Record-Low Unemployment: How Can Your Dealership Attract Recent Graduates?

By Beth Kempton,
June 15, 2018

Graduation season has come and gone, meaning high school, technical school and college grads are on the lookout for their first official career opportunities. But while job searching might come easy for recent grads this year, employers across industries are facing challenges with attracting top talent. In May, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent, the lowest rate since 2000, making the U.S. job market strong for job seekers, but highly competitive for employers.

In addition to low unemployment, the retail automotive industry struggles to attract top talent because most job seekers don’t even consider the possibility of a dealership career. In fact, fewer than 1% of job seekers in a recent survey indicated that they’d consider a career at a dealership. So how can your dealership overcome the challenges of a low unemployment rate and limited interest from job seekers? They key is to build a strong employment brand and change job seekers’ perception of working in retail automotive. We’ve pulled together some tips below.

Build a Strong Employment Brand

A strong employment brand can help your dealership stand out from the competition and attract top candidates in today’s competitive job market. And building your best team will ultimately lead to increased efficiency, productivity and revenue at your dealership. To get recent grads excited about the possibility of working for your dealership, develop a strong employment brand that encourages job seekers to build long-term careers at your dealership. Your employment brand should include strong job descriptions, a compelling career site, defined career paths across departments, employee testimonials, a comprehensive list of benefits and continuous job openings. By building and maintaining a strong employment brand, you can attract engaged applicants who are interested in growing their careers at your dealership.

Change Job Seekers’ Perceptions of Dealership Careers

Many job seekers – including recent grads –  have the misconception that working at a dealership involves long hours and limited career growth opportunities. For example, job seekers often think a career as a service technician means changing oil and tires and other “wrench turning” tasks. Or that working on a dealership sales team means working long hours and weekends to make enough commission. In all your employment brand materials – including your career site, your job descriptions and any information that is shared at local job fairs – you should make it clear that working at your dealership is a much more fruitful career than many might think. For example, a service technician is a much more skilled job than most think it is. With the modern technology in most modern cars, key responsibilities of dealership service technicians include repairing sensors, high-tech engines and other technology found in most new cars today.

For sales roles, consider making the switch to base plus bonus plans, as AutoNation and other dealerships across the country have done. Shifting to a more consistent pay plan instead of relying on commission will give job seekers and your current employees peace of mind. Instead of the stress of worrying about their bills and performance, they can focus their energy on selling to customers without being pushy or overly hostile. But to ensure success, your dealership must provide enough onboarding and training so your teams feel confident to meet their monthly quotas and provide great customer service. And to attract top candidates, make sure your base plus bonus pay structure is highlighted in your job descriptions and on your career site.

Look Outside Retail Automotive for Talent

While some entry-level recent grads 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 – especially considering fewer than 1% of job seekers are considering dealership careers. 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 which career path 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.

The job hunt is in full swing for recent grads and now is as good a time as any to rethink your employment brand and reach top job seekers who aren’t currently considering careers at a dealership. For more information on how to build the best team possible at your dealership – no matter the economic conditions – download our eBook, “Planning for People in Retail Automotive.”



About the Author

Beth is the content strategist on Hireology’s marketing team, responsible for creating compelling blog posts, eBooks, marketing materials and other content. Her background includes five years of experience at a B2B digital marketing agency, where she crafted content for a variety of clients, including several in the HR technology space. Before beginning her career, Beth attended Loyola University Chicago, where she studied advertising and public relations.