Finding and Retaining Good People in the Heat Treatment Industry, Part II

The #1 issue in the global heat treatment industry these days is finding and retaining good people. To find out how this is affecting the industry, we spoke with an expert on filling positions,  Mr. Josh Hale of International Search Partners, the foremost recruiting firm in the heat treat field. Part 1 of this two part series can be found at The Monty Heat Treat News-Finding and Retaining Good People | The Monty, today we present to you Part II.

Last time we spoke, you mentioned that salaries are rising – is there anything other than money that an employer can offer to entice new hires?

Yes. Salary is a huge motivator, but it is not the ONLY factor that workers look at when making a career move. Most candidates will consider any prospective offer wholistically and factor in benefits, bonus potential, growth opportunities, etc. Extra PTO and schedule flexibility are two things that many employers use to tip the scales in their favor when there isn’t room left in the salary budget. Companies should be cautious, however, about using “great team” or “good work environment” as a lure because it’s hard to quantify and it won’t be the needle-mover to get a candidate to jump from one company to another. Instead, fostering a synergetic work culture should be seen as part of a retention (not recruitment) strategy – not to mention just generally a good idea for all.

Is the situation getting any better or is it getting worse? In other words, is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

Unemployment will remain extremely low for the foreseeable future, and it seems highly unlikely that there will be a wane in demand for talent any time soon. Even if there are some near-term vicissitudes that cause a slow-down in the broader economy (a big IF), the need for specialized heat treat skills will remain high as much of the current talent pool begins to age out and retire.

With employers willing to pay higher salaries, are you seeing sing that employees are “flitting” from job to job and taking advantage of better offers?

Not really. The reason is that as recruiting and hiring becomes more difficult, companies are recognizing the importance of not only identifying new recruits, but also retaining the employees that they do have! We’ve seen client companies offer things like extra PTO, bonuses, raises, OT opportunities, etc. as ways to keep the good people they have happy and engaged.

Are salaries positions harder to fill than hourly waged positions, or vice versa?

We work more on higher-level or technical searches, but it has always seemed that hiring hourly production workers poses quite the challenge. Due to the nature of the work, these positions have high turnover, and it can be costly to invest in training when someone may only work for 6-12 months.

We’ve focused on things from the company perspective – what advice would you give to workers or potential candidates?

It really is candidate driven market right now like no other time in history, so it is a great time to consider making a move. We work with a lot of people who are working currently and generally content in their roles but can “put feelers out” confidentially by having us keep them in mind for certain opportunities. This works best when the employee has a good idea of what he wants, so another piece of advice would be to think about career goals, company preferences, personal strengths/weaknesses, desired locations, tradeoffs, etc. so that when that “dream job” is presented, there’s no delay.

Josh Hale has been collaborating with companies to identify, engage, and hire top performers as a professional “headhunter” and human capital consultant since the early 2000’s. He’s focused exclusively on the thermal processing industry since acquiring International Search Partners in 2015. ISP was originally founded in 1998 and is the only search and placement firm to specialize exclusively in heat treat.

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