Gulf Stream Search

Bob Pudlock

Bob Pudlock

High volume recruiting – are you generating false positives that will doom your manufacturing site?

When it comes to high volume recruiting in a manufacturing setting, I’ve noticed a subtle but growing trend that’s risen from the frantic hiring that came as a result of Covid re-opening.

To be fair, the trend existed before Covid hit the manufacturing sector.  

The consequences of shotgun hiring began with “growth at all-cost” Tech companies, alternative protein start-ups, and fast-growth plant-based meat companies. 

It might not be noticeable if you don’t know what to look for, but for an executive recruiter and talent acquisition professional who works behind the scenes with clients to ensure talent that’s brought forward serves the business’ best interests, the root cause is a glaring neon light to me.

Take these bullet points I pulled from internal Talent Acquisition Recruiter and Plant HR Specialist resumes that we’ve sourced on searches we’ve conducted for clients since 2021.

  • Successfully executed a high-volume recruitment campaign, hiring 250+ employees for a large food manufacturing plant within a 60-day timeline and meeting our business unit target.
  • Spearheaded a robust recruitment initiative for a cold storage and distribution center, filling 400+ positions in just three months, exceeding the initial recruitment goal by 15%.
  • Orchestrated a successful mass hiring project, fulfilling a demanding recruitment goal of 300+ workers for a large distribution center in just 45 days.

At first glance, each of these bullet points might represent a “successful” high-volume recruiting campaign. A success from Talent Acquisition’s standpoint, that is.

How “successful” high volume recruiting campaigns can fail the business

Unfortunately, each of these bullet points I pulled from these specific resumes proved to be false positives for the business when you consider the manufacturing or distribution site performance.

In one case, the manufacturing plant is in the process of being sold off due to the plant not meeting its production goals and who had multiple safety infractions, both worker and Food Safety related.

In another case, the company blew through all its funding and lost a key customer due to missing repeated deadlines for delivery into the customer’s retail stores.

In the 3rd case, an outplacement firm referred me to the displaced CHRO, VP of Operations and two Plant Managers and asked if I could help them land new jobs with my clients. 

Each had been let go due to the company’s missed earnings and a multitude of manufacturing “challenges” associated with labor, performance and missed deadlines.

Yet in the same company, during the same time period, Talent Acquisition deemed their work successful, while each of the businesses failed to some degree.

Why the disconnect?  To me, it’s clear, and blame doesn’t lay at the feet of my talent acquisition or HR peers alone.

And it’s something I reinforce with any client or employer I speak with when it comes to implementing or tweaking a high-volume recruiting initiative.

The first priority, whether it be a one-off hire or a high-volume recruiting campaign is Quality of Hire.

Why do companies fall short with Quality of Hire when it comes to high volume recruiting campaigns?

Talent acquisition leaders and plant managers are often pressed to execute high-volume recruiting strategies quickly to meet productivity goals.  

In the food, beverage, nutritional supplement and personal care ecosystem post-pandemic, getting staffing levels back to par as well as to meet expansion targets was the norm.

But this high-volume recruiting has a time element to it – the built-in pressure manifests as “we have to hire X within 30 days”.   

And those targets become a sprint and a rallying cry within the company.  

And therein lay the conflict:

It’s a badge of honor for a Site Staffing Manager or a Recruiter to boast they brought on 200 hourly workers in a 3-month period.

But, as the Talent Acquisition team boasts of their accomplishments, the Plant Manager, Plant HR and HR head are being held to the fire by the CEO and COO due to low morale, high turnover, decreased yields and diminished product quality, resulting in increased scrapped product and lower profit margin for the company.

When the initial ingredients, whether it be the talent pipeline for a manufacturing site or cocoa beans for chocolate bars, are not adequately sourced, assessed for quality and managed through the on-boarding process, there is no way the recipe and final dish will come out as hoped.

When the focus of hiring at scale is quantity, the quality of hire will inherently diminish, impacting the entire manufacturing enterprise and the company’s general health.

So how do we bridge the gap with high volume recruiting?

What I recommend, within the food, beverage, nutritional supplement and functional food sectors, is to have Talent Acquisition align their strategies with the same frameworks their peers in manufacturing use to ensure quality, profitable, safe products are manufactured at scale?

Enter HACCP plans.

High Volume Recruiting and HACCP

If you work in any capacity at a food, beverage, ingredient,  or flavor or nutraceutical manufacturing company, you’ve probably heard or seen the term HACCP plan, which stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points.

If you work in Human Resources or Talent Acquisition within this sector, you’re keenly aware that anyone hired into Production, Operations, Quality, Food Safety, R&D or Engineering should also have experience with developing or adhering to the principles of a HACCP plan.

As an HR or Talent Acquisition executive, have you ever thought about applying the basic framework of your company’s HACCP plans to your high-volume recruiting initiatives?

If not, I’m going to share with you the 7 principles of a HACCP plan that FDA-regulated food and nutritional supplement manufacturers develop.  

With that framework at your disposal, you can begin to view your high-volume recruiting strategies through the same lenses as your manufacturing sites and plant leadership do, identifying hazards, accounting for them, preventing them, and ensuring the processes constantly evolve to prevent them from occurring in the future.

Whether it’s manufacturing nutritional supplements, producing chicken nuggets at scale, or hiring 250 skilled workers at a manufacturing site in 90 days, using the HACCP plan framework gets you closer to ensuring alignment with the business’s success.  

When Talent Acquisition applies the same rigor as the plant does to ensure quality, each part of the system is in alignment.

When done effectively, you see Talent Acquisition resumes that resemble this:

  • Orchestrated a successful high-volume recruiting campaign for a major food manufacturing plant, resulting in the hiring of 500+ qualified employees within a three-month timeframe, improving the plant’s operational efficiency by 20%.
  • Implemented a HACCP-inspired framework for the recruitment process, ensuring quality and safety in hiring decisions while meeting the high-volume needs of a large distribution center, significantly reducing the average time-to-fill from 45 to 30 days.
  • Leveraged recruitment analytics to track, monitor, and adjust the high-volume recruitment campaign for a large food manufacturing plant, achieving a 95% retention rate, and reducing rehiring costs by 30%.

See the difference?

Now let’s dig into applying the HACCP plan framework to high-volume recruiting initiatives.

Applying a HACCP plan framework to Talent Acquisition strategies

High volume recruiting using a HACCP plan framework for food indusrty talent acquisition, HR

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a globally recognized system utilized primarily in the food industry to maintain safety and quality. 

This systematic, preventive approach identifies, evaluates, and controls hazards, ensuring that food, beverage and nutritional supplements that are manufactured at scale are safe for consumption. 

However, the principles of HACCP can be adapted to other disciplines, including high-volume recruiting and talent acquisition. 

This may sound surprising, but bear with me as we take a closer look.

High volume recruiting hazards that endanger quality hires and business success

High volume recruiting is fraught with challenges. 

The pressure to fill positions quickly can sometimes lead to quality being compromised in favor of quantity

Talent acquisition leaders and plant managers are often pressed to execute high-volume recruiting strategies quickly to meet productivity goals.  

By its design, a high-volume recruiting has a time element to it – the built-in pressure manifests as “we have to hire X within 30 days”.   

And those targets, which are volume-based, become a sprint and a rallying cry within the company.  

But therein lay the conflict:

It’s a badge of honor for a Site Staffing Manager or a Recruiter to boast they brought on 200 hourly workers in a 3-month period.

But, as the Talent Acquisition team is satisfied with their accomplishments, the Plant Manager, Plant HR and HR head may end up being held to the fire by the CEO and COO due to low morale, high turnover, decreased yields and diminished product quality, resulting in increased scrapped product and lower profit margin for the company.

Much like the potential hazards in a food manufacturing process, these issues need to be identified, evaluated, and controlled, ideally before they rise up.

So how can we apply the HACCP principles to high volume recruiting? 

Let’s dive into each of the seven principles and see how they align with the steps in a high volume recruitment process.


1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis

In a food manufacturing setting, conducting a Hazard Analysis involves identifying potential hazards associated with food production at each stage, from raw material sourcing to distribution.

In a recruitment context, hazard analysis means identifying the implications of poor execution from the development of job descriptions, performance profiles all the way through on-boarding, training and performance appraisals.

If a hazard analysis is not meticulously conducted in the recruitment process, and if shortcuts are taken at any stage, the implications can be as detrimental as in a food production scenario.

For example, if job descriptions and performance profiles are not carefully developed, this might lead to attracting candidates who are not a good fit for the role or the company culture.

A poorly constructed job description can lead to an influx of under-qualified or mismatched candidates, adding unnecessary complexity to the hiring process and increasing the likelihood of poor hires.

Moreover, if the onboarding, training, and performance appraisal stages are rushed or inadequately executed, it could lead to employees who are ill-prepared for their roles.

This could result in lower productivity, higher error rates, and ultimately higher turnover, forcing the organization into a costly cycle of replacement and retraining.

Just as a lapse in hazard analysis in food production can lead to product recalls or health risks, a lack of thoroughness in recruitment can lead to a substandard workforce, negatively impacting the organization’s operational efficiency, productivity, morale, and bottom line.

Quality should always be prioritized over speed in hiring, no matter the volume of recruits needed.


2. Identify Critical Control Points of your High Volume Recruiting Strategy

Let’s use a nutraceutical manufacturing company that makes protein shakes and high protein bars as an example.

Their HACCP plan at each site will identify various points in the production process where the identified hazards can be prevented, eliminated, or reduced to acceptable levels.

These could include pathogens, harborage sites, accumulated dust, foreign materials or any number of critical points that have to be addressed.

When it comes to critical control points in high volume recruiting, there are stages where potential issues such as quality of hire, retention, absenteeism, and performance concerns could be addressed. 

The more each step of the hiring process is dissected to identify chokepoints or areas of vulnerability(critical control points), the better a Talent Acquisition, HR and Plant leadership team can create strategies to address the shortcomings.

This could be during the pre-screening, interviewing, or offer stages.

Maybe there a gap of 24-48 hours between background check status notification with a vendor because a notification protocol hasn’t been formalized between the vendor and a point person on the hiring team.

That’s a gap that can be formally addressed, monitored and eliminated, which can lead to a significant drop in both time to fill and time to hire metrics.

HACCP PLAN HIGH VOLUME RECRUITING Establish critical limits for each ccp critical control point

3. Establish Critical Limits for Each Critical Control Point

In a food manufacturing setting, there is no such thing as perfect. However, there are acceptable limits and standards that companies hold themselves to and are regulated by the USDA and FDA for.

When developing HACCP plans, this involves establishing acceptable parameters that must be met at each critical control point to ensure the hazard is effectively controlled.

In high volume recruiting, critical limits could include acceptable attrition rates, the minimum qualifications for a role, or the expected performance levels for new hires. 

Other considerations might involve having adequate training programs to upskill new employees and having backup plans for no-shows or fall-offs. 

These boundaries help maintain the quality of hires while scaling up recruitment efforts.

Post pandemic, manufacturers labor forces were decimated.

There were circumstances where modifying or lowering the requirements or hiring standards made business sense.

For some manufacturers, those standards were not accompanied by training, upskilling or a talent optimization strategy, which led to attrition, poor performance and in some cases, business failure.

That’s why when backfilling into these gaps, having a high volume recruiting plan that eliminates past mistakes is such a high priority.

Establish Critical Control Point Monitoring Requirements

4. Establish Critical Control Point Monitoring Requirements

With any process manufacturer, a system for monitoring critical control points is a necessity.

These processes track and record parameters at each critical control point to confirm they are within established critical limits.

Technology abounds for manufacturers that help them track in real-time how equipment, systems and processes are holding up against human errors, environmental hazards and any number of variables present in manufacturing facilities.

The same can hold for recruiting for high volume recruiting campaigns.

The monitoring process though, is less automated.

Monitoring a high volume recruitment campaign requires each member of the team, especially the primary stakeholders to adopt a “trust but verify” mentality and also shorten the communication cadence when it comes to hiring and interview success data.

Where weekly recalibration meetings might suffice for a Recruiter and her hiring manager partners, daily reporting is more appropriate for high volume, time-sensitive hiring events.

Using recruitment analytics, it’s possible to track metrics like time-to-fill, candidate quality, or sources of hire, which help gauge if the hiring process is within set parameters.

However, in a high volume hiring campaign, sourcing and recruitment marketing KPIs take on greater significance.


If the top of the candidate isn’t plentiful and “oversubscribed”, the hiring team will have a harder time meeting their headcount goals AND their quality of hire goals.

In the absence of alternative candidates, a team can be tempted to override their systems and standards if they’re in a “we’ve got no other candidate options” scenario.

HACCP PLAN HIGH VOLUME RECRUITING Establish corrective actions

5. Establish Corrective Actions

At food manufacturing sites with HACCP plans in place, there are predefined actions to be taken when monitoring shows that a critical control point is not within established limits, ensuring no unsafe product reaches consumers.

For recruiters, corrective actions could involve revising recruitment strategies when hiring metrics aren’t met, reiterating the importance of quality over quantity, or adjusting selection criteria when too many unqualified candidates are getting through. 

These quick corrections can prevent long-term negative impacts on the organization.

This is why daily monitoring of sourcing, interview and offer KPIs is recommended in high volume, time-sensitive hiring.

The quicker issues can be addressed the better; less time is lost and deadlines don’t have to be sacrificed.

HACCP PLAN HIGH VOLUME RECRUITING Establish verification procedures

6. Establish Procedures for Ensuring HACCP System is Working as Intended

Food, beverage and nutritional supplement manufacturers use activities like system audits, product testing, or review of monitoring records to confirm the HACCP system is working correctly.

In high volume recruiting, this involves regular communication among stakeholders, tracking of hiring metrics, identifying and addressing any recruitment shortcuts, and ensuring a diverse and large enough candidate pool.

Regular reviews and audits of the recruitment process help ensure it’s functioning as designed and quality hires are being made.

As has been reinforced at the earlier steps, with high volume recruiting, overcommunication is recommended and on a much more frequent basis with stakeholders.

Real-time scoreboards, reporting and purposeful “drive-bys” to share updates with stakeholders is a sign of an engaged, accountable talent acquisition team.

HACCP PLAN HIGH VOLUME RECRUITING Establish record keeping procedures

7. Establish Record Keeping Procedures

With any process manufacturer, HACCP plans necessitate proper documentation that provide evidence of effective implementation and helps track patterns and trends, facilitating continuous improvement of the system.

Once a high volume recruitment event is completed, everyone is exhausted and wants to move on.

And if this is the norm, the team misses the opportunity to memorialize how the recruitment strategy played out, the good, bad and ugly.

It’s crucial to document all stages of the recruitment process, including job descriptions, screening results, interview notes, offer letters, and onboarding documents, plus the lessons learned from all stakeholders involved.

This data can be analyzed later to understand what worked, what didn’t, and what could be improved.

It provides a foundation for continuous improvement and evidence-based decision making.

Ensure your high volume recruiting strategy aligns with quality of hire…or else

Applying the HACCP principles to high volume recruiting provides a structured, systematic approach that not only helps to increase the quantity of hires but also ensures the quality of those hires. 

Like a well-implemented HACCP plan in food production ensures a safe product for consumers, a thoughtfully designed and implemented HACCP-inspired recruitment process guarantees a quality workforce in manufacturing and distribution centers, driving productivity, reducing turnover, and ultimately increasing profitability.

The potential “contaminants” in a high-volume recruiting process may be a temptation to take a shortcut, yield to pressure of filling roles quickly rather than focusing on quality, or overlooking the critical nuances of candidate screening and selection processes. 

But when we adhere to the ‘HACCP principles’ for high volume recruiting, we’re setting up a fail-safe system that balances both quality and quantity effectively.

In the same way that failure to comply with HACCP principles in a food processing plant could result in product recalls, harm to consumers, and severe brand damage, non-compliance or violations in high volume recruiting can have damaging effects too. 

Reduced plant performance, higher training costs, decreased yield, diminished profit margins, and elevated rehiring costs are just a few potential repercussions.

Remember, a successful high-volume recruiting campaign is not only about the number of roles filled but the value that each new hire brings to the table. 

It’s about ensuring that even when recruiting in high volume, every new employee adds to the performance and productivity of the organization. 

This way, we turn a high volume recruitment campaign from a daunting challenge into a strategic advantage.

Taking the time to design, implement, monitor, and improve your high volume hiring campaigns using a HACCP-like framework will result in a robust recruitment strategy that stands up to the challenges of high-volume recruiting. 

The result is not just more hires but better hires — individuals who fit your organization’s culture, excel in their roles, and drive your company towards its goals.

About Bob Pudlock and Gulf Stream Search

Bob Pudlock is an executive recruiter and talent acquisition professional who has helped manufacturers, start up brands and executive teams design, optimize and execute strategic recruiting initiatives for over 20 years.

Bob has written and spoken extensively on aligning talent acquisition strategies within food, beverage, functional ingredient and nutritional supplement manufacturing.

Reach out privately if you’d like to discuss ways Bob or Gulf Stream Search can help with any challenges you’re looking to conquer when it comes to recruitment marketing, talent acquisition and on-boarding.

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