biggest hiring challenges renewable energy

How to Overcome the Biggest Hiring Challenges in Renewable Energy in 2020 and Beyond

Introduction

The biggest hiring challenges: While this article focuses on the Renewable / Clean Energy industry, where you’ll find plenty of ideas, suggestions and solutions for hiring more top people even if you’re part of a different, growing industry.

Overcoming the biggest hiring challenges in Renewable Energy (and any other growth industry) must be addressed differently when demand for talent exceeds the supply. 

In this article I’ll touch on some of the more common obstacles in Renewable Energy hiring and discuss several proven solutions to raising the talent bar by hiring more top people. Many of these ideas and approaches have been uncovered during the past 28 years I have been involved with certifying and coaching recruiting teams in Performance-based Hiring. My work has touched many, many of the more mature industries which have also struggled to find enough good people to meet their company’s growth needs.

Read on to find out more about the ideas you can use in 2020 and beyond to help you find, attract, and hire more top clean energy talent and solve some of your biggest hiring challenges.

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Biggest Hiring Challenges - Renewable Energy Industry

The growth of Renewable Energy as a major supplier of electricity certainly faces some of the biggest recruitment challenges organizations face when they’re part of any growth market sector where everyone competes for a limited supply of qualified talent.

Here’s a summary of Renewable Energy market predictions that will drive this prolonged war for top talent.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that “renewable energy will be the fastest-growing source of electricity generation in 2020. They expect the electric power sector will add 23.2 gigawatts (GW) of new wind capacity and 12.9 GW of utility-scale solar capacity in 2020.”

They continued by saying, "Electricity generation from renewable energy sources rises from 17% in 2019 to 20% in 2020 and to 22% in 2021. The increase in the share from renewables is the result of expected additions to wind and solar generating capacity."

At the time this article’s publication, much of the 2020 and near term predictions for renewable clean energy forecasts have been slightly downgraded due to COVID-19, however the long-term steady and consistent growth for the industry remains optimistic.

Solving the Skills Gap and Leveraging Transferable Skills

Solving some of the biggest hiring challenges involves finding ways of meeting skills gaps. The starting point is first understanding the gap and what the causal effects on recruiting and hiring are.

Obviously when demand exceeds talent, you have a gap in available skills. This has happened in many aspects of the broader energy industry and it becomes even more acute in the Renewable Energy sector. This is largely due to new jobs often requiring the application of skill and knowledge in new ways. This applies to Engineering, IT, and Field Operations.

Examples of Renewable Energy Transferable Skills

For example, until a few years ago the job of Wind Turbine Technician didn’t exist. Similarly, Engineers in the Energy industry were mostly working in the more traditional oil and gas, chemical and petrochemical sectors of the industry. Renewable Energy companies are now competing with this more mature side of the Energy market for these Engineers. And these Engineers will be applying their knowledge and skills in new ways. That being said, there are opportunities for leveraging these existing skills to quickly ramp up within the Renewable Energy market sector as you’ll see during the discussion below.

The advent on The Internet of Things (IOT), plays a pivotal role in today’s technology as the instrumentation and related devices involved to gather important data provides actionable information faster than ever before. Enter competition for Software Engineers. You are now competing with other market sectors outside of the Renewable Energy sector for the precious few professionals in this profession.

A significant part of developing a workable solution for the skills gap is to plan for the future in terms of the most likely types of talent you will need and where you will need them geographically. This must be done for both exempt and non-exempt jobs.

Begin by assessing which jobs will be the easiest to transfer their skills into the Renewable Energy market. Among those include accounting/ finance roles, project managers, instrument technicians from other sectors, and software engineers now working in big data and cloud computing.

This includes some “floating skills” transferring from offshore oil rigs to offshore wind farms. 

High voltage skills from other industries such as pipeline transmission and distribution and some manufacturing operations will lend themselves to being transferrable.

Health and Safety professionals should be able to quickly ramp up from many industries such as construction, processing industries within the energy sectors will be transferable to renewables.

Instrumentation engineers and technicians from the oil, gas, chemical and petrochemical industries are accustomed to working on very sophisticated and advanced instruments and would not take long to successfully make the transition.

Transferable Skill Solutions

Employers should be prepared to find ways to look for common knowledge as well as those areas that are peculiar to the renewable market. Then find ways to supply the cross training necessary either with internal or external training. Often partnerships with respected technical schools and universities will provide ways to accomplish that.

This can include apprenticeships, and internships, and more formal training which can be combined with utilization of technical schools and universities and supplemented by internal training programs.

It’s highly likely that most employers will find themselves with limited resources sufficient and adequately utilize all these resources. That will especially be true for smaller companies relatively new to the Renewable Energy market. When that happens, companies with limited resources will be forced to compete in the open market for new talent both inside and outside the Renewable Energy market sectors.

Attracting the Right Talent Including Diverse Talent

Given the above anticipated market growth and subsequent talent shortage, the most successful of Renewable Energy companies will need to be able to attract top talent and it will most difficult going into the open job market. This will be among the biggest hiring challenges to be dealt with.

This means have an agile recruiting and hiring process and a solid company reputation (see the section below).

Expand the Talent Pool Using Performance-based Job Descriptions

Let’s begin by looking at how you can expand the available talent pool. The most effective way of doing that means starting at a different place when creating your recruiting specification. You do that by focusing on successful job outcomes vs. defining the person. This means developing a performance-based job description which clearly defines what the person needs to DO turn in above average job performance.

This is different from defining a person’s education and skills as the job description used for recruiting. By first defining successful on-the-job performance you will by default expand the talent pool because you will frequently find people who are top performers who may have a different set of skills and backgrounds from narrowly defining the person. This is especially important to Renewable Energy recruiting when many jobs are new or slightly different from past Energy industry hiring needs.

This also provides an opportunity for being more inclusive of attracting and hiring a more diverse workforce. Ask Bradford Consulting about the Littler Report created by the top US labor attorney based on his extensive review of how the performance-based hiring approach reduces bias, opens up the candidate pools, meets critical EEOC requirements and has opened up opportunities to more diverse candidates.

Create Your Ideal Candidate Persona

Next, develop your ideal candidate persona which is much like how your marketing colleagues define their ideal customer. This requires a 360-degree view of the ideal candidate to include who might also know the person you seek and that can take you into a more productive and robust sourcing strategy.

The next part of your sourcing strategy should be creation of an EVP or employee value proposition. This includes ‘why a top person would want your job’ as compared to other similar competing career opportunities. Your EVP will become the foundation for all recruitment messaging, both verbal and written. This includes job posts, emails, and LinkedIn In-mails.

Almost all employer job posts, and written recruitment messages are horribly boring and ineffective! With a little effort you’ll be able to quickly gain a competitive edge by incorporating a well-crafted EVP. This by default tends to have uninterested and unqualified people self-opt out of your recruiting while at the same time create interest with those with whom you’d like to connect.

Improve Candidate Engagement

Taking these steps will expand your available talent pool and convince more top people to engage with you and see your job as a career opportunity. This makes it more likely to get offer acceptances and if done correctly, will help bridge thorny compensation negotiations.

The final steps involve using some specific interviewing methods to recruit and close top people that will be covered in a separate article. See how Bradford Consulting can help section below for details.

Managing Your Company Reputation

This is a big topic and more involved and goes beyond the scope of this article. However, I’ll cover some of the most important aspects of this topic to at least get them on the table for consideration…and say a comment about each one.

Clear Company Values
What does your company stand for outside of its products and services? Include these top values in your career website section. This needs to move from an overarching company branding to career and job branding. Otherwise it will not be clear how your career and jobs impact them personally. Building a clear company value picture will also allow you to better understand your company culture in ways to best articulate it. From recruiting top talent to improving employee satisfaction, it’s the backbone of a happy workforce. Organizations that tend to have strong, positive corporate cultures helps employees feel and perform their best at work. I’ll cover this top in more detail in a future article.
Career Website Section

Have a clear navigation link at the top and bottom of your website so interested candidates can quickly find career and job information. They will typically be interested in two things first. What jobs do you have open and what is it like to work there? From that, they quickly decided IF they want to pursue career opportunities with your company. This is where you incorporate the elements from your EVP to become the foundation of your recruiting message. This should include an abbreviated job application process, much different from most company career websites. Ask me for details.

Job Description Equals the Real Job

This is a big one and is the cause for why studies show as much as 33% of new hires become dissatisfied and leave within the first six months. And based on my personal anecdotal observations another third leaves in the next 12 months. A very big underlying reason for this quick job dissatisfaction can be summed up as: “this isn’t the job I was hired to do!” Or “this job isn’t what I thought it was!” The key to preventing this from happening must begin by using a performance-based hiring job description as outlined above. This defines the real job in terms of job performance output. Using this in combination with an EVP and the right interview and assessment will alleviate most of this problem. Ask me about the two question, one technique interview approach to dig deep into candidate performance assessment that every member of the interview team can quickly learn to use.

Glassdoor

This website has become the de facto standard place to read about a company’s reputation. Check this often and work within the confines of their policy to carefully explain what you do, your culture and most importantly work with some of your top employees to have them post ‘why they love to work at your company’ comments. Next, check your competitors and other preferred employers outside the Energy industry to see ‘why’ they have a good reputation. Then use that insight to become an even better place to work.

FAQ

Some top employers have a dedicated part of their career’s website to answering some of the most common questions inquiring candidate minds want to know. This can include written testimonials from employees as well as a ‘day-in-the-life’ of employees across some of your most critical job skill areas.

I’ve just scratched the surface on this topic, but if you pay attention to the above items, you’ll have a great start on creating and maintaining a healthy company reputation.

Avoiding Biggest Hiring Challenges by Retaining Top Talent

Retaining your top employees can be among your biggest hiring challenges and begins during the recruiting and closing of your job offer…and is built on the foundation of a performance-based job description. As discussed above, a performance-based job description by default provides the success factors required for the job. By making the job clear to the new employee you get a jump-start on employee satisfaction before the first day on the job.

Top employees want to have interesting jobs where they feel they’re making an important contribution to the company’s success. This is where having the right EVP in your recruiting process can make a difference. When this is part of the recruitment process you will be communicating that from day one of your discussions with each new employee. Of course, this had better be true and honest.

Use a Proactive Onboarding Process

You should have a proactive onboarding process that begins the day the person accepts your job offer and smoothly transitions to the first day of employment. This means having specific contact points between job acceptance and reporting for work. Begin the integration before they report. This also helps spot any ‘buyers’ remorse’ or susceptibility to counter offers from their current employer.

Paint a Picture of Their Career Future

Remember top people also want to learn and they want to see their career progress and grow. Provide internal and external opportunities for both these things. When you put this in place, you can include this in your initial recruitment process which will help attract the absolute best people.

Hiring Managers should keep in mind these three words: Do, Learn, and Become. This means providing meaningful work for the person to DO; opportunities for the person to LEARN and providing a vision for what the person can BECOME as they progress through their career.

Ease the Compensation Competition

Anytime you have a market gap in skills and a shortage of talent, you will by default have an escalating compensation battle on your hands. There never seems to be enough money in the payroll budget! While you will have to pay competitively with wages, salaries and benefits, you will find it easier to win most of these battles if you remember the above Do, Learn and Become and be sure to incorporate that into the opportunities provided to your top talent. When your top people are satisfied in these three areas, they become much less susceptible to poaching by your competitors.

How Bradford Consulting Can Help

My intent in the above article is to provide some insight into my understanding of the critically important need to hire more top talent and provide solution to the biggest hiring challenges  which will allow your company to be among the best in your industry.

A Mutual Selective Decision Process

It’s important to know that I’m a solo consultant with 40 years of experience that spans across multiple industries to include dedicated time spent in the Energy industry. For the past 28 years, part of my consulting has been to hiring teams in these many industries which provides insights into the best-practices in hiring that can be transferred into the Renewable Energy recruitment process.

Incorporating a Multi-Industry Best-Practices Model

During my work with Performance-based Hiring I have certified over 2,000 recruiters in this methodology which has required me to review and analyze real work product (actual real time recruiting activities) and then coach these recruiters and their Talent Acquisition Leaders to become certified.

Creating a Unique Customized Solution for You

I can customize what I do based on client need. It is important to know that I do not accept every opportunity that comes my way. For us to work together it must be mutually beneficial and cost effective for my clients where a clear ROI can be realized.

My work can include one or a combination of the following:

  • Retained and Contingent Search
  • Blended Search (ask me for details)
  • Training and certification in Performance-based Hiring
  • Recruitment Audits of current staff and/or process.
  • Improvement in challenges in selection processes to include more accurate candidate assessment.
  • Help in creating your Performance-based job descriptions (I’ll do one for free)
  • Crafting a more marketing-based EVP for recruitment messaging.
How to Explore Together as a Next Step

A good place to start is for us to have a preliminary phone discussion so you can ask questions and better understand what I do, and I can learn more about your hiring challenges. This is not a sales pitch in disguise but can be a real work session where we both develop into a deeper understanding if it would be mutually beneficial for us to work together.

Click the button below and let’s find a time for a discussion.

About the Author

Carl Bradford's background includes 30+ years as an HR Director, Executive Search Professional, Trainer for 1000+ recruiters and an expert in Performance-based Hiring methods. Carl has certified recruiters in this method since 1999.