Recruiting Manufacturing Employees [How to Create A Winning Recruiting Strategy that Leads to Hires]

Written by Stephen Schaaf, Brian Bateh on September 29, 2021

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Recruiting manufacturing employees may be harder now than ever before. Yet, many manufacturers are still relying on the same tactics they’ve used to recruit manufacturing employees in the past.

The trouble? The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the employment landscape, creating an ever-worsening labor shortage and making recruiting manufacturing employees especially difficult.

In today’s environment, using the traditional tactics makes it difficult to stand out from the competition and appeal to today’s job candidates.

Candidates today evaluate potential employers the same way they decide which product to buy or restaurant to visit—through searching online, visiting websites and social media pages and reading reviews. That’s why we recommend a recruitment approach that uses tried and true marketing strategies to reach candidates and build a talent pipeline.

Here, we outline four key tactics that can help your organization create a winning strategy for recruiting manufacturing employees:

  1. Employer Branding
  2. Identifying Ideal Candidates
  3. Creating Targeted Messaging and Content to Reach Candidates
  4. Using Technology

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Recruiting Manufacturing Employees with Your Employer Brand

Recruiting manufacturing employees is more than just posting a job and sorting through applications.  It’s about how you communicate your value as an employer.

Why did your current employees choose to work for your company? How do current and former employers feel about working for you? The answers to questions like these determine your employer brand.

In simplest terms, your employer brand is your reputation as an employer. Having a great employer brand is one of the best ways to stand out to candidates, and it should be established before marketing your company to prospective candidates.

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If you’re not sure how to define or articulate your employer brand, you can start by surveying current employees to get feedback. Once you’ve got a good understanding of what your current employees value about your organization, you can articulate it in an Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

An EVP is a statement that expresses what you have to offer prospective employees and may include the following areas:

  • Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Career development opportunities
  • Work environment
  • Company culture

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Once you’ve created an employer branding strategy and ensured you have a competitive offering, it’s time to figure out who to target and how to reach them.

Identifying Ideal Candidates

An important step in developing a plan for recruiting manufacturing employees is identifying your ideal candidate.

Determining who your ideal candidate is will help you understand what type of candidate you want to attract, shape how you communicate open positions and determine where you promote those positions so that they’re seen by the right audience. After all, you don’t need to attract everyone—just the right people.

We recommend creating candidate personas. This is a strategy borrowed from the marketing industry that uses market research and real data about your existing team to create semi-fictitious profiles to represent ideal candidates.

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These personas should encompass the characteristics, skills, and traits you’re looking for. They’ll help you develop content that’s useful and relevant for your target audience.

Ideally, you should develop a persona for every role you’re trying to fill; however, at the minimum, you should create a persona for each category of employee.

To develop a candidate persona, start by researching the role to identify objective criteria such as:

  • Relevant job titles
  • Skills
  • Education/qualifications
  • Years of experience
  • Geographic location

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Once you’ve done all that, you can remove the non-essential and create a list of five to ten criteria needed for each role. The result is a guideline for the candidate you are looking for, which can help your organization identify and attract the right people more efficiently.Next, it’s a good idea to talk to relevant stakeholders such as the hiring team, current staff and prospective candidates to identify the characteristics, personality traits and interests they’re looking for in a team member.

Creating Recruiting Messaging/Content to Reach Candidates

Now that you understand exactly who you’re looking to recruit, you can start creating the materials you’ll need to attract them.

Website/Careers Page

One of the most important aspects of recruiting manufacturing employees today is having a great careers page on your website. A well-designed careers page increases visibility and engages the target audience.

A good careers page should be visible from your homepage, optimized for search engines and mobile-friendly. It should include compelling content that communicates your company’s culture, tells your employees’ stories and builds awareness about the benefits of a career in manufacturing.

It should also answer frequently asked questions, clearly establish the application process—ideally, by allowing candidates to apply directly on the website—and make it easy to connect to a recruiter.

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Job Postings

Effective job postings are vital for recruiting manufacturing employees (and deterring candidates who aren’t the right fit). They will be used both on your careers page and in external recruitment (job boards, etc.). You can use the candidate personas you’ve created to tailor messaging towards your ideal candidate.

Job descriptions usually include the following:

  • Overview of company (including values and mission)
  • Role summary
  • Must-have skills and educational requirements
  • Desired skills
  • Compensation/benefits
  • EVP

Job descriptions should convey both what you expect from a potential manufacturing employee and also what you can offer them. It’s a good idea to focus more on what’s actually needed to do the job, rather than past experience.

You should try to find the balance between selling the job and accurately describing the role. Candidates want to know what to expect when it comes to pay—highlight the benefits while being open and honest about compensation.

Toe the line between setting expectations, honestly communicating pay structures and selling the benefits and perks you offer your manufacturing employees.

Reaching the Target Audience

After optimizing your careers page and developing recruitment messaging, it’s time to find candidates.

Use your candidate personas to choose the best recruiting sources to reach candidates (e.g., job boards, social media, paid media or traditional recruiting sources) and track performance so you can adjust your strategy to focus on the most effective sources.

Don’t forget to take advantage of current employees as a potential recruiting source. Current manufacturing employees may already have a network of connections who have similar values, and referrals often lead to quality hires who stay with the company longer.

Host information sessions to make sure employees are informed about current job openings, as well as the perks and benefits of working for your company. Create a template social media post and encourage employees to use their social media profiles to share open positions with their friends and family. Consider incentivizing referrals with bonuses to encourage participation.

Leveraging Technology for Recruiting Manufacturing Employees

Leveraging technology like automation, predictive analytics and even artificial intelligence can help target the right people using the right language.

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Applicant tracking systems (ATS) work in a similar fashion to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology. They help you centralize and standardize the recruitment process, create workflows, track key performance indicators and facilitate easy communication between candidates, recruiters and hiring teams.

They integrate with social platforms, job boards and email tools to automate time-consuming tasks such as posting jobs, screening applicants and scheduling interviews.

Learn More or Get Help with Recruiting Manufacturing Employees

Recruiting manufacturing employees is a marathon, not a sprint. While this article only provides an overview of what’s involved in creating a successful recruitment strategy, we hope it’s able to help you get started.

If you lack resources, it’s okay to focus on one area; even taking small steps can make a big difference. And remember, if you need help building a strategy for recruiting manufacturing employees, we’re here to help!

Warren Averett’s Workforce Development professionals offer services that help where it matters when it comes to recruiting manufacturing employees. Reach out to your Warren Averett advisor directly, or ask a member of our Workforce Development team to reach out to you and get the conversation started.

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