Manufacturing was once the core of our economy.
And while many consider the industry’s heyday over and done, recent years have seen a revival of the U.S. manufacturing sector, and many of the jobs once lost to de-industrialization have come back. Indeed, since 2010, there has been positive job growth in the sector each year.
Still, struggles exist, and finding skilled workers to fill manufacturing jobs is one of the current threats to a true manufacturing comeback.
In a Manufacturing Institute study, 80 percent of U.S. manufacturers claim they face a shortage of qualified applicants for skilled positions, particularly in production, the largest segment of manufacturing jobs.
Percentage of manufacturing jobs by type of occupation. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Now is clearly a good time to be looking for such a position, especially if you have direct or transferable skills. Get your resume in perfect shape to apply to manufacturing firms with these guidelines:
Since your resume will be most likely scanned and evaluated by applicant tracking software, you need to have the right keywords to make it through the initial screening process.
Whenever possible use the keywords in the job description between two and three times in your resume — but no more — and follow the same format for other important terms used in the job description (e.g. “MS Office” instead of “Microsoft Office”).
If you are applying for a job within the same field you have worked in before, you might consider adding a “Key Skills” area to your resume under the executive summary and list keywords that show off what you’ve mastered.
Most in-demand hard skills in manufacturing:
- Quality control
- Lean manufacturing
- Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)
- Preventative maintenance inspections
Executive Summary Crucial
For hiring managers giving your resume a quick look-over, they’ll only spend a second or two on the executive summary.
So, it has to catch their eye by being short but powerful.
Use keywords here but also create a good narrative that sells your best points in 50 words or less.
Example: “Six Sigma certified leader with 15+ years of multi-faceted experience in manufacturing. Award-winning strong communicator and team player who has managed operations for a $25 million bicycle manufacturing facility. Recognized for streamlining production planning, reducing operational costs and overseeing a best-ever plant safety record.”
Knowledge and Training
Your resume should show you are well-trained in the technical aspects of your profession.
The specific skills you have done on the job should be listed in the work history section (example: “Operated shop tools and equipment, including grinder, drill, band saw, and plasma cutter”).
In the education section, list all training courses you’ve taken that relate to manufacturing or soft skills, even if they don’t pertain directly to the job you are applying for.
The average pay for manufacturing workers is $20.33 per hour, or $42,286 annually. Source: Trading Economics
Focus on Experience and Potential
With such a shortage of talent, many manufacturers are willing to hire people who have transferable experience and good potential rather than the exact skill set they want.
This puts you in a good position if you want to move from a different sub-industry of manufacturing or from another industry altogether.
But, your resume has to show how your experience can help the employer. If you excel at mastering new machinery or processes quickly, for instance, mention that in the appropriate place in your work history.
Don’t Forget the Soft Skills
While most manufacturing jobs require technical know-how, the soft skills are still important.
After all, teamwork and communication are critical in this industry. Use your cover letter (if one is requested) and the descriptions in your work history to highlight skills like team leadership, troubleshooting, foreign languages, or punctuality.
Most in-demand soft skills in manufacturing:
- Oral and written communication
- Sales and operations planning
- Problem solving
- Attention to detail
- Self-starting / Self-motivated