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Like many other sectors, the semiconductor industry has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. With many chip-makers based in China and Asia, the supply chain was immediately disrupted and, though productivity is improving, we have not yet returned to pre-Covid levels of distribution.

Like many other sectors, the semiconductor industry has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. With many chip-makers based in China and Asia, the supply chain was immediately disrupted and, though productivity is improving, we have not yet returned to pre-Covid levels of distribution.

 

Happily, though, semiconductor organisations look as though they will make an excellent recovery, perhaps being among the first to do so, as investors turn their heads away from now riskier sectors, like aviation. After all, semiconductor companies are prepared for peaks and troughs in demand; they’ve survived the 2008 economic crash and the 2000 dot.com bubble burst. Most will be able to withstand this new pressure.

 

But, in order to thrive post-pandemic, there is one thing organisations will undeniably need: talent. And this might be a bigger challenge than anticipated.

 

Competition from Big Tech

While investors have turned their attention to semiconductors, they are also closely watching the likes of Netflix, Tesla and Amazon – all of whom have increased their share price throughout the first half of 2020. These household names are looking for exactly the same kind of talent that semiconductor organisations seek, and have a huge advantage in already being known to candidates as exciting and innovative companies.

 

Compared to these tech giants, semiconductor businesses can seem old-fashioned. Those in the industry know this isn’t the case – after all, where would Tesla be without the components pioneered by semiconductor organisations? – but companies need to work harder at boosting their reputations as ground-breaking.


Candidate-centric market

It’s an oft-repeated truth in the semiconductor industry, but there are more positions available than talented individuals to fill them. This enables candidates to ‘call the shots’, making demands for higher salaries and more favourable working terms and conditions. We’ve all seen how Big Tech responds to this, with Google’s offices almost resembling playgrounds, and Twitter announcing it will allow its employees to work from home indefinitely.

 

So how will semiconductor organisations create favourable working environments? How will they communicate the internal development opportunities? While several businesses maintain a hiring freeze for the time being, there has been an influx of talent which will soon be swallowed up by the market. Semiconductor companies can take advantage of this, but only if they create a competitive employee value proposition.

 

The start-up paradox

Increasingly, candidates within the semiconductor space want to work for start-ups and SMEs. They believe this gives them more control over projects, access to better innovation and increased development opportunities.

 

And yet, available roles in start-ups are even more difficult to find – not because they don’t exist, but because these organisations are competing with Big Tech and legacy businesses, both of whom have established reputations and bigger marketing budgets. Start-ups should work with specialist recruiters to give them access to wider networks, but they must also think carefully about how they position themselves as an employer.

 

As for legacy organisations, they must ask themselves why they are seen as less innovative than their younger counterparts and consider what they can offer to entice talent. Learning and development opportunities are an obvious plus, yet too few businesses advertise this effectively to prospective candidates.

 

At MRL, we’ve been sourcing talent for the semiconductor industry for more than 20 years. This grants us with a unique overview of the market and enables us to help our clients improve their employer brand. To find out how we can help you, discover our new recruitment services, or get in touch.

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