by: Keegan Banks, Senior Vice President – Client Delivery, Harvey Nash USA
To be competitive, manufacturers need to be agile when it comes to tech implementations. This requires a robust talent pipeline of contingent workers that can be scaled up or down as projects develop and evolve. But how can companies build this pipeline when there’s a lack of engineering and tech talent nationwide? One leading equipment manufacturer tackled this issue by using the following four strategies to bring on over 500 contingent workers during a five-year period as part of a larger hiring initiative. The positions included manufacturing engineers, business analysts, developers, IT analysts, planning processors, systems administrators and more.
1. Sell the Opportunity
Historically, manufacturing companies had a reputation as lagging behind when it came to advanced technology and innovation. But perceptions are shifting. According to a Deloitte survey, the number of respondents who believe U.S. manufacturing jobs are creative, innovative and employ problem-solving skills rose from 39% in 2017 to 64% in 2022.
This presents an opportunity for companies to tackle the manufacturing misconception by capitalizing on the industry’s high-tech selling points and highlighting their own advanced capabilities. Many larger manufacturers are already taking note by promoting their tech expertise and offerings, as well as the actual advanced tech products being built.
2. Understand the Talent Landscape
Hiring for engineering and tech talent requires recruiters with highly-specialized skills that enable them to understand the technical parameters, expertise and personality needed for these positions. For instance, where a generalist recruiter might ask, “are you interested in this developer role?” A dedicated tech recruiter would ask, “are you interested in this developer role where you’ll work with a team of top developers in the organization to create a cutting-edge program that will have a positive impact on climate change?”
Other capabilities a skilled tech recruiter brings to the table include:
- Understanding what talent needs exist in the organization, down to specifics within certain departments and teams
- Examining company trends and market activity to establish a full picture of the contingent talent availability and competitive landscape
- Maintaining relationships with passive and active candidates, as well as with contractors coming off of other projects, to understand their specific capabilities and priorities
3. Tap into Data for Greater Insights
Companies across sectors realize that data is critical to understanding all aspects of their business including customer needs, supply chain efficiencies and inventory levels. Staffing insights should also be prioritized and closely tracking specific workforce metrics can arm companies with business intelligence that goes far beyond typical KPIs.
One effective strategy is to gather intelligence from hiring managers through formal surveys, reviews and consistent communication in order to build robust profiles that include highly-specific details. These can include data points around the hiring manager’s interview style and vetting process, as well as their preferences when it comes to a candidate’s education, experience, skills and personality. These insights can be used to find engineering and tech talent that meets the hiring manager’s expectations, leading to a more accurate match between candidate and opportunity.
4. Build Long-term Relationships
Candidates need to be fully engaged throughout the hiring process and beyond. This is especially true as manufacturing companies try to pull engineering and tech talent away from other sectors such as technology, life sciences and renewables.
Promoting an opportunity in this environment requires a team that has a thorough understanding of the company, its history and its people. This allows them to not only sell the job but provide useful insights about the organization to the candidate. This may include what to expect during the application journey such as the types of interviews, hiring timeline and general makeup of the competition. They can also provide specifics around what a job offer might entail such as a realistic start date, average contract length, chances for an extension or conversion and what to expect during onboarding.
Once a candidate is placed, personal touch-points and frequent check-ins are important to help monitor the employee/employer relationship and step in if any issues arise. After the engagement is over, continued outreach to candidates is a critical element for building trust. This ongoing relationship management helps establish a healthy pipeline of talent for redeployment and exclusive access to top resources in any given market.
Manufacturing is a Winning Career
The manufacturing industry has a lot to offer engineers and other tech professionals. Not only are there plenty of job opportunities with competitive pay, but there’s a wide variety of specialized areas to pursue such as consumer electronics, automotive, medical device, aerospace and renewable energy. By shifting how they pursue this talent, manufacturing companies can overcome challenges and misperceptions to become sought-after places of employment for professionals looking to build dynamic and sustainable careers.
About the Author
Keegan Banks is Senior Vice President of Client Delivery at Harvey Nash USA, a full-service talent recruitment firm specializing in technology positions. Banks is responsible for developing and optimizing recruiting delivery strategies with the overarching goal of improving candidate and client experiences. Banks is also committed to advancing women in both the recruiting and technology industries and makes it a priority to support, coach and mentor young professional women.
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