When seeking out a new job, potential employees want to understand what will be expected of them and how they will be evaluated if brought onboard; on the other hand, employers want to be sure they are interviewing the right candidates for the right job, and not wasting valuable time interviewing under- or over-qualified individuals. One way to ensure each party gets what they want is to craft a well-thought-out and detailed job description.
While it’s important that companies in any industry create top-notch job descriptions, it’s even more crucial for today’s small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs). Manufacturing jobs have long been thought of as “dark, dirty and dangerous.” Of course, for many positions this is no longer true, but that is the perception the industry has been saddled with. For younger and future workers, this perception makes a career in manufacturing potentially unattractive, resulting in a skills gap and many unfilled positions. More food for thought: One-quarter of the U.S. population is expected to reach 60 years of age or older by 2025, meaning manufacturing facilities will be losing many current workers to retirement. With a large number of workers going out and a shortage of skilled workers coming in, Deloitte predicts that there will be a total of 2 million skilled manufacturing jobs unfilled by 2025 if nothing is done now.
While a great job description probably can’t solve this potential crisis on its own (we’ll get to some other ways to help fill the skills gap in a bit), it can certainly help. The job description is likely to be the first exposure a job seeker will have to your company when looking for employment and, if done right, it provides the opportunity to explain the position, generate interest, and get them to your website to learn more.
Eight Ways to Engage
1. One size should not fit all.
It’s not uncommon to find SMMs desperate to fill positions advertising that “all experience levels” are welcome. This statement should be used sparingly. If the position requires some skill, you don’t want an entry-level person applying who likely won’t be up to the challenges ahead; and if the position truly is entry-level, you don’t want an experienced person applying and leaving as soon as a job better suited to their skill level opens up. It’s important to address requirements upfront to avoid winding up with a pool of under- and over-qualified applicants in the end.
2. Job titles should reflect the position.
Vague job titles can leave a lot of room for interpretation. Be sure titles are representative of the work the employee will be performing, and don't embellish as this can lead to disappointment. Think of the job title as the headline to the job description; it’s what is going to capture attention and get people to continue reading.
3. Define “a day in the life.”
Listing out the equipment a candidate will be using or the skills they need to have is certainly a step in the right direction; however, to truly give them a feel of what life with your company will be like, consider defining daily responsibilities. What will the employee do from day to day? Who will they interact with? Will their responsibilities change over time? This peek behind the curtain will help attract those truly excited about the position, and weed out those who aren’t.
4. Acknowledge workplace conditions.
We discussed the perception that all manufacturing is “dark, dirty and dangerous.” If your facility is the opposite—clean, calm, current, and high-tech—make it known in the job description. And if your facility is more in line with the perception, don’t shy away from it (of course, you’ll want to come up with some better adjectives than the three D’s and make it known if you practice a culture of safety to offset some concern). As we’ve repeated several times already, there’s no reason to bring someone aboard who is going to be unhappy and desert you as soon as they have the opportunity.
5. Highlight your workplace culture.
Cultural components of a company are important to employees, especially with millennials and Generation Z. However, many SMMs fail to share the values of the company and its people. To attract the next generation, highlight the core values of your company. If collaboration with co-workers is encouraged, say so; if there are sustainability efforts, tout them; and if diversity is valued, make it known.
6. Be different from the competition.
Because the industry is expected to face a talent shortage in the near future, manufacturers will be in fierce competition with one another to attract the best and the brightest. Currently, job descriptions from manufacturer to manufacturer may often be interchangeable. By crafting a better focused and more detailed description than other hiring manufacturers, SMMs can make their company and its open positions stand out to increase their competitive advantage.
7. List benefits other than the paycheck.
Pay, health, and 401K benefits (if available) are usually listed in job descriptions, but other small perks can also make a difference. Are schedules flexible or are different shifts available? This could make a big difference to employees with kids or other commitments. Are there discounts on the goods you manufacture? Any other perks?
8. Describe your performance evaluation.
Applicants should also know how their performance is going to be evaluated over time; positive feedback and constructive criticism is highly valued by the younger generation. They also like to have a clear path for moving up in the organization. Detail the ways in which they may be able to achieve the next level in their career.
More Ways to Engage
A good job description isn’t the only way to attract new talent. As a bonus, here are four more ways SMMs can reach out to the next generation of workers.
- Participate in Manufacturing Day. Held this year on Friday, October 5, MFG DAY 2018 is an opportunity to conduct a career fair and showcase your facilities and products to students and potential employees.
- Partner with local schools and colleges. Speak with career advisors about hosting small groups for interactive talks and tours throughout your facilities.
- Offer internships and apprenticeships. Let the next generation experience manufacturing in the 21st century first-hand through opportunities that could lead to full-time employment.
- Network through social media. Social media is a great way to connect with today's youth; YouTube has been instrumental in recruiting new talent through virtual facility tours highlighting new technologies.
By keeping in mind the eight strategies we highlighted for developing a good job description, and by taking advantage of a variety of other ways to attract employees, you can change people’s perception of the industry and attract a richer pool of applicants. Best of all? Creating better job descriptions doesn’t cost anything but a little extra time and effort. Start practicing this recruitment strategy now so that you’re ahead of the curve when skilled employees begin retiring and attracting new workers becomes a matter of survival.