The Future of Automotive Hiring 2023

5 opportunities for automotive dealerships to recruit and hire better in 2023 and beyond


In November of 2022, Hireology surveyed 121 recruiters, hiring managers, and HR leaders across the retail automotive industry. We asked questions about everything from top sources of applicants and hires to top challenges and goals for the year ahead.

One key finding? For 55% of respondents, low talent supply is still their number one hiring and HR challenge — even as their counterparts in the tech space grapple with layoffs and an
impending recession. This tells us that the recession proves to be less of a threat for dealerships than the pandemic was, and that there is an opportunity for you to gain a competitive edge by recruiting and hiring the right people.

Based on the results of the survey, we identified 5 people-focused opportunities for dealerships as we head into 2023 and beyond. Read on to learn how you can be one of the first to make the right changes, stand out from the masses, and achieve your hiring and HR goals in the year ahead.

Build processes around candidate needs

Key finding: 93% of dealerships have been ghosted by a candidate in the past year

If you don’t know what ghosting means by now, it’s a situation in the dating world in which one person ends a relationship by suddenly and without warning withdrawing communication. In the hiring world, the concept is the same. A candidate you’ve been in touch with or interviewed stops responding to your messages to move forward in the process — effectively dropping out.

Today, the phenomenon is so widespread in the automotive space that 93% of respondents say they have been ghosted by a candidate during the interview process in the last year. And 75% say they’ve actually had a candidate ghost an offer.

The key to combating ghosting? Tailor your hiring process to the candidates’ needs. When we surveyed candidates earlier this year, lengthy and unorganized processes were the top reasons they’ve ghosted. So find ways to cut down your process. Maybe you consolidate interviews or offer virtual options. Or perhaps you text with candidates so they can respond and keep the process moving in a way that is easier for them. Simply put, don’t make candidates cater to your tools and processes — put them first instead.

Leverage your talent database

Key finding: 87% of dealerships have hired a former employee in the past year

Think about how many great people you’ve crossed paths with from a talent acquisition perspective over the past several years — whether that’s the dozens of people who applied for a role who didn’t get the job. Or maybe it’s people your top employees have referred over the years who just weren’t quite the right fit for the roles available at the time. Or it could even be rockstar former employees who moved onto other companies for new opportunities. This number in total is likely in the tens of thousands.

So why not leverage this database? Rather than thinking of hiring as a linear process in which you open a new job, post it on job boards, interview candidates for that job, select one, and then start over, think of it as cyclical. If you maintain a database of everyone you’ve ever met and stay in touch with them over time, you’ll always have someone at your fingertips when a new role opens up.

For example, maybe you send monthly emails to great “runner-up” candidates with updates on open positions, inviting them to apply. Or, you might choose a different cadence of emails to send out to former employees asking for referrals to open roles or reminding them that they’re welcome to return to your organization should there be a good fit. Whatever your approach, remember that there’s great talent in your system already — you need just a plan to leverage it.

Enhance your employee referral program

Key finding: Employee referral programs are the top source of quality hires for 34% of dealerships

When we asked about sources of quality hires we found that referrals are actually top the list for 34% of dealerships. This ranked higher than career sites, job boards, and in-person events. So if you haven’t spent time and resources improving your program in order to maximize participation, you’re missing out on great talent opportunities.

The key to maximizing ROI from your employee referral program is to market it internally like you might any other HR initiative. Share open roles via emails and text with your team and remind them how to submit. Post flyers around high-traffic areas at your dealership to make sure folks see it often. It’s also important to make it as easy as possible for employees to participate. For example, avoid lengthy forms that are difficult to do on a smartphone. Using tools like Hireology Referrals you can actually generate QR codes that open a chatbot when scanned and make submitting a referral as easy as sending a text.

Add in-person sourcing channels to the mix

Key finding: 43% of dealerships source candidates from partnerships with local colleges or high schools and 41% source talent from in-person job fairs

At a time when it seems like almost everything is done online and behind a screen, it might be counterintuitive to add in-person applicant sourcing channels to the mix. But ultimately recruiting is all about relationship building, and what better way to nurture relationships than face-to-face interaction? This is especially true in the automotive industry where recruiting for roles like automotive technicians might require some education around the job itself as well as talent nurturing over time.

When we asked dealerships where they source the most applicants, in-person channels actually ranked nearly as high as digital sources like online job boards. Forty-three percent say they source applicants from relationships with local colleges or high schools and 40% do so via in-person job fairs. While general job boards and career sites still topped the list of most commonly used, it’s important to execute a multichannel recruiting strategy. So continue to run your online channels while exploring outside of the walls of your dealership.

Prioritize scheduling flexibility and other benefits

Key finding: 36% of dealerships offer scheduling flexibility for part-time employees, while 41% offer career path opportunities

While businesses in the tech space may be grappling with layoffs, automotive dealerships are still (three years later) struggling to fill all of the positions you lost at the onset of the pandemic. There are just more open jobs than there are job seekers out there looking for this type of work. And at a time of low supply for new cars there is a higher demand for fixed operations services, which means you need to hire in order to maintain and grow your bottom line.

So what will get great talent in the doors for these roles? Of course pay matters and always will. But it isn’t the only factor that drives someone to accept an open role. As long as pay is within an acceptable range, most job seekers will take slightly lower paying offers if their other needs are met. What are those needs? According to an April 2022 survey of job seekers, flexibility, career growth, and culture top the list.

And among our dealership respondents, it seems as though this is widely understood. Dealerships were significantly more likely than other industries to say they offer schedule flexibility and PTO for hourly employees. Simply put, these types of offerings have become table stakes in the industry — so if you haven’t defined your offerings in these areas it’s time to start now. Other ways to stand out include defining and marketing a DEI program and offering learning and development opportunities.


Moving forward

As technology companies struggle with layoffs, dealerships face a much different outlook. While overall employment levels have surpassed pre-pandemic levels, most of you still haven’t recovered the jobs you eliminated at the onset of the pandemic. You’re still finding it difficult to attract the right people to fill those roles and retain them long-term. And it’s having an impact on your customer service and bottom line.

Making the right hires in the year ahead requires modernizing job offerings and hiring processes. To achieve this, the five opportunities discussed in this report are essential. But leading dealerships won’t stop there, and will continue to think bigger and better as we head into a new post-pandemic era with a new definition of work.

Hireology is trusted by one in four dealerships nationwide. Chat with us today to learn how our all-in-one hiring and HR platform can help you take advantage of the above opportunities and more.