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How Employers Can Beat the Odds in 2021

Blue Collar Recruitment

Due to an aging workforce and a drop in trade education, blue collar hiring was already hard… and then along came Covid.

Whether for health or safety reasons, the pandemic left many hands-on workers unable to work, while those that continued were 2X more likely to contract Covid than their white-collar counterparts.

For these (somewhat obvious) reasons, most blue collar roles simply aren’t as appealing as they once were.

But that’s not all. Add in the fact that baby boomers are retiring from the workplace at an unprecedented rate, and young adults are more likely to head for a college degree than a construction site — and the challenges for blue collar recruitment become painfully clear.

The outcome? Recruiters are having to get more creative than ever to get blue collar workers through the door.

To help you figure out what works (and what doesn’t), we’ll share some of the best blue collar recruitment tactics in the post-2020 world so you can start securing awesome talent, despite the challenging landscape.

3 companies leading the way with blue collar recruitment

three companies with legs running a race

We get that not all companies can afford huge bonus programs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start somewhere.

For a little inspo, check out what these three companies are doing to pull in blue collar workers and keep them.

Stryker — Diversity hiring the right way

Medical device company Stryker recently hit the top of Fortune’s ‘Best Workplace in Manufacturing’ list — for the fifth time in just seven years. Their standout commitment to diversity hiring plays a big part in the manufacturer’s success: in 2018 alone, it spent $228M with businesses owned by people of color, women and veterans.

Here’s how Stryker aced diversity hiring (and how you can too):

  • Focus on building diverse talent across the org, including in your leadership team.
  • Help employees feel heard through a range of employee resource groups.
  • Run unconscious bias training courses that “showcase what bias is, how it shows up and what to do about it”.

JM Family Enterprises, Inc. — Part of the family from day one

Another blue collar brand doing it right is automotive company JM Family Enterprises. This multibillion dollar company manages to keep family at the heart of what they do, despite their size, with 96% of new hires saying they were made to feel welcome from their first contact with the company. The moral of the story? Keep hiring human (even when you work with robots 😉).

Here are a few ways JM Family Enterprises helps boost their company culture:

Hilcorp — Standout bonus schemes blue collar candidates love

Hilcorp is known for being the largest privately-owned oil and natural gas producer in the US — but that’s not all. The natural resources giant is also known for its excellent blue collar recruitment drives, pulling in eager candidates by offering unbeatable bonuses. From an annual bonus program that’s tied into company-wide goals, to a scholarship program for their employee’s children, there’s a lot to love about this company’s approach to blue collar job perks.

Here’s how they Hilcorp use their bonus program to show candidates they care:

  • Empower employees to give back to communities through company-funded charitable giving.
  • Offer continuous professional development opportunities like training, mentoring and job rotations.
  • Create a buy-in incentive program to help employees share in the profits (and boost productivity 💪🏻).

How to hire (and keep) blue collar workers

construction workers peaking out of a large lunchbox

Now that you’ve got a little inspo on how some of the best blue collar brands are winning with talent, let’s get into the nuts-and-bolts of how to walk in their shoes (even if your company is not a household name).

Because if recruiting blue collar talent weren’t hard enough, retention is also a tough nut to crack.

In fact, according to the 2019 Voice of the Blue-Collar Worker survey, 26% of those currently working are actively seeking new jobs and 30% are willing to consider a different job opp if it presented itself.

That’s 56% of the blue collar workforce at risk — and that was before the pandemic.

Here’s how to get high-quality blue collar candidates into your pipeline and keep them with you long after they come aboard.

Make it easy for candidates to get involved

Though candidates in this tight talent market are likely to be extremely discerning about the roles they apply for, there are some easy ways to help them get excited about your next open role:

  • Run open interviews to show candidates the workspace, explain your Covid safety measures, and give them a taste of what working for your company is really like.
  • Prevent safety concerns by running drive-thru job fairs that help potential candidates learn about your company from a safe distance. A great way to show you care from the outset.
  • Offer virtual interviews so candidates can connect with your company from home. In a Covid-conscious climate, this also gives you the chance to persuade uncertain applicants that your company is an awesome (and safe) space to work.

Top tip: For extra points, include virtual workspace tours that show candidates what it would be like to work at your facility.

Get candidates involved the Breezy way

With Breezy’s Video Interviews, connecting with remote candidates is easier than ever. You can even give candidates extra flexibility by offering them Scheduling Links to pick the time that suits them best. During the interview, you can see all the candidate’s details on the same screen, chat live with the rest of the hiring team, and even record the interview so you can check back later for extra insights.

Drill down on job perks

As an experienced hiring pro, you already know you need to sell a role before candidates start queueing up.

The best way to do it? Make the role as attractive as possible with awesome job perks.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • In a competitive job market, there’s good reason to invest in initial sign-on bonuses for new hires. It may be just the thing that gets them to choose you over the competition.
  • With 43% of employees saying they’d consider leaving a job that didn’t offer enough learning opportunities, it’s clear career development is a big pull for employees across the board — even in blue collar industries. Implement a quality learning and development strategy and watch the top talent roll in.
  • The past eighteen months have been a rollercoaster for everyone — but it’s the businesses that understand the challenges that go on to succeed. Flexible schedules are a great way to show employees you get it, and help support candidates who have external responsibilities.

Aim for stellar recruitment marketing

Once you know what you’re selling, it’s time to get the word out.

Here some ideas to help build more momentum for your next blue collar recruitment drive:

  • These days, every brand is on social media, and candidates expect to find them there. Make sure your social media accounts highlight all the awesome job opportunities — and even better, create a dedicated ‘Work with Us’ channel so candidates know exactly where to look.
  • Get to know your candidates and then go where they are. Are you after newbie construction workers? Then spread the hiring news at relevant colleges. Need expert factory employees? Look in online forums where factory issues are regularly discussed.
  • Every great hiring pro knows that when it comes to marketing your open positions, the more you put in, the more you get out. Proactively searching for talent is a great way to get ahead of the competition and make the first move with top talent.

Focus on retention

Hiring new employees is important — but keeping hold of your current workforce is everything.

Here’s how to retain great employees, while helping to make your entire talent strategy more resilient:

  • Implement semi-annual bonuses (potentially instead of sign-on bonuses) so your current employees know they’re valued too. Remember, bonuses are a lot less expensive than hiring new candidates.
  • Give employees the opportunity to give feedback about their experiences. Not only will you find out what’s great (or not) about each role, you might even get some awesome testimonials to share on your website too — just make sure to ask employees before you share their comments publicly.
  • Help employees and your hiring teams by implementing referral bonuses. You’ll get more candidates, happier employees and a great company culture.

Checklist for blue collar recruitment post-2020

a worker carrying a large wrench

We know blue collar recruitment is a tough game, so here are our top tips in a simple print-and-play checklist:

  • Offer open interviews
  • Create drive-thru job fairs
  • Run virtual interviews
  • Lead with sign-on bonuses for new hires
  • Implement a quality learning and development strategy
  • Offer flexible schedules
  • Build a solid social media presence for your hiring drives
  • Go where the candidates are
  • Proactively search for talent
  • Implement semi-annual bonuses for current employees
  • Give employees the opportunity to provide feedback about their experiences
  • Instigate referral bonuses

Hiring blue collar workers now and in the future

a construction worker with a robot hand

Thanks to Covid, blue collar recruitment has become a notoriously tough game — but it doesn’t have to be so difficult.

From offering great perks and benefits, to proactively searching for top talent, there is no shortage of opportunities to uplevel your hiring and get great blue collar candidates through the door.

With the right tools and a creative eye, your next blue collar recruitment drive will be more successful than ever.

Are you ready?

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