Expert explains how to attract top talent in the renewable sector

by David Hunt. Published Mon 13 Oct 2014 14:59, Last updated: 2014-10-13
How to attract the best talent to renewables industry
How to attract the best talent to renewables industry

David Hunt is Managing Partner at Hyperion Executive Search, a firm which recruits exclusively in the renewable energy and cleantech sectors. David has also been the director of a multi-technology renewable energy installer, Vice-Chair of Onsite Renewables for the REA, and a member of PRASEG (Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group). He also sat on the Low Carbon Economy Board for the Liverpool City Region LEP.

Today he combines this experience with his 17 years in the executive recruitment sector and here explains how renewable energy companies can attract the best talent in the jobs' market.

We hear a great deal about the skills shortage and the ‘war for talent’ in the news, relating mainly to the engineering and scientific sectors. But it has long been known that the skill shortage is very much an issue in the renewable sector, from design engineers and installers to project managers, business developers and managers. We are after all a relatively young industry, and we’ve had a rocky ride over the last few years. We are certainly moving into a far more stable and mature phase, but that hasn’t always been the case.

Of course ALL companies will want an ‘off the shelf’ perfect candidate with perfect experience, just as well as that is what we do, help companies find and attract the top talent. Not everyone though can afford or attract the best talent in the sector. So what can you do to make sure your company has the talent it needs to thrive and grow? Here are my three top tips.

1. Make yourself attractive. The skill shortage means that demand for most roles exceeds the number of qualified candidates out there. It is important then that you make your company an attractive place to work. Company culture is always something we are asked about by candidates. For a start look after the employees you have, they are the guardians of your reputation in the market place. Be sure your package is as competitive as you can afford. Benchmark against your competitors. It’s not all about salary, even for sales people, but it is always a factor.

2. Sell yourself at all stages of the interview process. There is still an outdated view that candidates have to do all the selling, and companies do all of the ‘grilling’. Not if you want the best candidates, for them interviews are very much a two way process. The best candidates will have a choice of job opportunities, it is important to remember that. You need to attract them, engage with them, sell to them, and expect them to do the same in return. The best candidates will be able to answer your questions, and give examples of previous experience and success.

3. Transferable Skills. As a young industry we don’t have a big resource pool of experienced candidates; experienced specifically in renewables that is. But we do have access to a significantly larger pool of talent from related sectors. We have the ability to attract them too. Who wouldn’t want to move into a progressive industry of the future? A good gas design engineer can with not too much training become a good heat pump or biomass design engineer. A good project manager in construction will make a good project manager in renewables. A good sales person that knows how to sell on features and benefits can sell solar PV as well as he/she can sell most other products or services. It takes a little investment in training and development. But what is better, a great candidate with all the right attributes and skills but from another sector, or a poor candidate that happens to have a little renewable experience?

Remember it’s people that make a business, not business models, no matter how good the model without the right people you can’t execute your plan. Take heart, there are outstanding people out there in our industry, and plenty that would like to be in our industry.

You’ve just got to provide them with an opportunity to grow, an environment that is positive, and the ability to earn a reasonable wage. Without question those are the three things most candidates tell me that they need to see in a prospective employer.




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