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Пламена Попова

Attracting staff in the production sector - specifics in recruitment for one of the most dynamic industries in Bulgaria

The production sector in Bulgaria has become one of the fastest growing sectors in recent years, demonstrating exceptional dynamics and transformation in work processes. In the meantime, our country has become an even more favourable destination for many international companies and corporations to set up production facilities. Plamena Popova has been part of Manpower Bulgaria for more than two years, holding the position of Recruitment Consultant - Engineering, Production and Logistics. The nature of her job exposes her to this industry on a daily basis and in today's article she tells us more about the reasons behind the dynamics in this sector, why international companies choose us and what are the specifics when recruiting for production positions, be it mass or regular.


What is the reason for the dynamics in the development of the production sector in Bulgaria?

Over the last two years we have observed exceptional dynamics on the labour market in Bulgaria. The manufacturing sector has undergone multiple transformations due to the events during this period, namely the COVID-19 pandemic, inflationary processes as well as economic factors have had a huge impact on the demand, selection, recruitment and retention of candidates. The process is two-sided - on the one hand are the personnel with good technical knowledge and skills, which are increasingly rare in the market, and creativity and non-standard methods of reaching them are increasingly entering and breaking the framework of the standard process. On the other side are employers who are increasingly flexible in terms of various retention practices related to pay changes, various additional benefits, bonuses, and the opportunity for additional training courses for their employees. Due to the events of the last year, there has been some instability in terms of demand and hiring, but we are currently seeing developments in most of the manufacturing companies in the market that are beginning to actively expand their capacity.


What makes Bulgaria a favourable destination for foreign companies to set up production facilities?

Bulgaria is a preferred place for foreign companies to develop compared to other countries in the usual investor race. In recent years, we have observed a tendency for our country to become an increasingly attractive destination for large international manufacturing companies. Proof of this are the new investors that are simultaneously entering our market, being located in different regions of the country. The level of professional training, the availability of qualified personnel, the business conditions and the key geographical location are the main factors for the confidence of foreign investors. The trend is for more and more investors to be interested in opening high-tech production and development centers in Bulgaria. Here follows the logical question of finding niche professionals. According to our direct observation, some of the new investors miss the important part, namely the professional consultation with companies such as Manpower Bulgaria, before starting their investment in a particular region. As a consequence of insufficient initial analysis, some of them face extreme difficulties in attracting high-profile professionals, especially when it comes to more remote regions of the country. Fortunately, Manpower Bulgaria offers many consulting opportunities even before Bulgaria is decided as the final destination for a new manufacturing start-up. Our advice to new companies is to always be up to date with the most recent statistics regarding both salary levels and the overall climate of their preferred region.


How does mass selection differ from regular selection? How does this difference manifest itself in the selection of production staffing?

The dynamic job market in Bulgaria offers numerous opportunities to all candidates for mass positions, some of them being production operators, warehouse workers, machine operators, sales consultants, forklift operators, etc.

While in a regular process a few candidates are selected and then followed up with, in a mass process there are many more. Based on the information received and the desired number for a given position, a preliminary strategy is drawn up and followed. In the manufacturing sector, bulk processes are mainly done for low-skilled roles, and a lot of resources, interviews and different marketing approaches are needed to recruit them.

In a standard process, there are usually 2 to 3 interview steps, with the last one being the final one to negotiate terms. In mass recruitment we aim to act with maximum speed and within one meeting have a firm opinion on the hiring of the candidate. In the manufacturing sector, timely response is key, as this type of staff are active in the market, being involved in multiple other processes, and if feedback is delayed, there is a risk of missing them.

Quite often the number of staff required is large, and there is also a difference in the two processes in terms of finding the right candidates. To attract and disseminate information about the open position, different types of channels are used to reach the candidates than those for the standard process, namely radio advertising, posters on public transport, flyers, billboard advertising, reference programs. All these channels aim at mass dissemination of information to reach as many people as possible.

Each process has its specifics, as with mass recruitment, the key to success, in my opinion, consists in a good organization, a preliminary plan and a clear process.