Recruitment and Employer Branding Strategies to Help Manufacturers Fight the Labor Shortage

It’s no secret that the manufacturing sector is facing labor and skills shortages, and the various reasons are also very clear. Let’s explore them.

  • Many Baby Boomers working in manufacturing are leaving the workforce, or they have already left

  • Record low unemployment rates before the pandemic

  • The perception of careers in manufacturing being unattractive with low pay

  • Students and young adults are more likely to follow careers in other sectors including tech and medical

  • Women don’t typically consider careers in manufacturing

  • Many skilled positions require vocational training

What do all these reasons collectively tell us about the current market? It tells us that the people that manufacturers are looking for are not out there in the market (not enough to fill all the open jobs), and those that are in the market are not considering careers in manufacturing.

All this points to one thing: manufacturing is losing the marketing battle against other sectors. And despite the current high unemployment rate, manufacturers still have to work very hard to attract the right talents. While some of the larger companies have the resources and programs in place to market and promote themselves to the right talents, many smaller companies do not.

And even though it could take a long time, if ever, for the manufacturing sector to catch up to other sectors, any individual manufacturer could take the right actions to ensure they create the community presence they need to attract talents.

In this article, I will briefly summarize some practical, and immediately actionable ideas that manufacturers can utilize to create a stronger presence, both online and in social conversations. To learn more about each idea, or other strategies, please contact PI Network.

1. Create social networking accounts where your targets hang out. Must be done strategically

Most companies have company accounts on social media that they rarely use, and even when they do, they tend to only share updates and articles. The better way to use social media to promote your business is to assign at least one employee, working at a company facility that’s trying to attract candidates, to be the voice and face of the company behind the postings. This will let your audience see that they are interacting with a real person, and this will increase and encourage engagement.

I’m not talking about having a recruiter post open roles on LinkedIn only. I’m talking about someone who acts as the company PR to interact with prospective employees and customers and directly answer their questions about the company, including career opportunities. Platforms to consider are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Depending on your business and industry, you may find other platforms give better ROI.

2. Write creative and appealing job descriptions

If you’re attempting to attract candidates that do not traditionally lean towards manufacturing, you must keep in mind that they need a bit more convincing. Job descriptions must paint a bit of a picture of what the company is like, what purpose the role serves, and what candidates can expect from that role after taking it on for a period of time. Think of it as you’re trying to convince a family friend why they should consider that career path.

3. Make a big deal out of your open roles

And I mean a BIG deal. Most companies are very passive when it comes to posting their jobs; they simply post and wait. Some recruiters post on LinkedIn, but that’s also pretty passive.

The way to do it is:

i) Create a unique and amazing job description for each open role;

ii) Post them where you normally would (if you want to attract the usual candidates), and, more importantly;

iii) Bring potential candidates together and share the job details with them. How? Host job fairs on Zoom, on site, or during happy hour at a public venue. Ask at least three of your team members to attend. Promote these events for at least one week on social media. Tag your target candidates and invite them to come out to learn more about the open roles you have in mind for them. Imagine the buzz within the community if you do this every month!

4. Create Micro Internships

If manufacturers wait until students graduate before approaching them about careers in manufacturing, it might be too late. Grab their attention while there’s fewer competition, and make a good impression on them before they commit to other opportunities. Every school is always looking to partner with employers to get their students placed in a program. If your company isn’t interested in offering longer programs, smaller ones might work better.

5. Dynamic Referral Program

Many companies have referral programs, but not all of them are effective. A strong referral program includes daily communication with associates on urgent open roles, a weekly newsletter to summarize the open role and new hires, a guideline to show associates where and how they could find their next referrals. A strong referral program is one that trains and incentivizes company associates to become recruiters. And with many of your associates reaching out to potential candidates, your employer brand will get a huge boost!

6. Show off all the perks and benefits of working for your company

Make a list of all the perks and benefits your company offers and post them permanently on your website and social media pages. Refer to them as often as necessary. This is something most companies are not doing. Take advantage of their passiveness and promote your company to stand out.

7. Be willing to share as much information about your company, products, services, processes, culture, technology, and employees as possible, via videos, blogs, LinkedIn posts

This idea is also new to a lot of businesses. But if you’re trying to attract the right candidates, being transparent and providing useful information to them will allow them to decide if they’re the right fit or not even before you begin the process of recruiting them. The right candidates will come forward, while ones that are not good fits will likely back out. Of course, the details and information you share have to be carefully reviewed and approved.

8. Create a community related to your company, industry, or products

If your company is struggling to attract welders or machine operators because they’re currently employed or are looking to join other companies, you could create your own community that serves these folks and invite them to join. Examples include monthly happy hour events, an on-site welding contest, or online seminars to inform the community of new machines, technologies, etc. Once you have something in place, people will start to take notice.

9. Use a headhunting or staffing service

And you may be using one or more already. When you're working with a recruiting service, the key is to treat them like a partner, like an extension of your HR team. It takes that kind of commitment to help them succeed, which in turn, helps you succeed.

10. Fix what's currently broken or inadequate within your systems, culture, and processes

And finally, and probably the most important point in this article, a business must have a lot of the right people and things in place to ensure that their strategies can be implemented successfully. One of the things that must be in place is a retention program. It would be pointless to put together an amazing recruitment program, if you didn’t have the retention program to match it.

There are many more ideas and strategies that could be customized to each unique business and their challenges.

PI Network is a professional firm that specializes in recruitment and certain areas of employer branding. One of our partners, Kevin Pepper, specializes in manufacturing. If you’d like to learn more about how we could assist with setting up your company for continued success, please contact Kevin Pepper at 214-923-3038 or

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