I guess that the economy in our great state of Michigan has begun to turn around! How can I tell? You can listen to the news reports we hear on the radio and television, or to the speeches and sound bites coming from our elected officials. I prefer something more credible… I’m listening to what my customers are saying!
Don’t take me wrong… There are still peaks and valleys, but over the past 6-12 months there have been more consistent inquires asking about whether we have contacts for potential designers and engineers that are looking for work. For you, our customer, this can be both rewarding and challenging. So maybe that means we’re just getting back to business as usual here in Michigan after taking the brunt of the unemployment hit in the US over the past decade.
First, let’s talk about the reward side… If you’re hiring, it means business is growing. That’s great news! So how do you fill this need for qualified engineers and designers? I’d like to suggest you develop a consistent hiring plan that offers a degree of flexibility. Even in great times, it’s likely that we’re still faced with unpredictable hiring requirements, so you need flexibility.
Have you considered promoting from within? Many of my customers have employees who started in their shop and expressed the desire to advance. These folks come to you with a couple of great advantages; they know your business and products, they tend to be highly motivated and they might have even gotten a taste of working with your design processes and existing team.
Thanks to great marketing campaigns of graphic characters and monkeys, not to mention lots of Super Bowl exposure, most of us very familiar with the Internet Job Posting services like Monster and CareerBuilder. (Add links) But I’d like to give you a few other internet resources that might not be so obvious.
LinkedIn has a couple good groups that are worth both posting your positions as well as scanning job seekers. Check out these groups: (If you’re a LinkedIn member these links should open directly to the group for you.)
- SolidWorks Users of America
- Southeast Michigan SolidWorks Connections
- West Michigan SolidWorks Connections
- USA SolidWorks Job Connections
Another stealth resource is your local SolidWorks User Group. Here is a list of the volunteers in our area who run these organizations:
- Eastern Michigan – Dan Bovinich, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Central Michigan – Ryan Hudson, email@example.com
- West Michigan – Fred Egge, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Northern Indiana – Peggy Frantz, email@example.com
A couple of other groups you might want to consider are college or university interns, and a lessor known group that SolidWorks, DASI Solutions and the state of Michigan provided resources to help re-skill a lot of folks during the economic downturn are those who participated in the No Worker Left Behind program.
Last of all, hire great people; don’t get hung up thinking they need to come in ‘SolidWorks ready’. People with motivation and great skills that apply to your company can be taught how to use SolidWorks. How often to do you see an ad that requires a truck driver with “freightliner experience only need apply”?
So, what about the challenging side? Well, I’d ask you to look in the mirror and ask yourself, “How well am I using the technology I own today to make my job and our company more productive?” If you’re being honest with yourselves, you’re going to see some room for improvements. Does that offset the need for more staff? Maybe, maybe not… But the one thing we all know is, that if we keep doing the same things, we can expect the same results.
So, how can you find out how tech savvy your skills and design group actually is today? You could do an ‘A-Z’ strategic Value Assessment with DASI Solutions. Or maybe start something more internal, like a self-appraisal of the tools you currently are using and have your users do a quick self-assessment test online. You can contact me to get any of these options rolling.
If you’re not already using tools like Simulation, SolidWorks Composer and SolidWorks PDM, they can offer the opportunity to cut days and weeks out of your product design cycles. Not to mention thousands of dollars in labor, scrap and rework. Sometimes just a new approach to organization and standards can offer great upside rewards. I ‘grew up’ during the drawing board to CAD revolution. I took both approaches at one of my early employers. We applied CAD technology and at the same time took the opportunity to review our ‘best practices’ and how our processes were organized. The results? Six months design cycles taken down to two weeks. One common product line expanded to 4 different product lines. Part-time design resources reassigned to other departments and projects.
So the answer to “What is the challenging side?” would be to maximize your current resources. Technology has always offered great rewards for adopters. Sometimes those rewards are challenging. Whichever way you address your company’s growth, they should be VERY gratifying. Congratulations on your company’s success!