Attracting the Top People in AM Requires a Top Answer to Why You’re in It


Is the skills gap the only thing hindering the development of the Additive Manufacturing Industry?

In part 2 of this 3-part series, we highlight another key factor which is slowing down the progress of the Additive Manufacturing industry, and how you can adapt your attraction and retention processes to be successful.

Part 2 – The Paradigm Shift

To quote a certain Jedi Master, internal and external stakeholders need to “unlearn what they have learnt” about conventional talent attraction, when it comes to hiring the best AM talent, and it’s critical to “focus on the why”. You need to understand why the best candidates want to leave their current job, why they’re able to be picky, and why they would (or wouldn’t) choose you and your company over your competitors. 

The most common reason why good candidates want to leave their current employer is lack of genuine “buy-in” and intent from the boardroom, so it’s really important for you to know exactly why you’re involved with additive manufacturing, or why you want to integrate additive manufacturing into your strategy. You might be working for the coolest company on the planet, with the strongest brand awareness and social media presence, but the best candidates in this space are looking for an idea they can really get behind. Being able to identify what you’re trying to achieve and why, and communicating that vision effectively, is key to succeeding in this complex landscape.

Strangely, these combined elements have not meant that we’ve been unable to find suitable candidates that exceed our partners’ expectations. It just means that there are a new set of challenges that need to be faced, which we see as a positive. It accentuates the fact that recruiters in this space cannot just submit candidates based purely on the detail that exists on their resume, or because they have 3D Printing mentioned as an interest on LinkedIn. Equally, posting a job description on a website and employing a recruiter to basically replicate that process for you, simply won’t work.

No candidate worth their salt wants to be called about their AM “dream job”, only to be told at interview stage that it’s with a company that uses a completely different technology to what they specialise in. Equally, ambitious companies won’t entertain the same 5 names repeatedly pulled from job boards by 3 different consutants who are just “having a go at AM recruitment”.

The screening process requires time, effort and painstaking attention to detail, and not just on the technical elements. Understanding the complexity of relocating a candidate and their family from one state to another, one country to another, and sometimes even one continent to another, is key. It’s fraught with complications, and managing all the relevant stakeholders to actually complete this kind of process is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

If you want to hire the best of the best, you need to have the best recruitment process, and that requires a complete paradigm shift.

Nobody’s saying you won’t make hires or find people through conventional methods, but it will take time and, of course, if you’re not spreading your net particularly wide, chances are you won’t be getting the best person for that job. When it comes to identifying and securing the best talent in the world, the search process requires as much innovation and attention to detail as you’d expect from your R&D teams. The good news is that over time, and much like any other industry, the AM recruitment market will shift its paradigm and work out more efficient attraction and retention processes. Like those other industries though, that development can only be accelerated if companies are prepared to look externally to consultants like The Barnes Group Advisors who have OEM level experience working with businesses across the AM supply chain to realise their overall AM strategy, and stay ahead of their competition.

Based on our experience, and feedback we’ve had from people who know a whole lot more about the technology than we do, there are 5 key elements to focus on when trying to recruit within this market, which we’ll break down in detail in the third and final section on this topic next week. Stay tuned!