…right people – right place – right time!

A new delivery model for embedded engineering talent

It appears that many companies are still stuck trying to fill gaps in specialist expertise via conventional recruitment companies and still not aware a new breed of supplier has entered the market in recent years. The demand for top Independent Software and Hardware Engineers has grown at breath-taking pace over the past 5 years, leading to extensive skill shortages in the Embedded Systems & Electronics Markets. Conventional recruitment models have been failing for a number of years and are now being replaced by new specialist service providers, offering a wide range of skills based services, delivering high quality engineering expertise to customers, in a fraction of the time at great value.

Traditional recruitment still in the mix

Recruitment Companies can be great for providing temps and permanent staff if you find the right recruiter to meet your company needs. However when it comes to finding highly specialist Engineers and Consultants in today’s Embedded Systems R&D Market, very few can deliver effectively. Years ago, ‘contracting’ or ‘freelancing’ were terms used to describe a highly skilled temp [temporary worker] who you needed to help fill a gap within a project team. Today, what most R&D project managers require are highly specialist independent consultants to bring their expert knowledge and experience into the team. While on the surface of it the differences appear subtle, when it comes to successful acquisition of these skills, the differences are poles apart.

Many of the top independent engineers and consultants don’t even register with traditional recruitment companies anymore, as they don’t want, nor need to, subject themselves to weeks of inefficient traditional contract recruitment auctions, which often turn out to be a complete waste of time. They are looking for a handful of specialist partners who know and understand their industry and skills ‘inside out’ and can offer them highly targeted assignments, based on their most valuable skills and experience.

To make matters worse, many of the larger traditional recruitment organisations have added an extra layer of bureaucracy in recent years, by creating the ‘managed service provider’ or ‘managed agency’ model. They act as the master agency, managing the selection process for all the other recruitment agencies. Not only should these solutions come with a major ‘conflicts of interest’ warning, but they are generally understood to be very inefficient. The best independent consultants don’t deal with traditional agencies and the best specialist suppliers don’t deal with managed service providersSo, the best you can hope for is a theoretically more effective system to help control the price of an ever-shrinking pool of contractors who haven’t yet formed new relationships with specialist providers.

The Good News

Well, the good news is that finally, we are seeing the emergence of some highly specialist ‘contract only’ suppliers who approach the delivery of top-level specialist embedded experts from a completely different perspective. These companies operate more like professional service providers, rather than traditional recruitment organisations. Instead of approaching every requirement as a new recruitment process, with these new suppliers you can depend on a trusted partner to assign the services of a specialist engineer to you, without all the trauma involved in traditional recruitment. Instead of using a reactive recruitment model, these companies are offering a pro-active partnership model.

Being specialist ‘contract only’ embedded systems experts, they can track the best engineers and consultants across the globe, ensuring they are ready to deliver at a moment’s notice. With new features like ‘exceptional talent alerts’, on-site / remote, team hosting solutions, customer project tracking, top talent tracking, global networking, ‘first time’ contractor access and most importantly, a project based delivery process, these suppliers can deliver leading industry engineers, in a fraction of the time and offer far greater value.

Some of the things to look for in your supplier:

  • Specialists in Embedded Systems Engineering – only! (not mixed with Business IT Systems)
  • Specialists in Contracting & Consulting – only! (not mixed with permanent recruitment)
  • Global Network of Freelance / Contract Engineers & Consultants (choice is everything)
  • Onsite / Offsite and Team Hosting( some can even offer team hosting at no extra cost)
  • Access to ‘First-Time’ Contract Engineers (often providing the best value for money)
  • Proactive Talent Alert Systems (your partners should be proactive with exceptional talent)
  • Project based delivery model (you shouldn’t have to manage the selection process at this level)

Let’s face it, you wouldn’t dream of starting an R&D project with little more than a hope that you get a reasonable result before too long, so why would you treat skills acquisition any differently?

With this new model, you are simply outsourcing the whole selection process to the experts while you get on with managing the delivery of your own projects. You may wish to have a short meeting or teleconference with the proposed engineer or consultant to make sure they are exactly right for you, however you shouldn’t have to go through all the normal recruitment processes to get there.

Typical new delivery models work as follows:

  1. Meeting with supplier / partner to discuss range of skill, tools, methodologies, applications, niche specialisations etc., generally required within your R&D or Projects Department.
  2. Supplier opens up a personalised target talent pool, based on your projects’ profile.
  3. Supplier provides you with regular alerts as to the imminent availability of exceptional engineers, based on your customised client profile.
  4. When it comes to needing any specialist skills, your partner supplier will have already done all the hard work. All they need to do now is to select the best most committed engineer or consultant and arrange a call directly with you to discuss the project.


With this new breed of supplier, all the hard work has been done upfront, so there are no lengthy delays when it comes to delivery. As specialists, they will already know who the best engineers are, where they are and when they can be available to start on your project, as soon as you press the ‘GO’ button. Traditional recruiters would only be starting to look for engineers at this point and of course you would still have to hope they know the difference between an ‘embedded software engineer’ and a regular ‘software developer’.

John Ryan is CEO of CIS Electronic Engineering. With over 25 years in the recruitment industry John has a wealth of experience and expertise in the positioning and placement of Electronics Engineers in the fast moving Advanced Electronics market. Having started as a contract recruitment consultant with The Span Consultancy John quickly developed his career as Managing Director with NTR in UK before moving to Valencia where he set up CIS (now CIS Electronics Engineering) in 2003 and is currently CEO.