Imagine you are a production supervisor walking the floor of a manufacturing facility. Order changes come quickly, and you need to immediately reprogram the machines. Plus, you are responsible for quality control and maintaining safety requirements.
Checking phones on the production floor is strictly prohibited. At day’s end, you enter the designated area for online access. More than 100 emails await, and you answer what you can before leaving.
Imagine it’s a candidate-short market. You are a recruiter trying to contact this production supervisor/hiring manager about an amazing candidate that the organization needs to action right away or risk losing. If recruiting isn’t viewed as a major priority, how do you get the hiring manager’s attention?
This scenario is common in manufacturing, an industry where open production roles can put product quality and even employee safety at risk.
Account Director Anne Payment, who leads the recruitment team for a large pulp and paper manufacturing company, knows how to create a more nimble and efficient manufacturing recruitment process.
She explains: “The manufacturing candidate pool has narrowed, particularly in specialty industries like pulp and paper. Recent mergers and acquisitions have further narrowed the field, and the paper industry also has an aging workforce.
“In the past, hiring managers could take more time with candidates. Today, it’s simply unrealistic to keep a solid engineering candidate waiting for six weeks.”
Manufacturing recruiters: do you also face this kind of predicament?
Discover three tips that can help all manufacturing recruiters find top talent against the challenging backdrop of modern manufacturing.
Some smaller adjustments may seem obvious, but don’t always happen. Yet, they can make a real difference in a candidate market where timing is significant.
Anne recommends you educate hiring managers on why recruiting needs to be a priority.
She explains: “Their day-to-day-jobs are so demanding, sometimes they aren’t seeing the bigger picture about why recruiting and resume review need to be a priority. One, because we want the best talent, but two, because open roles will affect their day-to-day responsibilities. It’s harder to impose quality control and even abide by safety requirements when you are short-staffed. Having an HR business partner and other more senior stakeholders on the client side reinforcing this message can help drive the message. “
It’s a 50-50 partnership of course, and recruiters need to adjust to hiring managers’ schedules. For the most urgent needs, recruiters should text the hiring managers so that when hiring managers leave the floor, a text immediately prompts them.
Production hiring managers tend to check email in the morning prior to walking on the floor.
Anne gets terrific results by building that awareness into her approach. She says: “Our recruiters either get up early or schedule candidate interview invitations to send early morning. We’ve found that this increases the acceptance rate on the first try.”
Young people aren’t thinking about manufacturing—particularly in niche industries such as pulp and paper. For professional roles, Anne recommends that companies have a college recruitment team and offer internships with training beginning sophomore year. Target the three or four closest schools. Bring in interns to learn the industry at a time when they are contemplating what career path they wish to pursue.
For both professional and non-professional roles, attend career days at local high schools that might serve as feeders, particularly for labor jobs. Educate students that labor roles pay well with the opportunity for advancement.
Also, students don’t realize the innovative aspects of working in manufacturing.
Anne says: “At my organization, IT professionals are programming massive machines and constantly seeking ways to optimize process efficiency and reduce waste, which makes the process more environmentally friendly. Find things that will resonate with what young people want in their careers.”
In a candidate-short market, hiring managers need to be open to candidates from other, similar industries.
Anne says: “After several mergers in my industry, there are only four major players left in the market. Making experience in our industry a deal-breaker is no longer realistic. Candidates with backgrounds on similar machines used by chemical, steel, or other manufacturing companies, may acclimate easily to our machines. To fill the role with high quality candidates, it’s important to be flexible.”
Discover more tips for recruiting manufacturing employees, including ‘walking the floor’ to build top relationships that translate into candidate leads.