Crowd of people hurrying across crosswalk

Can’t Find Good Manufacturing Candidates? Here are 10 Creative Places to Look.

Finding the right people for job openings at your manufacturing facility is probably a challenge. Here are 10 less obvious ways machine shops, job shops, OEMs, and precision manufacturers can find potential employees:

Crowd of people hurrying across a crosswalk - we know they are not stampeding to apply to manufacturing jobs!

1. Go to Manufacturing & Engineering Competitions

Sponsor or attend competitions related to manufacturing and engineering to spot potential candidates. These events bring together people with problem-solving skills, a passion for innovation, and a competitive streak. These are all qualities that are invaluable in a manufacturing setting. Don’t overlook the people volunteering at the events! Example: SkillsUSA, ASME  

2. Social Media Groups

Everyone between the age of 18 through 35 is probably on social media of some kind. Posting your jobs on LinkedIn is an obvious choice. It has over 400,000 profiles that contain the term machinist – who knew? There are also lot of specialized groups and forums on places like Facebook, Reddit, and even Instagram. You can post content in these places and reach people who are excited about machining, manufacturing, and engineering. Not social media savvy when it comes to recruiting? Here’s a good resource to start you out. Best practice is to start out doing one or two well rather than trying to do everything.

3. Employee Referral Programs

Current (happy) employees are your best recruiters. Put together a employee referral program to incentivize your team to recommend the company to their friends who might be a good fit. A good word can go a long way with people who aren’t actively looking, but open to a change. It can be a very economical way to find great people. You can add things like they have to stay at least 6 months, etc. if you are worried about fast turnover.

4. Open Houses and Workshops

People have a picture in their mind about what working in manufacturing is like. It might not be a very flattering picture. Host a open house or free workshop on CAD/CAM, machining, or other relevant topics to attract interested people. It’s a way to showcase your shop’s culture and capabilities with people in the area – and highlight it as a great place to work!

5. Online Learning Platforms

Online learning platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and Khan Academy have learners interested in machining and manufacturing. Call these places up and see if you can sponsor a course or offer a scholarship for relevant course content. This can help you connect with people developing the skills you are looking for. Great place to connect with adult learners.

6. Niche Job Boards

In addition to whatever job boards you are already posting on, be sure to add niche ones specifically for CNC machinists, operators, etc. Websites like JobsInManufacturing or the National Tooling and Machining Association’s career center can offer more targeted exposure to your listings.

7. Don’t Overlook Special Group Organizations

Partner with organizations that work with special groups to help their members find jobs. This includes veterans, people with disabilities, people transitioning out of homelessness, and ex-offenders. Veterans often have transferable skills, including technical skills, leadership, and a strong work ethic. Ex-offenders can have great skills but find it difficult to find work. Focus on the people, not their circumstances. Don’t let stereotypes stand in the way of finding good candidates. What about a special shift that accommodates people who have school-aged children? Or hiring retirees from other professions who are bored staying at home? Teachers, first responders, and healthcare workers are good professions to start with. You can get a Federal Bond on higher-risk employees if that makes you more comfortable.

8. Maker Spaces

Depending on your location, there could be maker spaces that attract people who like to make things and might be interested in turning a hobby into a profession. Even just posting a flier (with permission from the space) can put you in front of people who are not on the more traditional spaces – and they are local!

“It’s good to have things like scholarships, but not every problem can be solved with just raw dollars. In the example at The Makerspace, it was higher education, partnered with K through 12, partnered with industry, partnered with the Chamber of Commerce. Every type of institution has inherent strengths, inherent weaknesses, and we just put all that together, and we made something happen”

—Kylan Hastreiters on the Manufacturing Mavericks Podcast

9. Search for Accomplishment Posts on Social Media

Search various social media platforms for people posting about courses or badges related to skills you are looking for. Then comment on their post and mention that your company is hiring. It’s an easy way to start a conversation.

10. Educational Partnerships

Form partnerships with your local/regional technical schools, community colleges, and universities. Sure everyone does this, but you need to be doing this too. Build relationships with the people there to help your company stand out. A good word from them could sway potential candidates who have multiple choices. Be open to offering internships, apprenticeships, and even creating project-based learning opportunities for students with instructors. Don’t forget keep national resources on your radar too: ManufacturingUSA, NIST MEP 

Get Creative to Get Candidates!

Try some of these strategies to find talented people who might never see your more traditional recruitment activities. These alternate strategies can help manufacturers uncover talented candidates hiding in plain sight. As a bonus, getting out there builds community involvement and helps develops a more engaged and passionate team.

Don’t forget to empower them with the tools they need to succeed!

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