A Recruiter’s Guide to Finding Resilience Using a Fluid Mindset

20 May, 2021

By Sebastian Radtke, SCHLAGHECK+RADTKE (Germany)

Introduction:

To recruit a highly specialized Plant Engineering Manager for a plastics extrusion plant in the US, commissioned by a Munich-based technology company.

The Challenge:

Our assignment metaphorically mirrored a sea of opportunities overshadowed by continuous impediments. Here’s why:

Shallow talent pool. Although the scope of the role attracts an international figure, the first challenge of the assignment was the restricted candidate pool. There were hardly 50 candidates worldwide suitable for the position.

Big fish in a small pond. Even though the candidates sought were already experts in their field, the client looked for a highly specialized individual with the competency to perfectly extrude plates using the available resources within the company. In the first round of interviews, even the most experienced candidates were rejected due to insufficient experience with plate extrusion.

Fishing in the wrong pond with the wrong bait. Even after an extensive second round of sifting through experts, we realized that we had the wrong candidate target. There was a mismatch between the client’s expectations and our candidate pool due to misalignment of  communication.

Swimming against the odds. After all our efforts in looking for candidates in the German and European markets, we expanded our search net globally. China, Russia, South America and Asia were the targets for this type of talent. The US was completely ruled out because of our presumption that it would be impossible to find the right talent in that part of the world due to limited skills in this specific industry. Finally, we found candidates in Russia, China, and Malaysia after an intensive round of search on linkedIn. Recommendations, tips and references from former colleagues were also extremely helpful.

Ripple effects of the pandemic. The final challenge was convincing the candidates, who were expats, to move to the US in summer 2020 amidst the brunt of the pandemic and the Trump administration. Many candidates had real fears of making this big move in their careers due to prevailing uncertainities and travel restrictions.

Managing the task:

In the end, at our internal crisis management meeting, we came up with our final idea to rerun all the possibilities to look for candidates in the USA. From using the client’s networks to specialist forums on the internet based on the topic of plate co-extrusion of PVC, we did it all.

Finally, we found a candidate who lived only 4 hours away from the client’s factory in Mississippi. His qualifications and interests matched perfectly for the role. From there, the process took a positive spin and everything moved quickly. The candidate and client were extremely satisfied with our efforts.

In August 2020, after 8 months of searching, the position was finally filled – quite literally with the last stab at it.

Conclusion:

As mentioned earlier, recruiters are often presented with a sea full of opportunities, disappointed at times by troubled waters and it’s never an easy sail to the shore – through all this, our expertise is to catch the best fish in the sea. During times of crisis, maintaining a fluid and agile mindset, with all elements flowing together, help us achieve the most innovative results.