Top Tips for Hiring Manufacturing Talent

By Marni Hockenberg, President of Hockenberg Search
Posted: March 27, 2017

Has your company lost out on great candidates to your competition? Do you have trouble attracting top talent? You are not alone! Today’s top manufacturing candidates are sophisticated buyers.

A critical issue facing manufacturing companies today is the tight labor market, as companies are vying for top talent at all levels. The days where you were in the hiring driver’s seat have gone the way of phone booths and floppy disks. ‘A-list’ employees have choices. Hiring managers would do well to put on their sales & marketing hat to develop a strategic plan to court and retain the best talent.

Attraction and Retention Tips

Based on my experience helping top candidates find and evaluate career opportunities, navigate competing job offers, and onboard for success, I recommend these attraction and retention tips to ‘out-hire’ your competition.

Back Up Your Claims. Provide plenty of data about your company to candidates during the entire hiring process. Manufacturing professionals are process-driven. They tend to evaluate and make business decisions based on metrics and quantifiable results. Making a critical career decision is no exception.

During the courting and interview process, you will be selling candidates on your company and career opportunities. 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 the customer, and their purchasing decision is whether they should work with you or not. Understand how this type of customer makes a buying decision and make your pitch accordingly.

Link Career and Culture. Top manufacturing performers are not looking for a job. They are seeking a career opportunity with a company where it will be the right fit culturally. They want to work on interesting projects and products, be surrounded by colleagues who set the bar high for optimal performance, and become better at their craft year after year.

For currently employed candidates, the interview is the place to show them how your opportunity and company culture is the better fit than the job they currently hold. During the interview, ask candidates what they are seeking in their next job, and then clearly demonstrate how they can attain their career goals your company.

When that prime candidate leaves the interview, it’s your responsibility to ensure they have a clear and accurate picture of how the position will help them advance their career goals, and how your company’s culture will allow them to do their best work.

Inform the interview team on what characteristics are important to the candidate so that everyone is on the same page during the entire process. When it comes time to extend an offer, revisit those key details on exactly how your company will help the candidate achieve their career goals. Don’t leave anything to chance.

Prioritize the Interview. Make the interview process a priority on your schedule. If you can, schedule the interviews close together. Talented individuals are receiving multiple offers, so stay in touch with them throughout the interview process.

If your hiring managers will travel extensively, take advantage of technology and schedule a Skype interview or even just a phone interview. If you like an applicant, surely your competition will also find him or her attractive for the same reasons, and they may be prepared to move quickly. Don’t lose your candidate of choice because of scheduling issues.

Keep In Touch. Don’t let weeks pass until you contact your top candidates. A one sentence email to let the prospective employee know that they’re still under consideration goes a long way.

Don’t leave anything to chance – know the activity level of your candidates. Believe me, they are going to have multiple opportunities. You must keep track of that, or risk starting over. You’ve invested a lot of time and resources to attract these candidates, don’t let your investment flop because you dithered around during the interview process.

Buy Now. Be prepared to make an impactful offer quickly. I’ve seen many companies lose out on their leading candidate because they weren’t prepared to move fast with a good offer and articulate why their company was the best career choice.

You must keep selling, especially during the offer phase. Recently, one of my Career Transition Coaching clients received three competing job offers, and we worked together to evaluate all of them. In the end, the final decision wasn’t about the money—it was about the career growth and company culture.

Onboard. You’ve spent a lot of time, money and perhaps some sleepless nights to hire your top performer. You aren’t done yet. This is the time to invest in onboarding your new hire for success and retention.

Onboarding isn’t simply orientation and paperwork. It’s a process where new employees gain more understanding of your brand, company values, and culture. Additionally, it conveys performance expectations and provides the tools and strategies for new hires to get up to speed quickly and achieve more sooner. If you want your new hire to stay and be successful, this short-term investment will pay long-term dividends.

In today’s competitive hiring market, candidates are the customers and companies are the sellers. Be strategic with a well-crafted plan and understand how the buying decisions are made. If you implement just a few of my suggestions you will be ahead of your competition. Happy Hiring!

About the Author

As a former Retained Executive Search professional and founder of Minnetonka, MN based Hockenberg Search, Marni Hockenberg has a proven track record of providing focused, personalized Career Transition Coaching and Job Search services. She has placed hundreds of talented people in the right career and has partnered with business owners in all industries with a focus in manufacturing.

Marni provides one-on-one personalized career and job search coaching to select clients. Her clients benefit from her ‘on the ground’ knowledge of the employment market, vast experience with preparing candidates to land the right job with a solid offer and ‘door-opening’ introductions to key business leaders. Marni is well-networked in the Twin Cities business community and in 2016 she was awarded ‘The Real Power 50’ power players of the business community by the Minnesota Business Magazine.

Marni believes that ‘your network is your net worth’ and formed three networking groups for the manufacturing community. In 2012, Marni founded the Minnesota Manufacturing Executives group which provides quarterly educational programs and networking events for its 700+ members. Gears & Gadgets is an exclusive quarterly event for Minnesota manufacturing business owners and currently employed leaders to discuss industry trends and develop synergistic connections. Fidelity Bank MN is a valued Platinum Sponsor.

As a national speaker, she is sought out as a key-note, facilitator, panel moderator, panelist and expert commentator on hiring and employment-related issues.

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