Increasingly, we hear about the challenges of finding and hiring good people in our industry. We are being hit on all sides; much of our work force is aging out while young people don’t seem to be too interested in joining the printed circuit board industry. Let’s face facts: Fewer young people are going to college to become circuit board process engineers.
Another challenge is that our vendors are hiring our top people, offering them better compensation and, because many of our vendor companies are global, a more promising future as well.
Whenever I go to trade shows and talk with other board shop leaders this topic of finding and hiring good people always comes up. Most of the time we’re talking about higher level people, but if you look at the situation with manufacturing technicians, it looks even more bleak. It is getting more difficult to find people to operate our plating lines and our drilling machines.
What are we going to do? What can we do to solve this problem? After some deep thinking, I have come up with several solutions that have been working for me and our company, and for the sake of fellowship and a desire to help everyone in our industry succeed, here are a few of the methods that we have used to build what we think is a pretty outstanding team of both seasoned professionals and bright young stars.
- Always be on the lookout for talent. We have a network of people who are always looking for good, smart people who need a job. Either they are unemployed due to the attrition in our industry or they are unhappy and want to go to another company. We have been known to hire a quality professional without a current need simply because he was too good to pass up and we knew that with his skills and his passion there would be a specific place on our team eventually. In the meantime, he could contribute in numerous valuable ways.
- Offer help with relocation expenses. So many times, when people say they cannot find good people, what they really mean is that they cannot find good people within commuting distance of their company. This specification is too limiting—and my company is in Chicagoland where there are more PCB professionals than any other part of the country excepting California. But we are still willing to bring someone from another part of the country if they are good. What’s a few thousand dollars to help them move if they are good enough to make our company better? It’s an excellent return on investment.
- Continue looking for the Big Three: passion, ambition, and curiosity. When it comes to young people, these three qualities cannot be taught; they are present or not. We can teach PCB technology and business—that’s the easy part if you have the right person. Don’t forget to continue developing summer jobs/internships.
- Don’t offer young people a job, offer them a career. When it comes to hiring young people to work on our equipment and our lines, we talk to them about a career in printed circuit boards. We explain that we will teach them about our history and our technology. We talk to them about the history of the industry, pointing out the important role that printed circuit boards have played in everything from the space program, defense, and aerospace, to automotive, computers, and medical. We strive to show them what an important high-tech industry they are entering. Often, we will have some of our long-term employees give them testimony on the positive career they have had in our industry.
- Offer a fair compensation package. We offer a strong benefit package as well. If you want to build a strong team and hence a strong company, offer strong incentive packages as well.
- And finally, treat people well. We make sure that we treat people well once they do join the company because it is not only about finding and hiring the right people, it is all also about keeping them.
We have found that by doing these things consistently, we have been able to build a good, strong, loyal, and most importantly, dedicated team.