You're in an uphill battle in a crucial war - recruiting the talented, driven workforce you need to ensure your future success.
Demand for talent is outpacing supply. The average employee is 55, and among younger generations, perceptions of manufacturing careers remain negative. Meanwhile, the talented young people who are entering the field are often going to the large global leaders we all compete against locally.
All is not lost, however. Local, regional, state and even federal initiatives are taking shape. Associations have jumped on the bandwagon. Important collaborations are laying the groundwork to increase interest in manufacturing careers and accelerate training. Alliances with technical colleges and even high schools are reinventing co-op and apprenticeship programs.
Why you need to get smarter about talent acquisition
Despite the recent collective successes, the bottom line is this: Winning the talent game is entirely up to you. So, what's your game plan?
It can't be the status quo. As I've pointed out previously in this series, too many manufacturers' websites fail to create emotional connections, especially with younger digitally savvy recruits. There's barely a glimpse into a company's culture. Online newsrooms are non-existent or don't showcase a leadership position in the industry or the community. And the people - who are often touted as the single greatest differentiator - are still missing from the picture.
When asked, many manufacturing leaders will tell you they don't know how to reach younger audiences. They don't understand the importance of digital channels in making meaningful connections. For example, this lack of understanding can be evident in executive LinkedIn pages. If a young professional visits your LinkedIn profile and sees a shadow of a head, a two- to three-sentence description and only 18 connections, how innovative or forward-thinking will they think you are?
How you can build on your strengths to gain a recruiting edge
The good news is there's a lot you can do to become a destination employer. You have exciting stories to tell. You're inventing and using new technologies, reinventing manufacturing processes and creating exciting new products as part of a supply chain.
It's time you let these strengths shine through. Here are five things you can do to re-energize your recruitment program and give people compelling reasons to seek you out.
1. Tell a strong story. Show them what you're all about and answer the question, "What's in it for me?" Create a personality that's engaging, connects with people emotionally and appeals to their interests.
2. Have a plan. Invest in the plan. Work the plan. If talent is the biggest obstacle standing between your company and your vision, then talent acquisition deserves strategic focus. Establish goals and objectives, identify and prioritize channels, back it up with meaningful budgets and benchmarks, and execute well.
3. Maintain a robust online presence. Your website is your #1 marketing tool. Make it a hub for inbound and outbound communication. Don't tell me. Show me. Use photography, infographics and video, and highlight young people to create important peer-to-peer connections.
4. Use PR and social media to shape your reputation. Be a thought leader. Establish and showcase the relationships you're creating within your industry and your region. Promote your co-ops, tout your employee successes, and showcase your community engagement using the channels young people care about.
5. Create meaningful connections. Help lead initiatives that are important to your industry. Connect with technical colleges and universities. Help drive meaningful change that makes a difference to the world our young people are inheriting from us.
After all, while your company might not be GE or a Fortune 100 leader, what you do matters. Not just to your company and your employees. To your customers. To your industry. To your region. And even to the overall health and vitality of our country.
In short, you have the opportunity to be the leader great people want to work for. I know that takes hard work. But as Vince Lombardi once said, "The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary."
Mary Scheibel is principal of Trefoil Group, a Milwaukee-based firm that helps manufacturers address complex issues through digital, PR and other strategic communications programs. She can be reached at [email protected] or 414-270-3513.