Recruiting for Tomorrow's Automotive Industry: 7 Tips from Volvo Cars Senior Recruiter

Recruiting for Tomorrow's Automotive Industry: 7 Tips from Volvo Cars Senior Recruiter

In the rapidly evolving automotive industry, staying ahead means understanding the evolving landscape of skills and talent acquisition. Martin Ryvola, a seasoned Senior Recruiter at Volvo Cars, provides valuable insights into the essential strategies needed to succeed in tomorrow's automotive workforce.In this article, we delve into seven tips from Martin, offering a strategic approach to recruiting for the automotive industry's future. 

From identifying talent to fostering diversity and inclusion, each tip offers actionable advice to navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Read on to explore these invaluable insights, gleaned from Martin's wealth of experience and expertise in the field.

1. Consider Essential Skills for Tomorrow

As the automotive industry hurtles toward a future defined by innovation and technological advancement, the landscape of skills required for success is undergoing a seismic shift. 

Referring to the pivotal skills essential for thriving in tomorrow's automotive sector, Martin notes that beyond the indispensable technical proficiencies, adaptability and flexibility are becoming skills of paramount importance. In an industry characterized by relentless evolution, the ability to swiftly adapt to changing circumstances is indispensable. 

“So I do believe basically that besides the technical skills, it's the flexibility and some kind of adaptability  - and it's something maybe less tangible and basically a personal trait - that should be at the core of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in general and in automotive in particular,” Martin asserts. 

As the industry contends with fierce competition and pervasive ambiguity, the capacity to pivot strategies and embrace novel approaches becomes a linchpin for success.

Another cornerstone skill emerging in the crucible of intense competition and perpetual flux is that of innovative thinking. In the conditions of fierce competition and an ever-changing environment, Martin underscores the imperative of generating ideas that can be transformed into product improvement or development. But, according to him, what's even more important is to make sure those ideas withstand the test of time. Within this dynamic environment, the capacity to ideate and execute transformative concepts is indispensable for driving progress and maintaining a competitive edge.

Lastly, with the burgeoning influence of software engineering in the automotive sphere, technical proficiency in software engineering assumes heightened significance. Martin emphasizes that technical competencies extend beyond traditional realms, encompassing facets such as safety, performance, and user experience. 

“These skills creep down to aspects which are not solely connected to autonomous driving, but to safety, performance and the overall user experience behind the wheel,” he notes. In this era of digital transformation, proficiency in software engineering is a linchpin for driving innovation and delivering unparalleled user experiences.

In conclusion, as the automotive industry moves towards an era defined by innovation and technological advancement, the skills landscape is undergoing a profound metamorphosis. Flexibility, innovative thinking, and technical proficiency in software engineering are poised to emerge as the defining attributes of tomorrow's automotive workforce. By embracing these transformative skills, OEMs can navigate the complexities of the automotive landscape with confidence and chart a course toward sustained success.

2. Identify the Right People

The interview process stands as a pivotal juncture in identifying the ideal candidate, requiring a meticulous approach tailored to each individual. To secure talent with the requisite skills, a robust competency-based interview process is imperative. This entails tailored assessments that gauge both technical proficiency and behavioral aptitude. 

Particularly when interviewing engineers, the involvement of hiring managers or software engineers is indispensable, ensuring candidates are presented with pertinent questions that accurately assess their capabilities. The efficacy of the selection process hinges on the seniority and expertise of those conducting interviews, as well as their adeptness at evaluating competencies through aptitude tests. 

While profiling and prior experience hold significance, Martin emphasizes the value of casting a wide net beyond traditional automotive spheres.

“Those could be, of course, not just people who are working in the car manufacturing environment, but also those who are working outside of it. For instance, people working in the food manufacturing industry. The companies within this industry have different processes, high standardization and scrutiny levels. Therefore they could have a different outlook on things and improvements,” Martin notes. 

According to him, these days the fact of having a different profile doesn’t necessarily get candidates outside of the process. Because the work is now highly project-based, many of the Volvo Cars employees have been with the company for many years, allowing for horizontal changes. Thus, changing jobs in a certain period of time isn't necessarily indicative of job hopping.  In any case, according to Martin, it's always very relevant to ask the candidate why they left their job at a certain point.

Summing up, Martin underscores the importance of diligent preparation and meticulous organization in the interview process, affirming that meticulous attention to detail ensures that Volvo hires individuals with the right competencies, thereby fostering a workforce primed for success.

3. Attract Top Talent 

The strategies for attracting talent can be manifold, each playing a crucial role in the recruitment process. 

For Martin Ryvola, a key strategy often underestimated by companies is establishing a presence in academia, tapping into the talent nurtured in technical universities and educational institutions. Understanding the talent landscape before job selection is vital for companies genuinely interested in securing quality candidates

Additionally, Martin underscores the importance of implementing a comprehensive development program within the company, providing a structured environment for talent to grow and develop niche skills. 

“You can have the best people sitting in the classrooms and then if you don't have the ladder - which is the program -  you don’t know where people are going to develop those niche skills. You would probably lose them anyway. So it's important to have a well-tailored, structural program or an environment where people could grow,” he notes.

According to Martin, collaborative efforts with vocational schools, as observed in Slovakia, also offer promising avenues for talent acquisition, fostering a sense of pride and belonging among local communities. Due to this coherent program locals get the chance to prepare themselves for real work at Volvo. This, according to Martin, leads to the “worthiness of actually staying where you were born and where you graduated” as people get relevant jobs and conditions. 

Another way to access a pool of top talent is through internships. Martin points out that Scandinavian companies, renowned for their consultative approach, have a rich tradition of recruiting individuals based on their capabilities to execute tasks. As interns showcase their competence and proficiency, they often transition seamlessly into full-time roles within the company. This pragmatic approach not only facilitates talent acquisition but also ensures that candidates are evaluated based on their performance and potential contributions.

Another thing people/companies should consider when hiring talent is the curiosity of the potential candidates. “You can also pitch people who are more curious about things, those who are more involved into things outside of Academia as well. Maybe they're part of certain groups where they're initiating something,” Martin stresses. He finds it important for talent to show initiative. 

Lastly, as a means of attracting talent, Martin points out the possibility of using AI and pre-tailored messages. However, according to him, it all comes down to the work of individuals and how you approach talent, the style you choose and how it works. 

“It’s important to be able to deliver on the things that you promise to people. Of course, it helps greatly if you have a company that can offer something else that the other company can't at the moment. For instance, we are currently building a new factory here [in Košice]. So that could be interesting for people,” he concludes. 

In summary, attracting top talent requires a multifaceted approach, as highlighted by Martin Ryvola. Establishing a presence in academia, offering robust development programs and internships are crucial, alongside collaboration with vocational schools, as seen in Slovakia. Valuing candidates' curiosity and initiative is key, while leveraging AI can enhance recruitment efforts. Ultimately, authenticity and the ability to deliver on promises resonate most with prospective hires. Offering unique opportunities, like involvement in new projects such as the Košice factory, can be compelling draws for top talent seeking fulfilling careers.

4. Motivate by Big Picture

In the quest to attract top talent to the automotive industry, one key factor stands out: the tangible end result that companies offer. Martin underscores the profound impact of this big picture perspective, emphasizing how it fosters a strong affiliation with the brand. 

“Coming from software engineering myself, I think the cool thing about it is that you're working on something tangible. So at the end of the day, you will have a car that you will see on the street and into which you have some kind of input. When the experience will be rolling through the streets you can refer to it as something that you took part in and feel pride,” Martin notes. 

While the automotive industry differs from software engineering in its tangibility, Martin notes that it shares the same level of competitiveness and challenge. Ultimately, he views entering the automotive sector as an exciting pathway filled with opportunities to contribute to tangible products that leave a lasting impression on the world. With each car rolling down the street, there's a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that comes from knowing you played a part in its creation—a sentiment that transcends mere employment and becomes a source of pride.

5. Promote Right Values

In the realm of recruitment, aligning values with products can significantly ease the process. Volvo, renowned for its steadfast commitment to decarbonization, exemplifies this synergy by embodying the values it espouses. Surrounded by verdant landscapes and cycling paths, Volvo's offices serve as a tangible reflection of its environmental stewardship. Martin highlights the pivotal role of shared values in driving focus and cohesion within the organization. 

“Quite honestly, I think if you're not aligned with what the brand is doing then it's hard to get the focus. It's definitely one of the goals of Volvo to be carbon neutral by 2040. We're also aiming to have a carbon-neutral factory here in Slovakia, Košice. And so this of course is a factor that should unite people to strive for the same goal,” he notes. 

In an industry historically associated with environmental impact, transitioning towards greener practices not only mitigates harm but also imbues work with greater purpose. By embracing sustainability initiatives, automotive companies can offer prospective employees a compelling reason to choose their job and contribute to a meaningful cause.

6. Ensure Upskilling Opportunities 

In the rapidly evolving landscape of the automotive industry, upskilling and continuous learning emerge as crucial components for sustainable growth. 

Volvo exemplifies this commitment to professional development through its well-established system of in-plant academies, where employees receive comprehensive training to advance in their careers. This emphasis on skill enhancement also extends to the manufacturing sector, where personnel undergo specialized training within plants, facilitating seamless job transitions, like the one from a maintenance technician to highly sought-after maintenance engineers. 

“So, yes, there are in-plant academies and a lot of training and learning, a lot of processes to follow which are very specific to each automotive producer. It's a thing of decades and, of course, it changes depending on the requirements and the changes in the whole industry,”  Martin notes. 

He emphasizes that this dedication to upskilling is deeply ingrained in Scandinavian culture, ensuring that individuals have the resources and opportunities to expand their knowledge base. Moreover, Martin underscores the heightened importance of upskilling in light of increasing automation within the automotive sector and the potential job displacement it may entail. While acknowledging the inevitability of technological advancements, Martin reaffirms Volvo's commitment to valuing its workforce as the cornerstone of its operations. 

“This Market is already turbulent and unstable. So, of course, the threat of people losing their jobs is realistic, especially with regard to people who are working on making the cars. There's probably more investment into exactly automated AI-driven solutions,” he notes. 

Nevertheless, Martin stressed that Volvo is very keen on having people working in the factory as they are the heart of the factory. “Without the people, it's really hard to imagine also the brand representing the values that it has. Without people that would be a whole different story,” he emphasizes. 

Despite the potential for increased automation, Martin believes that human labour will remain indispensable in the automotive industry for the foreseeable future. However, he acknowledges the pragmatic concerns surrounding automation and underscores the importance of proactive measures to equip employees with the technical skills needed to thrive in an ever-evolving industry landscape.

7. Foster Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

DEI stands as fundamental pillars of success for any automotive enterprise, and Volvo exemplifies this commitment by maintaining an unbiased approach to all job applicants, irrespective of factors such as gender, age, or orientation. 

“We allow people to take the chances. So, for instance, here in Slovakia we have a very specific goal of having a 50/50 space between male and female workers in the factory. In Sweden, I can say that this projects very well: here's a very nice spread between the male and female workers,” he notes. 

The evolution of technology and factory environments has facilitated greater inclusivity, enabling individuals from all backgrounds to pursue careers in the automotive sector. Volvo actively encourages female participation through various initiatives, including campaigns showcasing women in factory roles. 

In this context, Martin highlights the diverse range of roles women occupy within automotive companies, spanning from operators and process engineers to software engineers.

“As most of modern organizations, we also have women in technical roles, leadership roles (we have recently opened our new Tech Hub in Krakow, Poland) in software engineering: there are still a few but you have a handful of women who want to make a change at tech level as well,” he stresses. 

Recognizing the myriad benefits of mixed teams, Volvo has implemented initiatives to educate managers and departments on ruling out unconscious bias during interviews. Moreover, Volvo's commitment to inclusivity extends to the language used in job advertisements, ensuring they remain free from any form of discrimination. 

By championing diversity and inclusion at every level, Volvo demonstrates its unwavering dedication to creating an equitable and welcoming workplace environment.

Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, the future of recruiting in the automotive industry demands a proactive and strategic approach. With insights from Martin, we've uncovered essential skills and strategies necessary for success in tomorrow's automotive workforce. From adaptability and innovative thinking to proficiency in software engineering, the landscape of required talents is evolving rapidly. Moreover, fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion is paramount for creating a thriving and inclusive workplace environment. As the automotive industry continues to innovate and transform, companies must adapt their recruitment strategies to attract and retain top talent. By implementing the tips outlined in this guide, automotive companies can position themselves for sustained success in an ever-changing industry landscape. Let us embrace these insights and pave the way for a brighter future in automotive recruitment.


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