“This is now urgent! Our civil engineer is leaving the power plant construction site in Saudi Arabia for health reasons, so I need a new one now! Get me someone as soon as possible! What do you mean you need a staff requisition form first?”
This is more or less how a typical day at the office begins for us in the recruiting team. Then everything usually goes really quickly – because we know that the project managers are under pressure and have to promptly deliver the right candidate profiles to the impatient client. So we start searching straightaway based on the information about key skills we were able to briefly glean from a colleague in the technical department.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat
All we have to do is post the job advert on the company website and wait to see what happens, right? Wrong! First we take a look at Fichtner’s in-house database. If no suitable engineer’s profile is to be found there with the search parameters we have entered, we begin a direct search on platforms like LinkedIn or Xing. Job adverts are published as an additional accompanying measure, while Fichtner’s followers on social media are sent messages to inform them of the vacancy.
As a team, we identify more than a thousand people per month for different vacancies and then proceed to filter them and screen the remaining suitable candidates in initial phone or video interviews. This is down to the fact that Fichtner GmbH & Co. KG and all of our affiliated companies have been growing for several years in a row now, meaning that new colleagues are continually being sought all over the world. We usually have over 60 vacancies advertised at any one time, and a new recruitment order is generally placed straightaway for every position we fill. In 2019 alone, we managed to fill over 100 permanent positions. In doing so, we make use not only of the most renowned job portals in the German-speaking world like StepStone, Jobvector or the job board of the Association of German Engineers (VDI), but also many international job portals. Currently we have numerous jobs advertised not only in Germany, but also in Spain, Indonesia and in the MENA region.
Seek and ye shall find
Finding the right candidates for Fichtner is no easy task. Time and again, we seek experienced employees with highly specialized and sought-after expertise that only few people in the world possess in that particular combination. In practice, this may mean looking for a French-speaking SCADA expert with thirty years of professional experience. That is tantamount to searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. When the available fee and the assignment duration need to fit the bill as well, it can at times be more than challenging.
Especially when seeking suitable, internationally active project specialists, the assignment location is also a decisive factor. Finding an engineer willing to go to Mauritania for three years is one of the hardest tasks. It is much easier to find a candidate for a project in Afghanistan. For many international projects, we also need to consider the cultural and political situation in the relevant country.
Surprisingly, a position working for several years on a project in the Seychelles is also difficult to fill. You would think the applicants would jump at the chance to work in paradise. But it turns out that being there long-term simply gets too boring!
As for projects relating to electrification in Germany, the challenge lies in the fact that we are seeking exactly the same profiles as competing companies on the market. Just for fun, go to one of the major job websites and search for “permitting expert” in the vacancies. You will normally find at least a hundred job adverts matching this profile. If you then perform a direct search for suitable candidates, you can count on one hand how many there are. That is the most typical situation we face as recruiters when seeking new colleagues for Fichtner.
It is also where the hunt really gets under way!
We gather information and look for companies in the relevant sector who might be making staff cuts, try to see if we know of any candidates who might be willing to move, and look into network contacts or recommendations that might be of any help.
It is then all about writing to and calling potentially interesting candidates in order to win them over for Fichtner.
Marry in haste, repent at leisure
So it should come as no surprise that we also intensively recruit candidates from all over the globe for our Stuttgart offices. About 30 percent of the engineers we invite to interviews come from outside of Germany. It takes a lot of coordination work before the electrical engineer from South America or the scheduler from Iran is able to sit face-to-face at the same table with colleagues from the technical department and from recruiting. Sometimes we also go to the candidates. For example, we visit job and trade fairs several times a year or, as was recently the case, we fly abroad to take care of things like holding job interviews on location for our international offices. Our colleagues in the project needed our assistance, so I got to fly half way around the world to Jakarta in early 2020!
But all of those efforts literally pay off in the end because from year to year we are fortunately having to rely less and less on assistance from external service providers and headhunters. In 2019, we needed them for only 4% of all recruitments, meaning that our own in-house recruiting team saves the company several hundred thousand euros per year with its competent service.
We’re happy if you are!
Admittedly, it might sound really challenging to review more than a thousand applications a month, to win over the right candidates for the company and, at the same time, to meet the requirements of everyone involved. But the good thing is that it is really enjoyable, and it is a great feeling when it actually leads to you finding the perfect new Fichtner colleague so that the construction site in Saudi Arabia can proceed seamlessly. Then absolutely everyone is happy – the applicant, our colleagues and, of course, us in recruiting.
As one hunt ends, another begins – and who wouldn’t enjoy winning it?
By the way, if you know anyone who would suit us well, then get in touch: either personally in office no. 234, by email (email@example.com) or by phone on 0711 8995 1550. We pay a bonus to reward every employee referral that leads to a new employee being taken on.
This blog article was jointly written by Ms. Melanie Böttigheimer (Junior Recruiter), Mr. Hans Harald Brandel (Recruiter) and Mr. Thomas Agethen (Senior Recruiter), with the latter appearing as author of the article.