Advice for Recruiter Client’s Welding Engineer position – #2

This is the SECOND in a series of responses from my e-mail archives, which I’m publishing because the Recruiters noted them as helpful advise and perspective on their client’s Welding Engineering search. Most recruiters and even most HR Managers have little experience or exposure to the Welding Engineering segment because it’s so small. It’s my hope that these will help increase understanding of some of the realities, needs, obstacles and rewards in finding and retaining degreed welding engineers.

I read the job description you sent, and Wow. To softly summarize, your Asian-car-company client would be well advised to change their strategy on this position. Why not wisely select a Smart Welding Engineer and let them do their job?

OK, let me take the velvet gloves off for a minute. Don’t take this wrong, but after reading the job description, here’s my very blunt assessment:

“Welding Specialist” is a bad start for the job title. It might be simple ignorance, it could be an inadequate Asian cultural translation, it could be mimicking poor practices in the “Big Three”, or it could be someone’s “clever” idea to save money, but that job description is the role of a BS-degreed Welding Engineer. That’s what they are trained to do: the average BSWE (or equivalent) has 3,000 – 4,000 hours of classroom and hands-on training in the welding processes.  Filling that welding engineer role with anyone else is like taking a CFO position, relabeling it as “Financial Supervisor”, and requiring candidates to have any Bachelor of Arts degree instead of an MBA.  Yeh, a stunning cost-savings idea there.

If they don’t hire a BS-degreed Welding Engineer for this position, it will probably save them $20-40k a year and cost them a minimum $500k (if not several $M) in the first 3 months of startup alone, vs a qualified Smart Welding Engineer. But unfortunately, as that happens, there’s rarely anyone around who’s qualified enough to recognize the losses and missed opportunities and attribute them to targeting and hiring an unqualified person. Even if the “Welding Specialist” knows it, are they likely to be explaining to management that they can’t do their job justice? 

If I stepped into the role and wanted to set a personal challenge for myself, I’d try to save as much $ per month for the company as a non-degreed “Welding Specialist” will cost them in a year. That kind of savings is worth way more than $75k or even $120k for an excellent W.E.

If I as a hiring manager absolutely had to put someone else in the position, I would insist on a sharp B.S. Electrical Engineer with good welding experience – they are the only ones I’ve ever seen who can often do a decent enough job to minimize the risks and losses, and actually identify and implement some reasonable cost reductions. I assume that’s because the most common welding processes are based on and controlled by electricity, and because EE’s have to be smarter than your average engineer. The downside is that an EE will generally believe any friendly welding sales-guy that sounds logical, and latch onto them as a technical crutch who ends up – in reality – driving their own agenda in many of the important welding decisions as a “trusted supplier”.

Best idea: keep the “Welding Specialist”, revamp the job description, and have them report to a newly created position called Welding Engineer, who must have a BS in either Materials Joining Engineering, Welding Engineering, Materials Joining Technology, or Welding Engineering Technology (those degrees are all roughly equivalent, and are the ONLY ones that are qualified).

I intend no offense, and I’ve probably never been that blunt in my life, but most OEM automotive companies are not known for taking a hint. I’m not certain on GM’s status, but both Ford and Chrysler could be losing billions every year from lack of good Welding Engineering – it’s really quite amazing.

As I mentioned, welding is the most complex process in manufacturing, with more physics and sciences and interactive variables than anything else. That’s why so many companies are satisfied with such a meager understanding of welding, and that’s also why there are so few degreed welding engineers and University programs in existence. That’s also why roughly one third of degreed W.E.’s don’t understand the welding processes well enough to optimize them to a respectable level.

Hope this is helpful in some way.

Brian Dobben

p.s.  BTW, I forgot to point out this part of the job description:

As a welding engineer, you talk the manufacturing language of metallurgy, fractures, porosity, dissecting, weld nuggets etc.”

Again, quite interesting – apparently taken right out of the job description for a real Welding Engineer.  The “language” of those words may be spoken in a manufacturing environment, but they are words from the language of Welding Engineering.  I know Judo, Karate, sushi and several other Asian words, but that doesn’t mean I can have an intelligent discussion in an Asian language.  And being able to order sushi and find the bathroom in an Asian airport doesn’t make me an authority on their language or culture.

1st in series:

One Response to Advice for Recruiter Client’s Welding Engineer position – #2

  1. […] « Manufacturing Welding Companies can Grasp Rare Opportunities in Economic Upheaval Advice for Recruiter Client’s Welding Engineer position – #2 » Advice for Recruiter Client’s Welding Engineer position – #1 March 2, 2009 […]

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