Hiring & Recruiting

Forget Jobs, Manufacturing Needs Job Seekers

From jobs and taxes to healthcare and immigration, President Donald Trump owes his presidency to a broad collection of emotionally charged economic and social issues that galvanized his supporters as much as his detractors.Manufacturing

Among Trump’s many campaign promises, he pledged to revive the eroding U.S. manufacturing industry, which once served as the backbone of a now-shrinking middle class by providing stable blue-collar jobs that paid well and required little education.

After years of automated technology replacing workers and the outsourcing of jobs spurred by globalization, the manufacturing industry’s share of nonfarm payrolls plunged by half during the last quarter-century, from 16% in 1990 to 8% in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Regardless of whether Trump reverses the momentum, the manufacturing industry must solve a much greater problem, as it already faces a major talent shortage due to a widening skills gap. The industry will create 3.5 million jobs through 2025, but 2 million of them will go unfilled, according to Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute.

Given the constant gloomy rhetoric, the manufacturing industry’s shortfall of workers seems surprising. However, the industry needs higher-skilled workers with advanced, technical education to handle technology’s growing influence. Meanwhile, manufacturers will transition away from the low-skilled production occupations of the past, which will decline by 3.1% through 2024, according to the BLS.

Unlike the far more challenging task of bringing back jobs by reversing economic trends, the manufacturing industry possesses far greater control over regaining job seekers’ interest. Ironically, the industry can use technology—the very disruptive entity responsible for so much change—to save itself. Armed with the right talent acquisition software, manufacturers can reach and attract the job seekers that they so desperately need.

Get a Makeover

The manufacturing industry makes goods, but now it needs to focus on remaking its image. Today, the industry conjures up images of abandoned factories with rusted walls and shattered windows, which evoke thoughts of a sector with glory days well behind it.

Meanwhile, its constant place in the political spotlight arguably does more harm than good, as talks about reviving it—no matter how necessary or well-intentioned they may be—serve as a reminder of its fading economic footprint. If manufacturers hope to lure job seekers, then they need to change that perception, which they can do by touting the changing composition of their workforce.

Long associated with factory workers, the manufacturing industry’s hiring of such production jobs only accounted for 22% of its total hires in 2016, still good enough for the largest concentration among major occupations, but not by much, according to iCIMS’ proprietary data. The industry’s management and administrative jobs closely followed at 20%, while its sales-related occupations comprised 16%. Intriguingly, of its broad array of jobs that fell into the “other” category, computer and math-related fields held the largest share at nearly 10%.

With hopes of catching the attention of today’s more-educated job seekers, manufacturers must publicize the growing breadth of their career offerings in such areas. For starters, they should invest in appropriately branded careers sites, where jobs seekers will almost certainly look, as 78% of them consider the professionalism, look, and feel of a company’s career portal as a moderately to highly important factor in deciding whether to apply for a job, according to iCIMS.

Find Friends

Though smaller than before, the manufacturing industry remains a highly significant industry, as it still contributes 12% of total GDP, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. To sustain that percentage, the industry needs a workforce large enough to meet demand, which makes the challenge of overcoming the talent shortage all the more daunting. However, nobody says that manufacturers’ talent acquisition professionals should solve the problem alone.

Just as any other industry can do, the manufacturing industry can turn its current employees into an army of recruiters through an employee referral program. By leaning on employees for help, the industry will diversify its sourcing streams while making better hiring decisions, as nearly 45% of employers cite employee referrals as their best hires, according to research by iCIMS.


From careers sites to job boards, the manufacturing industry should advertise its job openings wherever possible. However, the industry may get the best chance to position itself in front of the young job seekers that it needs the most through social media, as 43% of users between the ages of 19 and 29 use social networks to search for or research jobs, according to The Pew Research Center. Knowing that, manufacturers should at least focus on developing a presence on the Big 3—Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Armed with iCIMS’ Talent Acquisition Software Suite, manufacturers can reach and attract the job seekers that they so desperately need.  Learn more at iCIMS.com.

Meanwhile, want to learn more about how the manufacturing industry can overcome its talent shortage? Download iCIMS’ eBooks: 7 Insights to Grow Your Manufacturing Workforce, Faster and Why Manufacturers Need an Employee Referral Program (Yesterday)

Anthony Panissidi runs social media at iCIMS. Previously, he covered business news for the Asbury Park Press, a regional newspaper based in central New Jersey.