In the Quality & Life Sciences area, as with any other area in recruitment, there are constant fluctuations in the number of available candidates in certain skilled areas. At the minute, we are slap bang in the middle of a shortage of Quality Engineers.

Where are all the Quality Engineers?

This is not a problem that is quickly or easily solved unfortunately. You can’t do a course and immediately have the experience and knowledge required for many of these Quality Engineer roles. Therefore we have to look differently, think laterally, and think outside the box ………… basically cut the corners off the square and fit it into the round hole. It nearly comes to a stage where you are opening a lonely hearts advert… “Desperately seeking Quality Engineers!!!”

As a recruiter who specialises in Quality & Laboratory jobs, one thing that I have noticed is that candidates are too quick to ‘pigeonhole themselves’ based on the title used in the job description. I have seen number of examples where a candidate would say to me, ‘I’m a Validation Engineer so don’t think I’d be suited for a Quality Engineer role’.

Every company describes jobs in a different way

Candidates have to remember that each company will have a different way of categorizing and describing the positions they are looking to fill. This also includes the title of the job being advertised.  It may not be obvious immediately but if you look into the core skills of the Quality Engineer role, many can be filled by Validation Engineers, Manufacturing Engineers or Electrical Engineers. The role and the company can vary on what they categorise each of their roles in. One of the most important pieces of advice I could give any candidate searching for any jobs would be to read the role description, not just the job title.

Therefore all these roles that sit there with no applicants are as a result of the title turning all the candidates off the roles. Is it up to us, as consultants, to keep changing the titles to keep attracting candidates but it is also up to the candidate to have a full awareness of their skills and how transferable they are. Know your experience and background and know what areas these skills are transferable to. Don’t be pigeon holed by your current title. If you are a Quality Engineer, that doesn’t mean you should always go for Quality Engineer roles. Likewise, if you are a Mechanical Engineer you shouldn’t exclusively apply for roles with ‘Mechanical Engineer’ in the job title. Look at your qualification, your expertise, what areas you have built your knowledge in and then look at the job description of the roles out there. Match up your talent as opposed to matching your title.

There is a gap in supply and demand for Quality Engineers now, but will there be in the future?

Another area to address here is why and where do these gaps in skill set come from. Is it a lack of college courses or lack of interest in a certain area? In my opinion It is always difficult to predict where these gaps in the market are going to appear down the line when you are choosing your college path or career decision. Therefore it is never the best option, in my opinion, to choose your career path going on where the jobs are available when looking at college courses.

The jobs market is very cyclical. The candidate is always better served looking at what area he or she is interested in and sticking with this. Prospective students will look at the abundance of Quality Engineering roles at the minute and might think, ‘There’s plenty of jobs there. I’ll go for that.’ However, the majority of Engineering undergraduate courses take either 3 or 4 years to complete. It’s hard to look so far down the road so my advice is stick to what you want to do, rather than what you think you should do. Quality Engineers at the minute are rare and valuable. In the future it will be another area and then another area after that. At the minute I am looking for Quality Engineers but next time I write this it will be some other area.

So the next time you see an ad in the lonely hearts column looking for Quality Engineers, don’t just dismiss it after reading the title.

Cathal Ryan

Cathal is based in our Carlow office and specialises in the recruitment of Quality & Laboratory roles in the South East. If you are interested in a career in this area or require assistance with the recruitment of a role why not give him a call on 059 9139070 or connect with Cathal on LinkedIn.