Who’s Hiring Millennials in the Auto Industry?

By Adam Robinson,
January 28, 2016

Who’s Hiring Millennials in the Auto Industry?

When someone brings up millennials in a conversation, what’s your first reaction? If you’ve got a somewhat negative impression of this massive demographic, you wouldn’t be alone. A recent article from Inc. magazine highlighted the fact that some employers have found millennials to be less-than-stellar employees, with a variety of uncomplimentary labels, including:

  • Selfish
  • Entitled
  • Immature
  • Narcissistic

While this anecdotal evidence paints millennials with a broad – and likely, an unfairly negative – brush, there are other employers who have witnessed the strengths of this generation. Human Resources Management Center explained that millennials are motivated by employers who value their educational background and skill levels, while also seeking a flexible work environment that fosters their ambition to develop professionally. When their passions align with their work, they tend to put a lot of energy to seeing a project succeed-especially if they’re recognized for their efforts.

It’s a demographic that auto dealerships are trying to court with increasing effort. However, there are some issues that are influencing the hiring process.

Dealerships Facing a Hiring Conundrum

According to recent data, auto dealerships are putting more emphasis on hiring millennials. In fact, a highlight from the 2015 National Auto Dealers Association Convention and Exposition is that 40 percent of the people purchasing new vehicles in the year 2020 will be millennials. That’s putting pressure on dealerships to hire people who are recognizable, relatable and can speak the same language as the buying audience.

However, employee turnover among millennials is causing concern among auto dealers. Citing data from ESiTrends, WardsAuto indicated the churn rate for millennials was 55 percent-compared to 34 percent of Generation Xers and 26 percent for baby boomers.

Accordingly, it’s going to be a huge issue for dealerships to find ways to increase the retention rate among millennials if they want to keep profits up.

What Do the Broader Numbers Indicate?

For all the word of mouth that contributes to a complex portrait of millennials in the workplace, there’s a growing body of research that helps flesh out the demographic. Here are a few of the standout insights from The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016:


For most employers, retention is a high priority. Losing high-quality talent leaves a lasting, negative impression on an organization. With millennials, the risk appears to be pretty high for employee churn. In fact, 44 percent of millennials said they would leave their current position within the next two years if they had the option. This echoes the issues facing auto dealers with hanging onto millennials workers.

Some of the contributing reasons for this include:

  • Lacking professional development
  • Perceptions that are being overlooked
  • Conflicting values

As a result, it’s becoming increasingly important for employers to focus on priorities that millennials consider when they’re looking to make a long-term career move.


Another important element to consider with millennials is the weight they put on the purpose and impact their company has on society at large. In fact, the Deloitte study found that 87 percent of millennials said that the success of a business should be measured beyond its financial performance.

Beyond profit margins, many millennials want to know what impact their employer is having on society and that they’re ethical in their business practices. In essence, they’re more likely to be committed to businesses that put people before profits – including both customers and employees.


A major issue of contention for millennials is the structure of their job. They typically prize flexibility over many other factors of their employment, even above pay in many circumstances. If employers are too rigid in the way they operate, they’re likely to put off millennials.

As a result, a growing number of auto dealerships are adjusting the way they schedule and compensate employees. According WardsAuto, nearly 6 in 10 dealers currently schedule their employees to work 45 hours or less. This is largely in response to the priority that millennials place on maintaining a healthier work/life balance. There’s also a growing trend in providing a salary to members of the sales team, instead of basing pay purely on commission.

What Are Your Next Steps?

Auto dealerships stand to gain – or lose – a lot if they’re not highly tactical about how they recruit millennials. With a consumer audience that will skew younger, it’s critical that your employees are able to identify and relate with them.

The journey begins by developing a career site that millennials will have no trouble finding and navigating. Additionally, it’s critical that you have access to a platform that gives you 360-degree portrait of each applicant, helping you to identify if they’re going to be a long-term fit for your dealership.

About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

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