Driving software transformation in automotive: Hiring the best best tech talent

The automotive industry is changing fast as vehicles become more connected, autonomous, and electric. Automotive companies need to recruit the best tech talent to stay ahead of the competition. Here are 8 strategies that can help automotive companies overcome the hiring challenges and build a strong software-focused workforce.

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The automotive industry is changing fast as vehicles become more connected, autonomous, and electric. Automotive companies need to recruit the best tech talent to stay ahead of the competition. According to Business Today, auto companies are increasingly looking for people with tech backgrounds to future-proof themselves. But finding and hiring qualified professionals with the right skills and expertise is hard.

The demand for tech talent in the automotive industry is higher than the supply. According to The Economic Times, the industry has projected a 3% increase in online hiring demand in 2022. However, the employment of automotive service technicians and mechanics is projected to show little or no change from 2021 to 2031. Moreover, there is a significant gender gap in the sector, with 95.8% of all automotive technicians being men and only 2% belonging to the LGBTQ community.

Here are 8 strategies that can help automotive companies overcome hiring challenges and build a strong software-focused workforce.

Build A Culture of Innovation and Growth from scratch

To attract top tech talent, show that you embrace a culture of innovation and software-driven transformation.

1. Showcase your commitment to cutting-edge technologies, agile methodologies, software development and a supportive environment that encourages experimentation and learning. 

2. Enhance your employer brand by highlighting ongoing software projects, hackathons, and collaborations like startups.

Tesla has created a culture of innovation that has shifted the auto industry toward electric vehicles and achieved consistently growing revenues. Harvard Business Review says that Tesla has used strategies like launching eye-catching products, using Elon Musk’s influence and network, telling a compelling story, and working with external partners and communities. Tesla has also invested heavily in software development and digital transformation, creating its own operating system, battery management system, and autonomous driving system.

Invest Heavily in Your Software Hiring Strategy

Streamline your hiring process to attract top tech talent.

1. Use clear and attractive job descriptions, efficient screening methods, and structured interviews to assess candidates’ fit for the role and the company culture. 

2. Offer competitive compensation and benefits that include salary, bonuses, stock options, health insurance, paid leaves, retirement benefits etc. 

3. Define your software goals before hiring. Know what kind of software solutions you want to develop and how they align with your business objectives. 

4. Specify the core programming languages, software development framework, technical skills, industry knowledge, and soft skills that are essential for each role. Choose the most relevant and up-to-date tools and practices for your software projects.

Volkswagen has created a software innovation lab called Digital: Lab, which aims to develop software solutions for mobility, connectivity, and digital services. Volkswagen’s software hiring strategy involves: creating a clear vision and mission for the lab, establishing a flat and agile organizational structure, offering competitive salaries and benefits, attracting talent from diverse backgrounds and locations, and providing opportunities for learning and development.

Leverage Diverse Sourcing Channels

Use different ways to find tech talent. Don’t rely on the usual job boards. There are many other places where you can find tech talent online and offline. Use every hiring or sourcing tool you can.

1. Join niche tech communities, online platforms, and coding forums where software professionals hang out. Ex: Indeed, GitHub, LinkedIn, Wellfound (formerly Angel.co), Slack communities, employee alumni networks etc.

2. Attend local tech meetups, conferences, and industry events to network and show your company’s passion for software transformation. Stand out among the high-tech brands that have dominated this space for years.

3. Partner with universities, external agencies and platforms. Work with specialized recruiters, online platforms, or educational institutions that can help you access a wider pool of tech talent. 

4. Host placement fests and coding boot camps to attract emerging top talent.

Learn How to Conduct Technical Interviews & Run Technical Assessments

To assess candidates effectively, use technical interviews and assessments during the hiring process. Set a high-quality bar from the start 

1. Conduct coding challenges, practical tests, and project-based assessments to measure candidates’ software development skills. Use realistic scenarios and problems that reflect the role and the company’s goals.

2. Use coding-test platforms or collaborate with tech assessment providers to simplify the evaluation process and ensure objectivity in candidate selection. Choose platforms that have built-in cheating detection and feedback mechanisms. Ex: HackerRank, Codility, CodeSignal, and TestDome.

3. Ask behavioural and situational questions to evaluate candidates’ soft skills, such as communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and learning ability. Use the STAR (situation, task, action result)method to structure your questions and analyze candidates’ responses.

4. Prepare a clear and consistent scoring system to rate candidates’ performance on technical interviews and assessments. Use rubrics, checklists, or rating scales to compare candidates objectively and avoid bias.

5. Provide constructive feedback to candidates after the technical interviews and assessments. Share their strengths, areas for improvement, and next steps in the hiring process. This can help you build rapport with candidates and improve your employer brand.

Highlight Career Growth Opportunities

Tech professionals want to learn and grow. Indeed says self-improvement is the most important thing for 32% of tech workers. It was one of the top 3 most important factors after salary and working hours in many recent studies. To get and keep tech talent, you need to:

1. Show the growth paths in your organization. Tell how your software environment offers professional development, skill enhancement and recognition.

2. Share success stories of employees who have done well, and mention mentorship and training programs. Wharton says learning and development can boost engagement, retention, and productivity.

3. Explain the benefits you offer, and how they can help the candidate personally and professionally. For example, tuition, certification, flexibility, wellness, etc.

HBR says Google has used strategies like giving access to online courses, books, podcasts etc., promoting peer-to-peer learning and feedback etc., supporting employee-led initiatives etc., offering career coaching etc. showing that it has a culture of learning and growth that attracts top tech talent.

Emphasize Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration

Software transformation in the automotive industry often requires close collaboration between tech teams and other departments. To show this:

1. Show the importance of cross-disciplinary collaboration and innovation. Tell how software professionals can work with engineers, designers, and domain experts.

2. Share examples of successful collaboration and innovation. For example, BMW and Toyota made a new sports car platform together.

3. Showcase instances where software professionals have successfully collaborated with engineers, designers, and domain experts to deliver exceptional results.

4. Engage your electrical engineers, platform engineers and physical vehicle engineers in the interviews to give candidates a better understanding of their colleagues.

Cultivate a Positive Employer Brand

A strong employer brand is key to attracting top tech talent. It takes years to build but is worth it to get the best OEM talent. AIHR says your employer brand is how you look as an employer to the world. 

1. Leverage online platforms, social media channels, and company websites to show your software initiatives, employee testimonials, and positive work culture. 

2. Encourage current employees to share their experiences on professional networks like LinkedIn, making your organization more visible and reputable in the tech community.

3. Showcase your employer's brand and culture. Highlight your commitment to innovation, learning, and collaboration, and share your success stories, projects, and vision with candidates. 

4. Focus on retention and improve it by investing in employees’ development, reskilling and upskilling. Keep a strong record of achievements, initiatives, and support for employees’ careers and employer brand.

Don’t Forget About Existing Talent in your Organisation

Hiring doesn’t always mean getting new people, it also means recognizing the best fit for the role that opened up. Hiring new talent is important but keeping and growing existing talent is too. 

1. Upskill your existing talent in terms of software skills, technical leadership and working with hardware teams.

2. Help them to understand the new technologies, train them for the future and let them set up an example for newcomers.

3. Involve your existing talent in understanding the hiring process so that they can onboard new hires better.

The automotive industry is changing fast. Talent is the key to success, and automotive companies need new skills to keep up. To overcome the hiring challenges and build a strong software-focused workforce, automotive companies need to use smart strategies. To hire tech talent, you need to plan smartly, get your hands dirty on new technology and practices, use new tools and data, improve your network, and most importantly put people first. This way, you can build a strong software-focused workforce that drives innovation and leads the way in the automotive landscape.

If you want to learn more about how to hire tech talent in the automotive industry, check out Hashlist.