Crain’s Cleveland: Recruiting a new generation: What should your company do online to help attract today’s top talent?

In the next 10 years, it is anticipated that the manufacturing industry will be short 2 million new workers due to the retirement of about 3 million workers and the lack of younger professionals to replace them. (The skills gap in U.S. manufacturing, 2015 and beyond, Deloitte & Manufacturing Institute)

With a large portion of the manufacturing industry soon to lose much embedded knowledge with the retirement of employees, it is crucial that manufacturing companies start now to assess their current workforce plan to ensure that there is a strategic process in place to target the next generation of talent.

At the Magnet “Develop Your Workforce for Growth” event on Aug. 6, only 7% of the manufacturers in attendance used any social network and/or company website for job recruitment.

Consider that in 2015, Internet usage by people ages 18 to 29 is 96%. (Pew Research Center). In addition, 89% of 18 to 29 year olds use social networking sites. (Social Networking Fact Sheet, Pew Research Center)

Are digital and social platforms a large part of your workforce plan? If not, they should be. Not only does it offer the opportunity to reach a huge portion of millennials, it also allows your manufacturing company to showcase the qualities it possesses that appeal to this younger talent pool.

What are millennials looking for?

Millennials are generally looking for businesses without the traditional hierarchies. They are interested in opportunities for growth and places that encourage leadership and education to continually improve their skills to meet their career goals. They prefer group environments and a community feel at work that provides flexibility. They also expect companies to be socially minded. (Against All Odds – The Emergence Of Generation Y, “Are you loyal to your job and not your employer?”)

Luckily, many manufacturing companies have these attributes built into them. The trick is showing this modern image of manufacturing to the general public.

Start by leveraging social to showcase your company culture and engage with the next generation. Use profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and, yes, even Instagram to create a mix of content, video and imagery that relates to them. Follow the examples of manufacturers using social media recruitment and branding below.

Use video to interview employees to showcase their career opportunities, company culture and possibly location benefits for a great work/life balance. Teck Resources Limited has a good example of a short video interview that highlights the benefits of its small town location and access to outdoor activities, as well as company opportunities.

3M’s LinkedIn career page uses content that addresses group projects, meaning in career and improving work and life all within a short paragraph. It also provides testimonials from 3M employees and links to its Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and website.

Swagelok has a career page on Facebook that allows it to engage with prospective employees, as well as current employees. It regularly posts articles that are a mix of its training programs and higher education partnerships, images of its recruitment booths and The Swagelok Foundation, as well as outside workplace award recognitions.

It also has a great story to tell about its products helping to make history by shattering the world land speed record this year to help combat the stereotype of manufacturing as outdated and dirty.

There are some manufacturers taking advantage of the visual aspect of Instagram. Kenesky Manufacturing uses Instagram to showcase its products and hall of famer events, as well as even conduct outreach for customer voting on company T-shirts. MXD Systems is posting images and video of its products being manufactured, as well as the final products. It also posted a hiring announcement, which received notable engagement.

Start now to develop your brand and messaging that describes what your employees think about the company and your culture and content that addresses the needs of your future employee. Fifty-three percent of the manufacturers at the Magnet event reported that they did not know their employer’s brand — if your own employees do not know your brand values, then your employee candidates likely can’t tell either.

Finally, create and deploy a long-term vision and strategy to help ensure that you find the right people with the right skills who also fit into your company.

Stacey Stingley is a digital marketing specialist at Fathom in Valley View.

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