Hiring Robotics Talent in 2019: What to Look For

Employee showing a product at the 2018 - Robotiq User Conference RUC

Whether hiring robotics talent for the first time or adding to an existing team in 2019, hiring personnel must take a strategic approach to the process by figuring out what traits, training, experience or capabilities the top candidates should have.

Here are seven characteristics and skill sets robotics company managers are looking for when hiring new employees.

1. A history of working in the field

It’s not always possible to find people with prior experience in the robotics sector, especially for entry-level jobs. However, it’s helpful if candidates have worked at other companies before.

Universal Robots knew that when it hired more than 20 former employees of Rethink Robotics, a cobot company that recently shut down.

2. People with relevant backgrounds

It’s rare for universities to offer robotics degree programs. So, hiring managers seeking robotics professionals may have difficulty filling positions if they refuse to consider people who earned other kinds of degrees. For example, computer science, engineering and mathematics degrees could all prepare people for robotics roles.

Amazon recently brought a computer science professor from the University of Washington onto its team to serve as its Director of Robotics and oversee automation in the company’s fulfillment centers. It realized the person chosen had appropriate amounts of educational and life experience to excel in the role with a computer science background.

3. An understanding of what makes people trust robots

Soft skills help people working in robotics roles, too, and one of them is trust.

More specifically, the people who build cobots know it’s ideal if those machines feature familiar elements, such as characteristics that seem slightly human-like to a recognizable degree, but not so much that they’re creepy.

Even if robotics professionals don’t create cobots, they’ll likely still need to help people feel comfortable while working around them. A big part of making that happen is realizing what people may be afraid of and helping them turn that fear into trust.

4. A flexible mindset

Robots that work alongside people are relatively new technologies. And, the robotics industry as a whole is still evolving so rapidly that job qualifications and opportunities will likely change over time. When robotics professionals can anticipate future needs and ensure they are ready to meet them, they’ll be well-suited for success.

In places such as southern and southeast Asia, people are learning to work with robots by acquiring new skills that will allow them to adapt to changes instead of finding themselves without work and replaced by technology.

Robotics professionals must do something similar by staying abreast of industry developments and knowing their jobs may be substantially different in a decade or less.

5. An ability to work with related technologies

Other technologies are out there, including artificial intelligence (AI), which will be exceptionally instrumental in furthering the progress of robots soon. In fact, it’s already having a significant impact. For example, PepsiCo uses an AI-powered robot recruiter in the Russian job market that can interview 1500 candidates in nine hours.

Although that example doesn’t relate to cobots, it does highlight how smoothly robotics can integrate with other emerging technologies. As such, people hired for new robotics positions must be eager about exploring those prospects.

6. Experience with robot maintenance

Many of today’s leading robot designs, especially cobots, have self-diagnostic capabilities that warn operators if things aren’t working as they should or if a particular kind of maintenance is necessary.

An analysis of job ads in 2012 and 2016-17 found an increase in the number of job ads requesting people to have robotics skills. And, the most in-demand robotics skill to have is robotics maintenance. Looking for people with that skill could mean robotics companies enjoy more uptime and better productivity.

7. Excitement about solving problems

Some people get stressed when faced with problems, but excellent robotics professionals should feel excited about using their talents to solve problems, especially by bringing cobots into the workforce to boost output. In one Romanian factory, cobots reduced the tedious tasks humans had to perform.

A cobot setup there could find, pick up and place parts in a 20-second cycle that caused a 20-percent rise in productivity. Then, the people who once took care of those tasks are moved to other parts of the factory to do jobs that aren’t so strenuous and repetitive.

If robotics companies can find candidates for open positions who are committed to exploring how robotic equipment can solve problems, their organizations will be set for the future.

Ways to stand out from the crowd

People with robotics skills have the advantage of a job market that craves the skills they possess.

Even so, if some of the things on this list apply to them too, they’ll be in even better positions to get hired.