6 Recruiting Mistakes That May Be Costing You Top Talent
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“Now Hiring” signs are everywhere today. Recruiting and retaining workers is a key concern for employers – especially those in highly technical fields where skilled talent is hardest to find.

Without knowing it, employers may be making crucial mistakes that risk their chances of hiring and retaining those individuals.

Here are 6 common mistakes organizations make, including our advice on what to do instead:


Mistake #1: You don’t have a mission that inspires great candidates to work for you

Does your organization have a mission statement? Can you tell me by heart what it is? More importantly, can your team members tell me what your mission statement is?

A lot of companies have a mission statement. They put it on the wall, proudly show it off to customers when they visit the facility. Very few companies, though, actually live the mission in such a way that it is at the absolute core of everything they do.

McKinsey Study: Purpose Matters

Infographic: Recruiting Mistakes and Purpose-Driven Work DataMcKinsey recently published a study titled, “Help your employees find purpose, or watch them leave.” Here’s what they found:

Even if your company has a mission statement, you need to ask yourself if it’s truly enabling your employees to find purpose in their work. Otherwise, it’s just a feel-good statement that doesn’t hold any meaning.

What’s Your Mission?

Patrick Lencioni wrote a book called the Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive in which he talks all about corporate culture. Lencioni argues that the culture in your organization comes back to these three questions: Why does your organization exist? Where is it going? What attitudes, beliefs and behaviors are absolutely necessary to get us there?

In other words – your core values, your vision, and your mission are key to defining your company’s purpose, and by extension, helping your employees (or potential employees) find purpose. If you don’ t have a clearly-defined mission, you’ll lose the 70% of employees who find purpose in their work.

If you’re not helping people find their purpose in your organization, you’re running the risk that these individuals will go work for an organization that does.


Mistake #2: Your recruiting efforts with the local technical college start and end at the job board

If your organization has a clear mission that an applicant can get on board with, you’re off to a great start. Now, where do you find applicants to begin with?

The best place to find fresh technical talent should be at your local technical or community college – that’s where students are being trained with the very skills you so desperately need.

But here’s the thing: if you want those students to come work for you, you’re almost guaranteed to fail if all you do is post open positions to the school’s job board and wait for the right applicants to come along. Competition for those students is strong – and if this is sums up your relationship with the school, you can forget about hiring those students.

Self-Assessment: How Engaged Are You?

Try this self-assessment to measure the strength of your company’s presence with your local college:

If you can’t answer “yes” to all these questions, that may be one of the reasons you’re not recruiting top talent.

Ideas for Creating Strong Engagement with your College:

Hiring those students is going to take a level of investment, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Remember – the time and resources you put into partnering with your college will result in far more good than just new hires. Your input will help the college keep their programs current with industry trends. And you’re investing in your regional economy.

If each organization does its part to strengthen these partnerships, our economy will benefit in the long-term. But unfortunately, education can’t fill 100% of today’s job demand, and that leads us to recruiting mistake #3.

Suggested: How to Build Strong Industry-Education Partnerships


Mistake #3: You rely solely on education to fill open positions

Perhaps you got a 100% on the self-assessment above because you already have an incredible relationship with your local technical or community college. Unfortunately, there are just too many open positions and not enough graduates to fill them all.

Can Education Produce Enough Skilled Workers?

A quick exercise will give us some number for perspective. If we look up Industrial Maintenance Technician positions in several Midwestern states on Indeed.com, we see open positions totaling:

That’s 12,599 in five states that have been advertised on Indeed*. That averages about 2,520 per state.

Though each state has different populations and numbers of colleges, let’s simplify things and assume we have about 15 colleges in each state that offer a degree related to electro-mechanical technology, industrial maintenance, industrial technology, etc. And let’s assume that each of those programs produces 18 qualified candidates per semester. (From experience that number is probably high, but we’ll stick with it).

15 colleges in each state producing 18 candidates is 270 total candidates per semester. If we have 12,599 positions open, that means we have roughly 9.3 times more open positions than students graduating. It’s good news for the student – they’ll get their choice of employer. But it’s tough news for the 8.3 employers who didn’t recruit the candidate.

Of course, we as a nation are working on creating a stronger pipeline of students going through technical programs so those 18 graduates turns into a number more closely associated with what industry needs.

But you don’t have that kind of time to wait for more graduates. So what do we do today about the 8.3 skilled positions still left unfilled?

Here’s the answer. Did you know that 7 out of 10 people working in your organization today will still be in the workforce 20 years from now? Yes, 70% of your workforce 20 years from now is potentially already working for you. They may not have the skills to be industrial maintenance technicians today, but they’re here. They just need to be trained for those skills. Imagine where they’ll be in 20 years if you start today.

And that takes us right to mistake #4.

*Data compiled fall 2021


Mistake #4: You’re recruiting too high

A common recruiting mistake employers make is recruiting for skilled positions without considering the dedicated members already on their team.

Let’s think about this for a minute. Which open positions in your organization are easier to fill? Entry level machine loaders and operators, assemblers, people who clean your facilities? Or positions like industrial maintenance technicians, electromechanical techs, robot programmers, CNC programmers, automation technicians, or highly skilled welders?

If you’re like most companies, the former will be far easier to fill than the latter. These are jobs that require less skill and experience.

Yet, when most companies need to fill those higher-skilled positions, they advertise on job boards or hire recruiters while forgetting to look to the people that already work for the organization.

Instead, if you can take your entry level positions, train those individuals for positions of higher responsibility and skill, then you can go back and fill the entry level positions with people who are easier to find. Lower the skill requirements of your recruits and you’ll find an influx of new hires.

But this system only works if you avoid the next mistake.


Mistake #5: You don’t promote in-house talent

The system of hire, train, promote is so beneficial to all involved, but too many manufacturers aren’t practicing this regularly. When you train and promote from within, you remove some of the risk associated with searching for outside hires. That’s because your current employees…

When you give your team members the opportunity to grow in their career, you’re not just doing what’s right for the business, which is promoting somebody into a position where they can add more value. But you are also doing what’s right for your people by giving them the opportunity to take on more responsibility, and as a result, to make more money to support their families in bigger and better ways.

The other benefit is that you get a reputation as an organization for promoting from within. Individuals who are hungry to prove themselves will seek out organizations that give them those opportunities. And as a result of that reputation, you’ll find it easier to find great people.

So doesn’t that just make sense? Doesn’t it make sense to show people with entry level skills that if they have the drive and desire, they can move them into positions of greater responsibility?

The question is, how do you make that happen?


Mistake #6: You’re not training your own people

This takes us to our final mistake employers make: they don’t have a system in place to continuously upskill their own people.

Back in the 1970s, employee training was commonplace. The average employee got 100 hours of skills-based trainer per year provided by their employer. This was when computers entered the workforce, and individuals needed to be reskilled to remain relevant.

Today, we’re seeing the same massive disruptions in our data-and-technology-driven world of work. If your goal is to keep pace with your competition and have a highly skilled employee base, then ask yourself: How much stronger would your company be if, in the next five years, your team had 500 hours of skills-based training provided at work? How many more people would you be able to promote? How many fewer people would you have to recruit because you created your own talent internally?

Pearson: The Currency of Learning

Pearson published a study in 2021 that shows how organizations are putting renewed focus on learning and development (L&D) for their employees, particularly since the pandemic. Some key data from this study shows us:

Like anything in business, deploying an employee training program can’t be random and on an as-needed basis. The organizations that will gap their competition are the ones who invest in building systematic, focused training for their employees.

Now, Pearson’s study found that employers realize their L&D needs to be flexible for their employees, ideally with an online option and flexibility with their home and work life. But these employers also said they struggled to find the right training programs and partners.

That’s where we come in.

Suggested: 5 Keys to a Successful Workforce Training Program


Case Study: Ashley Furniture

Ashley Furniture is a great case study: in an organization whose headquarters employs twice as many people as the town’s population, recruiting and retaining skilled talent is definitely a challenge. But they’ve invested time, talent and funding to creating a system that finds and keeps great people working for them. We partnered with Ashley Furniture to develop learning and training programs for education and employees that will help them continue to hire and promote great people.

Solution #1: Building great education partnerships

Ashley Furniture made headlines for unprecedented investment in their local high schools. The rural location means these schools have limited budgets and resources. So Ashley Furniture invested their money in building a Mobile Skills Lab for a co-op of four school districts. The MSL is a 900 square foot mobile classroom loaded with hands-on training systems for industrial controls, mechatronics, industrial robotics and IIoT technology. Students are gaining the very skills Ashley Furniture is looking for, and the company’s name and logo are represented everywhere those students look. Those programs are now expanding, with each school adding resources to reach more students each semester.

Ashley’s education efforts also include building partnerships and pathways with regional colleges, both at the two-year and four-year levels. In this way, Ashley has created a reputation for being a strong supporter of students, lifelong learning, being a great place to work.

Solution #2: Systematic training for employees

The other way Ashley Furniture has paved the way for organizations is though developing a system for their employees to continuously gain new skills and move upwards in the company.

The Advanced Technology Maker Center is a state-of-the-art learning lab for employees to do all their upskilling. They go through interactive eLearning, perform hands-on training exercises, and then practice the very skills they’ll need for their job.

The best part is how systematic the training program is. Employees go through skills and knowledge assessments first so their personal training program builds on the skills they already have. Training is interactive, hands-on, leads to the next level in their career, and they’re even eligible to earn industry-recognized credentials for these new skills.

A collage of Ashley Furniture employees working on skills training for advanced manufacturing

If you’re making any of these 6 recruiting mistakes…

You’re not alone, and we can help. The demand for skilled labor isn’t going away anytime soon, and we know you need a solution quickly. Our team of industry experts will consult on your training and upskilling needs, offer our advice on education parterships, and more. Fill out the form below, and we’ll be happy to meet with you.

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