How to Assess Top Talent when Recruiting for Key Manufacturing Roles


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As your business continues to grow and evolve, gaps in talent can start to appear. And while growth is often seen as a sign of success, if you fail to manage growth correctly, it can quickly turn and bite you in a similar way to a business in decline.

It’s widely reported that there is a growing skills gap in the manufacturing and engineering sector. And with unemployment levels continuing to fall, it's important now more than ever to attract, and then retain these skills, if your business is to move forward.

So, you need a clear plan and a robust process to help assess any new talent you might be considering bringing into your organization. And the more demanding the role, the more complex and crucial this process is likely to be.

In this article, we look at ways in which you can attract top talent to your company. We then dig further into the assessment process itself and look at how you might want to ‘stress test’ this process to make sure the candidates in front of you really are the right fit for your business.

Attracting Manufacturing and Engineering Professionals

Clearly, much depends on the role but if you are looking to attract talent in this day and age, you need a strong digital ‘presence’. Like any modern marketing strategy, you need to make sure you are ‘found’ when people start looking, regardless of whether they initiated the search themselves or a headhunter introduced them to you. And when they find you it’s important they get to see who you are and what you stand for quickly, otherwise, they’ll move on to someone else.

Starting with your website, you need to make sure that you have a well thought out careers page. This page should focus on your company culture and what you can offer as a business. It should also provide a good insight into your recruitment process so that potential candidates have a clear understanding of what to expect should they make the next move.

You might also want to consider including details of any training schemes your business offers, for example, apprenticeships, placement schemes or graduate programs. While these schemes may not be relevant to the candidate you are currently trying to attract, they help demonstrate your commitment to talent development right across the business and how you are helping to reduce the current skills gap in engineering and manufacturing. Staff testimonials across a range of departments are also a great way of helping to bring your careers page and company culture to life.

In addition to your website, you need to make sure that your company and key staff members have a digital ‘presence’ across a range of social media channels and we recommend your main focus here is LinkedIn. With over 500 million members, the self-described ‘employment-oriented social networking service’ not only offers companies unprecedented access to talent it also acts as a powerful publishing and brand awareness platform. Building up a strong business network and then using it to promote your business and your culture is vital in attracting top talent in today’s socially connected world.

The Role of the Headhunter

For higher level positions, such as senior management or board level positions it’s likely that you will want to engage with a headhunter and deploy a much more targeted campaign. Establishing a relationship with a headhunter can offer an effective solution compared to ‘going it alone’ but you can’t just outsource this function entirely. For example, you will still need to have agreed internally on the key elements of the person specification along with the roles and responsibilities before asking a third party to start conducting a search.

A good headhunter will, however, be able to give you guidance on what information you need to include in your job description and person specification. After all, they have years of experience and access to a large talent ‘pool’ and will, therefore, know what a good or bad offer from an employer looks like. Realistically, you should allow between a week and ten days to put together your job specification. This does rely on having a lead author on your team who is responsible for drafting and editing the document, before passing it over to the rest of the management team to review and sign off.

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