Have you heard the news? StepStone has acquired Mya! Read more +

Rules for Recruiting Manufacturing Employees That Work

| Ameya Deshmukh
Talent Acquisition

This has to stop. I’ve got three things for you today: A rant, creative ideas for recruiting manufacturing employees that will serve you well, and a quick request. 

In this article, I’ll elaborate on these rules:


  1. Change how you recruit manufacturing employees
  2. Remember that manufacturing is not considered a desirable career path
  3. The manufacturing workforce is becoming outdated
  4. Small talent pools make recruiting manufacturing employees challenging
  5. Lack of candidates is damaging your business
  6. A new 3-step model for recruiting manufacturing employees
  7. Build an employer brand in your community
  8. Leverage employee storytelling to build your digital employer brand
  9. Launch a paid apprenticeship program
  10. Expand your talent pipeline sources
  11. Partner with diverse organizations
  12. Scale your recruiting outreach and communications
  13. Support your team by adopting AI recruiting technology

It’s time to change how you’re recruiting manufacturing employees 

Manufacturing talent acquisition teams need to evolve their recruiting strategy. Hiring teams are facing significant problems, but manufacturing talent acquisition continues to use the same tactics and strategies from 10 years ago. 

The way most companies go about recruiting manufacturing employees is broken. It’s just not working. 

Manufacturing is not perceived as a desirable career path: 

Manufacturing was once considered a viable and good career path. But the modern workforce has a negative perception of working in manufacturing. 

While it’s commonly believed that manufacturing jobs in the US were reduced due to automation, this is untrue.


Economists Autor, Dorn & Hanson’s research found that “parts of the US hit hard by Chinese import competition saw manufacturing job loss, falling wages, and shrinking of their workforces.” 

Manufacturing work is not seen as stable or promising by the current workforce due to threats from outsourcing to overseas manufacturers and the fall out they’ve lived through.

Something needs to be done about the perception of manufacturing work in the US workforce. 

The manufacturing workforce is aging out and the new generation isn’t coming in

A study by Deloitte reports that 2.7 million manufacturing/industrial workers are expected to retire in the next 10 years. 

But another survey by Deloitte, found that manufacturing ranked last in career choices in workers aged 19-33. 

And it’s not as if manufacturing jobs aren’t there. Over 700,000 manufacturing jobs are projected to be created through growth. 

Small talent pools create challenges for recruiting manufacturing employees

5% to 8.4% of manufacturing positions are going unfilled and the talent pool is seriously lacking in qualified candidates. 

There’s a serious skills shortage among the candidates who are applying for manufacturing jobs. 

70% of manufacturing recruiting leaders say that candidates don’t have the right technical or computer skills. Another 69% report that applicants lack problem-solving skills. 

Lack of candidates is damaging businesses 

It currently takes 70 days on average for TA teams to find and recruit skilled production workers. 

A study by Accenture for the Manufacturing Institute showed an 11% loss in annual earnings for U.S. manufacturers caused by lengthy vacancies. 

An inability to find talent is causing your company to lose as much as $3,000 per existing employee 

The new 3 step model for recruiting manufacturing employees 

Manufacturing companies need to: 

  1. Change the perception of manufacturing in the workforce 
  2. Build your talent pipeline in creative new ways 
  3. Support recruiting teams with new processes and technology 

Employer brand is how to change the perception of manufacturing.  Manufacturing companies need to build relationships pre-job search. Instead of recruiting think about building talent pipeline

Build an employer brand in your community 

Go out into the community and build relationships by giving value. Go into shop classes at high schools and colleges. Give workshops and presentations about careers in manufacturing. 

That’s how you’ll create awareness. But you’ll also want to create an on-ramp for manufacturing careers.

Create an apprenticeship program for high school students, college students, and other groups. When you go to give your presentations use a text-to-apply shortcode as your call to action. Finish your presentation with “If you’re interested, we’ve got a great apprenticeship program. You can do it part-time after school, or after your current job if you’re looking to transition, we even have summer cohorts you can join. If you’d like to be considered – start your application process by texting this phone number. ###-###-####.” 

Data from a Fortune 500 company showed that using text to apply instead of directing applicants to a career site can produce an increase in your pipeline of deskless candidates by up to 53%. 

Use employee storytelling to build an employer brand online 

Create content about your employees. Share their stories.

Here are ideas for storytelling content: 

  • Feature an employee who made an important contribution and talk about that. 
  • Feature an employee who completed your apprenticeship program showcase their journey. 
  • Feature a story about an employee who has been with the company for a year or more. Have them share what they’ve learned. 

Here are ideas for micro-content: 

  • Take a photo of your team meeting and share it 
  • Take a photo of an individual employee and share a fun fact about them 

Creating storytelling content will make your manufacturing company an attractive place to work. 

Social media has made it cheap, easy, and effective for manufacturing companies to build relationships with candidates through recruitment marketing.

Additional resources: 

For more on recruitment marketing read our article on millennial hiring using recruitment marketing and AI. 

To learn about employee storytelling listen to our interview of employer brand expert Lauryn Sargent, who’s helped Fortune 500 brands like CVS build effective employee stories that create talent pipeline. 

Next, you need to get creative to generate a talent pipeline. You’re struggling with a lack of qualified skilled candidates. Why not create a program to generate them? 

Start a paid apprenticeship program 

Bradley Corp, a building materials company in Wisconsin started an apprenticeship program for high school students. They built a training facility on their campus, started engaging local high schools and sourced a talent pool. 

bradley group uses apprenticeships for recruiting manufacturing employees

They used this paid apprenticeship program as a source for skilled talent. An apprenticeship program changes perceptions about manufacturing as a viable career path and solves issues around a lack of qualified/skilled talent at the same time. 

Expand your sources of talent pipeline 

Bradley corp focused its training program on students, but they aren’t the only overlooked source of talent. Every year 250,000 service members leave the armed forces. Most of them don’t have careers or jobs lined up as they transition to the civilian world. 

Marketing your apprenticeship program to overlooked talent pools like Military Veterans is a great way to give back to service members while also building a talent pool for your company.  Data also shows that Military veterans stay longer at their companies. There are many great reasons to hire them. 

EJ AJAz Metalforming solutions created an apprenticeship program for veterans and partnered with 3 training programs at local community colleges and technical colleges. These programs have contributed to a significant portion of their new hires over the last 5 years.  For more ideas that’ll expand your sources for talent read 17 Ways to Reduce Hiring Bias

As you expand into new strategies, support your recruiting teams with new partners and technology.  Talent acquisition is going to need to dedicate hours to recruitment marketing and employer branding support.  Expanding recruiting outreach and comms to various communities and groups through partnerships is also going to take hours from hiring teams. 

Create partnerships with diverse organizations 

Connect with companies like Shift, to develop talent from the 250,000 veterans that enter the civilian workforce each year. They have a marketplace of veteran candidates as well as a talent acquisition strategy consulting team that can help you to create and execute a strategy to hire more veterans. 

Also, look to local community colleges and trade schools to build partnerships. 

Scale your recruiting outreach and communications 

Many of your ideal candidates for manufacturing jobs or apprenticeships aren’t located in major cities. They’re in small towns all over the United States.

Scaling your engagement to tap into talent pools across such disparate time zones and geographies isn’t possible without help. 80% of recruiters are overwhelmed and report they don’t have enough time in the workday to spend on needed activities. 

This is where recruiting automation, specifically conversational AI, can help. 

Use AI recruiting to support your team 

AI recruiting assistants are available 24/7 and can scale to support even the largest candidate pipelines.  Conversational AI like Mya, can reach out and connect with thousands of passive candidates in minutes. 

When Mya was deployed for a Fortune 500 retailer, it reached out to over 50,000 candidates. It converted over 10,000 of them into qualified interested candidates. It scheduled 3,600 candidates for phone screens and interviews with recruiters. 

Best of all, Mya received a 9.8/10 candidate satisfaction score, candidates loved engaging with it. 

Here’s my quick request.

Book a demo of Mya, conversational AI for recruiting will help you build your employer brand, make faster placements, and it’s been proven to improve recruiter productivity by 144%.  Your team will have the time they need to execute the tactics I’ve shared in this article, the tactics manufacturing TA teams need to be successful at hiring. 


Related Reading

Using Automation to Solve Your Financial Services Recruiting Needs

Like any industry, the financial sector constantly faces new challenges in its quest to source and hire the best talent. With a lack of available talent and increased demand, recruiters in this industry are searching for solutions to better engage, screen, and hire candidates for their crucial roles. Understanding the current market for talent in […]
Read More

Recruiting Within the Industrial Sector: How Mya Can Help

Historically, the industrial sector was known for requiring a solid work ethic and commitment to getting the job done — most other skills needed for the job could be trained. However, as technology advances, the manufacturing industry has faced a need to source candidates with some technical experience.  With an influx of automation, jobs have […]
Read More

How Mya Solves Your Healthcare Recruiting Needs

The healthcare industry has always faced unique challenges when it comes to recruiting and hiring for open positions. With specific requirements regarding compliance and experience, and increased demand for talent, recruiters have felt the need to lean on a supportive and reliable recruiting software solution. Now more than ever, providers need to be creative, agile, […]
Read More
View All Blog Posts >>