5 tips for hiring manufacturing workers in Tampa

A manufacturing worker in a factory.

As an industry, manufacturing continues to thrive, yet hiring for manufacturing in the Tampa area can be challenging at best. As just one example, finding skilled workers for factory hiring to fill the gaps in this booming field as people retire is becoming more difficult by the year.

In fact, 89% of manufacturing executives agree that there’s a talent shortage in the industry, according to a study by Deloitte LLP and The Manufacturing Institute. This skills gap is poised to create 2.4 million unfilled positions between 2019 and 2028.

Locally, in Odessa, the Conveyer Consulting and Rubber Company has plans to invest $2 million to build two new facilities. Packaging and medical supply firm The Soule Co., a Pasco manufacturer, plans an $8 million expansion in Lutz. And three Tampa Bay area counties—Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Polk—added more than 6,000 manufacturing jobs from 2017 to 2019.

When hiring for manufacturing, in order to source candidates, screen them properly, get them trained, and retain them, it’s important to be strategic. Here are five strategies to help with your manufacturing and factory hiring initiatives:

1. Change the Perception

Manufacturing has a bit of an image problem. People often think that manufacturing jobs are disappearing offshore, that they don’t pay well, and that the work is boring and repetitive, when in fact, none of those things are true. Instead, the demand for factory hiring is up and the job opportunities are varied, with everything from technology to engineering mixed in. As such, salaries have plenty of growth potential as well.

Beyond the manufacturing industry as a whole, your company culture matters, too. Think about some of the potential roadblocks you’ve had when embarking on factory hiring. Are people backing away because of the work schedule? If so, consider building in some flexibility. Perhaps people might be concerned about the physical components of manufacturing. If so, highlight that there are lots of positions that focus on fine motor skills or operating machinery, or even manufacturing in technology, rather than heavy lifting or other physically demanding tasks.

Changing the perception about what manufacturing is all about – at both the industry and company level – can go a long way toward encouraging people to consider working with your organization.

2. Market Your Roles Well

Making sure your career site is mobile-friendly and highlighting employee success stories – especially people who have been promoted within the company – is one of the best ways to attract candidates. Evidence of advancement will always bring high-quality people to your roles.

Another good recruiting technique for factory hiring is to work with local high schools, community colleges, and technical schools to promote careers in manufacturing. It will not only introduce people to the field, but it will hopefully get the company name out there in a positive way.

You could also boost hiring for manufacturing by hosting open houses and job fairs to invite people in to see what the factory actually looks like and what the work entails. Use social media to post about local events, and search for groups to connect with so you can reach a niche audience.

And make sure you’re posting jobs with keywords that workers are searching. In the Tampa and St. Petersburg areas, the top keyword searches related to manufacturing jobs are as follows, according to Monster data:

  • Manufacturing
  • Manufacturing Manager
  • Manufacturing Engineer
  • Manufacturing Supervisor
  • Manufacturing Assembly
  • Manufacturing Process Engineer
  • Manufacturing Engineering
  • Food ManufacturingGet Your Employees on Board

3. Get your employees on board

Do you offer a great place to work? Good benefits? Good people? Allow your happy employees to share their experiences. Encourage your team to create entries on employer review sites, and spotlight various employees on the company’s social media pages.

Then, take it to the next level by ramping up an employee referral program. It’s one of the best ways to find eager and partially vetted recruits for your company.

4. Ask Smart Interview Questions

Blue-collar workers may not have the most sophisticated resumes, so it could be challenging to figure out what a candidate has accomplished in prior positions. That’s why when you’re doing factory hiring or hiring for manufacturing, it’s critical to do screening interviews and ask questions that delve into those areas. The best way to dig deep is to ask behavioral interview questions.

Behavioral interview questions delve into how someone might handle an issue or challenge based on things they’ve done at a previous job. It can help those tasked with factory hiring figure out if a candidate will be a good team member, fit in with the company culture, and if they will remain committed to their work even when challenges arise.

To create behavioral interview questions, think about the most important traits needed to succeed in the job.  Some examples might be:

  • What would you say to a co-worker you saw violating safety rules?
  • What is the toughest piece of equipment to troubleshoot?
  • Tell me about a time you worked on a joint project where your co-worker wanted to do the task differently. How did you resolve the situation?

Asking the right questions will help give you insight into whether someone’s thinking aligns with the company’s values.

5. Seek Out Trainable Talent

When faced with a talent shortage when hiring for manufacturing, you may need to change your approach and hire people for their core characteristics, rather than just looking for experience with a particular task. If someone has a solid foundation and strong work ethic, there is plenty of potential to work with. In fact, it’s easier to train someone to perform a technical job than it is to train them in how to fit into the company culture.

For those individuals who may be lacking some skills, it can be worth the investment to train them on how to do specific tasks. Whether it’s an entry-level training program that lasts a couple of weeks or a full-fledged apprenticeship program, upskilling new hires is a great way to expand your talent pool.

Once you are providing opportunities for workers to enhance their skills set or advance up the job ladder, be sure to mention that in your job listings and on your career pages.

In addition, cross training your current workforce is also wise so that people can wear multiple hats, move around laterally to prevent burnout, and grow within the organization. Many manufacturing and factory workers enjoy solving problems and working with their hands, so in order to retain skilled talent, keeping the jobs interesting and providing advancement opportunities is important.

Start Hiring Manufacturing Workers in the Tampa Area

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