The Hot Manufacturing Jobs You Should Start Hiring for Now     

While many Americans learned to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, most manufacturing jobs simply could not be done anywhere except on the factory floor. That meant closing their doors until safe protocols for re-opening could be established.

Luckily, the shift towards re-opening has spurred an increase in hiring demand. Manufacturing is not only bringing employees back to work but also looking to hire. To survive, recover and thrive, manufacturers must review their production and talent ecosystems to determine what changes can be made and which essential roles will support those changes.

“Businesses have learned a lot through this pandemic,” says Mobilization Funding CEO Scott Peper. “Most have realized they can do more with fewer resources, their team is capable of doing great things when they all work together, and they are working very well with new products they never made before for customers they never had before. The talent they thought they needed at the beginning of the Pandemic is not the talent they need now. With this hiring comes a whole new type of position for many manufacturing companies.”

With the crossroad of being stuck in a skills gap and now so many people searching for work post-COVID, how do you find the right candidates, and where should you begin? We partnered with Skye Recruitment Solutions, the leader in strategic recruitment for manufacturers, to gain insights on which jobs are most likely to be at the top of the list and what to look for in the best new hires for your manufacturing business.

The Top Manufacturing Jobs You Should Start Hiring For

“We’ve been seeing a positive shift in volume and level of the positions that our clients are hiring for right now, and so we’re learning quickly how to navigate the current talent pool, and discover what skills and talents are making the most sense for the current state of manufacturing.” Says Brian Fowler, CEO at Skye Recruitment Solutions. “it’s especially important now, as people are searching for their own job security, that you dive deeper into finding the right people for your business plans, source strategically, and understand the market.”

Here are some of the hottest jobs we’re seeing in manufacturing today:

Plant Managers: $58k – $185k/yr

  • Why now?
    • With recent changes in the expectation of quality, productivity, and safety inside manufacturing, there is a growing need for people who are responsible and experienced enough to ensure things stay aligned in the right direction, while continuing to push operations forward post-COVID.
  • Who’s standing out?
    • Skye Recruitment Solutions says the best placements made have been people who are mid-career and have experience in long-range plant expansion, conversion, equipment planning, installations and purchases. Key experience in balancing budgets, a good safety record, and a solid set of references have been emphasized by manufacturers looking for motivational leadership and tightening up their plant management.
  • Resume keywords:
    • 5-10 years in a manufacturing environment like yours, LEAN, Six Sigma, leadership, communication skills, budgeting, training, project management, plant maintenance, quality, WASTE elimination, EH&S, Bilingual, continuous improvement, safety, R&D

Plant managers have traditionally balanced workforce health with risk management and plant operations. In the post-COVID era, these forward-thinking leaders will know how to create an agile manufacturing plant— ensuring employee health and retention through automation, big data, and cobotic environments. Their responsibilities now include not only operations and talent management, but most likely a level of data analytics and industrial technology.

Automation/Controls Engineers: $58k – $120k/yr

  • Why now?
    • Now, more than ever, the prioritization of creating a lean manufacturing plant has been brought to the recruiting table. On a daily basis, an Automation Engineer applies improvement strategies for better quality standards, cost-effectiveness and reliability. They support new product development efforts and can help to automate plants.
  • Who’s standing out?
    • For many manufacturers transitioning to smart plants, finding people who research, design, develop or test automation, intelligent systems, smart devices, or industrial systems controls are being prioritized. Skye has found success with people who have moved into Automation roles in their careers in similar industries.
  • Resume keywords:
    • 10-20 years’ in manufacturing. automation, robotics, design engineering, project engineering, LEAN, Six Sigma, product design, fabrication, assembly, PLC / HMI programming, electrical controls, power systems, mechanical schematics, Allen-Bradley, Omron, Mitsubishi, programming, project management, NEC, NFPA, 70E, OSHA, BSEE and MBA in Electrical Engineering

These high-level engineers will be required to develop an evolutionary plan that integrates both the physical and digital elements of a plant’s environment and production. Engineers with the skill set to research solutions, build simulations, and lead cross-functional teams to launch new digital and human applications within the plant are creating the vision for the future of manufacturing, and also leading the march toward its horizon.

Maintenance Mechanics/Technicians: $18 – $38/hr

  • Why now?
    • During the pandemic, it appears manufacturers buckled down and maintenance roles were some of the first cut as they kept old machinery operating to save budgets. Now that demand is back up, and in some cases bigger than ever, technicians that can perform preventative maintenance as well as repair major issues are becoming a critical need.
  • What to look for?
    • Additional IT skills, such as machine health monitoring and predictive monitoring are becoming part of the scope. Travel expectations allow for experience to move into Field Service as well for plants with multiple locations. A good work history and long-term mindset is becoming a requirement for success; and an attitude that aligns with the company’s culture, whatever that may be, is playing a major role in worker retention and quality of work.
  • Resume Keywords:
    • 12-25 years’ of maintenance experience, troubleshooting, preventative maintenance, testing, CMMS, safety checks, pneumatic & hydraulic systems, GMP & OSHA requirements, maintenance, installation/service/repair/resolution, electrical controls, mechanical, power systems, PLC, CNC, machine repair, blueprint reading, AC & DC drives

According to FacilitiesNet, “what executives often fail to understand is that the maintenance and engineering team is the one component of all organizations that is 100 percent control of 100 percent of assets and buildings. This means the maintenance team is in control of an organization’s revenue and profits.”

Good maintenance mechanics and technicians of the post-COVID manufacturing industry will need to be prioritized inside the organization and will be looking for leadership that champions their value.

C-Level Executives $90 – $300k

  • Why now?
    • There has been an impending wave of leadership preparing for retirement and the response to the virus has ignited the requirement for succession planning in several plants. Additionally, there’s a need for leaders that can help with evolving into automation and mass expansion. There is also hiring happening in new leadership roles like Chief Engineering Officer or even Chief Financial Officers, where these jobs were once handled under the CEO or President.
  • What to look for?
    • Manufacturers are now searching for leadership that aligns more with their values and can adapt and evolve a company culture. They’re looking for more focused experience with growth at their pace and ideal size rather than specific industrial experience. Leaders who are articulate and collaborative, but who have grown their own career over time have seen the greatest success in getting hired with our clients.
  • Resume Keywords:
    • Specific to the position, but typically at least 10 years of progressive management/leadership experience, proven track record of success, proactive style, sound judgement, relationship management

Manufacturing leadership pre-COVID was overwhelmingly from the Baby Boomer generation. The pandemic triggered an early retirement exodus, and that has left many companies looking for new leadership.

Hiring new members of leadership team has now become an opportunity for bringing fresh ideas and innovative concepts during a time where everything is being carefully monitored and shifted. However you feel about it, says Peper, now is not the time to try to fill two roles with one leader.

“As a business owner or leader, you must know what you are good at, and more important, what you are NOT good at. You cannot perform every executive function at the best of your ability, and if you try to, your actual duties will suffer,” he continued. “Hire for what you don’t do well, and then hire the best damn one out there.”

Hiring the Right Talent

In March and April of 2020, 1.4 million manufacturing jobs were lost. However, a surplus of talent does not guarantee you the pick of the litter, either. Smart manufacturers will use this opportunity to develop a long-term vision for the talent pipeline, and invest time and energy in finding the RIGHT person to fill that role both for the present and for the future.

“Don’t scoop up the first person that checks the machine box, take your time and invest in learning about what’s available and what the ultimate goal of the role is, even when it comes to the lowest level hires. Retention always saves money,” states Fowler,  “and you don’t need to find them yourself; but if you do hire a partner, make sure they understand your industry and the challenges you’re facing, be transparent, and communicate those goals. A true partnership can make amazing things happen for your business.”

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