Top Skills to Look for in a Manufacturing Employee

Image: Manufacturing employees in a warehouse.

Employers across the country usually share the same goals when hiring employees. They want to find a candidate who is a great fit for the company and also has the skills needed to excel in their role. Companies in the manufacturing industry are no different.

As a hiring manager for a plant or warehouse, you’re tasked with finding employees who will fit your company’s culture and have the skills the team needs. But, determining what hard and soft skills you’re looking for may be easier said than done. With that in mind, here’s an overview of manufacturing skills and highlight the top skills to look for in a an employee in a plant, warehouse, or other manufacturing facility.

What Are Manufacturing Skills?

Manufacturing employers are often looking for similar employee skill sets. In many cases, these skills often consist of specific professional skills related to production elements, such as:

  • Operating a forklift or machinery
  • Being familiar with industry terminology and technology
  • Practical skills, such as stamina and an ability to lift objects of a certain weight
  • Soft skills, such as communication and time management skills.

Successful manufacturing employees need to possess a combination of hard and role-based skills and general professional skills. These change by industry, but let’s go over some broad manufacturing skills for candidates.

Common Skills for Employees in the Manufacturing Industry

As a busy hiring manager, you may be tasked with reviewing a wide array of resumes to fill positions. That’s why it’s important to know what you’re looking for in a prospective employee so that you can pinpoint attributes you want to see on resumes.

Here’s a list of common manufacturing skills to help you identify what you need:

  • Effective communication: Almost all positions in the manufacturing industry involve employees working as a team and interacting with coworkers and supervisors. Employees need to talk to clients sometimes, too. As such, you’ll want to look for evidence in a resume and ask interviewees for examples of communication skills, both oral and written.
  • Computer literacy: In today’s modern times, knowing how to operate computers and common software (e.g., Microsoft Office or Google) is essential. Further, depending on your organization’s processes, you may rely on computer programs to conduct work, track orders, communicate with other departments and clients, and manage day-to-day functions like clocking in and out for shifts.
  • Technological skills: Similar to computer skills, you may want to look for employees who possess technological skills or familiarity with industry software and processes, such as database management, scheduling, barcode management software, and supplies procurement. These are essential to many organizations, and finding employees who already possess these skills can help set your company up for success.
  • Technical skills: In addition to many of the soft skills employees in the manufacturing and warehousing industry should have, you should also be looking for employees who have many hard and technical skills. Some common examples of such technical skills can include having a forklift certification, having experience working with pallet jacks or driving straight trucks, being physically able to stand for long periods or lift heavy items, and being OSHA safety certified.
  • Teamwork: Almost all positions within the manufacturing industry require employees to collaborate or be team players. While you’ll want to look for employees who will be self-starters and can work independently, finding someone who has the skills to effectively work well with others as part of the larger organizational unit is crucial.
  • Problem-solving skills: In both the manufacturing industry, we know problems can come up suddenly. For businesses to work effectively, employees need to have critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Being able to assess the problem at hand, triage the situation, and escalate, if necessary, in an expedited manner is an incredibly valuable skill to seek out in an employee.
  • Time management: Manufacturers often have strict timelines. As such, employees who work in these industries must have good time management skills and the ability to stick to a schedule and produce results.
  • Willingness to learn: An employee who is willing to learn on the job and prioritize continuous growth can help boost engagement and morale, as well as stay at your company for the long term. Growth-mindset employees, or those who are willing to learn and grow, are also more adept at not being thrown off by the fast-paced and ever-changing environment that can come with the manufacturing industry. Employers tend to appreciate employees who continually learn and develop new skills. Job requirements often change in a typical manufacturing environment, so employees who can readily adapt will always be valued.
  • Organization: There are often many moving parts in the manufacturing industry. Consequently, employees need to possess organizational skills to be able to manage responsibilities and ensure that they fulfill the duties of their role and portion of the overarching project can be completed.

It’s important to note that, depending on the nature of your operations, you’ll also want to look to see whether candidates possess the necessary licensing or education to complete roles. These are often must-haves for candidates to be hired.

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What If Candidates Don’t Have Certain Skills Listed on Their Resumes?

As with any industry, certain roles in the manufacturing industry may lend themselves to more entry-level employees. What this means for you as a hiring manager is that you can’t take a candidate’s resume as the end-all-be-all. You may find that you need to focus less on the technical skills, which can potentially be learned on the job, and more on finding a candidate with the general professional skills that are needed in any workplace.

Consider creating a list that itemizes:

  • The must-have, non-negotiable skills an employee must have
  • Skills that would be ideal to have
  • Skills that would be nice to have but would be able to be taught via practical experience and exposure on the job

From there, be sure to look into creating upskilling programs or a formalized professional development program that is designed to help more green employees cultivate their skills and grow to be successful at your company.

Insight Global Can Help Recruit Manufacturing Talent

No matter where you are in the process of attracting, hiring, or retaining top talent in the warehousing and manufacturing industries, we’re here to help. Insight Global has been helping companies solve their staffing needs for over 20 years, and we’re excited to assist in any way we can. Reach out to us today or consult our blog to learn more about current hiring and retention trends.

Looking for talent in the manufacturing industry?

Let us know your hiring needs, and we can source candidates in as little as one week. Questions? Call us toll-free: 855-485-8853