Hiring trends in manufacturing highlight the necessity to adapt

Manufacturers have started to manage talent the same way they mange raw materials or shipping. They want it when they want it, mimicking the just-in-time manufacturing principle that’s based on meeting demand as it happens.

“That’s how hiring has been occurring in manufacturing in the past few years,” says John Wittine, president at Alliance Industrial Solutions. “Manufacturers need employees now, which means it’s critical to bring the right talent aboard quickly.”

Simultaneously, candidates have more job options to choose from as the economy improves and the minimum wage increases.

“Manufacturers should take a critical look at the competitiveness of their employment package compared to their competition’s,” says Vic Ing, vice president of business development at Alliance Industrial Solutions.

Smart Business spoke with Wittine and Ing about the hiring trends in manufacturing, and how employers can keep pace.

What are the hiring strategies of today’s manufacturers?

The just-in-time manufacturing model many are using creates the need to act within a certain timeframe, but the quality of the hires needs to be at a certain level as well.

This change in strategy comes on the heels of a lot of downsizing in the Human Resources departments of manufacturers. That’s led to a greater reliance on staffing agencies as an outsource partner.

Even those manufacturers that continue to use internal resources for hiring are using the just-in-time model to find and acquire employees. They’re managing talent by relying heavily on technology — online resources, video interviews, anything that helps speed up the process and be more effective with limited resources.

The risk, however, is that companies can lose contracts if their talent management process isn’t handled correctly.

How are manufacturers keeping pace?

Manufacturers are turning to outsource staffing partners, many of which are utilizing video interviews. This allows an agency to interview many candidates each day, qualify each against a manufacturer’s criteria and send along the best to be reviewed.

Employers provide set questions to staffing firms, which video record candidate responses and send them to employers with a resume attached. Internal hiring managers can review the video profiles and pick the best candidates for an in-person interview.

How is the candidate pool adjusting?

Candidates today are increasingly brought in on a temporary basis. The majority of openings are for $9 to $12 an hour positions. That doesn’t represent a lot of experience, so the candidate pool can be deeper.

Many quality candidates currently have jobs or are underemployed. Now that job opportunities have increased, employed candidates are willing to look around.

While employers are increasingly picky about the people they hire, candidates are also more choosey about their employer. They’re shopping for a job as much as companies are shopping for talent. Employees may think nothing of quitting a new job after a few days if they think there’s a better opportunity elsewhere.

Though they’re willing to look, candidates often can’t afford to take time off to interview. Staffing agencies that utilize video interviewing technology make it easier for candidates to shop around. Candidates who have the right technology are even able to interview from home, eliminating the need to drive somewhere to be interviewed.

How can manufacturers stay competitive?

For manufacturers to stay competitive in hiring, it’s about presenting the whole package — quality work environment, safety, benefits and a good wage. A good culture can attract candidates, but ultimately the pay has to be negotiable. With the minimum wage increase in 2015, that will make low-paying, high-effort manufacturing jobs less attractive. Manufacturers may need to adjust their pay to bring in quality employees.

Manufacturers that can tap into today’s interviewing technology, whether by implementing it themselves or working with an outsource partner, will be better able to keep up with the competition. Candidates can be more discerning in their job selection, so it’s important that manufacturers adjust their strategies to match the trends.

Insights Talent is brought to you by Alliance Solutions Group