Thermoforming Report

January Thermoforming Report: More is Less in Recruiting!

by Keith Brown, President & Owner, Siena Group.

January 2023.

This month’s main article lifts the cover a bit on recruiting. As the clever graphic demonstrates, recruiting goes against what would be expected – more turns out to be the wrong approach for most search efforts. Obviously, this is near and dear to our hearts at Siena Group, but in this crazy, candidate-driven market, leveraging external recruiting companies is becoming more and more prevalent, and needed, in order to fill that key open role. Because it is counter-intuitive, it is hard to convince those unfamiliar with the industry. The topic below works to shed some light on how things work in my world.

As usual, we have several great articles relevant to our industry and quite a few amazing All Stars to highlight! Check them out down below in the links on the right. We also have more extraordinary talent in the Featured Talent tab.

More is Less in Recruiting

A recession is coming.”  “There is too much uncertainty and CEO’s are going to be conservative.”

Don’t believe what you hear! Or just listen to different people!

In the manufacturing industry, we are hearing just the opposite! “We are turning away business because we just can’t keep up.”  “We need some really strong talent that can hit the ground running because we are growing so fast!” 

If you as business owners or as decision-makers and individual contributors in those businesses are wondering, yes, you are all in the same boatEveryone is crazy busy and manufacturing businesses are booming!

Booming Industry!

That means that the “talent war” is raging – and has been – for quite a while.  It’s called by many names, but “candidate driven” is a great descriptor. As such, there is a very high demand for gaining access to that talent and it has spawned a hot market for recruiting. 

This Forbes article – from a long-time recruiter – highlights this dynamic. There is the typical knee-jerk reaction, and it isn’t pretty. Like every other profession out there, it takes time, training, energy, and doing the job to be proficient – much less highly successful – and recruiting is no different

So, there are many articles that highlight the different types of recruiting.

What’s ironic is that all of these are written by recruiters! 

If you think this is the ‘pot calling the kettle black’ or the ‘fox guarding the henhouse’, think again!

Look at it this way: If you wanted advice about how to choose an effective quarterback, do you think having a conversation with Tom Brady would be wise? Or if you had to prepare an amazing French meal, would you want to speak with Julia Child… or the Muppet’s Swedish Chef?!? My guess is you would probably want to share the kitchen with Julia or Gordon Ramsey and not this guy – the Swedish Chef is hilarious… but he isn’t the expert! 

Getting Into the Details

If you’ve taken the time to click the links above, you know a bit about contingent recruiting and retained recruiting models. For those that didn’t, the quick version is that contingent recruiting is all about speed and lack of depth, and retained recruiting is about thoroughness and in-depth rigor. What you may not understand if you haven’t lived it, is the reality and mindset impacts that the different approaches have on those doing the work. 

Let me explain. 

As a contingent recruiter, you are trained that the industry standard for making a placement is somewhere between 15% to 20%, or 1 out of every 5 or 6 job orders worked.  Therefore, it behooves you, as a recruiter who only gets paid should one of your candidates gets hired, to be fast, taking in as many job orders as you can handle, throwing as many resumes as you can find at it in a few hours, and moving onto the next one. It is simple math and having sat in that chair, I can tell you from personal experience, it absolutely seeps into how you work. There’s no depth of understanding about the position, the client, and the candidate. [On a side note, it is also why we shifted away from that model!] 

As decision-makers, it makes sense that if you canvas the market and employ multiple recruiters to fill a need, you will get the right person – more is always better, right? 

Not in recruiting!  Here is how the scenario typically unfolds: 

  • You reach out and employ a contingent recruiter to work on a role. 
  • You then learn about another recruiting company that aligns and turn the search over to them as well. 
  • You know about another company and decide to go ahead and get them going on the search too. 
  • Resumes begin to roll in. But… because there was little upfront investment, they do not align. HR is essentially having to filter out a bunch of resumes, doing non-value-added work that is supposed to be done by the external recruiter! 
  • Eventually, the local market is saturated and duplication may kick in, where the same candidates are being screened by different recruiters.  
  • The contingent recruiters each have submitted several people and have moved on to the next job order. 
  • The open role languishes and because there is frustration over the lack of good talent in the mix, additional recruiters are solicited and the cycle starts over

As one of the above articles mentioned, all contingent recruiting isn’t bad just like all retained recruiting is good.  But, these trends are typical, and I’ve seen them personally happen on many occasions.

What is truly hard to imagine is that if an organization is seeking an absolutely critical role, why would you not want to invest time upfront to ensure that the recruiting partner truly understands the need from many different aspects?   

Less is More!

The last article linked above talked about “focusing on solving the business problem, not just filling a role.”  Truer words have not been spoken! 

If that is the case, invest the time! The other major irony about all of this: the fees tend to be either identical or very similar in both cases. Why would you choose to shortchange the process to get marginal candidates if you can invest the same amount of money to get All-Stars? 

As discussed above relative to a recruiter mindset, let’s talk about the Retained Search (and the Priority Search in our case). 

  • Money has changed hands, and people are committed. 
  • There is an intrinsic drive to please the client because though services haven’t been rendered in the form of that All-Star yet, you desire to make it happen. 
  • That particular search stays front and center until it is successfully completed. 
  • There are follow-ups. There are summaries of progress to date. 
  • Everyone is aware and plugged in and mutually committed to delivering results. 

This change is massive in how you approach the search! 

There is a mutual benefit to filling the role with top talent.  The company wins because a crucial role has been filled by an All-Star who understands the culture. The recruiter wins because they get repeat business. The candidate wins because they are excited about a new opportunity to make a big impact with an organization that aligns. Win-Win-Win! 

Wrapping It Up

A lot more can be shared about the hiring process and utilizing external recruiting companies. There is even a 2022 SHRM article that highlights how hiring costs can be up to three or four times the position’s salary! 

It all boils down to whether or not you invest in and value your recruiting efforts – internal and external. The effort, energy, and cost are going to be high. 

The question is, do you want someone invested in the success of a search? 

Or are you just hoping to find the right person through sheer volume alone?   

The knee-jerk reaction to this candidate-driven talent war is to engage as many recruiters as possible to find that perfect fit. That is a bad assumption and approach. Every recruiter is not the same. Access to the right talent is everything. 

Keith Brown, Owner/President
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Senior HR Director: This outstanding Senior HR Director is an amazing business partner that has tremendous experience leading multiple manufacturing plants across a very wide footprint, including international sites, and with accountability for up to 6000 FTEs and a direct team of 25 HR professionals across the plants. Bonus: He’s fully bilingual in Spanish and English!

Technical Engineering Leader/Director: This talented Technical Leader is an Engineering Director who brings great experience in engineering and engineering leadership with a solid mix of early career product development and project management; very strong in thin gauge thermoforming packaging – high speed, highly automated manufacturing.

Senior Process/CI Engineer: This gifted Subject Matter Expert in thermoforming AND operations excellence, with significant experience in heavy-gauge forming, thin-gauge forming, and extrusion. This combination of skills really packs a punch relative to driving sustainable results!

Production Manager/Process Manager: This outstanding thin-gauge thermoforming Subject Matter Expert is a 20-year thin-gauge thermoforming manufacturing and process leader with extensive process experience and a passion for people – leading them, training them, and developing, mentoring, & coaching them into future leaders. Bonus: He is immediately available and provides tremendous value!

Tooling Engineer: This talented Tooling Engineer has over 5 years of experience in thin-gauge thermoforming tool design, both trim and form, including complete mold and die set design, and conversion sets consisting of cavities, assist plugs, trim tooling, and perforation tooling. Additionally, he is part of the design evaluation of new and current products, to improve overall manufacturability and success during trials and qualification of production tooling. 

Click for more All-Stars.

At Siena Group, we are your Thermoforming Talent Partner. With more than 30 years of experience in manufacturing, hiring & recruiting talent, we bring a greater understanding of the companies we partner with and the candidates we pursue. Let’s Strengthen Your Search!

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