Three Steps to Streamline the Hiring Process in the Digital Manufacturing Era

Hiring workers, regardless of the era, has been all about people. Too many companies are trying to streamline the hiring process and automate it, and they’re missing some real gems. You can’t walk away from the interpersonal parts of hiring, but companies are trying, and they’re losing out on the possibility of hiring a superstar because that person didn’t get picked by the automatic résumé reading software.

For argument’s sake, let’s say you have a job requirement that someone needs a four-year college degree. The system will discard anyone who says they did not graduate from college, even if they’re only one class away from graduating. Maybe they have years of experience, or they used to work for a competitor and knows all their juicy secrets, or maybe they’re already well-established in their industry. The system will kick their application out over a single college class and the company will lose out on their biggest hire.

Hiring talent in the digital manufacturing world takes some work because people are getting harder to find.I heard a story about one company that originally passed on hiring a salesman for their Chinese territory because the HR department said he couldn’t type 40 words per minute. Never mind, the guy was an industry veteran who spoke both English and Mandarin fluently and already had an extensive network. He didn’t meet the typing requirement, so HR passed on him. It took a VP with more sense than that to scoop him up and ignore the HR department. The guy ended up being a million-dollar salesman, which they would have lost because of some inane typing requirement.

The lesson here is that a rigid mindset can make you miss a great opportunity. Because sometimes experience and knowledge outweigh the college requirements.

What’s worse is that while people are not necessarily flexible thinkers, an AI system is about as inflexible as a carbon fiber rod. The problem is that you have to predetermine the outcome you want and then set all the values accordingly within the system.

But it’s not the automatic HR screening software that’s at fault. I mean, yes, that’s a big part of the problem. But ultimately, it comes down to the people who programmed it, didn’t account for any kinds of exceptions or variables, and then leaves the AI system to run all by itself and damn the consequences.

What’s worse, they rely solely on the AI to make the decisions and take the human factor out of human resources completely.

Streamline the Hiring Process

In today’s world, particularly in small business, talent is the most important thing. With a serious labor shortage, it’s harder and more expensive to attract new talent. (As a side note, this makes retention critical.) It’s less important that you hire top talent in multi-billion dollar corporations — as long as you can meet the numbers and get the bodies in the seats, you’re fine. But in the small companies, the individual talent is invaluable.

So, to actually streamline your hiring process, do the following:

  1. Stop putting the hiring and recruiting solely on HR. It’s not the HR department’s job to find your candidates, it’s actually the managers’ role. Who knows the industry better, HR or production managers? Who knows people in the industry better? Who knows more of them? Who has the extensive professional network from going to all the trade shows and conferences? Asking your HR people to find potential digital manufacturing candidates is like asking your finance people to plan a (workable) multi-week trip for your sales team. (Any salesperson will tell you that’s a recipe for disaster.)
  2. Giving referral/hiring bonuses to your associates. Do you know who else has a big professional network? Your associates. They used to work at another plant, or their neighbor has a manufacturing background, or they know someone who used to work in a digital manufacturing setting. Ask your associates who they know, and ask them to refer those people to your job portal. Pay them a large fee ($500 is not unreasonable) for every candidate you successfully hire. And once they apply, make sure their application gets right into the hands of your hiring managers, so they can decide whether to interview them or not.
  3. Let the hiring managers review the résumés, not the HR staff. Now, HR can do some initial vetting, but if they focus too much on certain experiences and don’t understand what sort of equivalent experience is acceptable, they’ll end up throwing out your best candidates because they had certain boxes they had to check. Except some of the boxes have nothing to do with talent or skill sets. Leave it to the hiring managers to choose the best candidates.

HR does wonderful and important work, but the act of hiring talent should not rest solely on their shoulders. The managers who are going to be supervising that talent should have an important role to play in finding, screening, and actually hiring the people the company is going to rely on.

I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business, including pivoting within their industry. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Photo credit: Geralt (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)

Author: David Marshall
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.