In this edition of Manufacturing Talent Insights, we reached out to HR and TA professionals across the manufacturing sector to hear about their New Year’s (Recruiting) Resolutions.
Their responses provided a great overview of the state of manufacturing talent acquisition. We wanted to get insights into key topics like how are you adjusting your recruiting budget, which channels are working best, which are underperforming, and so on. Their answers reflect the tumultuous state of the manufacturing labor market. I hope these insights and strategies will help you all navigate through it and have a successful 2024!
Here’s the panel of manufacturing TA experts that helped us out:
Angie Booth, Powell Industries
Angie is a Talent Acquisition Manager at Powell, an engineered-to-order manufacturing company for the power industry. With over 20 years of experience in recruiting and human resources, she has a successful track record in sourcing, hiring, and retaining talent in various roles and functions across all US operations.
Lisa Schwitters, PPG
Lisa is a full cycle Recruiter with extensive experience in Recruiting and Human Resources. She is currently with PPG as a Talent Acquisition Partner, mainly recruiting for production and maintenance roles.
Paola Dennisse Crespo Del Toro, Furlani Foods
Paola is a Human Resources Generalist for Furlani Foods, a wholesale bakery hiring for production and maintenance level roles. They are located in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Bill Chouinard, Re:Build Manufacturing
Bill is the Head of Talent at Re:Build Manufacturing, a family of businesses that develops and manufactures technologically advanced products from concept through production at scale in the United States. Bill previously worked at Cengage as a Director of Talent Acquisition, where they saw improvements in both their time-to-hire and cost-per-hire. Bill’s goal is to “Build world-class teams in manufacturing that believe in each other and the work they do!”
Dee Hanson, Tennant
Dee is a Talent Acquisition Specialist at Tennant Company, a market leading cleaning products manufacturer with manufacturing operations throughout the world selling products directly in 15 countries and through distributors in more than 100 countries. In her position, She is responsible for recruiting top talent. She is skilled in both high-volume hiring initiatives and complex candidate searches
Amanda Derks, PHR, Serigraph
Amanda is a Recruiting Business Partner for Serigraph, a print manufacturing company based in West Bend, Wisconsin. She is at the forefront of talent planning, employer branding, and strategic recruitment efforts. Amanda is focused on creating a talent culture that attracts, engages, and retains top talent aligning with company values and growth ambitions.
Brent Losee, Kraft Heinz
Brent is a Talent Acquisition Business Partner at Kraft Heinz, one of the largest global food and beverage companies. Brent handles talent acquisition for all salaried Manufacturing jobs in their 32 North American Zone Plants. He is a proud alumnus of Florida State University.
Question 1 - What is your Recruiting Resolution? What is the major thing you are focused on improving in 2024?
Angie Booth: “Higher QUALITY candidates”
Lisa Schwitters: “Hiring more qualified candidates”
Paola Crespo-Del Toro: “Develop programs to upskill current employees”
Bill Chouinard: “In 2024, we will be focused on driving continued improvement throughout the full cycle recruiting process, with a key focus on candidate quality.”
Dee Hanson: “Streamlining candidate experience from application to onboarding…I would like to shorten my time to hire as well”
Amanda Derks: “Finding a way to lower our time to hire. Everybody wants to make $25 an hour and work the first shift, but that's not realistic. Finding a way to make roles more attractive and reduce the time to hire.”
Brent Losee: “Be better at closing the loop with candidates.”
🔎 Takeaways: A resounding theme for 2024 is the pursuit of higher-quality candidates, no surprise there, but “quality” can become a catch-all term and mean a lot of different things. While these experts work in different manufacturing segments, they all recruit for a wide variety of skill levels. Quality for a Production Associate job means something very different than for a Maintenance role, but the desire is to spend less time identifying those candidates.
Amanda’s answer here was great and something that most TA professionals can relate to. We’ve gone through a period of wage inflation that set everyone’s salary expectations sky-high. No candidate wants to make less than what they did during the Covid bubble times, but it takes time to reset everything to the reality of today’s market. It can be super frustrating to get through the recruiting process with a perfect candidate only to realize that their salary expectations are out of whack. Manufacturer’s profit margins are generally thin, so unfortunately we have to pass on a few candidates that would otherwise be a great match.
Brent took his resolution in a different way and set a personal goal to become better at closing the loop with candidates. Ghosting can be frustrating for both sides, and yeah, recruiters can get some “colorful responses” when they send a rejection email but more often than not the candidate is better off knowing that they should move on.
Question 2 - What recruiting metric are you focused on improving the most this year?
Angie Booth: “First-year turnover rate”
Amanda Derks: “Time to hire”
Lisa Schwitters: “Interview to offer ratio”
Brent Losee: “NPS Survey”
Dee Hanson: “# of Fills year over year, Reduction in turnover in hires less than one year of tenure”
🔎 Takeaways: Angie's focus on "first-year turnover rate" not only spotlights a key but often overlooked metric, it also opens up a broader conversation about long-term recruitment effectiveness. In the high-stress labor market of 2021-2022, with rampant job-hopping incentivized by short-term benefits like signing bonuses, this metric suffered. However, as the labor market normalizes, it's a prime opportunity for recruiters to deepen their evaluation process. By prioritizing a candidate's alignment with company values, genuine interest in the role, and cultural fit, recruiters can contribute to reducing turnover. Additionally, integrating retention strategies from day one, such as clear career progression paths and ongoing skill development, can further enhance employee longevity. This approach not only improves the turnover rate but also strengthens the overall team cohesion and productivity.
Question 3 - What adjustments are you making to your recruiting budget? Are you spending less or more with any specific channels?
Angie Booth: “Staying Steady”
Amanda Derks: “Not making any solid adjustments. Just trying to be cognizant of where the money is going and evaluating the effectiveness of the tools.”
Brent Losee: “Slightly less, shuffling budget around”
Bill Chouinard: “We have increased our spending by roughly 10% across the board - largely based upon growth and expected hiring volume in 2024”
Paola Crespo-Del Toro: “Analyzing the performance of different recruitment channels. Identifying which channels have been most effective in attracting qualified candidates and considering allocating more budget to those.”
🔎 Takeaways: It's impressive to see how these recruiters are closely monitoring the performance of different recruitment channels and constantly reallocating their budgets. Cost-per-hire, naturally, stands out as a crucial metric for evaluating these channels. However, delving into both higher and lower funnel metrics is equally important. Metrics like cost-per-applicant and cost-per-interview offer valuable insights at the higher funnel, while retention-focused metrics, such as the first-year turnover rate, are key for the lower funnel. This comprehensive approach is essential for a full understanding of the recruitment strategy's effectiveness.
Question 4: What were the most successful recruiting solutions you used last year?
Angie Booth: “LinkedIn for professional, It's difficult to analyze our other ad sources in our current ATS; however, we do expect to see (FactoryFix) as a front runner for Ohio manufacturing hiring, and at least one professional hire”
Amanda Derks: “Indeed and our Careers page”
Lisa Schwitters: “Taleo and FactoryFix”
Brent Losee: “FactoryFix :)”
Paola Crespo-Del Toro: “FactoryFix!”
Bill Chouinard: “FactoryFix”
🔎 Takeaways: Well, it’s pretty awesome to see FactoryFix get mentioned a bunch of times here 🎉
What were the recruiting solutions that underperformed last year?
Lisa Schwitters: “Ziprecruiter”
Amanda Derks: “Sponsored posts on Indeed”
Paola Crespo-Del Toro: “Indeed”
Bill Chouinard: “HireEz”
🔎 Takeaways: Amanda's observation on Indeed's performance is super interesting. She noted that while Indeed Organic is one of her top recruitment channels, Indeed Sponsored has underperformed. Indeed's recent pricing model changes and increases have stirred uncertainty within the industry. It will be interesting to monitor how Indeed's efforts to potentially reverse some of these changes in the coming year affect their overall performance and user satisfaction.
Question 5: What are your biggest recruiting challenges heading into 2024?
Angie Booth: “There’s so much competition for the manufacturing workforce”
Amanda Derks: “Attracting candidates in a competitive market where they have lots of options, and not just from manufacturing companies”
Lisa Schwitters: “Finding qualified maintenance technicians in a more timely manner”
Dee Hanson: "I am unsure of how many hires I will be responsible for in 2024 and January is well underway"
Brent Losee: “Employee Retention”
Paola Crespo-Del Toro: “Continued shortages of skilled talent in certain industries and roles, making it challenging for organizations to find qualified candidates”
Bill Chouinard: “Managing the timely delivery of quality candidates while working with limited resources”
🔎 Takeaways: It's no surprise to industry insiders that competition is a key theme in manufacturing recruitment. Recruiters understand that their main competition isn't other manufacturers, but rather broader macro-trends embraced by Gen-Z and younger generations, such as the gig economy and the work-from-home movement. Options like Uber, DoorDash, and Instacart are becoming increasingly attractive compared to entry-level production roles. Given that manufacturing is inherently constrained by geographic location, attracting young people willing to work onsite five days a week on a fixed schedule has become more challenging post-pandemic. Therefore, manufacturers must promote not just job openings, but attractive career paths.
We hope you enjoyed the first edition of Manufacturing Talent Insights! Please send me any feedback you might have to make these better. Our goal is to address some of the most interesting topics in manufacturing recruiting and tap into our community of experts to make everyone smarter! Next month we are going to go deeper into recruiting Gen-Z and younger generations. As a millennial myself, I don’t understand these kids :), so let’s dig into what messages and recruiting tactics are working across the manufacturing industry!
If you’re interested in chatting about these topics and more, please sign up for our webinar scheduled for January 31 at 1:30 PM ct.
Link to Webinar: Setting your 2024 Recruiting Strategy