A closer look at highly effective yet overlooked strategies that companies can implement today.

It’s no secret that manufacturers are struggling to recruit employees. In fact, it’s such a widely discussed topic that it feels almost inherent to the industry at this point. But despite all of the long-term solutions that manufacturers are trying to implement, there are several short-term strategies that have been completely overlooked. And they can make all the difference in both recruiting and retaining top talent.

We spoke with several manufacturers to hear more about their recruiting efforts and the strategies that work best for them. Unlike apprenticeship programs and other long-term solutions where the payoff is gradual, these short-term marketing strategies are helping  companies get noticed and attract quality candidates.

Manufacturers Must Rethink the Role of Marketing

In the conventional sense, marketing is about generating sales. This explains why so many manufacturers put marketing on the backburner. If they don’t have a problem getting business—as so many claim to be the case—then why invest more into marketing?

Because for manufacturers, it’s about more than just attracting new business. It’s about attracting new talent, too.

Nick Goellner, the sales and marketing director at AME, discusses the importance of marketing to prospective employees as much as customers:

Everyone in this industry has difficulty finding talent. That is the one consistent problem that everybody has…You need to be creative and you need to market not just to your customers but toward your future workforce…I think the people who are growing quickly recognize that they need to make it an attractive position for a candidate since there is less and less candidates and more and more demand.

Manufacturers need to recognize that experience and company histories are no longer enough to convince top candidates. In fact, companies that rely too heavily on history and appear to be stuck in the past with outdated branding can drive top talent away. There is far more competition than there was 50, 20 and even 10 years ago. Combine this with a rapidly decreasing labor force and marketing to prospective employees becomes more than just a good idea. It becomes a necessity for any business that wants to survive the skills gap and come out stronger. Plus, it’s worth noting that marketing a positive, employee-focused workplace is never a downside for sales. It is truly a win-win as customers naturally want to work with companies that treat their employees well.

Create the Website Your Ideal Candidates Want to See

So what exactly can companies do right away to attract qualified candidates? The first and most crucial place to start is your website. This is essentially a window into your company and likely the first place candidates will go to learn more about your business.

Dan Clayton-Luce, the communications director at Henry Repeating Arms, discusses the value of an engaging website and what it means for job seekers:

A company’s website can instantly make or break whatever it is you’re looking at that website for. If I was interested in working for a company and saw that their website hasn’t been updated in forever, looks outdated, isn’t user-friendly or mobile-friendly and just isn’t appealing, I would certainly have second thoughts. The website should be a very important thing for any company.

Improving the website applies to far more than just the homepage. While it’s certainly smart to have a careers section on the homepage, there should also be a clearly visible careers page in the main navigation. This is where candidates will go to get a glimpse into your culture and understand the benefits of working for your company. If you don’t have an engaging careers page that showcases fun company events, employee benefits, etc., then you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to attract real talent. Nick Goellner concurs the importance of a careers page, noting, “We have to be an attractive place for people to work. We have to have a good careers page that highlights all the things that we have to offer.”

Other Short-Term Strategies That Have Lasting Effect

In addition to updating your website and careers page, here are some additional marketing strategies you can use to quickly find the right employees:

  • Improve job site profiles on LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Indeed. Just as customers look for social proof before purchasing a product, job seekers do the same before applying to a company. Update these profiles and job descriptions to ensure they’re engaging and reflective of your current company.
  • Update your branding to appear as cutting-edge as you are. Even if your company utilizes the latest technology, candidates will never know this if your branding gives the opposite impression.
  • Create engaging company videos and photos to distribute across social media channels.
  • Host events where you can discuss your mission and any positive initiatives that candidates care about (sustainability, made-in-America, community service, etc.)
  • Improve your exhibit displays for trade shows and job fairs.
  • Switch up your offers! If you don’t currently offer the benefits and perks that your ideal employees would want, improve your offerings and then market these changes to attract top candidates.
Company Manager Greeting With New Manufacturing Employees During A Tour Of Factory Credit Drazen Zigic IStockphoto Lp 1151857619, Industry Today
Company manager greeting with new manufacturing employees during a tour of factory.
Credit: Drazen Zigic iStockphoto LP

Become the “It” Place for the New, Younger Workforce

As more and more baby boomers are entering retirement, manufacturers must market to the younger generations. The companies that are successfully attracting young talent understand what these generations want out of their careers and tailor their marketing accordingly.

Rachel Kaluhiokalani, the brand and communications specialist at Parts Life, Inc., shares how marketing the company culture appeals to younger audiences:

Specifically for younger people, like millennials, the way the company has branded itself and presents itself is very important…Two great examples would be Google and Apple. They have an  inclusive and fun corporate culture with all of these company perks. You’re respected in your individual role and you get to work on teams to create that sense of community and collaboration. Speaking as a younger person, that is so important. And that’s essentially what Parts Life has been striving to do. We want to continue cultivating and advertising our family culture, essentially.

Promoting a positive and family-oriented company—the kind that top talent wants to work for—is where marketing comes into play. Even if manufacturers already treat their employees like rockstars, that major incentive will be lost on candidates if it’s not marketed properly. Whether it be a company culture web page, a brochure to hand out at job fairs or humorous and lighthearted videos to share on social media, there are countless ways to market the culture and benefits that your ideal employees seek.

All of the Tools Are in Front of You. It’s Time to Use Them.

The skills gap and labor shortage is an ongoing challenge that manufacturers cannot ignore. But many of these companies overlook their marketing and the role it plays in convincing candidates to work for them instead of the competition. Rather than looking too far ahead and feeling powerless in the present moment, manufacturers can use short-term, highly effective marketing strategies to attract top talent today.

Paul Kiesche Aviate Creative, Industry Today
Paul Kiesche

Paul Kiesche is the President of Aviate Creative, a branding and creative agency with an edge in manufacturing. Paul applies decades years of experience and award-winning work in branding and marketing to the manufacturing industry. In addition, Paul is an adjunct professor, speaker and author of branding, graphic design and marketing subjects. His objective is to help educate and grow manufacturers through effective, proven strategies.

(908) 509-4442

Previous articleThe COVID Effect: A U.S. Manufacturing Resurgence?
Next articleA Computational Model for Intelligent Manufacturing