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Key Strategies for Recruiting Manufacturing Candidates

Texting, mental health and company culture. Recruiters competing for top talent in a tight labor market are developing innovative strategies to fill open positions.

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The manufacturing industry has faced a whirlwind of shifting talent acquisition expectations, opportunities, and shortages over the past year. Now, manufacturers are ramping up production to meet consumer demand, and many are struggling to keep up with immediate hiring needs in an increasingly tight labor market. The skill gap in this industry continues to grow with the aging workforce, making it challenging for recruiters to find qualified applicants. 

To address this need, manufacturing industry recruiters are adapting and finding new ways to utilize emerging technologies to meet candidates where they are. The recently launched 2021 Manufacturing Job Seeker Trends Report dives into how manufacturing recruiters can better understand job seekers and equip themselves with the right tools to hire and retain high-quality candidates. 

Below are ways recruiters can apply these insights to better attract quality talent in the manufacturing industry. 

Prioritizing the Experience

Recruiters are competing for a limited talent pool, allowing job seekers to be selective when looking for an employer that meets their needs. Job seekers today gravitate towards brands that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, employee benefits, and positive company culture. Candidates also place high value on an easy application process and receiving frequent, quality communication from recruiters.

The most common reason for a negative candidate experience in the manufacturing industry was a lack of response from the employer or recruiter at 81 percent – a dramatic increase from 2020 (47 percent). Manufacturing recruiters must respond in a timely manner, engaging the candidate and allowing them to understand where they are at in the process and their next steps. 

Additionally, preferred communication methods for recruiting are shifting, with nearly 70 percent of manufacturing job seekers reporting that they want to receive a text message rather than email and phone calls. Texting with candidates feels more personal and is often less disruptive than screening calls, resulting in 98 percent of mobile recruiting texts having a successful open rate compared to just 20 percent for emails, according to the same report. 

Skilled candidates in the manufacturing industry often are on the go, and texting allows recruiters to reach these job seekers where they are, any time of the day. The impact of this strategy will be most noticeable once recruiters fully integrate texting into their everyday practices. 

Highlighting Company Culture

Stress levels are high for employees in this new world of work, and because of this, employers that offer highly sought after benefits such as additional paid time off, and mental health resources are winning top talent in the industry. Doing a better job of attracting candidates involves highlighting company culture attributes that employees care about through recruitment marketing efforts on the company’s social media account or career site. 

Creating an inclusive and welcoming environment is also imperative, as 40 percent of manufacturing candidates are reported to have inquired about an employer’s diversity and inclusion efforts during a job interview. Approximately 30 percent of job seekers said that they would turn down a job offer if the company lacked diversity in its workforce or had no clear goals for improving. 

The manufacturing industry has a higher turnover rate than most industries, making it important to not only highlight these initiatives and efforts in recruiting, but also to ensure companies are following through in order to retain high-quality employees. 

Building a Lasting Talent Pool

Creating a robust pipeline of talent can be a challenge as fewer manufacturing employees are posting jobs to their personal networks, which can be effective in securing high-quality talent. Referral programs are lacking within the manufacturing industry at a time when tapping into current employees to refer jobs is a very important ingredient to sustaining talent pools.

A manufacturer of office products, ACCO Brands, recently offered cash incentives to employees for successful referral hires once those hired complete 90 days of employment, and it saw great success with this approach. 

It’s also helpful for recruiters to revisit past applicants and see if there may be an existing open role that fits their interests and skills. For example, engaging these candidates with targeted recruitment marketing campaigns and job or event notifications can encourage them to express further interest in new job opportunities.  

Additionally, leveraging an applicant tracking system (ATS) to maintain an organized database of these candidates allows recruiters to quickly sort talent based on skill set or location. Equipping employees with technology to automate both the referral and hiring process ultimately optimizes workflows, saving significant time and money. 

Every candidate interaction matters in the current competitive job market, and manufacturing recruiters are finding ways to engage with candidates to fill roles at volume. Even amid increased pressure to hire quality candidates more quickly, by prioritizing the candidate experience and building a pipeline of talent, manufacturing organizations are able to set themselves up for long-term growth and success.


Tom Hunley is a Product Marketing Manager at Jobvite.

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