Extending the recruitment search creates new opportunities

By extending their recruitment search to other sectors, STEM organisations can increase their options considerably – and with it, their chances of finding the most suitable candidates

Close up of female infrastructure engineer wearing a hijab sorting data cables in cabinet

Summary

Broad range of backgrounds

Help with the hunt

Research highlights

Search Light Background

Key take-away

Employers stand a better chance of achieving their recruitment objectives if they look beyond their traditional talent pools

Innovation Light Background

Key statistic

36% of respondents would now consider a move to a different industry than the one they currently work in when searching for a new STEM role

Technology 01 Light Background

Summary

The steep escalation of demand for STEM expertise means that traditional methods of skills acquisition must be rethought. They don’t deliver results when there are evidently too few candidates with the exact qualifications and experience. As a result, across all of STEM’s sectors and sub-sectors, employers have now realised that they need to re-focus their approach to finding talent if they are to successfully recruit into key jobs

Three strategies for doing this are open to them:

  • To identify candidates whose skills match the requirements for a STEM role, but who do not already identify themselves as a STEM professional.
  • To seek-out applications from candidates whose careers have been outside of STEM sectors, but who want to change career course and enter a STEM profession.
  • Actively target ‘passive’ candidates also from outside traditional STEM professions, but with proven core competences on which STEM skills could be developed.

A further option that is available to STEM employers is to train early-career candidates themselves from scratch. This looks bound to result in a fortuitous meeting of minds between employers and potential new employees, because candidates are having similar ideas about switching their career directions between defined sectors. Increasingly, core competences are deemed transferable between different vertical sectors and professional roles.

Data Dark Background (1)

Broad range of backgrounds

Asked what their main area of study was before they began their STEM career, 30% of respondents said engineering, 27% technology and 20% science. Mathematics trailed by a significant margin, coming in with 7% (Table 12).

Others had studied a broad range of topics, from psychology and marketing to architecture and graphic design. This could indicate that the opportunities in STEM are attractive to candidates across the economy – possibly because investments in STEM businesses and industries have increased.

For example, in Germany, the MINT action plan (MINT – mathematics, IT, science, technology – is the German equivalent of STEM) was launched by the government in 2019 with a €55m investment. In the UK the government announced a multi-million-pound package of STEM investment in March 2020. And in 2021, the Japanese government announced plans to establish an $88bn university fund to promote Japan as a science and technology nation.

Changing industries also implies a change of career path and a change of professional specialism – both of which candidates acknowledge they would consider (or have done) – 8% and 7%, respectively (Table 13).

Search Light Background

Help with the hunt

“It’s notable that several of the survey respondents do not consider that they work in a STEM sector,” says SThree CEO Timo Lehne. “Indeed, it appears that sometimes they do not grasp the full scope of STEM as it applies across multiple vertical sectors. Rather than working in the ‘STEM industry’, they consider themselves as technologists, engineers, software specialists, data analysts, and so forth.”

STEM employers need the best candidates for specific roles based on the skill sets that they can offer. The lesson here is that by extending their searches to other sectors, they can increase their options considerably – and their chances of finding the best person for the job. This reinforces an argument in favour of using the services of specialist recruiters to search across a much wider talent pool to identify relevant expertise outside of their traditional hunting grounds.

Meanwhile, how are those candidates from outside of STEM finding their way into STEM professions? “As mentioned, many of the people we surveyed do not really consider themselves to be employed within STEM – either on a contract or permanent basis,” Timo explains. “Rather, they think of themselves as working in specific professional sub-sectors. This approach can lead to them missing out on lucrative positions, and so using a third party with a broader knowledge of the market is critical for them to realise their full value, and capitalise on opportunities that may not otherwise present themselves.”

SThree recruitment consultants are already seeing a lot of movement between sectors. This is especially evident in IT and tech, where there is much greater mobility. This is evidence that leading organisations are looking for skill-sets rather than sector experience (as per the above point).

Widening the talent search figures

How the STEM world works

Birds eye view of male engineer in orange high vis and hard hat climbing up ladders in chemical plant

Contract workers are in greater demand

Contract workers are in greater demand causing agile, change-aware STEM organisations to rethink the ways they access talent and capability.

Young child reaching out hand and finger to touch the index finger of a robot

Making a difference is becoming an important factor when searching for a new job

STEM employers can enhance their attractiveness to top candidates by ensuring that they have a positive impact on society and the environ...

Group of early-career chemists wearing labcoats in lab smiling at tutor

Bringing skilled people together to build the future

STEM professionals know their worth in this changing world of work. And employers need to tap into their skills if they are to build the ...

Dark image with blue and pink shadows on the face of a women holding a tablet and digital pen

How the STEM World Works

The How the STEM World Works research provides insight into the career journeys and big picture dynamics that shape STEM recruitment.

Close up of hand pressing finger print into finger print scanner light up in red

Career aspirations of STEM professionals are changing

STEM professionals' career aspirations are changing. We unearth these changing expectations and motivations in our research.

STEM Equity Coalition

Salary and benefits are still the top priority for STEM candidates

Companies who delay in recognising market value of sought-after specialists risk losing them to a better considered offer.

Asian male employee sat on edge of windowsill holding mobile on loud speaker looking at laptop

Flexible working options are no longer regarded as an added benefit

Flexible working options are no longer being regarded as an added benefit – they are now expected to be a standard given of employment.

Black female cyber security engineer looking at screen of code in office

Women are a powerful source of new talent

Women are a powerful source of new talent to help address the STEM gender gap and shortages of STEM skills. But there is still work to do.

Two renewables engineers hanging from harness entering access point of an up and running wind turbine

Employers need to recognise the value of career development

Employers need to recognise the value of having clear career pathways to attract and retain sought-after specialists.

Save your copy of the report

Download whitepaper

Find your next role

Discover life-changing jobs in engineering, life sciences and technology with game-changing organisations around the world. 

Seek sought-after specialists

Draw on our global network to recruit the best professionals and find the skills you need tomorrow, today.