Building a Dependable Talent Pipeline in the Semiconductor Industry

Building a dependable talent pipeline in the semiconductor industry can be a constant struggle. Currently, a top obstacle in the industry is that more and more engineers are leaving mid-contract. Others stay the course yet fall short of your standards (or their own). To yield the results you’re looking for, you want to build a talent acquisition strategy that helps you overcome these struggles and the hurdles to come.

So why are field service engineers quitting early? Why does your company struggle to find talented team members who complement your mission? Your choice of semiconductor contracting partner could be the answer. Here are some of the qualities that make a great fit to ensure you build a dependable talent pipeline.

The Dynamic Realities of Semiconductor Contractor Management

Does it feel like you go through a lot of contractors? Don’t worry—it’s not just you. Workforce volatility is par for course in high-skill, high-stress fields. The semiconductor world is no different.

A study by the Harvard Business Review found that employees between 30 and 45 years old resigned on average 20% more between 2020 and 2021—with the top two industries experiencing this being healthcare and tech. At Insight Global, we’ve heard hiring managers in the industry express that as many as 60% of their contractors have quit from previous partners.

Retention hiccups might be no surprise. In-demand contract workers have plenty of options outside your company. If you—and your contracting partner—aren’t keeping them satisfied, countless other opportunities await. Retention starts at onboarding.

What does that all add up to? Something has to change, and it starts with your strategy of working with a contracting partner.

3 Things to Look for in a Staffing Partner in the Semiconductor Industry

Despite the stats around turnover, you don’t have to settle for an endless stream of candidate replacements. But you will have to rethink your approach to your semiconductor contracting partnerships. Keep an eye out for these must-have qualities in a partner:

1. Innovative—and Targeted—Sourcing Approaches

The right staffing partner will know how to source the right candidates for an industry that doesn’t exist yet. A partner must have a deep understanding of the current obstacles and help think of creative and innovative solutions to these obstacles. An ideal staffing partner with be able to provide quality AND quantity. Often, a staffing partner can only provide one or other, leaving your organization with a deficit.

Creating a well-rounded, flexible workforce that survives your industry’s ups and downs is the goal—but it takes hard work.

Be transparent with your staffing partner. By knowing what skills to look for, a partner can optimize your hiring workflows and minimize wasted effort. Set a bar and don’t settle for less. But also hear out their ideas for who might make a great contractor. This should be a relationship, not a simple transaction.

Reskilling and upskilling are key in this equation. There are adjacent skills and industries, such as aerospace and military, that can be brought into the semiconductor world. But your staffing partner needs to be targeted in knowing where to look, what prior experience is transferrable, and what skills to screen for. This requires a level of attention to detail for each candidate, as well as a large staffing network to get the number of candidates needed to staff a fab.

Finding contractors with aerospace or military experience might improve your odds of landing future federal contracts. Hiring someone who performs well under pressure—even if they’re still working on their other strengths—might give your team the bump it needs to hit deadlines faster. If your staffing partner doesn’t help you find candidates that accelerate your growth, it’s probably time for a new partner.

2. A Culture They Won’t Quit

Workforce skill matters, but you also have to look at the bigger picture. If you can’t leverage your contractors’ strengths, you’re back to square one.

This problem is way bigger than training. It’s really about culture.

The solution? Adopt a more cohesive, end-to-end outlook on organizational culture, starting with your staffing agency–they should lead by example. What does your staffing partner’s company culture look like?

Be sure to consider some of these culture and employee experience factors:

  • Engineering education doesn’t always prepare people for broader, mission-oriented roles. You’ll need to provide explicit onboarding geared not only toward specific skills but also workflows. Be sure your staffing partner offers managed services to support onboarding and managing teams entirely.
  • Field service engineers enjoy a lot of autonomy. This isn’t always conducive to team building. Yes, group chats, learning circles, Trello music shares, and Zoom games can bring distributed workforces together, but they can’t do it alone. If you are hiring contractors, it’s a huge benefit to have a managed service offering with partners that know how to keep a team motivated and connected to the mission. Looking for direct placement? Be sure to consult with a culture team to know how to keep an autonomous worker engaged!
  • Who’s out there on the front line engaging with your clients? It’s often a contract engineer. Whether they’re at a trade show or making a service call, they need soft skills to represent your company—and forge longer-lasting ties. Culture trickles down – a satisfied employee is more likely to have satisfactory interactions with your clients.
  • Prioritize effective diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies. Companies with more diversity see more innovation, higher retention, and increased profitability. Be sure your staffing partner can answer to how they approach hiring with DEI in mind, as well as how DEI is a part of their people management.

Workplace culture means something different to everyone. But building an accommodating environment is smart no matter how you go about it. Whether you focus on knowing your people or psychological safety, you must be authentic and earnest. Putting people first is a must. Your staffing partner can help you achieve this ideal by following up with you and your consultants—sort of like a good relationship coach.

Establishing common ground with candidates starts long before the first interview. Find a staffing partner that specializes in people-first culture, and you’ll build a stronger, more diverse culture of your own. Bonus points if your agency can provide onboarding and training to ease the transition.

What makes cultural nuance and human-oriented sensitivity such must-haves? In short, people who match your ethos are more retainable. About 77 percent of candidates consider organizational culture when choosing employers. Choosing a staffing partner that helps with acclimatization makes it easier to give candidates the right impression—that you’re worthy of their skills. In the current competitive, inflationary market, you can’t overlook employment compatibility.

3. Follow Through With Your Workforce

We’ve hinted at it already, but often times, one of the most important things to look for in a staffing partner is an option for managed services. One way to increase retention is to have a partner who manages your contractors for the entirety of the project. From sourcing, to screening, onboarding, and management, this creates a true partnership centered around the success of your teams.

Be sure to partner with some who specialized in building and managing teams designed to help you grow. All too often, a staffing agency will not only place people who aren’t right for the job, but they’ll also leave you to manage everything else on your own. Even if it’s a single placement, staffing partners might not follow up with that placement to see how both the manager and new employee are each doing. In the semiconductor industry, scalable and sustainable success will require more of a true partnership, end-to-end.

A strong managed services company prioritizes helping you solve problems, tackle projects, and embrace any challenge. The benefit here is the time invested in getting to know you and your company’s unique needs, circumstances, goals, and perspective.

When it comes to building teams, it’s all about bringing the right people together and empowering them to perform at their best. Look for a staffing partner who welcomes any challenge. Even the messy, intricate, often daunting ones. You need the depth of expertise paired with tenacity to move forward in this industry.

Get the Support (and Candidates) You Need

Your staffing partner should also deliver the perspective that helps you find the right awesome people. Look for a staffing agency that understands what makes engineering teams effective, how to get candidates to revealing their true strengths, and how to ensure you appeal to contractors. They should be able to recognize how companies and teams operate on a higher level. If they appreciate the greater whole, they’ll deliver talent that paints a more harmonious picture.

The semiconductor industry’s complexities are no joke—we get it. At the same time, you can take actionable steps to improve your teams–but you don’t have to do it alone. Cultivating a better workforce is the first step. But your talent pipelines are the foundation for the journey. Ready to build a competitive, sustainable talent system? Start by talking to us.

Whether you’ve got an ongoing candidate shortage, need staffing for a big project, or simply want help writing more successful job descriptions, we can help.

Let Us Know How We Can Help

Whether it’s a single placement or a team of semiconductor employees, we have staffing solutions for you. Fill out the form below to let us know your needs. Questions? Call us toll-free: 855-485-8853