College graduation season is in full swing, meaning students are on the lookout for their first career opportunities. And as your dealership ramps up for the busy summer sales cycle, motivated college graduates have the potential to be ideal candidates for entry-level roles.

If your dealership is looking to staff up with these young millennials, consider the following tips for attracting and recruiting college graduates:

Reach Out to College Career Centers

Leading up to graduation, many college students visit their on-campus career centers to discuss job opportunities with career counselors. And as part of the career center, most colleges today have online job boards and other resources for students to find entry-level positions that fit their skills and interests.

Embrace career centers as an opportunity to get your dealership brand in front of college students who are on the lookout for their first career opportunity. Post your jobs on local college job boards, look into hanging flyers on career center bulletin boards, and even ask if one of your employees – who also started working at your dealership right out of college – can guest lecture in a few classes or during a campus career event. Reaching these applicants before graduation will position your dealership as a viable career choice for many looking to jumpstart their careers.

Look Outside Retail Automotive for Talent

While some entry-level candidates might apply to your dealership because they come from a long line of family members in the automotive industry, or they’ve been interested in retail automotive careers for some time, others might have never even imagined working at a dealership. But it’s important to market to these recent graduates who may not have retail automotive on their radar when it comes to their first job search. For example, a marketing or business major might be looking into entry level sales roles at a local retailer or startup, but by highlighting the benefits of working for your dealership, you might change his or her mind about career prospects. Or a liberal arts major might be unsure about what type of career to pursue after college, and you can highlight the value of having sales experience on a resume. Sometimes, your best employees might end up being those who didn’t have an interest in retail automotive in the first place, but are motivated, competitive and driven to succeed.

Host Job Fairs at Your Dealership

Another way to get fresh talent in your door is by hosting a job fair at your dealership. AutoNation, the largest automotive retailer in the U.S., hosted a nationwide hiring day in January, complete with job fairs across 15 cities. A job fair can help you attract engaged candidates, as they’re likely very interested in your dealership if they took the time to come into your dealership. It can also help you get to know potential employees and give them a taste of your culture before the official interview process. This can help you – and potential applicants – better determine whether or not your dealership is a career fit. If you don’t have the time or resources to host your own job fair, look into local career fairs on the calendar. You can easily set up a booth, which will provide a similar opportunity for you to get to know candidates, even if it’s not directly at your dealership. Also consider judging competitions for local trade school programs and business associations, or offer to speak to students about job preparation.

Implement a Comprehensive Training Program

Today, job applicants value career training and continued learning on the job. According to the 2016 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study from Accenture, 80% of 2016 graduates said they expect their first employer to formally train them on the job and 77% expect training will help further their career. Go beyond general first day or first week training by implementing a comprehensive training program at your dealership. A training program should be ongoing, so you can not only teach entry level employees the skills they need in their day-to-day jobs – such understanding a FICO score – but also give each employee the tools and resources they need to eventually become a 20-car a month sales rep and move up in their retail automotive career paths.

Your training program should be a combination of in-store and classroom-based learning. Set daily, weekly or monthly goals and have employees prove proficiency via written tests or role playing. The key is to have a training program with defined goals and learning objectives. Also define which metrics can position employees for growth – in pay or responsibilities – such as averaging 15 cars sold for three straight months or selling 20 cars in one month. Once you have your training program and goals in place, highlight the program anywhere potential applicants might interact with your employment brand – including in job descriptions, on your career site and on social media.

By reaching out to college students as they approach graduation – and soon after – and meeting the demands of today’s job seekers for on-the-job training, you can attract more quality candidates each time you have an open role.

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