Employers in the industrial and manufacturing spaces face a number of challenges when it comes to recruitment. A negative perception of what it means to work in this sector—particularly among younger people—and the need for workers with specific skill sets can make it harder to staff your positions. But those obstacles shouldn't drive you to staffing with the first candidates that apply.

To ensure you're hiring the right people for industrial and manufacturing positions, you must consider employee fit. The first step is to encourage enough applicants that you have a short list of candidates that's worth working with.

Here are five tips to ensure your hiring process is getting the job done when it comes to sourcing industrial workers.

woman machine operator

1. create a clear job description

A job description provides a roadmap through the entire hiring process—for you and for job seekers.

A clear job description details the make-or-break factors for a position, and that can help candidates know whether it's worth applying. For example, perhaps you will only hire someone with a forklift license and experience operating such machines. If that's the case, this should be clear in the job description so candidates know they shouldn't apply if they don't meet the requirements.

That same description can help during recruitment. No matter how appealing a candidate looks on paper, if a forklift license is a must-have requirement, you know you shouldn't spend time interviewing them or offer them the job if they don't have it.

This is why you shouldn't list every possible "nice-to-have" skill or experience on a job description. That muddies the water and can make it seem like no one is right for your job. It can also discourage great candidates from applying if they feel like they don’t have enough qualifications.

2. focus on soft skills

Yes, some technical skills may be required for the job. But in the industrial sector, these types of skills are often something you can teach new hires, even if they come to the job with little experience. You can train someone how to operate a specialty machine, for example.

And at higher levels, such as in engineering, if someone has their degree and certifications, they're likely to have the technical skills to do the actual work.

What matters more for many employers—especially if you want team members that fit well with your workplace—is soft skills.  When making hiring decisions in this context, consider skills such as leadership, communication, teamwork, flexibility and the candidate’s ability to learn.

These factors are common in employees who are able to stick with processes, move up in organizations or grow alongside your business. Focusing on soft skills can also help you find valuable employees when you don't need a specific technical skill or can't find someone with the skill and want to hire talent and train them yourself.

3. don't hyper-focus on canadian work experience

Immigrant workers can bring much-needed experience and skill to industrial environments, but these candidates don't always have a great deal of  work experience in Canada. That simply means they haven't had a chance to work for Canadian employers for long, if at all—often that’s because it’s an uphill battle for them to get hired, as many employers explicitly or implicitly prefer workers with  Canadian experience

Certainly, you may want to look for candidates who understand local culture and fit in well with your existing team members. But someone can do that without having worked for a Canadian company before.

4. consider fit with your workplace

An employee that fits well within your workplace is typically more productive and happier. They also support the productivity, efficiency and morale of others. On the other hand, a new hire that doesn't fit into your team is unlikely to be happy and productive—and more likely to derail the work of the rest of the team or leave shortly after joining leading to poor retention.

It's not that an employee that doesn't fit is a "bad" candidate, but they might be a poor candidate for your position at this time. Take time during interviews to ask questions that uncover how a job seeker views your company, what they expect from their work environment, and a little about their personality. This information will help you make a decision about employee fit.

5. offer the right benefits 

More than 70% of workers in industrial and manufacturing jobs say non-monetary benefits are important. By offering the right benefits, you can attract more talented and skilled workers and help ensure the employees you do hire stay on long-term. When your candidate pool is larger, you have a better chance at finding someone who is a good fit for your position and company culture. 

But what benefits and perks should you offer? A Randstad survey uncovered some of the benefits that are most desirable to industrial workers. They include:

  • Competitive vacation benefits and time-off options
  • Healthcare benefits that supplement provincial coverage employees may already receive
  • Dental benefits
  • Flexible working hours or shifts
  • Life insurance

Some other benefits you might consider include bonuses for working certain unattractive shifts, such as weekends or evenings, training and growth opportunities and safety programs to support employee wellness.

discover more about hiring the right candidates

Learn more about hiring candidates that will be a good fit for your workplace  and open positions. Download a step-by-step guide that includes interview questions, advice for writing compelling job descriptions, tips for verifying candidates before you make an offer, and more insights to hire qualified industrial workers.