Manufacturing Recruiting Trends in 2024: Talent Retention, Labor Shortages, and AI

No matter how you look at it, manufacturing recruiting is tough, and it’s not getting much easier. With a shortage of skilled workers and countless open positions to fill, it’s no wonder that recruiting can seem like an insurmountable challenge. 

In the face of a labor crunch, an influx of software engineers in their workforce, and a need to continue adapting to hybrid work models, the sector has arguably evolved more in the past five years than ever before.

We’ve stayed close to the manufacturing recruiting trends, drawing on insights from industry leaders to understand which tactics are working — and which aren’t. Our 2024 Manufacturing Hiring Insights Report, informed by perspectives from 105 HR and TA professionals in manufacturing, offers a detailed view of the innovative strategies and technologies shaping the future of hiring in the sector.

For the TL;DR of the report, here’s a roundup of the state of manufacturing recruiting in 2024 — and some tips you can steal from the experts.

Unlock manufacturing’s top hiring strategies in 2024

Our study of 105 manufacturing TA leaders reveals how to hit your hiring goals in a challenging market.

Manufacturing sector hiring insights

1. Hiring goals attainment in manufacturing was stagnant (and low)

Manufacturing recruiting goal attainment

We’ll be honest—recruiting large numbers of skilled candidates isn’t easy, and the data agrees. TA teams have struggled to recruit during a manufacturing labor shortage. Talent teams in the manufacturing sector met only 44.3% of their hiring goals in 2023. This is the lowest hiring goal attainment among all five sectors surveyed for our Hiring Insights Report. 

Hiring goal attainment in 2023 by all sectors.

And the competition for talent remains fierce. Despite efforts to bounce back after the pandemic, the industry has faced an uphill battle in refilling vacancies. The numbers don’t lie: as of December 2023, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that a staggering 601,000 manufacturing jobs remained wide open.

2. Remote work and compensation frameworks are top challenges

Top manufacturing recruiting challenges 2024

The sector’s top hiring challenge, cited by 31% of TA leaders, was remote work expectations, reflecting the sector’s ongoing adjustment to the evolving nature of work environments, especially as manufacturing companies hire more software engineers who have the capability of working remotely.

Michael Case, Global Head of Partnerships at Meshd, has led international recruiting efforts for some of the largest manufacturers over the past two decades. He says that the manufacturing industry is increasingly employing software developers, who are more likely to have a hybrid or remote working model that doesn’t fit into the compensation frameworks the industry has relied on for years: “More and more when you’re hiring for manufacturing, you’re hiring software engineers too. Every company is a software company now, right? And I think having strong processes for those kinds of candidates is actually something we can’t ignore.”

Equally challenging has been dealing with unrealistic compensation expectations, mentioned by 27% of TA leaders, signaling the need for clear communication about pay in a changing economic landscape.

Additionally, the limitations of current hiring technology and the consistent effort to retain top talent are pressing issues, each cited by 26% of leaders. This highlights the necessity for technological advancements in the hiring process and the development of strategies to hold onto valuable employees.

Changes in company hiring policies and instances of candidates not showing up to interviews were also notable concerns, with 26% of TA leaders emphasizing the impact of policy shifts on recruitment dynamics and 24% noting the difficulties posed by candidate no-shows. Furthermore, 22% of respondents identified suboptimal employer branding as a challenge, indicating the importance of a strong and differentiated company image in attracting the right candidates.

3. Layoffs plagued 38% of manufacturing companies

In the U.S., job cuts announced from January to November 2023 surged by 115% compared to the same period in the previous year, totaling over 686,000. Manufacturing organizations were no exception, with 38% reporting layoffs in 2023.

Manufacturing layoffs 2023

Manufacturing TA leaders are navigating the complexities of a market where layoffs coexist with a shortage of specialized talent. This paradox indicates that while manufacturing organizations may be reducing headcount, aligning available talent with the specific skill sets required for open roles remains an ongoing challenge.

And the morale of existing employees is increasingly impacted by layoffs, intensifying the sector’s talent retention dilemma.

Manufacturing companies that conducted layoffs in 2023 were 64% more likely to report fair or poor employee performance than those who did not conduct layoffs.

Manufacturing layoffs impact on employee performance

And recruitment teams have been disproportionately affected by layoffs in all sectors, leading to increased strain on those remaining. The rise of full-cycle recruiters, tasked with maximizing limited resources and time, has led to challenges in meeting business demands. Our report found that 39% of manufacturing organizations acknowledge that higher turnover within recruitment teams has hindered the flow of their candidate pipeline.

4. The top-anticipated manufacturing recruiting challenge? Remote work

Top anticipated manufacturing recruiting challenges.

As manufacturing TA leaders anticipate the challenges of 2024, they’re preparing for continued friction in adapting to remote and hybrid work models, despite being four years into a remote work revolution. As the sector expands its workforce to add more software engineers, it continues to grapple with the necessity of offering semi-flexible work models to attract and retain top talent.

Speaking of retention, 23% anticipate continued issues hanging onto their best workers and an equal number are preparing for a lack of qualified candidates to fill their open roles.

5. Hiring in manufacturing is increasingly competitive

44% of the sector anticipates that manufacturing hiring will become more competitive throughout 2024. To compete effectively, TA leaders see a need to re-invigorate their candidate experience

how the manufacturing hiring landscape is expected to change in 2024

A substantial 48% think they’ll need to focus on connecting more quickly with candidates, and 40% will focus on creating more meaningful relationships. They’ll also need to increase the number of candidate touchpoints in the hiring process, and all of this with smaller teams, as 39% anticipate continued challenges related to recruitment team turnover.

6. Automating interview scheduling is a no-brainer for the sector

Manufacturing recruiting perks and candidate experience initiatives

55% of today’s manufacturing recruiting teams are prioritizing candidates’ time by offering automated, candidate-driven interview scheduling. 43% are also offering convenient rescheduling options through an online platform.

Automating interview scheduling isn’t just better for your candidates — it’s more convenient for your interviewers as well. And with manufacturing TA leaders saying their teams spend nearly a third of their time scheduling interviews, automating this task could give them back two or more days per week to focus on higher-value work.

Aside from scheduling, teams are prioritizing transparency in the interview process (44%), offering perks like transportation or lunch on interview days (42%), and utilizing candidate experience platforms (42%).

These manufacturing recruiting trends reveal exceptional adaptability and innovation in the face of unique sector-specific challenges. Our report encapsulates these transformative strategies and insights, offering valuable perspectives for overcoming the sector’s hiring obstacles.

To dive deeper into these insights and much, much more, get the manufacturing report today.

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A New World: How Manufacturing Recruiters Must Evolve Their Processes

Let’s cut to the chase: manufacturing isn’t known for being on the cutting edge. The sector is typically slower to adapt to changes in the world of hiring. And these days, hiring seems to evolve at the speed of light—leaving most manufacturing recruiters in the dust. 

Recruiters must contend with new work structures, hiring policy standards, and expectations from candidates. AKA: your hiring team’s current way of doing things probably isn’t up to snuff. But don’t stress yet; we’re here to show you the way forward.

After surveying 531 talent acquisition leaders across sectors for our 2023 Hiring Insights Report, we’ve released the report’s manufacturing edition. Based on responses from 106 talent leaders in manufacturing, the report shows how they’re winning talent in the modern world (and much, much more hiring insights).

What challenges will define manufacturing? How will hiring change? And most importantly: how can manufacturing recruiters evolve their processes to overcome whatever is thrown their way? 

We’ve rounded up all of those crucial insights. Read on.

The Difficult Future for Manufacturing Recruiters

Another year, another set of obstacles. According to our survey, respondents expect to get hit by new challenges and shifts in the landscape this year.

If manufacturing recruiters want to overcome these forces, they’ll have to reassess their current processes. But first, what can teams expect in the evolving world of hiring?

Manufacturing’s Biggest Challenges

Limitations of Hiring Technology

Talent leaders in the manufacturing sector anticipate a major challenge in the coming year:
“limitations of current hiring technology” (27%). This ranked as their top concern. 

Talent teams within manufacturing and beyond have faced considerable turnover and budget cuts. In the aftermath, teams recognize that without the assistance of an airtight tech stack, they will struggle to meet their goals.

Slow, outdated technology acts as a massive roadblock for a high-volume hiring sector like manufacturing, where speed is the name of the game. But with purpose-built manufacturing recruiting software that enables efficiency and productivity, teams can keep candidates engaged and win them over in record time.

Bar chart showing what challenges manufacturing talent teams expect in the future.

Changes in Company Hiring Policies

In today’s shifting hiring landscape, manufacturing companies need to stay agile and adjust their hiring policies accordingly. Talent leaders are well aware of this; they ranked “changes in company hiring policies” as their second biggest upcoming challenge (26%). 

It’s only natural for hiring policies to evolve in response to a transforming landscape, especially in a sector that has already undergone significant changes. Manufacturing no longer resembles what it was years ago. Traditionally viewed as an “in-person sector,” companies are slowly but surely embracing remote and hybrid work models.

This newfound flexibility in work structures gives manufacturers a competitive edge in attracting candidates and aligning with the values of emerging talent in the market. Yet to effectively support remote and hybrid work, hiring and HR teams must establish the right policies.

Does interview scheduling automation make sense for my team?

ROI is key. This is not a time to invest in software that won’t bring you immediate value. So let’s eliminate the guesswork with our free ROI calculator.

Manufacturing’s Biggest Shifts

Competitive or Uncompetitive Landscape? It’s Up for Debate

When it comes to upcoming changes in the hiring landscape, talent leaders have mixed opinions that really highlight the divide. 

On one hand, 44% believe that the landscape will become less competitive because of the increase in available remote talent. On the other hand, 43% believe that the landscape will actually become more competitive due to the rising demand for talent as a whole amdist a manufacturing labor shortage

With new challenges looming, the future feels quite uncertain to today’s teams.

Bar chart showing how hiring teams expect the landscape to change.

Directors and the C-Suite Say…

When we look at the data broken down by seniority level, we see an intriguing split. Let’s analyze.

Most directors believe that the landscape will become more competitive because of the growing demand for talent (50%). However, most C-suite executives think that the landscape will become less competitive as remote talent becomes more available (46%).

It’s worth noting that directors have good reason to anticipate increased demand for talent. They understand the ongoing impact of the current skills shortage and the increase in job vacancies resulting from retirements and the sector’s rapid expansion.

C-suite executives are banking on the surge in remote talent to alleviate competition. But here’s the question: Are they ready to embrace remote work within their own organizations? Manufacturing is still new to the concept of flexible work; the C-suite might be more optimistic than directors about their progress in establishing remote structures.

Bar chart showing how directors and the C-suite expect the landscape to change.

How Manufacturing Recruiters Must Respond

We now have a feeling for what’s ahead in the hiring world. So, what’s a recruiter to do? To help inform your strategies moving forward, here’s how talent teams from our report plan on conquering recruitment.

Emphasize Time-to-Hire and Candidate Relationships

Topping the list at 36% each, talent leaders believe that reducing time-to-hire and fostering candidate relationships are the key areas that they must prioritize in the coming months. By improving these aspects, teams can establish a well-rounded hiring process.

Candidates want a process that moves swiftly, signaling that they are a priority and their time is valued. But speed alone isn’t everything. Candidates also crave the opportunity to establish a genuine connection with the hiring team and get a glimpse into the company’s work culture and its people.

Bar chart showing what TA leaders plan on improving in the future.

Don’t Forget About the Tech Stack

To create this comprehensive candidate experience, teams have another priority in mind: upgrading their tech solutions, which comes in at 31%. Utilizing advanced tech tools would actually help teams improve all of the top five areas they plan to focus on.

An upgraded hiring tech stack streamlines the hiring process for candidates and boosts the efficiency of hiring teams. As a result, teams can dedicate more time to building meaningful connections with potential hires. 

And the big payoff? Ultimately, this effectively addresses talent leaders’ biggest anticipated challenge: the limitations of their current hiring technology.

Manufacturing Recruiters: Want More Insights?

2022 brought a shaky economy, sweeping reductions in force, and a challenging hiring landscape. The pressure is on to attract qualified candidates, deliver an efficient hiring process, and leverage hiring tools that drive success. Are you ready to succeed in 2023? 
To dive deeper into these insights and much, much more, get the manufacturing report today.

5 Reasons Why High-Volume Hiring Teams Miss Their Goals

Ah, high-volume hiring; your inbox is overflowing with resumes, your calendar is jam-packed with interviews, and your stress levels are off the charts. Or, maybe you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum and can’t seem to find enough applicants to fill your endless vacancies. 

Hitting hiring goals amid all of this chaos can quickly become a real challenge—especially with limited time and resources. But luckily, we’re here to help make sense of it all. 

Here are five common reasons why high-volume hiring teams miss their goals, along with key solutions to help you improve your recruitment process.

Reason 1: Slow, Inefficient Communication With Candidates

Let’s face it—maintaining consistent communication is hard. And when you’re trying to coordinate interviews with countless candidates, things can quickly spiral out of control. 

Gaps in communication and slow response times are bad, bad news for a high-volume hiring process. This can cause delays in scheduling interviews, lower response rates from candidates, and missed opportunities with stellar talent.

Pro-Tip: Leverage Email/SMS Templates and Automation

Templatizing your communication—whether that’s through email or text message—and utilizing a healthy dose of automation is the recipe for success. This way, candidates stay informed and engaged throughout the process.

Communication templates eliminate the manual work involved in drafting up a whole new message for every candidate in your pipeline. Even better, tech tools that enable automation reduce the time and effort required to send messages and coordinate with applicants, all while ensuring consistent communication.

Does interview scheduling automation make sense for my team?

ROI is key. This is not a time to invest in software that won’t bring you immediate value. So let’s eliminate the guesswork with our free ROI calculator.

Reason 2: Limited Time and Resources

Time is of the essence and helpful resources are essential when you’re a high-volume recruiter. Yet of course, these are the two elements that today’s teams lack the most. 

The current hectic economic landscape has dealt a heavy blow to many recruiting teams, slashing budgets in half and reducing headcount in one fell swoop. High-volume hiring was hard before, and it’s even harder now.  Teams must manage multiple candidates and coordinate a variety of interviews with less bandwidth and support to do so. 

Pro-Tip: Streamline the Screening and Scheduling Process

To improve your efficiency and make the most of your resources, consider using technology to fast-track some of the most tedious, manual parts of the hiring process. For many recruiters, this means the resume screening and interview scheduling process.

That’s where your applicant tracking system (ATS) comes in. And if you don’t already have one, it’s time to change things. Here are our ATS recommendations. An ATS helps recruiters quickly filter through large volumes of resumes and identify the most qualified candidates.

But an ATS can’t do it all on its own. An advanced interview scheduling software automates the entire process of getting interviews on the books, from gathering a candidate’s availability to finding the best available interviewers. That way, recruiters have more bandwidth for the most high-value tasks.

Reason 3: Lack of Organizational Planning

High-volume hiring is oftentimes chaotic. And when you’re dealing with hundreds of candidates, it can feel hard to stay organized and on top of everything. But without a solid plan in place, you’re already setting yourself up for failure.

That’s why effective organizational planning is absolutely essential for successful high-volume hiring. Without a well-defined hiring process in place, recruiters may struggle to manage their time effectively, communicate with stakeholders, and make informed hiring decisions. 

Pro-Tip: Align and Define the Stages of the Hiring Process

If you want to amp up your organizational planning, consider creating detailed hiring plans that outline each stage of the hiring process and the specific roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder. 

For example, a hiring plan might include a timeline of each hiring stage, from candidate sourcing to final offer acceptance, as well as the specific actions and tasks required for each stage. By having a clear plan in place, recruiters can manage their time and resources more efficiently, communicate more effectively with stakeholders, and make better hiring decisions. 

Reason 4: Candidates Dropping Out

When you’re managing such a large talent pool, many—or most—applicants that you come across just aren’t going to be the right fit. Yet even if you get a dazzling resume, there’s so many opportunities throughout the hiring process for qualified talent to become disengaged and drop out altogether. 

Having candidates occasionally drop out is expected when you’re a high-volume recruiter. The quick, simple application process sometimes means candidates aren’t as invested in moving forward. However, failing to address the faults in your process makes it that much harder to win qualified talent.

Pro-Tip: Simplify the Hiring Process

We could go on and on about the variety of ways that recruiters can prevent candidates from dropping out. In fact, implementing all of our previously mentioned pro-tips amounts to a better candidate experience and a higher likelihood of securing the best candidates.

However, there’s one tip that we haven’t mentioned yet, and it’s an important one: simplify the hiring process. High-volume recruiting isn’t the place for an overly-complicated process. You want to get talent in the door fast, and candidates want to get to work ASAP. 

Simplifying the hiring process can take many shapes. For instance, recruiting via SMS or WhatsApp allows candidates to quickly go through the hiring process via the device that they have on them at all times: their phone. 

Reason 5: Not Enough Leads in the Funnel

When it comes to high-volume hiring, having a strong recruitment funnel with a pipeline of potential candidates is essential to success. But for some high-volume recruiting teams, generating a consistent flow of leads is a major challenge. 

Without a steady stream of qualified candidates, recruiting efforts can quickly become stalled, and positions may remain unfilled for longer periods of time.

Pro-Tip: Improve Employer Branding

Investing in your employer brand proves that sometimes it’s worth it to play the long game. When candidates have a positive perception of your employer brand, they’re more likely to apply for open positions and recommend your company to their networks. 

So, how do you build up your employer brand? To start, conduct a brand audit to assess your company’s current reputation and identify areas for improvement. This could involve gathering feedback from current and past employees, analyzing online reviews and ratings, and researching how your company is perceived in the job market.

Once you have a better understanding of your company’s brand perception, you can start taking steps to improve it. This could involve investing in employee engagement initiatives, such as offering professional development opportunities or creating a more flexible work environment. 

Transform Your High-Volume Hiring Today

Leveraging advanced hiring technology gives talent teams the best chance to hit their hiring goals and fill high-volume roles faster and more efficiently than ever before.

GoodTime Hire for High Volume is the high-volume recruiting software that provides talent teams with advanced automated interview scheduling for high-volume roles through SMS, WhatsApp, and email messaging. Quickly reach out to candidates, schedule interviews effortlessly, and let automation take care of the rest.