The electronic embedded systems sector of the engineering industry is a space that is seeing plenty of innovative development at the moment. A key element of this is the increase in cloud technology, which has meant more and more devices are storing and transmitting information to cloud-based systems, and therefore need to be compatible with the software required.
The lines between hardware and software are becoming more blurred as technology advances and electronic devices and components become more integrated with cloud systems. IT skills are required alongside electronic engineering knowledge in order to continue developing new and impactful products in our sector, which means that embedded electronics companies are in need of candidates with a new set of skills.
In this article, we discuss why electronics employers should hire candidates with an IT background, what to know before you hire, and the best ways to recruit IT candidates in the electronics industry.
The Need for IT Skills in Electronics Businesses
Over the last decade or so, cloud technology for data and system storage has been widely used across many industries. Electronic devices and components need to be compatible with the cloud, which means the majority of companies designing and manufacturing these products are looking for candidates with IT skills and experience for the first time.
Software and DevOps engineers are incredibly valuable employees for electronic embedded systems businesses to have in their teams at the moment, as more and more cloud technology emerges and integrates with all kinds of devices. Knowledge and experience with various cloud services, networking, cloud DevOps and cloud security are essential, meaning that many companies in the electronics sector are looking to hire new IT skills to expand their team’s abilities and keep their product relevant and compatible.
What to Know Before You Hire
One issue that we have seen our clients come up against when it comes to hiring new IT skills is that recruiting software and DevOps engineers is different to finding electronics engineers. If you’re adding these roles to your team for the first time, understanding what specific skills or experience to look out for and knowing what questions to ask in a job interview can be challenging.
Working with a specialist recruiter in your industry sector, like KO2, is a great idea if you’re looking to hire candidates with IT skills for the first time. Our industry experience means that we understand what is required of IT candidates stepping into a role with an electronics employer and can help you through the recruitment process to find a candidate who will be the right fit.
Something else to consider before you hire a candidate with IT skills is that salary expectations can be different to what typical engineering candidates would expect when applying for a role at an electronics company. Make sure to be aware of what your target candidates are being offered for other roles, and if you cannot match this then work on your employment offering and benefits to ensure you’re still a competitive employer.
While there are candidates with an electronics background and relevant IT skills on the market, they’re few and far between. So when it comes to sourcing the right kind of candidate for your business, the recruitment process may take longer and may require a lengthy onboarding process to get a new employee up to speed on what they need to know.
What typically happens in these recruitment scenarios is that candidates and employers meet in the middle when it comes to requirements from both sides. Employers will find a candidate with an interest and/or experience in both IT and electronics engineering and settle on an offer that works for the candidate. This flexible approach is the key to success when it comes to hiring IT skills in the electronics industry, as with limited potential candidates, companies need to be clear on what they need and what they can adapt to.
How to Recruit IT Candidates
If hiring candidates with IT skills is a new step for your electronics company then you should be aware that it will require a different recruitment approach. In this section, we’ll take you through the essential things you need to know when hiring for a software or DevOps role.
Where to Find IT Candidates
When you’re looking for engineering candidates with a niche skill set, traditional sourcing methods might not always yield the candidate pool you were hoping for. A well-crafted job ad shared on relevant engineering websites is a good start, but there are other places to look when it comes to sourcing IT candidates.
Social recruiting is becoming more and more common across a lot of industries, and when you’re looking for a candidate who specialises in something like IT for electronic devices, turning to social media platforms like LinkedIn can be a good way to find what you’re looking for. Sites like Twitter can also be useful when you’re searching for potential candidates talking about electronic IT work.
Alternatively, joining online communities where members talk about or share work relating to what your company does can also be a good place to find skilled IT candidates. Sourcing software developers on sites like GitHub has been common in the engineering industry for a while now, and you can copy this approach to finding candidates with the right IT skills on places like StackOverflow
Potential candidates that you find online should be approached with the intention of making a connection, instead of immediately pushing an offer for an interview. These people might not be actively looking or even considering a job change, so the best thing you can do is present a positive impression of your company and work towards getting them on board.
Along with active sourcing strategies, consider inbound recruitment methods as well which target IT candidates who might have an interest in working for your electronics company. Inbound recruitment involves creating a positive impression of your company as a place of work so that candidates are attracted to you and the work you do, helping you build a following of potential candidates who will be more likely to apply for roles when they open up.
If you’re looking for future employees who are interested in your area of work, make sure that you’re advertising the projects you do (where possible) and the opportunities that these offer employees. Your employer brand should be geared towards highlighting the experience that IT candidates could have as part of your business, which should lead to a reputation developing that attracts these target potential candidates who want to work for you.
How to Interview IT Candidates
Once you’ve established your strategy for sourcing IT candidates, you’ll need to develop an interview process which ensures the right kind of candidates get offered the role. As discussed above, this can be difficult if you lack experience hiring candidates from an IT background, as you may struggle to know what kinds of questions to ask or technical assessments to conduct.
As with any engineering interview, the first thing to clarify is what is required of the role. Decide on the skills and experience that are necessary for the ideal candidate, and be clear on which desirable traits or skills you can be flexible on. As we previously said, adaptability is key to hiring talented candidates who will be the right choice for your business in the long term.
The technical skills you’re hiring for may not currently exist within your team, which can make gauging a candidate’s suitability difficult as you won’t have someone who can determine their proficiency based on personal experience. This is another case where working with a specialist recruiter can be useful in designing the right kind of technical assessment for an IT candidate, although doing industry research yourself about a competitor’s interview processes can also be helpful.
Working for an electronics company as an IT professional presents plenty of new challenges, but some candidates may not be as familiar with the potential for innovation and experimentation that these kinds of roles offer. When you’re interviewing applicants, it’s important to acknowledge how this role will differ from typical IT jobs by highlighting the benefits and exciting projects on offer, which will attract and engage the kinds of candidates who will bring valuable skills and perspective to your business.
The key takeaway from this article should be that adaptability is the key to successfully recruiting software and DevOps engineers with the right IT skills for your business. Finding a candidate with an interest in both IT and electronics engineering should be the priority, and if you’re new to hiring these kinds of skills, working with a recruitment agency is a great choice to help find skilled IT candidates.
KO2 is a specialist recruitment partner in the electronic embedded systems sector that specialises in helping electronics businesses recruit IT professionals. Take a look at our client services or get in touch to speak directly to the team about what you’re looking for.