Manufacturing Hiring: New Challenges and Opportunities

manufacturing hiring
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Liz Strikwerda

Content strategist and corporate blogger (2000+ posts). Her work has been featured on G2's Learning Hub, Human Resources Today, Better Buys and over 500 business websites. She plays bluegrass mandolin and enjoys sailing her catamaran and hiking in the red rock wilderness of southern Utah. Connect with me on LinkedIn

In today’s post, we focus on manufacturing hiring.

The Great Recession took a heavy toll on this industry. U.S. production dropped 20% and 15% of manufacturing employees were laid off. Since 2008, the industry has had nowhere to go but up.

Manufacturing is Thriving

Despite outdated stereotypes, today the manufacturing sector is booming. In 2018, the industry added 300,000 new jobs. A study by Deloitte predicted an estimated 2.4 million manufacturing positions will go unfilled between 2018 and 2028.

While production has become increasingly automated, this hasn’t eliminated jobs. But it has changed the nature of skills needed. Yesterday’s factory workers need more advanced training for today’s manufacturing jobs. The net result is a critical talent shortage.

New Recruiting Methods for Manufacturing

Now’s the time to capitalize on the favorable business climate. Companies must adapt their hiring or fall behind.

The industry needs educated, skilled workers. Someone has to program those CNC routers and 3D printers. Someone has to set up fully connected IoT operations. And who’s going to troubleshoot the robots?

‘There are more computers on the manufacturing floor than machine tools and other types of equipment,” said Judy Marks, CEO of Siemens USA.

Last year, manufacturers advertised for software developers more than any other position except sales.

What does this mean for recruiters? You have to compete with many other industries.

Create Manufacturing Apprenticeships

‘Build a talent pipeline’ is always sound recruiting advice. An apprenticeship program goes even further. ‘Train a talent pipeline.’ An apprenticeship program can be a smart investment. Seek high school and trade tech students. Expose first-time employees to the opportunities available in your industry.

What if your manufacturing business is too small to afford a program? Partnering with local schools can provide a source of funding. There are also federal grants available. In addition, connect with local job re-training programs. They may provide funding as well.

Be the Manufacturing Employer of Choice

What do manufacturing employees want? They want what every employee wants:

  • Competitive pay and benefits
  • Work/life balance
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Better training so they can be more effective
  • Recognition for their contributions

Companies that are great places to work attract great workers. Mutually-beneficial relationships last longer. Quality employees provide good job referrals. They help your business grow.

Improving recruiting methods will help get workers on your factory floor. Creating a first-class company culture will keep them there. This is especially true in rural areas.

If you’re not sure where to start, ask your experts—your employees Find out how you can improve. Conduct ‘stay’ interviews. Plus, create a way for employees to give suggestions anonymously. They will be more candid.

Spend the time and resources to create a better working environment. There are no downsides. It will help your recruiting efforts. You will experience lower turnover. Happy employees are more productive. Increased productivity means greater profitability. (There’s always a money angle.)

Post to Niche Sites for Manufacturing Workers

There are manufacturing forums on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Reddit. Target your job postings where workers interact online. Hiring software can help you post to several sites with single signon. You can also create a database of passive candidates. Your hiring system can help you build relationships with the potential employees in your pipeline.

The Most Important Manufacturing Technology: Recruiting Software

Boomers are retiring. To hire the next generation, change the way you engage. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are leading the way. They provide end-to-end digital hiring. From application to interview scheduling to job offer.

Mobile-optimized recruitment marketing is de rigueur. ATS texting is one of the latest innovations. It allows you to engage with job candidates in a way that’s natural for them. We already mentioned talent pipelines. Hiring software makes it easy to capture and store information on hundreds of potential hires.

If you aren’t using an ATS, you will have a hard time engaging with job candidates.

Small Manufacturers Can Use Cloud-Based Hiring Software

We’ve mentioned the importance of updating the image of manufacturing employment. But there’s another misconception that is hurting companies. This is a misperception held by employers, not job seekers. It’s the idea that sophisticated hiring software is only for large manufacturers. This simply isn’t true today.

You don’t need deep pockets to purchase today’s ATSs. You don’t have to spend thousands for a developer to create custom premise-based software. Small manufacturers can afford cloud-based advanced applicant tracking technology. It works like a subscription service and has all the tools used by the big guys.

  • Create and manage templates for:
  • Manage multiple manufacturing job postings
  • Create custom manufacturing hiring workflows
  • Assign tasks to hiring team members with checklists to track progress
  • Intelligent screening improves the quality of hires
  • Track manufacturing hiring KPIs
  • Create a manufacturing talent pipeline
  • Maintain compliance with manufacturing hiring laws

Back to (Hiring) Basics

For a comprehensive guide to hiring techniques, see our How To Hire Your Next Employee series. We have articles and videos on every step in the hiring process. All manufacturing hiring managers should review best practices to ensure their processes are up-to-date.

By Liz Strikwerda

Simplify HR management today.

Simplify HR management today.

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