Machinists rank second behind engineers on Manpower’s 2008 list of the 10 hardest jobs to fill in the United States. Huge surprise, right?
Our industry’s dearth of skilled labor sometimes presents shops and manufacturers with the unenviable task of vetting (and then training) young candidates that have no direct shopfloor experience. Success or failure of such new hires depends largely on your ability to pick candidates that demonstrate a healthy assortment “soft skills.”
You likely have a pat list of interview questions designed to gage a young prospect’s level of enthusiasm, interpersonal skills, attention to detail and knack for self-management. I’d be willing to bet that the last question on that list is: “What questions do you have for me about the job and/or the company?”
This question should be asked. A candidate who poses a good selection of the right questions (i.e. those not pertaining to the amount of available PTO or vacation time) shows he or she has a desire to learn more about the position, the company and the industry. That’s obviously a good thing. But if at the end of the interview you sense there is a good, young prospect sitting across from you, consider closing with:
Would your parents be interested in visiting our facility?
Let’s face it. Some people still believe modern shops and manufacturing facilities are dirty, unsafe environments—places in which they wouldn’t want their sons or daughters toiling. They also may be of the opinion that manufacturing in the United States is effectively dead, so any existing manufacturing jobs in this country aren’t likely to be around for the long term. Opinions like those will devolve into discouraging conversations with their youngsters about potential careers in manufacturing.
I’ve visited clean, organized, successful shops that prove those stereotypes untrue. Those shops offer not only training but also a path for young people to progress up through the company’s ranks. If that describes your shop, then why not invite the parents to visit? This gives you the opportunity to present your company’s values, vision, culture and growth strategies to the prospect and the parents. These visits also allow you to dispel disparaging manufacturing rumors while showcasing practices you’ve implemented to boost the efficiency of your employees and make their jobs easier. You might also let parents chat with employees who have escalated into positions of greater responsibility.
By opening your facility to a prospect’s parents, you demonstrate your openness to provide a quality work experience for their son or daughter.