How to Hire Automotive Technicians as Cars Become More High Tech

In today’s applicant-drive economy, dealerships face significant challenges when it comes to automotive technician hiring. While there are currently 750,000 automotive technicians and mechanics in the country, the industry will need to hire 76,000 more each year to keep up with a rapidly aging workforce – retirees – fill any additional open roles. 
The historically-low unemployment rate and limited interest in dealership careers both contribute to the struggles of auto technician hiring. According to the 2019 Dealership Staffing Study from Cox Automotive, as of 2016, 33 percent of non-dealership employees indicated they would be interested in dealership roles and this number has since dropped to 25 percent.
Another challenge dealerships face with automotive technician hiring is that many job seekers – especially those from outside the automotive industry – don’t fully understand what an auto technician role entails today. Many job seekers have the misconception that working as an auto technician means changing oil and tires and other “wrench turning” tasks. 
Given the advanced technology in today’s cars, key responsibilities of dealership service technicians have evolved and include repairing sensors, computers, high-tech engines and other technology found in most new cars today. One dealer has even gone so far as to compare automotive technician hiring to computer engineer hiring. 
The evolution of vehicle technology means your dealership needs to rethink automotive technician hiring. Below, we’ve outlined several key tips on how to hire automotive technicians and set them up for success with repairing high tech cars. 

Highlight the Evolved Auto Technician Role in Employment Brand Materials 

While some traditional auto technician responsibilities – such as oil changes and vehicle tune ups – are still required, fixed ops department roles have changed significantly in recent years and it’s important for your dealership to make this clear when you’re hiring and training team members. Since the role requires skills and knowledge similar to computer engineers, your dealership needs to outline this on your career site and in job descriptions – both to attract auto technicians from other dealerships and from outside the industry. 
Gone are the days when automotive technicians spend a lot of time poking around car engine to figure out what needs to be fixed. Rather, they tend to use computerized diagnostic equipment and instead of taking several hours to diagnose what needs to be fixed, it can take as little as 30 minutes – giving service technicians more time to actually repair cars. This ultimately leads to increased profitability and heightened customer service for your dealership – and you want to hire employees who are passionate about diagnostic equipment and related tasks. 
With the right automotive technician hiring strategy in place, you can attract qualified, motivated job seekers who might have otherwise considered roles as computer engineers. Given the required technical skills, a career as an automotive service technician offers job seekers with a passion for computers and technology a great opportunity – with less required education than similar roles outside the automotive industry. 
While it might take four or six years of education to become a traditional computer engineer, auto technician roles typically only require about two years of education, along with continued on the job training, which can excite technically-savvy job seekers who want to jump start their careers sooner rather than later. 

Outline Training and Career Path Opportunities 

In addition to sharing the technical nature of today’s automotive technician roles, In your job descriptions and on your career site, it’s also important to highlight career paths and growth opportunities, so prospective job applicants can see everything working at your dealership has to offer. Today’s top job applicants are looking for more than an exchange of time for money and want to join teams where they can envision long-term career growth. 
Some job seekers might not have a full understanding of the growth opportunities auto technician careers offer. Beyond simply entry-level technician roles, many technicians have gone on to hold management and leadership roles at dealerships. For example, former AutoNation CEO, Mike Jackson, started his career as a technician for a Mercedes-Benz Dealership, ultimately serving as president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, overseeing U.S. sales operation and 311 franchised dealerships before joining AutoNation.
On your career site, highlight any possible career paths for auto technicians and any other relevant roles at your dealership. You can do so by including a visual of each step along the way or by highlighting employee success stories about automotive technicians who have risen through the ranks. Defined career paths can help prospective employees who are researching job online excited about the career opportunities beyond entry-level service roles.
For your automotive technician hiring to be successful, your team needs to set employees up with the resources they need to grow in their careers. In your job descriptions and on your career site, let prospective applicants know about your commitment to ongoing employee training.

When you hire automotive technicians, you can offer initial training during onboarding to help them hit the ground running, and set aside funds for continued education. As vehicle technology continues to become more sophisticated, continued training is important to both employee career growth and the overall success of your service department.
Challenges associated with automotive technician hiring show no signs of slowing down, so it’s important for your team to have a strategy in place to attract qualified job seekers in the tight labor market. For additional tips on staffing up your service department for success, read our resource, “5 Tools to Attract and Hire Quality Fixed Ops Staff.”



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