Reviving a Stagnant Recruiting Process in Manufacturing

category-badge-WORKFORCEWith the recent concerns surrounding manufacturing’s impending shortage of skilled employees, now may be the best time for manufacturers to take a look at how their current hiring processes may be affecting their success in filling positions. Attracting the talent you need in a market where there are increasingly fewer candidates from which to choose can prove to be very difficult if you stick with traditional recruitment methods.

But why should you change a process that has always worked for you in the past? Because just as manufacturing has evolved with the introduction of each new technology or innovation, so has our younger workforce. In order to recruit them, we have to speak their language.

Understanding and Engaging the New Workforce

With so many baby boomers now taking the leap into retirement, it’s become necessary to turn our attention to what motivates the millennials who are our best candidates to replace them. Rushed postings on a community job board or the usual quick and easy “help wanted” ads are proving to be an ineffective way to grab a young candidate’s attention. Simply put, millennials need to be engaged in order to recruit them.

One of the first steps to engaging them is to address the largest hurdle we face with the recruitment of millennials—their misconception that manufacturing jobs are dirty, dangerous, and second-rate. It’s important to point out in your recruiting process how many of these positions require technical skill, and that most of today’s factories are virtual clean rooms, with safety as a top priority. Be sure to also highlight manufacturing’s higher entry level pay, better job security, and abundance of diverse advancement opportunities to get them interested. Make a point to stress that this isn’t their parents’ manufacturing.

Your second hurdle is to understand how the culture in which millennials have been raised affects their employment expectations. They were born with smartphones in one hand and tablets in the other. Their meals are microwaved in a few short minutes, their music library is accessible to stream on every device they own, and their movie tickets are bought with a simple touch of the finger. They can’t imagine a world that doesn’t provide them with instantaneous results.

Because they have grown up in a point-and-click, plug-and-play culture, they believe all aspects of their lives—including their employment—should have the same quick and satisfying results for minimal effort. They want to know that your company can provide them with challenges to keep them stimulated as well as perks to keep them entertained. They want to know that you will treat them as valued employees even before they have proven themselves in their positions. They don’t want to wait for their yearly review to know that their work has made a difference; they want the immediate satisfaction of seeing what they’ve accomplished as they leave work each day.

It’s obvious that attracting candidates from today’s workforce requires more inventive approaches to recruiting. No more bombarding applicants with scripted questions inside a stuffy office or adding a boring laundry list to your postings that bullet-points what you want in an employee. Instead, consider implementing one or more creative recruitment methods, such as:

  • Have an open house. Invite candidates to come into your facility for tours, refreshments and interaction with your hiring managers and potential co-workers. Let them mingle. This could be the pull you need to make them feel welcomed and encouraged. The benefit to you is that you are able to take a little extra time to better evaluate each candidate and decide if he or she would be a good fit for your team.
  • Go grassroots. Design flyers or brochures, gather up some marketing merchandise, and hit your nearest campus (university, community college, technical school, high school, or anywhere that someone who fits your position requirements might frequent). People love free stuff, and the fact that you are taking the time to come and talk to them in person gives them the sense that your company would value them as an employee.
  • Search out candidates on social media. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ are great places to start. This may be a little time consuming, but if you take the right approach, it could very well be successful.
  • Develop an incentive program. Whether it be tuition reimbursement to help pay for future, or past, education (the new top benefit that college graduates seek when choosing a career) or double-time pay on weekend shifts, everyone loves a good incentive. The better your incentives, the more dedicated your candidates are likely to become if they are hired.
  • Use your current employees as bait. Ask employees to sniff out potential candidates through family, friends, former classmates, and social media connections and offer them an incentive if someone they refer gets hired. If it is within your budget, sign on bonuses for both the current employee and the new hire make for very satisfied employees.
  • Review your company website. Remember that the younger workforce is tech savvy and always plugged in to the internet. When they’re looking for work, they’re finding you online first. If your website is outdated in appearance and doesn’t contain current information, it gives them a poor impression of your company and its technological advances. At the very least, bring your website into 2016. Better yet, throw in some multimedia content.

Consider Employer Branding

Your reputation as an employer and how your employees feel about you is known as “employer branding”. Expending a little energy in the development of your employer brand can go a long way in bringing potential candidates to your door.

Something as simple as conducting a survey of current employees on how they feel about both their positions and your company as a whole is a good place start. You can then use their thoughts and experiences to promote your company in your hiring process. Your team is your strongest voice. It’s one thing to sell your business as a thriving company, but potential candidates are more interested in whether or not your employees are happy and content in their positions.

Keep the Hiring Process Positive

Remember that millennials’ are the sovereigns of “instantaneous results” as well as regular users of the internet. A bad experience with your company during the hiring process can be mentioned on one social media channel and then spread like wildfire across all of them. With one simple post on Facebook or Twitter, your company’s image can be negatively affected in the eyes of potential candidates as well as customers. Be courteous and honest in all exchanges and don’t forget to communicate. Send emails to candidates that were not selected for employment to thank them for their interest and encourage them to apply again in the future.

Don’t have HR staff or don’t know where to start?

OH!Manufacturing partners with HR experts who can help you develop a recruitment and hiring process—or streamline the one you already have—to enable you to attract the workforce you seek. Through our adult education partners, we can also help you with a plan to train recently hired or incumbent workers into current or new positions. Contact us today for more information.

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Jill Jones

Marketing Communications Manager at PolymerOhio Inc.

Jill is a formally trained graphic and web designer and writer who has been employed as such for more than 18 years. Her experience includes long-term employment with a Columbus-based technology consulting firm that worked closely for years with the State and Federal government, and the Human Resources & Engagement Department of Honda North America. She manages both of PolymerOhio's websites, their social media, blog writing and editing of guest posts, and marketing materials.
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