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Caterpillar uses unique hiring method to fill job openings in Pontiac

Early Mathis, right, works with a Caterpillar employee on a welding simulator as part of new hire training.

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PONTIAC – Available jobs have been plentiful as of late, with many taking the opportunity to look for new professions or better pay. And that competitive job market has made hiring more difficult for Caterpillar.

In Pontiac, the heavy equipment manufacturer is getting creative at filling open positions.

One method is through a program that Kevin Kramer, human resources manager at the Pontiac plant, calls “Talent Tuesday.”

“We have, basically, an open hiring event,” Kramer said. “We’ve been doing those since last October; they’ve been very successful for us.”

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Caterpillar is currently looking to fill 50 positions at Pontiac and the job fairs are seen as a key tool to getting the right candidate for the right job.

“Talent Tuesday” takes place the first Tuesday of the month and takes about two hours for a job candidate to work through the process. The next such hiring day is July 5.

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There are several steps to the hiring process. The on-site hiring event allows applicants to complete most or all of the hiring process in one afternoon, Kramer said. Each person is guided through the process by HR personnel.

“The idea of having these hiring events is for many of these attendees to leave the job fair, or the hiring event, with a job offer,” said Kramer. “These events allow interested individuals to see our workplace and to answer any questions they might have about our job openings.”

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The Pontiac plant is currently looking to hire welders, CNC machinists, machinist trainees, assemblers and material checkers.

“We have an immediate need for 50 folks and we hope to fill those openings as quickly as possible,” Kramer said. “We will be having these hiring events the first Tuesday of the month from now until at least October.”

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Keeping it local is important. Kramer pointed out that Cat is looking for help from the community. “I believe we are always going to need talent from our local community,” he said.

There are currently approximately 1,100 employees at Caterpillar-Pontiac. The jobs that are currently available have varying starting rates, but all are full time with benefits. Most of the positions have a starting wage of $20-24 per hour, while welders – after training – start out in the $26 per hour neighborhood, Kramer said.

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The process is simple. An applicant simply walks in and is greeted by someone from HR, who then guides them through the process. A photo ID is required, but a resume – though helpful, Kramer noted – is not necessary.

If the applicant has not already filled out an application, they go to a computer lab and do so. Then comes an interview. If it is decided to hire the applicant, an offer is made right there. There are some other steps to be taken should the offer be extended and accepted.

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Kramer said that people have responded well at Pontiac and that an applicant may leave with a job offer instead of having to wait. The process takes around two hours from start to finish.

“Many of them will leave here with a job offer. That quick feedback to them, I believe, is really what they like about these on-site hiring events,” Kramer said. “They don’t have to go through several weeks to hear back as to whether or not we’re going to give them a job offer or not. Most of them get a job offer the same day.”

The new employee can expect to start 2-3 weeks after being offered a position.

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