise. They’re now building their own departments from the ground up.
What are you doing to keep those talented people?
Ambitious people like to see a growth path. We have a High Potential Program for future specialists and/or leaders, and we encourage everyone to learn and grow. This definitely includes people in production, who are often forgotten when it comes to talent development. We never force people to up-skill, but we support those who want to. Again, it’s about being authentic, open and honest about what people can expect. We believe in creating a fair working environment where we treat people with respect and an open heart. It’s what keeps people with us.
Where do you see recruitment heading?
Recruitment is a fascinating, fast-evolving world! I believe the impact of AI And Big Data is going to be huge. Through AI and Big Data more we can identify profiles faster and more accurately, and make better, more data-informed hiring decisions. When we have more data on people and their interests, we can further personalize messages and get even better results. AI will also help us find specific skills based on location and get more insight into competition in other markets.