How Energy Companies Can Attract (and Keep) the Best Tech Professionals

The digital revolution is transforming the way that many sectors work and the energy industry is on its way to becoming one of the biggest benefactors of this change. Although there’s no doubt it’s yet to be exploited to its full potential, new innovations and improved processes will see a far greater take-up as organizations realize the true capabilities of digital transformation.

As the talent pool for those with the relevant skills and experience to operate the systems involved is finite, the demand for tech professionals is huge across most industries. Indeed, it’s now reaching crisis point with many STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) positions left unfilled and a predicted global shortage of skilled workers by 2020. So, with the energy industry only using an estimated 5% of the data available to it, now is the time for companies to be looking closely at their recruitment strategy if they want to get a head start on their rivals.

Attracting the best technology talent into a new sector may be a challenge for some, especially as it may be a relatively new set of skills for your recruitment team to source. And with the skills shortage making competition for those experienced workers fierce, thinking about how to retain them will be just as important.

Hiring Principles

It can be intimidating, having to try and familiarize yourself with an increasing number of new platforms that you’re suddenly hiring people to operate. The energy industry has adopted enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, both custom-built and off the shelf, at a rapid pace, as companies aim to evaluate work processes and ensure streamlined operations. This often includes live data that can also be viewed by customers to analyze their own usage and spending.

Thankfully, while you may be unfamiliar with the technology (and positions) that you’re hiring workers for, a lot of the principles remain the same. People want to work for companies with a clear route of progression, so that they can develop a long-term vision for their career that involves remaining where they are. There are differences in terms of benefits; for example, most tech workers will expect to be able to spend some time working from home.

One bonus the energy industry has over other sectors recruiting STEM workers are the pressures to provide green solutions and making things cleaner. This will appeal to the more socially conscious employee, and the modern jobseeker places as much emphasis on an employer’s values and outlook as they do traditional offerings such as salary and prospects.

Exploiting Weak Spots

This forward-thinking approach can also be applied to where you source your talent from. One criticism often levelled at the technology sector is the homogeneousness of its workforce. Making sure you focus on attracting a wider range of applications will give you access to more potential hires than your rivals, putting you at an advantage.

Traditionally recruiters have, perhaps inadvertently, used masculine language during the hiring process. Asking for coding ninjas, warriors, and rock stars has resulted in fewer women applying and with a higher quit rate than men, female representation at all levels is subsequently poor.

Use diversity and inclusivity statements during the recruitment phase and focus on it through onboarding so that staff are aware of your progressive approach and buy into company culture. In terms of improving retention rates, the first six weeks are a vital stage of the employee timeline.

The transformation that the digital age has brought to the sector won’t slow down. The reliance on technology is increasing from back office operations all the way to the customer. At every level there’s a critical need for staff who can develop and maintain operations.

With demand on the rise and competition for that supply getting even more fierce, now is the time to be making your move to make sure you’re best positioned to attract new talent, as well as making sure your existing workforce wants to remain under your roof.

Zoe Morris is president of ERP staffing firm Washington Frank. Since graduating from the University of London, she has built up nearly 20 years of experience and expertise within the recruitment industry.