Best Practices for Manufacturing Recruitment

Best Practices for Manufacturing Recruitment

Hiring manufacturing talent has been challenging for some time due to a shift in the skills required for manufacturing roles and difficulty finding enough workers who possess those skills. This is exacerbated by shifting demographics and an aging workforce; the gradual retirement of the baby boomer generation has a large impact on increasing the skills gap. Fewer people of working age possess the traditional skills required for this sector, which lessens the supply of candidates and workers. 

Given these challenges, manufacturing employers must take a fresh strategic approach to recruitment and employ methods designed to reach candidates and encourage them to apply.

This blog post will address the current recruiting landscape in manufacturing and some essential best practices employers can adopt to optimize their recruiting efforts.


The Manufacturing Recruitment Landscape

It’s no secret that the manufacturing industry has evolved considerably in recent years. Manufacturers have incorporated robotics, AI, and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies alongside assembly lines and traditional heavy machinery. An Aptean survey found that two-thirds (66%) of manufacturers are currently in the process of pursuing a digital transformation. 

Along with the shift to newer technologies, manufacturers require individuals with a digital mindset who can help to advance manufacturing and operational efficiencies. A 2023 report by the National Skills Coalition found that most manufacturing job postings (93%) call for candidates to have some kind of digital skill. Increasingly, digital skills in manufacturing aren’t just demanded of engineers and data scientists; those skills are also critical for traditional manufacturing roles.  

A survey of manufacturing employers by The Manufacturing Institute and Colonial Life revealed that 93% had unfilled positions within their companies for which they were struggling to find qualified candidates. To overcome this challenge, manufacturers require digital recruitment solutions that match their operational digital transformation goals.


Top Recruitment Best Practices in Manufacturing

Achieving digital transformation in manufacturing requires attracting people with the necessary hard and soft skills to help their employer stay competitive and meet consumer demand. As a result, outdated recruitment practices must give way to modern recruitment strategies that allow recruitment professionals to target and hire hard-to-find candidates.

The following best practices can help achieve that goal:


1. Boost Candidate Engagement Efforts

In a competitive job market, taking action to build a robust talent network can mean the difference between having limited applicants for open positions and having a diverse pool of candidates eager to apply for new opportunities. Recruitment marketing creates opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations with candidates in the talent network, providing more insights about their career goals, capabilities, and interests.

Manufacturing employers can engage candidates more effectively through the following actions:

manufacturing recruitment


Building a Robust Talent Pipeline

One of the first critical steps in boosting candidate engagement is to closely manage the talent pipeline. By nurturing the talent pool of active and passive candidates, manufacturing employers can build more candidate engagement and drive enthusiastic interest in open positions. Some ideas for engaging candidates in the talent pipeline include:

  • Encouraging candidates to opt-in to communications from the company careers site, LinkedIn page, and other social media profiles.
  • Educating candidates by sharing new job opportunities, career advice, and company news.
  • Sharing employee success stories that help candidates understand the company employee value proposition (EVP) and how their career might look within the organization.


Leveraging the Manufacturing Workforce

Another way to drive more candidate engagement is through the existing manufacturing workforce. Through a formal employee referral program, talent acquisition teams can enlist existing employees to act as employer brand ambassadors and refer candidates to open positions. Moreover, hosting open houses and job fairs provides additional opportunities for candidates to connect with hiring managers, see manufacturing facilities in person, and observe the work being performed by current employees.


Attracting Young Talent

Manufacturing organizations can connect with local high schools, community colleges, and technical schools to engage younger candidates in the talent pipeline. Rather than seeking candidates who only have already begun their careers, working with those who are in their early stages of training can be a great way to grow the workforce with ambitious, ready-to-learn individuals. 

These connections have a two-fold benefit of educating young people about the opportunities in manufacturing and encouraging emerging talent to apply for open positions even before they graduate and begin applying elsewhere.

Tip: Attracting Gen Z talent requires a mix of social media and video-based content. Recruitics can help manufacturing employers leverage social media and programmatic advertising to develop messaging tailored to younger talent.


2. Simplify and Optimize the Recruitment Process

Given the effort it takes to identify and attract manufacturing candidates, it’s critical not to lose them because of a lackluster recruitment process. Manufacturers must run a well-organized and efficient recruitment process to attract candidates and keep them moving through hiring and onboarding. 

According to TalentBoard research, the number one reason candidates drop out of the recruiting process is that they feel their time was disrespected. By understanding the candidate journey and simplifying the recruiting process, employers can improve the candidate experience, show respect for candidates’ time, and keep them engaged along the hiring journey.

Key actions employers should take include:

Assess the candidate journey: Understand how candidates become aware of the organization, how they prefer to engage with the company brand, and where candidates may drop off before hitting “Apply.”

Create clear job descriptions: Use relevant job titles and write descriptions that accurately depict the position. Remember to include information many of today’s job seekers are looking for, including compensation, benefits, career opportunities/the ability to grow, and specific skills employees will gain in the role.

Aim for a seamless candidate experience: Simplify the recruiting process by reviewing application, interview, and background screening workflows, and look for opportunities to help candidates move through the process more efficiently.

manufacturing recruitment strategies

Practice mobile-friendly recruiting: Candidates increasingly use mobile devices to search for jobs, apply for positions, and communicate with employers. In addition to texting candidates directly, manufacturing companies can make recruiting content more accessible to candidates by optimizing their websites and applications for mobile devices.

Optimize the career site: Career sites are no longer just a place to find job opportunities. Manufacturing organizations can use the career site as a vehicle for building positive perceptions among candidates, featuring employee testimonials, and highlighting career development and other benefits.

Tip: Communicating the most relevant information to candidates is crucial for hiring success. Several media opportunities can include paid social, display advertising, and paid search, which can help manufacturers reach candidates where they are and bring them back to the career site to apply. 


3. Highlight Opportunities for Career Growth

While a lack of career development is a common reason employees leave their jobs, offering opportunities for career growth can be one of the most effective ways to attract talent. In a recent American Staffing Association report, 80% of surveyed employees said an employer’s professional development and training offerings were important factors when considering a new position.

Tip: Employees today seek more than just a job; they seek a career. Pursuing an employer branding strategy that articulates career growth opportunities can go a long way in attracting manufacturing talent.

Given the pace of digital transformation and the adoption of new technologies, manufacturing employers should educate candidates about available opportunities for training and career advancement. For example, job ads, position descriptions, and career pages should highlight the following opportunities for employees to grow their skills and learn new ones:

  • On-the-job training
  • Recognition programs
  • Professional and leadership development courses
  • Mentorship opportunities

Career growth is particularly important to younger candidates just beginning their careers. A Handshake survey revealed that 67% of Gen Z respondents ranked “Ability to advance my career” as the most critical factor they seek in a position. Manufacturers can appeal to these job seekers by highlighting available career paths and opportunities to pursue licensing and certifications that impart transferable skills.

hiring in manufacturing


4. Consider Other Factors Beyond the Role

In a competitive recruiting environment, it’s important to distinguish a company to stand out among the crowd. That means looking at what the company offers outside of the normal duties/responsibilities or pay for the roles to fill. Although compensation is still the number one reason job seekers look for a new role (with inflation playing a key role), what employees desire is evolving beyond salary. 

Benefits: If a higher-than-average wage is not something the company can offer, then consider taking a more holistic approach to the benefits package. Three other things that candidates consider are healthcare benefits, paid time off, and retirement planning.

Work culture and environment: These are valuable in attracting and retaining a workforce. A smaller labor pool means more choices for workers who are seeking greater health and well-being in their experience at work. This includes increased levels of happiness, satisfaction, purpose, and manageable stress.

Commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB): This has become increasingly more important to employees as they continue to care strongly about these initiatives as well as the progress employers are making, or not. A growing percentage of the workforce factors in a company’s perspective and approach to DEIB, which means that companies must focus on it if they want to attract a wide talent pool. Glassdoor research found that 76% of job seekers consider a diverse workforce an important factor when evaluating companies, and 32% would not apply to a company lacking diversity.

It’s essential to look into how to “sweeten the deal” for the candidates, as more and more people are considering other factors when looking for a new job or just starting their careers.


Overcome Manufacturing Recruitment Challenges

Given the pace of digital transformation and the need to find qualified talent, manufacturing recruitment is challenging as ever. To attract a diverse mix of candidates, from laborers and machinists to tech-savvy analytics professionals and management staff, manufacturing organizations will benefit from a data-driven recruitment marketing strategy that helps to overcome hiring challenges and meet ambitious recruiting goals. 

To get started, reach out to the team at Recruitics! We can provide strategic support and tailored recruitment marketing solutions to help manufacturers overcome hiring challenges and become industry leaders in recruitment.

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