Process engineers are in high demand around the globe. How can companies recruit these talented, in-demand professionals?
Process engineering used to be an engineering discipline that involved the design and control of chemical, physical, and/or biological processes. Today, process engineers are also project and team managers, and their skills are in demand in a huge range of industries. How do companies identify, recruit, and retain top process engineering talent?
What makes a great process engineer?
- Education: Process engineers usually begin with a bachelor’s degree in chemical, manufacturing, or industrial engineering. They often go on to attain a graduate degree in their field, and are well-educated in topics like organic chemistry, thermodynamics, process design, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, physics, and micro-scale processes.
- Software: Good process engineers are also trained in relevant software and computer skills like CAD, C++, and engineering software.
- Tools and processes: Process engineers also learn how to use relevant systems for vial handling, agitators, chromatographic scanners, and other devices in their field.
- Project management: Process engineers also need to study lean manufacturing principles, Continuous Improvement, and/or Six Sigma
- Licenses: In Europe, the FEANI license establishes a mutually recognizable framework for certification that allows engineers to practice outside of their country.
- Personal skills: Process engineers need to have excellent:
- Critical thinking and problem-solving skills: Process engineers need to be able to critically evaluate every step in a process, understanding, anticipating, and proactively problem-solving processes
- Communication skills: Problem-solving involves human processes as well, and process engineers need to be excellent communicators. They need to be able to listen attentively, and speak and write clearly.
- Leadership skills: Process engineers often need to lead a team, keeping them productive, motivated, and engaged.
- Creativity: The best solutions are often creative ones. Process engineers need to be able to view things from a wide range of perspectives, and consider new and creative solutions.
How to attract talented process engineers?
- Internships & traineeships: While there are many excellent positions available for junior and entry-level process engineers, developing robust internship programs allows companies to identify, train, and build relationships with talented process engineers while they are early in their careers. This can help companies get a head start on the competition for hiring talented engineering graduates.
- Offer engaging, meaningful problems: Process engineers are creative problem solvers, and are usually not particularly motivated by salary alone. Engage them with large, complex, challenging problems that inspire their imagination. Show them how their work can make a difference and connect it to more meaningful personal, professional, or social goals.
- Build great teams: Process engineers rely on teams and workplace networks to be effective and motivated at work. Experienced process engineers evaluate a company by the quality of their talent and their reputation as a workplace. Younger generations are particularly aware of the need for diversity in the workplace, and look for diverse teams and leadership. When you already have great talent on board, it’s easier to attract more great talent.
- Offer flexibility: Flexibility is critical in the modern workplace. A recent study showed that more than 25% of employees would take a pay cut in return for flexibility, and 80% would be more loyal to an employer with flexible work options. In many workplaces, process engineers are so encumbered by meetings and email that they are never given time to focus on the work that engages them. Allowing autonomy, schedule flexibility, and the ability to work offline and concentrate are critical in recruiting and retention of great process engineers.
- Don’t rely on perks & benefits: For a while, it was a trend to offer process engineers a lot of workplace perks like free food, gaming tables, gyms, child care, and other in-office benefits. In recent years, an excess of those kinds of perks has become a turn-off for many experienced process engineers. They suspect that these perks are offered in exchange for extremely long on-site work hours, a lack of real meaning and fulfilment in the job itself, and perhaps even misplaced priorities or inefficiencies in management. Process engineers don’t expect work to be a picnic, and want realistic employers who don’t treat it as one. Instead, focus on more tangible benefits like salary, substantial bonus, company car, pension, healthcare & insurances.
- Be honest: Recruitment is a two-way street, and process engineers are logical thinkers, trained to understand comprehensive systems and processes. While it’s natural to focus on how great your company is, be ready to acknowledge your weaknesses and drawbacks as well. Be open and transparent when answering questions, considering the company and workflows as a whole, and elicit feedback from your engineering candidates. Being honest, open, and willing to grow helps you recruit talented candidates with those same qualities.
- Discuss career progression. When interviewing a process engineer, ask what motivates them and where they would like to grow. Reducing turnover in any business means giving employees a reason to stay with you, and creating opportunities that align with their goals and personal vision. What career path can you offer your process engineers?
Where can you find the best process engineers?
Process engineers are in demand throughout the world, and they can be difficult to find. Fortunately, grapefrute has a huge talent network, and years of experience in the recruiting process and project engineers. We understand what great process engineers are looking for, and the challenges, technicalities, and rewards of this exciting field. Contact us to find top process engineering talent today, and fill these important roles fast.