Connect with Ann Wyatt
Lisa Ryan: Hey, it's Lisa Ryan. Welcome to the Manufacturers' Network Podcast. I'm excited to introduce our guest today, Ann Wyatt. Ann is President of Ann Wyatt recruiting. She's very passionate about workforce development and building a solid quality team, focusing on manufacturing. Her goal is to connect the right people to the right jobs. Ann, welcome to the show.
Ann Wyatt: Lisa, thank you so much for having me.
Lisa Ryan: Absolutely. Please share a bit about your background, how you got started in recruiting, and why the focus is on manufacturing.
Ann Wyatt: Sure. I started my recruiting agency. I got into recruiting because I'm very passionate about workforce development. My first job after graduating college was working for the career Center. I worked my way up through the career Center. I enjoyed the jobs portion, matching the candidates with the companies and working with local area employers on job fairs. After that, I worked with the greenfield sites and hired new or existing candidates from the labor market, creating and developing labor market information profiles for economic development.
In 2015, I decided that it was starting to get tight. We're already starting to see a tight candidate pool at that time. I decided that I could do a better service to the community by leaving the state and starting my own recruiting company, focusing strictly on manufacturing. Firstly, I picked manufacturing because it made up most of the workforce in the local area Bowling green, Kentucky, where I'm from. The wages were higher in manufacturing than in other industry sectors, so we had to work all positions when I was looking. When I was looking at the different industry sectors like health care, customer service, retail, and manufacturing, the wages were substantially higher in manufacturing than in other industries. I thought that somebody didn't have to have a college degree to go into manufacturing, and they could make perfect money.
So, that was quite inspiring to me. I wanted to stick with the manufacturing and develop those relationships with the local area employers even further. One of the things we're seeing is the numbers all over the board.
Lisa Ryan: With 2.8 million manufacturing jobs going unfilled by 2028 and all these other statistics that are out there, many manufacturers are all fighting over the same people. One of your areas of expertise is working with your clients on the candidate experience. A lot of times, they post a job. They don't think about it, or, as you say, they post and pray, and then whoever walks in the door doesn't think about it.
It starts from the starting point of their candidates' experience. So what are some of how you've seen companies successfully elevate their candidate experience?
Ann Wyatt: That's a great question, Lisa. I think that companies are still getting acclimated to the fact that this is a candidate-driven market. They have to put a lot more effort into recruiting quality talent than they were previously. They're used to the idea of posting job descriptions on a job board and just hoping and praying for the best.
Companies with the most success and recruiting top talent are going through those extra steps to build a relationship with a candidate. From the moment they apply for the position, whether things like getting back to them or leaving them with an automated or canned response or no response. Whether that's having a great marketing and branding strategy where they do video job descriptions or creating interactive job descriptions that tell the candidate a little bit more about the company, their story, their brand, and their history. Whether that's being just more flexible with the candidates long term desires. For example, I just had a company come up with 5000 on their salary from their salary cap for a position. They were in love with the candidate.
But they just really thought that she was the perfect person for them. So they went that extra mile, and when the candidate came back and said, I guess I would take a pay cut. So they didn't make her; they gave her what she was currently making.
Those types of ideas and the ability to put yourself beyond just the traditional corporate stuffy box and show your human side as a company. Show that you care about your workforce and invest in your workforce. Those will be driving factors when you're looking at recruiting and retaining top talent.
Lisa Ryan: You brought up a couple of things that I want to focus on. The one with this candidate that you just placed was looking to leave her last employer, and she was thinking about taking a pay cut to do it. That sends a message loud and clear to people. You are listening to your employees and having their ears open. Taking care of the people you already have on your team and making sure you're having those conversations that keep you here would cause you to leave. Having those in advance can have prevented that woman from ever thinking about leaving.
Was there anything, and I don't know how much she shared with you, but why was she thinking about leaving her last employer? What was it about this company that she was thinking about taking a pay cut, even though she ended up not having to. That's an excellent question. I love that.
Ann Wyatt: The candidates had been with the previous employer for five years. The previous employer was a greenfield startup company that came to the area. I will tell you; I wouldn't say I liked taking this person from this company. I have a little bit of history with the company. I don't work for them. It broke my heart that she wanted to leave because I worked with them at the state. It was like I wanted good things for this company. What was frustrating for her was that she didn't feel like the organization and support she needed with the company.
In the greenfield sites, especially if it's like a foreign company coming in, it takes a long time to get their structure in place and to get up and to run. So to get their product out the door, she was getting to the point that she was losing faith. It was ever going to stable out for her, and I think that was the driving factor for why she left. When I called her up and asked her about this position, she was very interested in the company's very well-established. They had most of all their processes and procedures in a row. Everything was in a good routine. She liked the fact that the company was smaller. It was more family-oriented, and some people like that. She liked that.
When she went in for her interview, the client went out of their way to give her a quality candidate experience. What I mean by that is she was introduced to everybody on the floor, everybody in the office. She was allowed to talk to everybody to ask questions of other employees that were not necessarily interviewing her. I remember talking to her after the interview, and I said, how did it go? What did you think? She was still at that point; for her that, she was like, okay, I'll do it, I'll take the pay cut. She was saying I'm still making this amount. So when I called her up, I talked to her. She said they were so sweet, so friendly, and welcoming to me. She said I would be very interested if I had to take a pay cut.
Lisa Ryan: I said that's great. That sounds so much for these companies saying I can't afford to pay these people. I can afford all the money that they're looking for. It's not about the money. Here is a woman ready to take a pay cut to go somewhere else. They took her around; they introduced her to everybody, making her feel at home. They created that experience. She was at that level of frustration that may have been alleviated if her other company had asked her - what tools do you need? What resources can we provide for you? To minimize the frustration that she was still having five years later. The other thing is, can you explain what you mean when you say greenfield?
Ann Wyatt: A greenfield is the manufacturing equivalent to a startup. Essentially, they worked with the local area, economic development—all the way up through the state of Kentucky, which starts at the state level. The company will contact the United States Chamber of Commerce about economic development. We'll try to begin the process of saying, hey, I'd like to put a plant in.
For example, somewhere close to a customer, this company had GM as one of their biggest customers. They wanted to be close to Bowling green, Kentucky, for that reason. Then the state will work with that company to find the right development for them to meet their needs. If they need a railway, for example, or they need shipping like by boat, or they need to be by an airfield like at an airport.
They'll work with that. They'll work with utilities if they need wastewater and things like that.
Lisa Ryan: They're starting with a greenfield, starting from the ground up. Then they build the building and all that. That's what I thought. Just in case somebody else had the same question in their mind about that. Going back to that woman, and her taking the job anything. Is there anything else about that experience that the company did well? What solidified her commitment to joining them, besides the extra five grand, showed how much they valued her. They didn't make her take a pay cut, so it just sounds like such a win, win.
Ann Wyatt: Exactly. I was this recruiter. These moments are infrequent. When this happens, you could cry. It's so good for everybody. They did a great job being flexible in the pay, and they have excellent benefits. I want to say, like, for their health care coverage, their deductible is low. They have like a $700 deductible on a family plan. I thought that was her. I was like, I want that.
But they go out of their way to constantly improve their benefits and do everything they can do to help their employees out.
Lisa Ryan: I think it was magical how they walked her through the plant and introduced her to people. That goes on both sides of the equation. Number one: she got to see who she was working with, but it also gave the people on the floor some comfort that this person was going to be a good fit. Because maybe if she was did something where she brushed off somebody, or she was rude to somebody, that team member can come up, and say I don't think she's going to be a good fit here. So it really can help a company on both sides of the equation of supporting your current employees to feel connected to the process and as a very welcoming gesture to your new employees coming in.
Ann Wyatt: I think that was a mini high-performing teams interview. Getting her to walk the floor, talking to everybody, and introducing her to everybody, was a great way to get feedback. Whenever I see companies hiring with high-performing teams made up of different people from that department, those companies have the highest success with retention and talent acquisition.
Lisa Ryan: How vital is training? It is the whole process of training your managers to do it and doing it the right way. Training and professional development in the company itself, and let's start with the managers - the people were doing the job interviews and posting the jobs. What are some best practices when you are training your people?
Ann Wyatt: Sure, no, that's a great question. I do think that it takes a certain level of training. Many companies, when they're hiring, recruiting frequently falls under the human resources function. I don't feel like it's an excellent fit for human resources just because of compliance issues. Human resources always have to be so compliant. And they have to understand employment law. I like to think of recruiting as if human resources had a happy spot. That's the happy spot for human resources. A lot of companies hire entry-level people to come in. That's their first job. You can do the recruiting because it's a lot of fun. It's happy. I'm not going to say it's easy, but it's not like negotiating employee or mediation. It's not like that. It's not benefits or payroll either. Companies should do a more proactive job of providing interview training, whether situational or behavioral interview training. I think that's important when you're doing interviews. There's a lot of nonverbal cues that people give.
It helps that you're not subconsciously reading what you see. Instead, you see it, acknowledge it, and then what does this mean. So, for example, if somebody is over talking or they're not talking enough, you're going to immediately have that little red flag say, Oh well, what's wrong. But then, being able to go further, and saying okay, well this person is easy, they're over talking, they don't have enough experience. They're saying a lot, but nothing in that situation. Or they're under-talking, so maybe they're not very interested.
Being able to read those numbers is essential. I think it's an excellent practice for companies for performance and analytics measures to have a matrix of their core values. What soft skills they're looking for when they're doing the behavioral interviews and then assessing them and ranking them based on that set.
Lisa Ryan: Make sure that you're getting the right fit right off the bat. Besides that one client that we spend some time with their employee experience, what are some of the other things that you've seen people do or ideas that work when it comes to connecting with that employee right off the bat before they agree to come on board?
Ann Wyatt: Recruiting is a lot of relationship building, and I would like to see it as a recruiter. I would love to see some more of that, too, in recruiting. It's a lot of relationship building. If somebody applies for the position, and they're not the right fit, it doesn't take much to send them a DM on LinkedIn and say, hey, I saw that you applied for that, thanks for that. But I think that this is what the company is looking for, or just being that person not making time for them so if they have questions to be there to answer their questions if they want to learn more about the company. And what their story is to provide them a look at the company and their story. What's their product, where are they in a global market? What's unique about this company? Why do the employees of this company want to work there? Those are all things that, as a recruiter, I feel like you should be able to not only understand but also convey effectively to candidates that you're contacting. Building relationships may not work out for this, but I love to stay in touch and check in every so often to say Merry Christmas, hey Happy New year. I've spent a lot of this over the past couple of weeks to be friendly.
Lisa Ryan: You mentioned something about video interviews or video job descriptions earlier. Please tell me more about that. What do you mean by that?
Ann Wyatt: Video job descriptions are a great way to showcase your company, your product, your machinery, and what you do. It is a great way to show prospective candidates. When I have a company interested in doing a video job description, for example, I try to pick out some of the things required from the job - what they're looking for. When you read a job description, there's what they need. So you pick out the things that matter most that will be the driving decision-making factors. You showcase those in the job description videos, so whether that's a technical role - say somebody is looking for an automation engineer or something, that person needs to have a strong PLC background. I want to know what your plc hardware is. What are you running? Rockwell, Siemens - what do you have. I want to showcase that in the video for candidates. Because somebody may be very interested, they may not have the experience. Maybe they have seen it. So being able to give them a quick, effective visual synopsis of what you're looking for what you need, and then also what you do at the same time, is a lot more effective than just the old text.
Lisa Ryan: That sounds like something you could do right on your phone. You're not looking at hiring a production team; you're looking at showing a day in the life of what that job is on a short video that you can shoot right on your phone.
Ann Wyatt: Definitely. You could also do employee testimonies. If you want to pull somebody from the floor that works in that same role and have them talk about what they like about it, why they took the job, and what their day-to-day is like. You could do that. If there's a camera app, you could use that. I have software, but I think it's not expensive. It's like $250 a year. It's very cost-effective to do things differently.
Lisa Ryan: Those are the things that set you apart. Even though we all have a smartphone of some kind with us at all times pretty much anymore, there are probably very few people doing that. So, suppose you want something to differentiate yourself from everybody else out there immediately. In that case, it's showing that day in the life on video and doing things that are different from what everybody else is doing in their recruiting practices.
Ann Wyatt: Exactly. It makes you appear transparent. It makes you appear approachable, and you're stepping out of that rigid corporate box and showing your humanity to your candidate pool. That's something that they want to consider before they take a new job. At the end of the day, the candidate pool is so tiny if somebody takes a new job because they genuinely want to.
Lisa Ryan: Exactly. So, as we get to the end of our time together, what would be your biggest tip for companies to recruit successfully or onboard new employees?
Ann Wyatt: I think going the extra mile to be willing to meet people where they are is something that I say, often in a lot of advice in a lot of the advice that I give it but what I mean by that is to be flexible and meet people where they are. Find out if you're interested in hiring a person. You're saying, Okay, this is the one for us. Find out what that motivating factor is for that person. Sometimes it's many. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes they want flexibility. Being able to meet them where they are and going that extra mile for them is the best advice as to what you can do to win in the candidate race right now and increase your culture and retention.
Lisa Ryan: If somebody wanted to get a hold of you and continue the conversation, what's the best way for them to connect?
Ann Wyatt: Probably LinkedIn is where I spend most of my time. I love connecting with people on LinkedIn. So please send me a DM and let me know that you found me through the podcast. I would be happy to connect with you.
Lisa Ryan: All right, well, and thank you so much for being with me today. It's been a great conversation.
Ann Wyatt: Thank you, Lisa. It's a pleasure.
Lisa Ryan: I'm Lisa Ryan, and this is the Manufacturers' Network Podcast. We'll see you next time.