Insights into the forces shaping our industry.

Industry Changes & Recruiting

Blog, Industry Commentary

We frequently write about the changes in the electrical industry. Those changes include the rapid infusion of technology, channel disruptions, disinter-mediation, entrants of new competitors and alternative business models. With the advent of LED, controls and sensors, the electrical industry is experiencing a rapid renaissance; replete with a dizzying array of disruptions and opportunities. As earnest as we are to keep abreast of the electrical industry changes, we are also participating in a changing environment in our own industry; recruiting. Those changes impact our clients as well:


Disinter-mediation. Recruiting has faced a litany of disinter-mediation attempts for roughly 60 years. It started with the fax machine and then job boards and RPO (recruitment process outsource) and the continual stream of ‘easy hiring’ approaches by technologists. Most companies dislike the cost of recruitment, yet the value of recruitment is that it is a person to person connection that delivers the ultimate results of a successful hiring process. Disinter-mediating that personal connection yields a lower batting average; which drives the need for more ‘at-bats’; i.e. applicant interactions.  We do not have an applicant model. We do not post jobs, use job boards or have a resume inhaler system. Our database has been carefully curated over 17 years of personal conversations.


Technology.  Technology has been rampant in the recruiting industry for over 20 years. Job boards like Monster, Dice or HotJobs were crafted with the concept of driving ‘applicants’ to the hiring authority or recruiter to provide a sustainable database of resumes. Testing protocols have also exploded, there are hundreds of internet testing regimens that can calibrate your potential candidate for personality, ego drive, intellect, honesty, cultural fit, emotional quotient, social intelligence, hunter vs farmer continuum, management ability, strategic thinking, leadership, etc. etc. etc. The vast majority of internet testing protocols are not calibrated or cross-tested within the population of the hiring company, and all of them are based on a correlative mathematical model where the predictability of accuracy is suspect. We have tried several notable test regimens and found none that we feel are of enough predictive value that we recommend our clients try them. Our strongest predictive attribute is our careful documentation of a history of successful growth in responsibilities or direct results of our presented candidates.


New Entrants.  With the rapid growth of new technologies, we’ve seen a large increase in new search firms entering the electrical industry. Semiconductor, tech and IT search firms are now routinely advertising themselves as ‘experts’ in LED lighting, controls, sensors, wire manufacturers, power distribution manufacturers, building automation and even factory automation applications (e.g. Rockwell distributors).  And then there’s the perennial urge for staffing firms to do higher level search. Most of our clients have a relationship with a staffing firm and they do well at what they do; i.e. temporary staffing for functional positions.  The nuance between a staffing firm and a professional placement firm is that staffing recruits and qualifies for ‘temporary’ employees. So cultural nuances, connections to the channel or customers or greater grasp of the industry at large aren’t a requirement to identify a temporary administrative or IT consultant. Staffing firms are applicant based and typically skill based (typing, CAD, C++, etc.); professional search firms are in the business of finding someone who is doing the exact role with a competitor and recruiting them to join your company. With new competitors there are challenges with connecting the dots; i.e. understanding the complexities of manufacturing and selling electrical products where the buying influences are very broad: construction trade, professional consultants, end-user influences, independent reps, wholesale distributors, ESCO’s and more. The difference between Graybar and Grainger is as challenging as grasping the difference between SquareD and S&C.  Tech and IT recruiters work with manufacturers of discreet components; typically sold to an electronics distributor or direct to an OEM. A staffing firm sees a manufacturer as a manufacturer. Our industry is baffling to both of them.


Professionalism. With new technologists and new search competitors the race to transactions has changed the landscape for our defined competition. We regularly get client feedback about remarkably low fees, ethical breaches and distressed search results of reviewing dozens of ‘resumes’ that are not qualified for the position. We have internal written rules of professionalism: Keep our client secrets, secret. NEVER recruit a placed candidate away from the client company, and maintain absolute confidentiality with every person we engage. Our brand identity as an industry expert is too valuable to be compromised by any singular transaction.


Alternative business models. This is the most interesting change we see. Recruiting has been changing as the source of candidates has changed. As both the millennial generation and tech industry has entered the workforce, recruiting practices have changed accordingly: voicemails are non-existent with millennials, email is spotty, office or home phone calls are largely disappearing, cell phones are the preferred communication tool; with texting as the optimal connection. Social media has grown, but LinkedIn is still the major social media site for pure recruitment. Facebook or Twitter are less effective as a recruitment tool, but still important in garnering a better image of that candidate’s life style.


While we have been recruiting Millennial aged candidates for the past several years, we do not employ a different strategy; other than we use texting more frequently. Egret’s typical candidate search is for mid-management to C-level positions. The millennial and tech business will grow considerably for us, though.


In short, we are active participants in the electrical industry; attending conferences and trade shows and having high level conversations with the leaders of the industry, daily. As we bring a unique perspective on the industry from our sideline position, we also have our own competitive industry changes impacting our process, contracts and technology. But every day, our business is talking to people and then distilling those conversations into trends in the industry. Many of our clients have been loyal for 10 years or more; we’ve helped over 500 people expand their careers and over 100 clients improve their talent.


In the near future, you will begin to see some of our own technology investments come to fruition that we hope you will find useful and, as always.. professional.