Marketing Solutions for the Skilled Labor Gap

Find the workers you need right now with a marketing campaign.

Italian gun manufacturer Beretta recently announced plans to open a $45 million manufacturing plant in Middle Tennessee. This development will bring 300 new manufacturing jobs to the area — a major success for Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s workforce development efforts.

Beretta isn’t the only one hiring. A recent survey from Boston Consulting Group revealed that more than half of U.S.-based manufacturing companies with sales greater than $1 billion are planning to bring production back to the United States from overseas, generating up to 5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs by 2020.

While the demand for U.S. manufacturing exists, manufacturers are quickly learning that the skilled labor to support it doesn’t. Mitch Free, a contributor for and founder of, recently published “Why I Am Bullish On American Manufacturing,” an article that explains why it’s so difficult to recruit Americans with the passion and skills needed for manufacturing careers.

Workforce Development Programs

To address the workforce gap, manufacturers are banding together to promote manufacturing as a top-tier career choice, correcting decades of industry misconceptions. National initiatives, such as Manufacturing Day and the Manufacturing Institute‘s programs are educating students, parents, and teachers about the wealth of opportunities offered by manufacturing careers.

These programs are excellent long-term solutions to our skilled labor gap, but companies like Beretta are looking to fill jobs in the near term. Tech-savvy manufacturers in similar situations are developing their own more immediate solutions with online recruitment marketing strategies, which combine the far-reaching power of social media, digital advertising, and search engine marketing to attract and compete for the most qualified workers currently available.

What’s in a Recruitment Campaign

An effective online recruitment program means more than slapping some job descriptions on the careers page of your website. If you’re looking to attract long-term, qualified candidates, your recruitment efforts should follow three steps:

  • Step 1: Sell Your Company Culture
  • Step 2: Promote Long-Term Advancement
  • Step 3: Feature Recruitment Success Stories

A recruitment program that follows these steps will paint a compelling picture of your company, providing compelling content that users can share through Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social media networks where job candidates live online. In other words, in addition to attracting qualified prospects, you can also use online tools to turn job recruits into your recruitment team.

The following detailed examinations of each step highlight companies that have followed these steps and developed successful online recruitment programs.

Step 1. Sell Your Company Culture

Video Gaming Technologies (VGT), a leading manufacturer and distributor of casino games, recently moved their headquarters from Charlottesville, Va. to Nashville, Tenn. Many team members opted to stay in Virginia, leaving VGT with the need to fill over 200 skilled manufacturing jobs in three months.

VGT saw this challenge as an opportunity to create a recruitment website that communicates VGT’s culture, which can be summed up as: “Focus on making games. Leave the rest to us.” VGT’s careers website promotes its Day One company benefits, including health care, free daily lunch, paid relocation, and more. No waiting 90 days. Minimal moving stress. Kickball on Wednesdays.

The site was a resounding success, especially across social media. VGT’s new careers site helped them increase applicants by over 100 percent and reduced their cost per lead from $40 to $7. In addition, they achieved a 300-percent increase in Facebook traffic and a 3,000-percent increase in LinkedIn impressions.

Step 2. Promote Long-Term Advancement

Metal fabricator nth/works of Louisville, Ky. believes that today’s trainees are tomorrow’s trainers. Their recruitment website promotes a wide range of career advancement opportunities, including an in-house manufacturing safety university and a high-school/college apprenticeship program.

Team members are also encouraged to cross train in nth/works’s various departments: welding, automation and robotics, stamping technology, project management, die sensoring, powder coating, and quality control. nth/works created detailed descriptions of each of these programs on to help job applicants understand the available opportunities.

nth/works has received regional and national attention for their recruitment efforts. recently published an article on the company’s apprenticeship program and the mayor of Louisville held a press conference at the nth/works facility. The attention helped nth/works secure regular contract work with a major automotive manufacturer.

Step 3. Feature Recruitment Success Stories

High demand for manufacturing means a burgeoning supply chain, which creates a growing need for skilled truckers. Transportation and logistics company LandAir Inc., currently faces a very competitive job market.

While most trucking companies opt to use sign-on bonuses to lure applicants, LandAir has taken a different approach — highlighting its people. Their recruitment site uses testimonials from company drivers and owner operators to tell stories about how LandAir met their individual needs.

LandAir’s strategy has proven immediately successful. Just three months after the launch of their careers site, LandAir has increased online applications 61.7 percent. The show rate for their orientation sessions is now 94.3 percent, largely thanks to an email drip program that sends triggered reminder emails automatically after signup. Overall, their cost per hire is down 30 percent.

Get Proactive about Hiring

There’s no doubt that workforce development needs to be addressed systematically across the manufacturing spectrum and that a long-term plan needs to be developed. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any qualified individuals out there who are eager to get to work. They just need to be encouraged to come work at your company, which might require some out-of-the-box thinking. Online marketing techniques provide some compelling, cost-effective solutions.

Drop us a line if you need help with your recruitment marketing efforts. Or leave a comment about your experiences recruiting qualified manufacturing or supply-chain job candidates.

And Beretta: We’d be happy to share our insights into Tennessee manufacturing.


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