Skip to content

Attracting and Retaining Talent in Food Manufacturing

As an essential industry, there’s almost always available work for food and beverage manufacturing professionals. However, as recruiters and hiring managers will attest, there isn’t always an abundance of job seekers. In fact, over the last couple of years coming out of the pandemic, candidates have been scarce with companies doing a better job of trying to keep their personnel happy and less likely to change jobs.

Especially if you’re aiming for mid- and high-level candidates for positions like supervisors, leads, and managers, it can be tough to find workers with 5+ years of experiences who are not already working. Your goal as a recruiter or employer is to not only source for candidates, but to sell them on what your company is offering that they’re not getting from their current organizations. And if you do get lucky and find someone with “open to work” on their LinkedIn profile or who has updated their resume recently, you’re going to want to know the best way to jump on those opportunities right away.

Here are some strategies for making the hard sell to attract food manufacturing professionals to your team:


Focus on work-life balance and shift flexibility

Food manufacturing is a 24/7/365 industry with facilities always operating. Workers may be used to it, but many might consider changing jobs if they can secure better hours, or at least some flexibility such as a day working from home or the ability to come in and leave earlier.

Reaching out to candidates who are working third shift with an offer to work first shift, for example, could be enough of a selling point to get a conversation started.


Be more open to transferable skills

Within food and beverage, there are some companies for which candidates must have a specialized skill set, whether it’s for meat or poultry or USDA experience – and it’s non-negotiable. Outside of that, however, companies that have broadened their search over the past couple of years to those with different food industry experience are having a better outcome in finding viable candidates.

Being open to people with foundational skills who can train and learn rather than saying no right off the bat because they don’t have a specific food background can help expand your talent pool. The same is true when it comes to looking past arbitrary requirements like a hyper-specific degree or an exact number of years of experience. Sometimes the candidate who has 85% of your requirements might end up being a much better fit than someone who checks all the boxes.


Salary and benefits still rule

More money is always enticing, especially in a period of high inflation. And to some extent, it is still a candidate’s market. You’ll need to have a competitive package to offer overall, but you can get creative beyond just the paycheck. Employees want to make sure they can take care of their families, which is why sharing specifics about benefits – even on the first call – can let candidates know you have a lot to offer.


Lay out a career path

A common pain point for people in higher-level roles is that they sometimes get stuck and feel there is no chance to advance at their current company. That’s why, from the recruiters to the interviewers, it’s important to discuss not just the role you’re hiring for, but also what their career progression looks like if they accept the position.

You can also offer the chance to have a review after six months instead of waiting a full year. Taking the time to understand the candidate’s goals and then helping them visualize how your company can help them get there might nudge them to connect with you.


Be honest and transparent

It sounds obvious, but not all companies understand that above all else, candidates want the truth. Whether they’re stuck in the interview process, if they haven’t heard feedback, if they’re not a good fit for the role, it takes complete transparency to build a relationship. Provide them with any updates you have so they never feel like they are being ghosted.


Consider offering a relocation package

If your company is in a location that has a limited candidate pool, it’s important to broaden your search. A relocation package, assistance moving, or helping them get settled can entice people to consider moving to a new area.


Implement a stronger retention strategy

A lot of people take a new job but then move on from their position after six months to a year if they feel like it was the wrong fit. When that happens, you’re back at square one to find new candidates. To avoid that, employers should look for ways to get new hires invested in staying with your company. It might be something like minimizing weekend work shifts, providing a bonus after reaching a certain amount of time, or emphasizing a strong culture.

With the right approach and an open mind, you can grow your food and beverage manufacturing talent pool and make your open positions and working for your company more desirable.



by Michael Silungan, Senior Recruiter at Planet Forward

Photo Credit: Canva