Top three tips for hiring manufacturing talent

marniThe below post was originally published in the May 2013 Manufacturers Alliance newsletter, the MA Insider. Its author is Marni Hockenberg, principal of Hockenberg Search, a Twin Cities search firm that specializes in managerial recruitment for Midwest manufacturing companies.

A top issue facing manufacturing companies today is the tight labor market. Companies are vying for top talent at all levels. In my role as a recruiter for the manufacturing industry, I've noticed that top candidates are evaluating jobs opportunities differently that they did 5 years ago.

It is no longer a ‘buyers' market' with companies in the driver's seat. A-list talent have choices, and hiring managers would do well to to put on their ‘sales & marketing hat' during the interview process to court them.

Consider incorporating these 3 talent attraction tips into your recruitment and interview strategy to effectively hire the manufacturing candidate of your choice:

  1. Provide plenty of data about your company to candidates during the interview process. Manufacturing talent tends to evaluate and make business decisions based on metrics and measureable results, and making a critical career decision is no exception. For example, if you tell candidates that your products are superior to your competition, your market share is up, and your company is growing, be prepared to back up your claims with supporting data. Remember, recruiting is essentially a sales and marketing function. Your candidates are a customer and they are making a purchasing decision –to come to work for you. Understand how this type of customer makes a buying decision and make your ‘sales pitch' accordingly for optimal hiring results.
  2. Top manufacturing performers are not looking for a job_ they are seeking a career opportunity. They want to work on interesting projects and products, be surrounded by colleagues who set the bar high for optimal performance, and become incrementally better at their craft every year they work for you. For currently employed candidates, the interview is the place to show them why or how your opportunity is better than the job they currently hold. During the interview, ask candidates what they are seeking in their next job, and then clearly demonstrate how the job at your company will help them attain their career goals. In sales this is called ‘consultative selling' where the salesperson asks questions to learn what's important to their prospect, and then demonstrates how their service/product will be the solution to their specific business challenges. When A-game talent pulls out of your company parking lot after the interview, make sure they have a clear and accurate picture of how your job will help them advance their career goals. Let others on the interview team know what is important to the candidate so that you are all on the same page during the entire process. When it comes time to extend a job offer, revisit how your company will help the candidate achieve their career goals. This will help ‘seal the deal'.
  3. Make the interview process a priority on your schedule. Top candidates are receiving multiple offers. If you can, schedule the first and second interviews close together. This is not 2009 when companies had hundreds of qualified candidates vying for jobs the opposite is now the case. I've seen many companies lose out on their top choice of a candidate because they weren't prepared to move fast and make an offer. If your hiring managers are going to be traveling extensively, take advantage of technology and schedule Skype or video-conferencing interviews. If you like an A-game candidate, surely your competition will also find the candidate attractive for the same reasons, and they may be prepared to move quickly. Don't lose your top candidate just because of scheduling issues.

Candidates are customers and the way that they make buying decisions change with market conditions. Based on my recruiting experience, these three tips are just a few ways that you can increase the chances of hiring your top manufacturing candidate. Happy Hiring!