Bentley recruitment day to form talent pipeline

Bentley’s recruitment day, which was organised to help fill 300 new roles, was also about creating a talent pipeline, recruitment manager Helen Judson told Recruiter.

Thu, 26 Feb 2015 | By Sarah Marquet

Bentley’s recruitment day, which was organised to help fill 300 new roles, was also about creating a talent pipeline, recruitment manager Helen Judson told Recruiter.

Speaking at the event on Saturday [21 February], Judson said: “We always get a lot of applications but the problem is we don't always get the right people... this day is about building a talent pool. It's about talking to people and understanding their skills and goals.”

The 300 additional professional and technical roles were created as part of a £40m investment into a new research and development centre at the Crewe headquarters. The centre itself is part of Bentley’s preparations to develop its new “ultra-luxury” SUV, the Bentayga, which is expected to hit roads next year.

The company also has about 100 vacant roles at any one time, Judson said.

Some roles, such as creak and rattle engineer, were hard to fill because they were unique to the luxury automotive industry, and meant the recruitment team had look to similar roles in other industries.

A creak and rattle engineer role, designed to make sure Bentley drivers and passengers cannot hear any creaks, rattles or road noise, could be filled by someone carrying out a similar role at a washing machine manufacturer, for example, she said.

The focus of the recruitment day, held at the Crewe HQ, was to fill roles in engineering & manufacturing, purchase & quality and sales & marketing.

Judson said the day was unique in that prospective candidates could talk to individual line managers about roles on offer and those managers could, in turn, vet those people.

“Normally HR is the gateway and they [candidates] don’t get to talk to the manager until after the assessment,” she said.

She described the “assessment” like an in-depth job interview with knowledge-based tests.

The day certainly proved popular, with a queue from the door, through the car park and down the street from 8am, well ahead of the advertised 9am start time.

By the time Recruiter arrived at 10.30am, about 500 people had gone through the door and the logistics team had opened up the second overflow car park. About 1100 people visited before the doors were shut at 1pm.

Most had come from surrounding areas and London, but at least one woman flew in specially from Latvia. Others came from Belgium and The Netherlands.

One line manager, Dr Helen Davock, head of laboratory, told Recruiter roles within her team, responsible for quality control, were particularly hard to fill.

They wanted people with material sciences degrees, preferably wood science, “but that’s like winning the lottery”. Not enough people are studying such degrees, she said.

She had three vacancies on her team and met some promising candidates, she said.

Another line manager, Alison Lacy, lifestyle licences manager, whose department sits within the sales & marketing division, said she was after people with strong marketing skills, but primarily people with experience in luxury automotive because “we set very high standards”.

Judson said it was the first time the company had held a recruitment day for experienced professionals and offered the added bonus of “helping our employer brand – people associate Bentley with manufacturing and don’t realise that there is a whole host of roles”.

The company holds a similar yearly event for apprentices. It will be held on 14 March this year with about 700 people expected to vie for the 40 positions on offer.

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