Whether your dealership is growing or looking to combat turnover, it’s important to take a strategic look at the automotive talent pool. Specifically, consider opening your search beyond applicants with automotive sales experience. Clearly communicate your company history, culture and benefits package on your website, across social media and in job descriptions to attract top applicants. With millennials now making up the majority (60 percent) of all automotive hires—and expecting benefits package to go far beyond compensation—it’s key to communicate comprehensive benefits throughout the hiring process.
How can you put the right strategy in place to find and attract new employees?
Gain a Better Understanding of the Automotive Job Market
Step One: Define Your Profile
To fill any open position, it’s important to first determine who you’re looking to hire. Do they need to have sales experience or would you consider someone with only a customer service background?
While an automotive professional with experience working as a sales rep might seem like an ideal fit, this doesn’t mean you should limit your search to reps with previous auto experience. Opening the job to others beyond automotive professionals can give you a much more diverse talent pool. Other backgrounds might include applicants with retail sales experience (who may or may not have graduated college and have retail experience outside auto), sales professionals (used to selling in high commission environments) and green peas (recent college graduates with a lot to learn). Things to consider when defining your profile include employee training programs, your dealership’s leadership style, store culture and customer base.
With the right training, employees who don’t have previous auto experience can often end up being your most profitable hires.
Step Two: Determine Where To Pull From
You can’t “create” a new labor market; you have to work with what’s available. This is why it’s best to cast as wide a net as possible. Based on the profile you defined in step one, where are your potential applicants working today? Is there a major employer in your area that is known for developing top talent? Is a crop of potential talent graduating from a nearby college? What other employers (both automotive and otherwise) are you competing against for the same people?
Step Three: Create a Competitive Total Rewards Package
Once you know where you have to pull applicants from, you need to ensure that your opportunity measures up against what these candidates are looking for. While dealership pay plans have traditionally been heavily commissioned, and this approach worked for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, they no longer work for millennials. Consider base plus commission pay plans to create a competitive total rewards package. Consider hours, quality of life, benefits, defined career path, brand strength and culture. Your dealership doesn’t have to be the best in everything, but you do have to stand out in some areas to attract applicants.
Step Four: Socialize The Opportunity
Start with your career site to create a clear message for candidates regarding why they would want to work for you. Tell a story about your company, the culture, the mission and the people. Highlight current employees via pictures and video. Permeate this message into your job descriptions so it’s consistent, then take the message to other platforms via social media, job fairs ,and partnerships in the community. Your goal is to become an employer of choice. The message needs to be appealing, clear, and different than anything else in the market.
Make Your Job Descriptions Stand Out
Once you understand the automotive job market, who you’re looking to attract and what potential employees are looking for, the next step in attracting top talent is writing effective job descriptions. The goal of a job description is to get applicants excited about your opportunity. The focus should be on what your company has to offer, not what is required for the job: that’s what the selection process is for.
Below is an example of a basic outline:
Keep this broad and non-auto specific if possible. The broader the title and keywords the more it will show up in searches. For example, “Automotive Sales Consultant” is likely to show up in more search results than “Used Vehicle Sales Rep.”
You should lead any job description with information about the organization. Explain why your dealership is a great place to work or do business. Highlight company awards, community involvement and growth—the more specific the better. These are the highlights you want the candidate sharing with their family and friends.
Don’t hold back in the company benefits section. List what you offer your employees including time off, 401(k), discounts (on vehicles, service or parts), unique holidays observed ( birthdays and anniversaries), discounts on community events, business partnerships (including gym membership discounts and wireless discounts), reimbursements you provide (such as ASE certifications and college courses) professional development (paid training or other certifications employees for employees) and what type of commitment you make to work life balance.
The more company benefits you can share in the job description, the better.
Focus on the why not the what in the position overview. For example, why the position is open (hopefully growth), why it’s a crucial position in the dealership (emphasize impact) and why someone would want this job (skills learned, bonus opportunity, and culture). Try to avoid just listing the duties, especially if this is an auto-specific role.
Keep any job requirements short and concise. Try to use words such as “preferred experience” rather than “must have.” Focus on the fundamentals of the job and avoid having too many eliminating factors.
At the end of the day, the goal of your search should be to cast a wide net right out of the gate, attract quality applicants, then weed out candidates during the selection process.
Defining your talent pool and writing comprehensive job descriptions will go a long way to broaden your candidate reach beyond retail automotive talent. To learn more, download our eBook on Writing The Most Effective Job Descriptions.
Author: Candice Crane
Candice Crane has 15 years of sales and operations experience in a variety of markets and is currently VP of Dealer Solutions at Hireology. Previously she was the Organizational Development Director of a large automotive group in the Midwest, where she designed and led a transformational change that improved the customer experience and reduced employee turnover by replacing the F&I silo with cross-functionally trained recent college graduates. Candice has extensive experience in Talent Management and is considered a SME in recruiting and retention strategies for high-turnover environments. Candice is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and holds a M.S. in Organizational Development.