As 47.4% of businesses in the Canadian manufacturing sector struggle to find skilled workers, companies must embrace new recruiting strategies. (source

Recruiting in the manufacturing sector is a challenging proposition.  Manufacturers, including VAW employers, face a number of roadblocks when looking for skilled or even entry level candidates.  Job seekers, especially young workers, consider the idea of working in the manufacturing sector as unappealing and outdated.  This poor perception, fear of automation and lower wages than other sectors means attracting skilled workers can take a lot of work.  Developing effective recruitment strategies can address these challenges and help fill open positions. 

When job openings become available, there are many strategies a business can employ to address their workforce needs.  Below is a list of options that a business can look at to successfully fill open positions:

  • Internal transfers or upskilling – Identify potential candidates within the business who might be interested in the job
  • Employee Referrals – Provide incentives to current employees for referrals of qualified candidates
  • New Talent Pools – Diversify recruiting sources and communities
  • Recruitment events – Participate in industry recruiting events or local job fairs
  • Social Media or Job Boards – Advertise and connect using technology

Using a variety of methods of recruiting can increase the total number of potential candidates applying as well as decrease the time it takes to fill the position.  Managing all these options can however be time-consuming for a small business where there might not be a designated HR role.  Concentrating on one or two means of recruiting that have historically provided the best results would be appropriate and only pivoting towards new or different methods when time to hire does not yield the results needed.

Recruiting Best Practices

When developing and implementing recruiting processes in the business, there are a number of best practices that can be used to increase efficiency and overall success in hiring new employees.

  • Streamline the process to ensure fast responses to applications.
  • Use an applicant tracking system (ATS) software that scans resumes for keywords.
  • Build your employer brand across online platforms and social media.
  • Create a talent pipeline by tracking and reviewing applications regularly.
  • Collaborate with recruiters or staffing agencies
  • Align interview questions with job descriptions
  • Standardize selection criteria

Job Postings

Job postings are the first point of contact with a potential employee and offer an opportunity to sell the role and the business to the candidate. The content of an effective job posting starts with a clear job description that can help candidates know whether it’s worth applying. Listing necessary qualifications, but not including extraneous information, will encourage candidates that are worth pursuing.  Some best practices in creating a job posting that will generate quality responses:         

  • Clear and concise language
  • Highlight ‘must have’ qualifications
  • Describe growth opportunities, if applicable
  • Promote business mission and values
  • Understand and use keywords for your business sector

Pay Transparency Law

Beginning November 1, 2023, all employers in B.C. must include the expected pay or the expected pay range for a specific job opportunity that they advertise publicly. Provincially regulated employers above a certain size are required to complete and post pay transparency reports on all their B.C. employees by November 1st of each year. The reports will need to show the gaps in pay for certain groups. An online reporting tool is in development to assist employers in preparing the report.

Employers in B.C. can no longer ask job applicants about what they have been paid in previous positions with other employers. Employers may still rely on publicly accessible information for similar positions, if necessary, in making an informed salary decision.  Also, employers in B.C. cannot dismiss, suspend, demote, discipline or harass an employee who:

  • Asks their employer about their pay
  • Reveals their pay to another employee or someone applying to work with their employer
  • Asks the employer about its pay transparency report
  • Gives information to the Director of Pay Transparency about their employer

Job Boards

Using online job boards and social media allows a business to target new or larger talent pools than traditional advertising may be able to reach.  Job boards like Indeed, WorkBC, or as well as many others, are websites that are easy to use to connect to candidates in the community.  Using social media to advertise and connect with potential candidates can be more effective for certain roles over others, so researching and understanding the various platforms is important for successful recruiting.

Reaching potential candidates in underrepresented groups such as women, indigenous workers, or immigrants is increasingly important for the manufacturing sector.   A global study by the World Economic Forum showed that women make up only 20% of the manufacturing and production workforce.  Including recruiting events or job fairs in the community will provide options to connect with these underrepresented groups.

To overcome the poor perception of the manufacturing sector, effective recruiting requires a business to build a strong Employer Brand. Developing an appealing website, using compelling success stories and adding visual representations of the workplace, such as “A Day in the Life” videos or product demonstration videos can help a business stand out from other job postings.


For small businesses that are struggling with managing the recruiting process internally, engaging with a professional recruiter or a staffing agency can be a viable option. They utilize their knowledge of the specific job, business and the industry as a whole to locate potential candidates.  They have access to the most effective tools, such as job boards and social media, to bring in applications from candidates that would be a good fit for the business.

Key reasons to consider working with a recruiter

  • Quick turnaround and reduced time to hire
  • Access to large pool of candidates, including passive candidates
  • Screening for cultural fit
  • Expertise in interviewing practices
  • Flexible access to employees for project based work, or temporary hires

For a list of recruiters in BC, Download the Resource Guide


A key component to recruiting the best possible candidates is ensuring that the interviewing process is effective for the business in eliciting the appropriate type of information needed to make quality decisions.  Included should be questions on their experience with tasks that align with the job description, focusing on competencies and soft skills, and questions on personality traits, leadership and teamwork to assess cultural fit.   Take time to also ask questions that uncover how a candidate views your company and what they expect from their work environment and career path.

  • Competency and Experience: Ask questions that directly link to tasks in the job description and allow the candidate to demonstrate their skills through past experiences.
  • Scenario-Based Questions: Ask questions generated from incidences or challenges currently in the workplace that allow the candidate to demonstrate their problem-solving skills.
  • Cultural Fit: Ask questions that align with the business’ mission and values to ensure the candidate will successfully integrate into the team and work environment
  • Safety Questions: Tailor questions to specific safety training or experience needed for the job or the workplace.
  • Goals and Career Aspirations: Ask questions regarding a candidates’ career expectations both short term and long term and how they see the role fitting into this.

When looking to diversify the workforce and hiring from underrepresented groups, review your interview questions to ensure there is no inherent bias in the questions or the process.  Immigrants, women and indigenous workers can bring much needed experience and skill and provide a valuable talent pool for manufacturers.

For sample interview questions, download the Recruitment Guide PDF by clicking the button below.


Once the interview process is complete, effectively evaluating the responses can ensure a quality candidate joins the team.  Answers should demonstrate the skills and experience needed to qualify for the job and provide information on how the candidate will work within the team and in the workplace.

Some key evaluations that should be considered:

  • Level of commitment to safety
  • Leadership potential
  • Problem-solving approach
  • Understanding of manufacturing processes
  • Ability to adapt to new technologies
  • Team building experience


The final part of the recruitment process consists of the letter of offer and, when applicable, the contact of references. An offer letter should be professional, include compensation and benefit information, and give directions on what to expect on their first day, who to report to as well as how to accept the offer.  If Personal Protective Equipment, such as steel-toed boots are required for the first day, it should be listed in the letter.  Reference checks require consent from the candidate and only those references submitted should be contacted.  Have a structured set of questions prepared in advance that follows up on the specifics discussed during the interview.  All responses should be documented and kept strictly confidential in the employee file.

For a sample Offer Letter, download the Recruitment Guide PDF. 

Compensation and Results

Determining competitive pay rates and providing a comprehensive benefits package are key components of recruiting and engaging potential new hires.  Randstad found that in Canada, only  40% of manufacturing workers have access to vacation benefits, for example. The manufacturing sector is typically a lower paying one compared to others, and it sees workers frequently change jobs even for modest pay increases.  Reviewing and benchmarking pay scales against similar jobs in the marketplace is important and businesses should regularly ensure their pay rates are competitive.  Information on applicable pay scales for different types of roles can be accessed online, through associations, or governmental sites.

Businesses that offer a comprehensive benefits package not only attract potential new hires but also have higher retention rates. A Randstad survey uncovered some of the benefits that are most desirable to workers in the manufacturing sector. They include:

  • Competitive vacation benefits and time-off options
  • Healthcare benefits that supplement provincial coverage
  • Dental benefits
  • Eyeglasses coverage
  • Flexible working hours or shifts
  • Life insurance
  • Bonuses for working certain shifts, such as weekends or evenings
  • Employee wellness programs

HR's Role

HR plays in a key role in the recruitment process, from creating job postings, to leading the interview and selection processes and distributing the offer letters to successful candidates.  HR collaborates with senior leaders, supervisors, managers and the financial team throughout the recruitment process to attract and hire employees that will support the business’ goals and objectives.  The recruiting process can be outsourced to professional recruiters or staffing agencies when needed.