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Throwing out the Hiring Handbook – A guide on how to get a fish to climb a tree

Recruitment and hiring insights - image of two female consultants chatting and laughing together in an office setting

Throwing out the Hiring Handbook – A guide on how to get a fish to climb a tree

Digging for gold with a spoon in your paved back yard? Demand for skills in the renewable energy industry is placing enormous pressure on employers and recruitment agencies to find and attract talent. Competition is now global, skills are highly mobile, and yesterdays tried and tested hiring methods are failing miserably.

“The typical focus of trying to match candidates against a set of criteria that inherently lies on past employment, qualification, and who is in your network, is causing the disruptive environment we are seeing today,” states Priscilla Gibson, head of AltGen’s Executive Search division and Lead: Emerging Markets.  “This method reduces the pool to play in, increases competition for talent, and ultimately hinders everyone’s ability to put MW onto the grid.”

An infographic describing that 52% of employers have begun to focus on skills over employment history and that 92% of recruiters beleive that soft skills are equally if not more important than hard skills in the hiring process.

The onset of the global marketplace and remote working, means that competition for these skills is no longer purely regional or national.  Candidates have the ability and option to both apply and take up employment with offshore companies, many of which provide creative remuneration strategies.  This global marketplace exacerbates the tight in-country supply, and without a compelling employee proposition this fight is won or lost monetarily. “5-7 years ago, salaries in the renewable energy industry were sitting below those in industries such as mining.  Today, our talent is earning globally, on average, 30% more than their counterparts in other industries.”

This fight plays out daily for AltGen. “Trying to serve all clients equally is very difficult when you are sitting with 150 open jobs and there is no defining differentiation between them. It is very difficult to sell a candidate on a company and role when the job description is incredibly limited and employee value proposition is all but non-existent,” states Kerryn Carlitz, AltGen’s Head of Recruitment.  “Everyone has a beautiful office space, everyone is working on big projects, and most companies now offer employees a hybrid work option.  So, it comes down to salary – which paves the way for counteroffers and lack of retention.  If you don’t know what value you bring to your staff, and what value your staff bring to you, how can you expect your staff to value you?”

A block of three puzzle pieces fitting together explaining the importance of acknowledging skills, knowledge and attributes of candidates in the hiring process

Creative recruitment strategies will win this fight.

To be creative, one must first move away from how things were done in the past.  Interviews and selections processes must focus on competencies:  skills, knowledge, and attributes. A survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 52% of employers have begun to focus on a candidate’s skills rather than employment history.  This is because skills and knowledge are ‘learnt’.  “Ensuring that the minimum standard is evident in the candidate, one is able to identify the growth areas, creating the first step to providing a compelling value proposition to them,” states Priscilla.

Understanding and matching attributes is crucial and is often not understood.  They are the ‘soft skills’ that are hard to quantify and harder to assess.  However, these are what make one person more ‘competent’ than the other; what creates ‘stress’ in one person’s life and happiness in another’s.  “Understanding the relevance of the attributes to both your company, and the specific job (they are sometimes different) is the start to ensuring a ‘happy’ employee.  Coupled to a growth plan, and you have a stronger possibility of retaining the individual in light of the intense competition for their labour”.

The way we think about recruitment and hiring is changing and it’s happening fast, what are you doing to keep up?

Follow us on LinkedIn to keep up with daily career and industry news and opportunities or Contact Us for more recruitment and hiring insight.


Sean Gibson

Managing Director

“AltGen is all about effecting change, through people. With integrity, and passion”. 

Managing Director and Founder of the AltGen’ Group. Sean has played a pivotal role in steering and leading the vision and mission of AltGen, making AltGen the only highly specialist renewable energy recruitment firm operating within the renewable energy and sustainability space in Africa. Sean oversees the success of the entire group of AltGen companies.

Sean holds a Master of Philosophy in Sustainable Development from Stellenbosch University as well as an Honours degree from Rhodes University

Robert Veith

Sales Director

“Without quality and intelligent effort, there is no success and no reward.”

Joining AltGen in 2014, Robert started as a Recruitment Consultant and has since become our Recruitment Director overseeing the Recruitment and Executive Search division. Robert has extensive experience in securing talent for rare skills in the energy engineering market, including skills to the likes of Power System Engineers, SCADA Engineers, Project Developers and Electrical Engineering skills specific to design.

Through Robert’s leadership, each recruitment team is enabled to focus on their specific area of expertise, ensuring all client hiring needs are met. Through Robert’s years of dedication to sourcing and securing top talent in the industry, he has a wealth of insight into the skills market and provides our clients with a competitive advantage in a scarce skills environment enabling them to effectively execute on some of the most challenging renewable energy projects across Africa. Robert is also responsible for growth of the engineering recruitment team.

Robert holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing Management from UNISA as well as a National Diploma in Electrical Engineering from CPUT.

Lindy Taylor

Business Development & Innovation Director

“The success of an organisation is defined by its people.”

As the Innovation & Business Development Manager, Lindy is responsible for the marketing and business development activities of AltGen. Through her big picture vision, Lindy has enabled AltGen to remain responsive in the cleantech space. She is responsible for engagements with new clients.
Lindy initially joined AltGen in 2015 and has grown into being an integral member of the senior management team. She ensures a collaborative approach with clients catering to their custom needs. Her focus is on attaining new clients, as well as handling contractual relationships with new and existing stakeholders.
Lindy holds a Bachelor’ Degree in Social Sciences from Rhodes University.

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Chris Roetz

Workforce Management Services: General Manager

“My goal is to deliver exceptional operational performance within AltGen – Northern Cape building on people, energy and sustainability”

Chris Roetz oversees AltGen’s Workforce Management division in the Northern Cape. He is responsible for the successful execution of HR advisory and management services for clients’ utility-scale projects in the region. Currently, Roetz mobilises an outsourced staff complement of over 200 employees. He also steers AltGen’s Solar Works programme in conjunction with his Pofadder based team.

Chris has 20 years of professional experience in an HR and outsourced staffing capacity within the energy environment and holds a National Diploma in Human Resource Management from UNISA.

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Muslim Janoowala

Consulting Services: Senior Consultant & Business Development Lead

“My focus is to be able to do impactful work, being in the front lines of the development sector finding solutions to safe and reliable drinking water, power and sanitation”

Muslim Janoowala drives AltGen’s consulting services arm. Muslim has 10+ years of experience in the renewable energy, water and general engineering space in Eastern Africa and has played an instrumental role in the success of AltGen consulting engagement on the AFD Green Mini-grid Programme in Kenya. His expertise caters to M&E activities, project management, impact analysis and assessments of funded water and renewable energy programmes that “enlighten” and uplift communities in rural Africa.

Muslim holds an MSc in Construction Management from Cass Business School and a Bachelor of Engineering in Architectural Environment Engineering from the University of Nottingham.

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Wiehahn de Jager

Senior Consultant & Team Lead

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”

Wiehahn de Jager has specialist recruitment expertise in the finance sector and has worked on various mandates for large international and national clients on both a retained and contingency basis. Wiehahn has gained an in-depth understanding of the professional skills operating within the capital markets, fin-tech, and green finance space, with a keen focus on talented professionals within the African context. He has a strong track record successfully working on a range of skill levels, from Directors to Analysts, with a special focus on professionals from mid-level up to Corporate Executives.

Wiehahn holds a Bachelor in Law from the University of Stellenbosch.

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Robert Slater

Senior Consultant & Team Lead

“I love to serve people and be the steppingstone between them and their dream job.”

Robert Slater is an expert in the talent acquisition of carbon management, environmental and social governance-related professionals across Africa. Robert has successfully closed mandates for clients who are focused on sourcing skills with experience in climate change, clean cooking, sustainability, and agricultural environments.

Slater cares deeply for people and the planet, he has a Life Coach Training certification from New Insights and volunteers at ON A MISSION, an NPO which enables businesses and individuals to invest in carbon offset projects. He holds an Honours Degree in Environmental Management from UNISA.

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Natascha Marais


“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. I look for people who want to change the world and introduce them to like-minded companies.”

Natascha Marais is highly skilled when it comes to sourcing those “unicorns” for our clients in the OEM, AI and technology, economic development, and legal spaces.

Natascha has proven experience in identifying and onboarding professionals to the likes of business developers, sales, and account managers as well as technical sales or software developer skills.

Marais holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Law from Pearson Institute.


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