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Four Recruiting Bottlenecks to Avoid in Manufacturing Hiring

There are fewer candidates and more open positions in manufacturing right now than ever. According to a May 2021 report by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, about 1.4 million U.S. manufacturing jobs were lost during the early days of the pandemic, setting back the manufacturing labor force by more than a decade. However, the industry has largely recovered those lost jobs and is now urgently seeking more workers. While the manufacturing industry recouped 63% of jobs lost during the pandemic, the remaining 570,000 had not been added back by the end of 2020, despite a near record number of job openings in the sector and 77% of manufacturers say they expect to have ongoing difficulties in attracting and retaining workers in 2021 and beyond.

Recruiting teams have to be agile or risk losing candidates to competitors. How can we tighten down our processes to hire faster and smarter? Start with your recruiting and HR metrics. These numbers play a big part in understanding where our recruiting bottlenecks are and to develop strategies to lessen or eliminate them altogether.

Finding the Recruiting Bottlenecks That Could Cost You Candidates

There’s a lot we can do (and that you’ve likely been doing since 2020) to help recruiting teams reach more candidates, get them into our hiring funnel, and make offers to hire before the candidate can move on to another company. Here, we’ll talk about four areas to scrutinize, adjust, and improve bottlenecks in recruiting manufacturing candidates.

1. Quality of hire.

Quality of hire measures which source of hire produces the best-performing or most qualified candidates. This can be a difficult metric because it measures the value new hires bring to a company and “value” can be defined in multiple ways. Value usually means how much a new hire contributes to their company’s long term success by completing tasks, improving their work and helping others, but in manufacturing there are other indicators to take into consideration, such as shift work, productivity, skills gap, and performance rankings.

How to ensure it isn’t creating a bottleneck:

Work with your team and your hiring managers to define exactly what a quality hire looks like to them, both on the job description and within their teams. Take a look at the job posting, the job description, your content marketing… even your job titles. Each of these can improve your reach for qualified manufacturing candidates.

2. Interview scheduling.

This directly relates to candidate experience. A 2021 Candidate Expectations Survey from Cronofy reports that responsiveness during the hiring process came out on top as the thing that matters most to candidates in the U.S. In fact, 64% of US candidates said that the process of interview scheduling directly impacts their perceptions of an employer, and even more so with those applying for senior roles.

How to ensure it isn’t creating a bottleneck:

Ensure that your candidate communication, whether automated messaging or direct, lets candidates know two important things: where they stand in the hiring process and what next steps they can expect. Using an automated online scheduling tool (your ATS may have one built in) can help eliminate any scheduling confusion for busy recruiters and enthusiastic candidates.

3. Hiring manager approvals.

The more people involved in the interview process, the slower your time to hire will be. Your hiring managers want to make candidate offers as quickly as you do, but it takes time to schedule multiple candidates for multiple rounds of interviews.

How to ensure it isn’t creating a bottleneck:

As soon as you know which positions your hiring manager needs to fill, set up an intake call to discuss the position, identify key skills and experiences, and discuss timing and requirements with your hiring manager. This is where you’ll clarify what you must include on a job description and posting, set expectations for candidates for specific skills and experience, and help hiring managers understand why rapid feedback is crucial. Hold your team and your hiring manager accountable for the timeline.

Related: How to Recruit Spanish Speaking Candidates for Manufacturing Jobs

4. Job offers.

So many things have to happen before you and your team can make a job offer, from background checks to hiring manager approvals, second or third “final” interviews, assessment tests… you get the picture. Break your recruiting process down into segments and map out a timeline for each using your recruiting metrics. Which thing takes the most time?

How to ensure it isn’t creating a bottleneck:

One of the easiest ways to speed time to offer is by taking each hiring process segment and looking at what can be done concurrently. Can you do interviews by video? Combine rounds one and two and do panel interviews? Make the trigger for your online candidate assessment the scheduling of the first interview instead of afterwards? Start background screening sooner or make offers contingent upon background checks so that process can run concurrently with onboarding?

It’s often helpful to have an advisor from outside of your recruiting team do this exercise with you (especially if your company has a data analytics team – they’re really great at finding shortcuts!). Someone outside of your department is going to ask questions about your timeline that you might not have considered.

Related: How to Use Recruitment Marketing to Reach Manufacturing Candidates

Because recruiting is a service to the company, bottlenecks aren’t always found within our own teams, and it isn’t helpful to seek blame. The best approach is to consider this an evaluation of all hiring processes to look for ways to speed up your hiring moving forward, not looking back. If hiring managers seem to be the primary bottleneck, consider setting up internal SLAs (service level agreements) so that expectations are clear. Take a look at the technology you’re using now, make sure your HRIS is up-to-date, and reach out to your vendor partner to ask if they can help with an assessment for streamlining hiring. Most modern ATSs have scheduling and automated messaging built in; many HRIS platforms have online candidate assessment and screening tools, so your tech is always a great place to begin.

Finally, if you know you’re losing candidates to your competitors, make sure you know why. Are they really faster or are they offering higher wages? Candidate surveys can help you dig into this area, as will competitor analysis.