Attracting star performers and ambitious, tech-savvy Millennials are key to bridging the manufacturing industry’s current talent gap. But a public perception crisis coupled with common recruitment mistakes is making this process an uphill battle at many companies.

Headlines about the loss of manufacturing jobs have created a fundamental misunderstanding for Millennials who don’t realize we’re actually gaining higher-paying positions with exciting career trajectories. It’s difficult to attract high-performing talent if this talent thinks of the industry as a dinosaur rather than the dynamic incubator for innovation that it truly is.

Recently, I published a white paper addressing the challenge of hiring NextGen manufacturing talent. As I know from my conversations with many hiring managers and company leaders, the manufacturing talent shortage is not just a distant problem for the future. At many manufacturing companies, it’s already a daily reality.

While recruitment challenges can’t be solved overnight, these are five key steps manufacturing companies can take today to lay the groundwork for future success:

  1. Address perception challenges through effective employer branding.
    People who will be game changers for your organization care about your company’s bigger purpose and potential. You need to sell this “sizzle” by building a strong employer brand connected with innovation and opportunity. If you gain a reputation for being the place for tech-savvy manufacturing innovation, this reputation will begin to precede you. Before you know it, top talent will be seeking out your company, excited to be part of your dynamic, innovative organization.
  2. Watch out for lengthy job descriptions. A laundry list of skills, experience and leadership “musts” can scare top talent away from applying. People who might be a great fit for the role self-select out because they don’t meet every single qualification perfectly. Worse, people who aren’t at all qualified end up applying because they recognize one or two items on the list and think, “I can do that!” Address this problem by “reverse engineering” your job description. Start with your big picture goals and separate the criteria that are truly required from the criteria that are a bonus, but not essential.
  3. Master the art of “showing well.”
The onsite interview is your opportunity to present your company’s culture and work environment. If your top candidate can’t envision building their career at your company, they’re unlikely to be swayed by any offer, no matter how generous. Coach your interview team on how to be “culture carriers”, practice talking points in advance, and think carefully about which interviewers are best suited for which candidates.
  4. Partner with the right recruiter. An industry recruiter can be an ideal partner for communicating your company’s value proposition to top talent, acting as a brand ambassador for your company. When pitching talent, recruiters know how to get these individuals excited about your company, whether it’s your unique company culture, the opportunity for driving change, or the potential to build a lasting and rewarding career.
  5. Identify roadblocks in your current hiring process. A lengthy hiring process or unrealistic job offers could be causing your company to miss out on top prospects, but if you never receive feedback from candidates, you’ll never know why they declined your offer. A recruiter can bring you insight from candidates who pass on your job offers. For example, if candidates frequently complain about a lengthy interview process, accelerating the timetable may help keep candidates from “dropping out” before your team makes a decision.


Questions about how your company can enhance its recruitment process to hire better talent or just want to hear about what’s happening in your market? Let us know and we will connect you with a recruiter.

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