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Hiring Techs in a Tight Labor Market

There is an ongoing need for about 76,000 new technicians in the United States annually, but vocational schools and other training facilities are only producing about 37,000 each year. According to NADA, roughly 400,000 technician positions are vacant at this time. In other words, capable, experienced service techs are some of the country’s most sought-after professionals — and one of the hardest positions to fill in the United States.

Here are four tips to attract and hire the best techs to your service department:

Tip 1: Don’t Narrow Your Search to One Demographic — There are two types of candidates you should be targeting in your search: active and passive. An active candidate is someone who is seeking employment and actively applies to job postings. A passive candidate is an individual who already has a job but may be open to a new opportunity. Successful recruiting strategies focus on both groups.

To connect with active job seekers, you can post on job boards, online career pages and other outlets. Keep in mind, however, that most dealerships are all deploying the same strategy, and active job seekers are inundated with offers. To stand out, your dealership needs to deploy a different, better strategy, or you risk being lost in the sauce. Your postings need to appear above the competition, which means putting a daily budget behind your posts (also known as “sponsoring” an ad). You’ll also need a compelling job description and call to action to get noticed.

Connecting with passive job seekers is trickier and requires a more strategic, targeted approach. Think of this as spearfishing rather than casting a net. To land them, you’ll need a strong keyword strategy and expertise in seeking out ideal candidates on social media platforms and job boards. Be mindful that since passive seekers are already employed, they might not be as eager as active seekers to jump into a new opportunity. Therefore, once these candidates are uncovered, you’ll need to engage with them and build a relationship by communicating a strong company brand and culture.

To effectively accomplish both active and passive searches, consider partnering with a professional recruiting company. This will save you time and money.

Tip 2: Speed Up the Interviewing and Hiring Process — When it comes to bringing experienced, in-demand service techs to your dealership, you should think of the process taking days, and in some cases hours, instead of weeks. The best, most qualified techs might already have several offers. If your onboarding process is long and complicated, you could quickly take yourself out of the running before realizing it.

Phone screening and face-to-face interviews must be conducted as soon as possible after making initial contact with the candidate. If you have their information, chances are other potential employers do, too. The longer your process takes, the greater your chances of losing that great tech to other shops.

Tip 3: Get Key Managers to Conduct the Interview — Your key managers need to be involved in the vetting process early. These are individuals who will be working directly with the candidate, such as service directors, service managers or immediate supervisors. Our experience in recruiting technicians has taught us that this initial, immediate contact with key managers is a critical step to landing them. Service technicians typically want to have a good understanding of the position and responsibilities and know about the culture of the shop where they will be working. Your key managers will be the best ones to convey this information. They’ll be the ones who are able to answer specific questions and sell your company’s unique culture.

Tip 4: Use Overall Compensation to Attract and Land the Best Candidates — While pay is a significant factor in the candidate’s decision-making process, it’s not the only factor. There are other elements in the compensation package that can attract the right candidate to your team. These include paid time off, work-life balance, retirement benefits, paid training, health insurance, bonuses, tool allowances, student loan assistance and opportunities for advancement. Don’t forget to highlight your positive corporate culture and the value and respect your company places on individuals. Often, these non-monetary elements far outweigh the slightly higher wages and salaries offered by other employers.

Remember, you’re not just selling the candidate on the job but on your entire company. If you want them to be a part of your team, make sure your offer is the best it can be and communicate that to them.

Hiring techs in a tight labor market is challenging. However, experienced techs are out there and available. Whether you recruit on your own or use a professional recruiting company, having a strategy and plan to engage with them will put you ahead of shops who struggle to navigate the narrowing tech market.