A blog from an evolving Electrical recruiter who (at first) didn’t understand his market to one who now understands the ever changing climate and the transfer of skills within it.
Quick survey for those working in the electrical sector – have a go and voice your opinion!
Here was my problem: I am not an Electrical Engineer, but I had to learn to work in the Electrical world…
Ever since I started in recruitment 4 long years ago, I have worked in the Electrical/T+D Sector. When I started I wasn’t even sure what T+D even meant. Travel and Data? Time and Date? Tea and Dessert? Don’t get me started on ICP’s – Incredibly Complicated Phrases!
Then there was trying to understand what key instruments/equipment actually are and what they do. From transformers (do these come alive and save us?) to switchgear (sounds like it should be on a car)… I had to learn and Google had to become my friend – although I later learnt a better way!
Recruiters speak often about being ‘specialists’, but is this possible in a sector so varied? And is electrical knowledge the most transferrable skill within power generation?
Everyone needs power in their life and every sector needs electricity to work and generate more power so I thought how do I decide what ‘specialist’ area to focus on? Do I even want to? And do I even need to?
I started to speak to people and (although Google is still used) these voices were the real source of my knowledge and understanding. Some older heads who had hours to talk to me and some younger guys who were struggling just like I was.
Now I am where I am, I know what I know, and you may be amazed that I am still not an Electrical Engineer! But now I know what tasks and responsibilities each candidate needs to be competent at in order to fulfil certain roles and I also have a level of knowledge that allows me to find the candidates my clients need.
So, what do clients want me to be like? In the end it was pretty simple. The key is don’t try and pass yourself off as something you are not.
When working in the offshore sector one of the main gripes of the contractors and managers I spoke with is that there are too many cowboys; guys who get onto projects and then are quickly thrown off because they have blacked out a platform or cut a 33kv cable 5m too short!
So then how does this translate into the people out there that I am recruiting? The candidates who ring me for advice – do they know what they want to do and what path to take?
Many things have changed in the last 10 years. People have changed sectors, sectors have risen and fallen (look at solar and oil and gas in recent years), people have been forced to change and employers now seem open to the reality of a changed market. As long as you are at the same voltage and have worked with the same equipment they seem more open to take people from other sectors.
In my career I have scrolled through countless CVs and some people have stayed within the same sector, however, so many people work in various industries. It is no longer frowned upon to work across sectors and employers do not seem to shy away or turn their noses up at candidates who have different industry experience.
There will always be questions about safety, qualifications, client facing roles and much more, but why not give these guys a chance to prove themselves?
Recruiters never grow up wanting to be recruiters… I didn’t even know what it entailed! Don’t get me wrong, I love recruitment now and enjoy what I do, but relate this to Electrical Engineers. They knew what they wanted to do, but what sector did they seem themselves going in to? Is it cut and dry that someone wants to work in Rail, Renewables, Nuclear or for National Grid?
Like many things in life it takes time and experience to shape which way to go and a lot of patience, something I have had to have with myself, failing and learning, becoming better and most importantly learning about my sector.
I am by no means an expert. I will always be educating myself and one thing I certainly have become is open minded. I have learnt, sell ‘the solve’ to the problem and don’t sell what you know, because they know you couldn’t joint a cable or oil sample a transformer, so stop telling them you know how to!
At the end of the day, as a recruiter, clients don’t want you to know how to do the job… they want you to find the guys who can.
AUTHOR: CHARLIE WARD
I have a quick survey for those who are electrically biased, enquiring how you came to the sector and what your thoughts are on some of the points above – have a go and voice your opinion!