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Applicant Tracking System Recruiting & Hiring Manufacturing

A Guide to Recruiting Strategies for Manufacturing in 2024

April 9, 2024
7 min read

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Recruiters in the manufacturing sector face a unique challenge today. The industry is booming — it employs almost 13 million people in the U.S., and investments in new manufacturing facilities have tripled since 2020. Despite this recovery, quarterly surveys by the National Association of Manufacturing (NAM) show that the industry is facing continued challenges in attracting and retaining skilled workers.

In the first Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey of 2024, more than 65% of respondents said recruitment and retention were their top challenges. While that’s down slightly from the 71% that said the same in Q4 2023, it’s still the majority of manufacturers. On top of that, experts predict the industry will need 3.8 million workers by 2033 but could fall short by nearly two million.

Your manufacturing recruiting team has no time to waste —now is the time to refresh your strategies and look for new ways to stand out to attract top talent.

🔍 Hunting for skilled manufacturing talent? Look no further! ClearCompany’s guide reveals the secrets to successful recruitment, from referral programs to competitive benefits:

Understanding Today's Manufacturing Workforce

To design effective recruiting strategies in any industry, it’s important to understand the current labor market and the factors influencing it. As we mentioned, manufacturing job opportunities are increasing in all types of roles, from entry-level workers to engineers —but there aren’t enough qualified candidates to fill them. Nearly 600,000 manufacturing jobs are vacant, and companies report declining applicant numbers.

The labor shortage isn’t the only workforce challenge manufacturers’ recruiting teams like yours are dealing with. As technology advances and the workplace changes, so too have skills requirements for some manufacturing roles —experts expect that 40% of skill requirements in advanced manufacturing will evolve in the next five years. Today, there’s an increased demand for employees with a combination of digital skills, soft skills, and high-level technical skills.

In addition to addressing the skills gap, you need to account for demographic shifts and an aging workforce. More than half of manufacturing employees are aged 45-65. As they retire, there’s a pressing need to attract and retain younger talent, but only 14% of Gen Zers say they’d consider industrial careers.

With so many factors at play, you can’t rely on outdated recruiting tactics. It’s essential to understand current workforce dynamics so you can adapt your recruitment strategies accordingly and position your company for hiring success.

8 Tips for Attracting Top Manufacturing Talent

Revamp your recruiting strategy and find and hire skilled candidates in the manufacturing industry with these tips.

1. Post to Online Job Platforms and Social Media

Reach a wider audience with your open roles by posting jobs on popular sites like LinkedIn and Indeed and specialized manufacturing job boards. Curate a presence on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Use it to showcase company culture and employee successes and share job openings, attracting passive candidates and engaging with potential hires.

📈 Stay ahead of the competition in manufacturing recruitment. Discover essential strategies to attract and retain top talent:

2. Participate in Your Local Manufacturing Community

Become an active member of the manufacturing community in your area and industry. Get involved in manufacturing associations, events, and networking groups to connect with industry professionals and potential candidates. You’ll build relationships, gain insights into the talent pool locally and in your industry, and enhance your employer brand.

You can also participate in industry-specific job fairs, career expos, and recruiting events. Talk to potential candidates about your company culture, job opportunities, and advancement prospects. Your company might even consider hosting its own recruiting events to engage with passive candidates and build your talent pipeline.

3. Start an Employee Referral Program

Tap into your existing employee network with an employee referral program, incentivizing referrals for open positions. A referral program can not only attract top talent but also boost employee morale and retention. You’ll also fill open roles faster —88% of employers say referrals are their most efficient recruitment source.

4. Streamline Hiring and Onboarding

Simplify your hiring process to reduce time-to-hire and improve the candidate experience. If your team uses HR technology, you can manage applications efficiently, automate repetitive tasks, and communicate with candidates. Optimize your onboarding process to reduce stress for HR and your new hires and make them feel welcome, informed, and prepared for success from day one.

5. Create Apprenticeship and Training Programs

The manufacturing industry needs to attract younger workers in order to grow, and apprenticeship programs are an excellent way to engage them. Your company can partner with vocational schools, community colleges, and local organizations to reach the target demographic. With hands-on training, mentorship, and educational opportunities, you can spark their interest in the industry and give them a path to a lifelong career.

6. Help Employees Grow Soft Skills

It’s equally important to help your employees develop soft skills as it is to grow their technical competencies. You can do this by offering workshops and coaching sessions that help employees improve their communication, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills. With a well-rounded skill set, your employees can excel in their current roles and adapt to future challenges.

7. Ensure Competitive Pay and Benefits

If your pay and benefits packages don’t match or beat those offered by your competitors, you’ll lose top talent. Conduct regular salary benchmarking and market research to ensure your compensation packages are competitive and accurately reflect the value of employees' contributions. To attract candidates, you can also offer extra perks like flexible work schedules and career advancement opportunities.

8. Encourage Career Growth and Development

Investing in your employees’ professional development shows candidates that there’s room to grow in their careers at your company. Create clear career paths and ample opportunities to learn new skills. You can also offer tuition reimbursement, professional certifications, and internal training initiatives to support continuous learning and career progression.

When you show that your company is committed to employee development, you’ll attract ambitious, driven candidates who become enthusiastic, engaged employees.

A Blueprint for Your Manufacturing Recruitment Strategy

Now that you have some effective ways to recruit manufacturing employees in mind, it’s time to create your own strategy. Follow these four steps to develop recruiting strategies tailored to the different types of employees and skill sets you’re hiring for.

1. Establish your employer brand.

Your employer brand comes from both what your company does and how it does those things. It tells potential candidates what kind of employee experience they can expect if they work at your company and helps you attract candidates who are a good fit. Be sure you’re communicating the employer brand you want by getting feedback from candidates and new hires and checking reviews on sites like Glassdoor.

2. Assess your current workforce needs.

Determine which roles you need to fill now and in the future and identify any roles that absolutely need to be filled. This will help your team create a long-term recruitment plan and prioritize when hiring demands are high.

3. Identify ideal candidate profiles.

Now that you understand your workforce needs, you can outline the traits of your ideal candidates. Consider factors such as technical skills, industry experience, cultural fit, and potential for growth to ensure alignment with your recruitment goals.

4. Use technology for more effective recruitment processes.

HR technology for manufacturing can streamline and optimize many parts of the recruitment process. From applicant tracking systems (ATS) to full-platform talent management software, embracing tech tools can help you attract, assess, and onboard top talent more efficiently while enhancing the candidate experience.

Technology’s Role in Manufacturing Recruiting

When you use recruiting software for manufacturing companies, you equip your team with an enhanced hiring toolkit. With modern HR technology, you can streamline workflows, improve candidate communication, structure fair, efficient interviews, and set up a seamless onboarding plan. Recruiting software enables you to reach a wider range of job seekers, provide an excellent candidate experience, and stay in touch with your talent pools.

The ClearCompany Applicant Tracking System helps recruiters in manufacturing find and hire top talent every day. Here’s how our platform helps our clients meet their recruiting goals:

  • Design an employer-branded career site to showcase company culture and attract best-fit candidates
  • Write job descriptions faster than ever with AI assistance
  • Manage open roles with ease —edit all of your job postings from one central dashboard, and post simultaneously to multiple targeted job boards
  • Use automated tools to effortlessly organize candidates for the correct skills and managerial level
  • Decrease your time-to-hire for hard-to-fill positions with text message applications, mobile sites, and employee referral management
  • Schedule interviews in minutes, not days, with Virtual Interview Links in your recruiting emails
  • Set up structured, fair interviews with Interview Guides and Scorecards
  • Remove barriers to faster, better candidate communication with ClearText
  • Hire and onboard employees at multiple locations with our cloud-based, paperless system
  • Nurture talent pools with targeted recruiting email drip campaigns
  • Build repeatable, scalable hiring processes that align with your current workflows

Find the skilled workers you need and create reliable talent pipelines with ClearCompany, HR software for the manufacturing industry. Sign up for a demo today.

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