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Elevate 2020: Week 3 Recap

Our 4th annual Elevate conference came to a close this week with a final keynote speech delivered by Adam Robinson, Hireology’s CEO and co-founder, on the applicant sentiment, followed by a panel discussion with Michelle Harrow, the Head of Recruiting for Twitter, and Bob Lanham, the Head of Automotive Retail at Facebook. Their discussion highlighted the importance of investing in your people, and how to appeal to the new applicant audience. 
Applicant levels have returned to pre-COVID levels, and now the focus of dealerships is to attract applicants from industries that remain heavily impacted by the pandemic. But attracting applicants is only the first step in running a successful business. Adam shared that a dealership spends $16,000 in hard cost per head turned in the first year, so high turnover results in a great deal of cost. “If we’re able to shave 10 points off of our turnover rate at a dealership, we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars of bottom-line impact,“ said Adam. But how can we as an industry do that? 
Hireology surveyed a pool of recently hired applicants to gauge what they expected from the hiring process from start to finish. At our final Elevate event, Adam shared a summary of these insights, and Michelle and Bob shared what they’ve seen as applicants’ biggest drivers and ways to retain your best employees.
Read the recap of the third week of Elevate below, and if you’d like a more in-depth look at the applicant sentiment, you can read our 2020 Applicant Experience Research Report here.
And here’s the recording if you weren’t able to attend.

What do applicants think of our industry?

Once someone is working at a dealership, their perception of the job is extremely positive. 94% of those that were surveyed in the automotive industry had a positive view of their role and the industry as a whole. This initial praise makes the high turnover rate that the automotive industry sees — 70% annual turnover in sales roles and 90% annual turnover from female sales roles — all the more alarming. 
To address the issue of high turnover, it’s important to look at what’s causing industry professionals to begin their job search. The biggest reason applicants began looking for a new role was their current company’s culture. Close contenders of the top spot for beginning a job search were better pay, benefits, and the lack of a career path. Each of these factors, as Adam pointed out, are well within your dealership’s control. 
“If our people are our biggest asset, what are you doing to give them the best opportunity to learn and grow in their role?” asked Adam. Are you making sure that you’re offering an inclusive and intentional culture, competitive pay and benefits, and career growth opportunities? If not, you’ll lose top talent to your competitors.

“If our people are our biggest asset, what are you doing to give them the best opportunity to learn and grow in their role?”

Adam Robinson, Co-Founder and CEO at Hireology

What behaviors can we expect from applicants going through the hiring process? 

Applicants are looking for mobile-friendly ways to apply for jobs and move through the job process. iPhone usage more than tripled desktops in respondents’ most recent job search. “Jobs are digital products that have to be retailed direct-to-consumer through the channels where they’re most findable. And that today, emphatically is mobile,” said Adam. As an industry, we’ve made huge leaps to engage with consumers through mobile, so why stop at your applicants?
Applicants also spend their time applying to only a few places, with 62.1% applying to fewer than five positions. “Consumers for jobs are not job shopping. They’re very intentional about where they want to apply, interview, and work. It’s no different than the car buyer journey,” said Adam. If you can make your process engaging, show your core values through your interviewers, and provide a great interview experience, you can build your best team. In fact, 65.2% of respondents said they joined their current organization because of the positive experience during the hiring process. “Positive hiring experience is the one thing you can do more than any other to impact your ability to attract quality applicants,” said Adam. 

What do applicants expect from their employers?

The pandemic has shifted a lot when it comes to how dealerships operate, but it’s also made applicants reconsider what’s most important to them. Michelle said she’s seen applicants looking for more flexibility in schedule, location, pay, and benefits, as well as a focus on the employee experience. She’s also seen a larger number of applicants wanting their workspace to reflect the community they live in, so diversity and inclusion efforts are at the top of their list when considering roles. “It’s one thing to say you want to create a diverse environment and hire people into it,” said Michelle. “It’s another thing to think really strategically around how you can do that effectively.” 
Bob said that applicant expectations have also changed in response to the heavier reliance on digital retail that dealerships are experiencing. “[Digital Retail] has allowed dealerships to sell differently, which changes the culture internally, which then changes who they have the ability to hire or potentially who they want to hire,” said Bob. With engaging job descriptions and proper advertising, you can appeal to an entirely new audience of applicants. 

“It’s one thing to say you want to create a diverse environment and hire people into it. It’s another thing to think really strategically around how you can do that effectively.”

Michelle Harrow, Head of Recruiting at Twitter

What should dealers do? 

Michelle shared a philosophy that she learned from her time with Apple: retail is a people business and your people drive the success of your business. If you can keep your people at the forefront of your business and focus on hiring the best talent, you’ll have success, but you have to be intentional about keeping your staff. Take a hard look at your offerings, culture, and management, and make sure you’re offering a quality employee experience. “If you seek to build the highest performing, most diverse workforce, you have to take stock of what you’re currently doing today and make some changes to improve,” said Adam. “You can’t expect your employees to take great care of your customers if you are not as a business taking great care of your employees.”
Michelle shared her thoughts on using your people strategy as part of your business. “There’s a significant business value in thinking through what [the employee] experience is, and ensuring that that is a strategy as part of your business…not just simply your business strategy, your sales strategy, but really, truly what’s your employee strategy?” she said. “Ultimately, employees have a choice to work wherever they want to and you want to have that mindset that they are choosing to work for you.”
Establishing your employer brand also gives your employees a basis for how to conduct themselves when interacting with customers. “You want [your sales people] to want to represent your brand accordingly,” said Bob. If you’ve provided a positive environment for your employees, they’ll want to represent you well. 
Lastly, you have to deliver on your interview promises to keep your best people. “We’ve got a real opportunity to deliver on the promises that we make about the quality of this business, the dynamic nature of this business, the career path opportunities, the earning potential, and the fun and professional growth that can happen when you’re a part of the automotive family,” said Adam.

“You want [your sales people] to want to represent your brand accordingly.”

Bob Lanham, Head of Automotive Retail at Facebook

That’s a wrap!

Elevate 2020 has come to a close, but we’re hoping you’ll take what you learned and transform your hiring strategy for the year to come. If you missed a session or want to rewatch any event, you can access all the Elevate 2020 content on-demand here. And if you want a more comprehensive look at our Applicant Survey, you can read our 2020 Applicant Experience Research Report here.

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