So much can happen and has happened in a year. Last year at this time, I was pretty nervous, excited, and very busy starting AP’s Engineering & Operations Division.
Prior to starting this brand new division, I had been recruiting in a well-established team that ran like clockwork; I took a huge leap of faith to start up something new. I would say it was from the ground up, but with AP’s solid reputation, fantastic leadership, and strong client base I had a significant start on this adventure. Although I had 16 years of recruiting experience, I was completely green when it came to engineering and operations.
I have learned an incredible amount in the past year, and now realize this is by far my favorite recruiting area! As I reflect back on the year, a few things come to mind.
Client’s showed amazing patience while I asked loads of questions, and I am grateful and blown away by their support. Many took a great amount of time out of their day to give me tours of their manufacturing floors. Seeing everything tie together with real products and issues is extremely helpful in learning the lingo, critical issues, and production process; tours, office visits, and delivering AP’s signature half-moon cookies allowed AP to develop even stronger relationships with new and existing clients.
Admittedly, like many I spoke with, I had some preconceived notions about engineering candidates upon starting this role. Of course, as with any industry, you have some people that fit that mold; however, the vast majority of candidates I (and now my team) have met are truly exceptional. I was surprised and appreciative to learn in my first few weeks that many candidates were willing to spend extra time with me during interviews to ensure I fully understood their roles and responsibilities.
Early on, most of the candidates I met with went above and beyond offering support in my new venture. Very rarely was I treated with unkindness after sharing I was just starting the division. Most candidates were excited for the opportunity to meet with a local recruiter to share their goals, strengths, and experience. In return, many were rewarded with a role matching what they were hoping for and I gained extremely valuable knowledge on the industry.
Walking into an engineering or quality networking event without any industry experience could be somewhat daunting. Thankfully, the local networking groups openly welcomed and connected me to their networks. These groups appear eager to make connections, help their colleagues, and stay up-to-date on the marketplace. I also had fantastic support from my previous HR networking groups, and was very fortunate to have a few HR colleagues who were willing to give me a shot.
As with any other type of recruiting, the market for engineering and operations is cyclical. The last quarter of the year was very busy with operations and production opportunities; however that slowed down significantly in January. This year’s first quarter has been dense in engineering opportunities, which were slower at the end of the year. We will continue to study hiring trends through our second year.
The Engineering & Operations Division has grown from just one person to now a strong team of three, and we are busier than ever. I couldn’t have made it this far without the amazing people I met, learned from, and placed this year. I’m very thankful and looking forward to a long career in engineering and operations recruiting!