For Car Dealers: Three Hiring Trends to Watch

The most successful dealerships use multiple channels to recruit applicants.

Adam Robinson

November 22, 2019

3 Min Read
dealership employee with clipboard
A simple way for dealers to prevent losing job applicants to other places of employment is by holding all managers accountable to reviewing every applicant within one day.Getty Images

Hiring has never been more challenging for the auto-retailing industry. Between historically low unemployment and limited job-seeker interest in dealership careers, dealers face many obstacles when it comes to securing top talent.

To help dealers better understand the state of hiring in retail automotive, my team at Hireology collaborated with the National Automobile Dealers Assn. on a research study, “Saving the Lost Applicant: Hiring Trends to Watch.”

This first-of-its-kind report analyzes automotive hiring activities and trends across more than 4,000 dealerships, representing 20% of all dealerships across the U.S.

Below, I’ve outlined several of the report’s key findings, as well as actionable next steps for dealers to better manage hiring and create a human-capital advantage through their people.

1. The retail automotive talent pool is getting smaller.

The data found that between January and June 2019, the average dealership rooftop had between eight to 10 job openings at any given time. This was consistent across dealership groups of all sizes.

Open roles at single-location and small dealership groups have increased 5% and 6%, respectively, compared with 2018, while open roles at larger dealership groups remained flat.

In today’s tight labor market, there are more open roles across industries than available talent to fill them. This means that as many dealerships add new open roles, they face increased competition to secure qualified candidates.

To stand out from the competition and attract top talent, dealers need a strong employer brand, career site and job descriptions that answer: “What’s in it for me?”

Dealers can do this by outlining benefits, career paths, training opportunities and other key criteria quality job seekers are looking for.

2. Dealers lose applicants due to inefficient hiring processes.

Dealers lost (or rather neglected) 20% of all job applicants in the first half of 2019 – leaving more than one million applicants on the table.

Lost applicants are ones who are either never reviewed by a hiring manager or have a review time take longer than 21 days, the average time it takes to find a job.

With the battle for top talent only increasing, lost applicants have a significant negative impact on dealers’ overall hiring success.

A simple way for dealers to prevent losing job applicants to other places of employment is by holding all managers accountable to reviewing every applicant within one day.

The research found that on average, most applicants spend four to five days awaiting a review from a hiring manager, sometimes accounting for 25% of the overall hiring process.

Additionally, 67% of eventual dealership hires were reviewed within one day, showing the importance of reviewing applicants quickly in this highly competitive job market.

By reviewing applicants daily, dealerships can fill open roles nearly a week faster – and secure top talent before they’re lost to competing job offers.

3. Recruitment ad performance and costs vary by channel.

While various recruitment channels – including referrals, dealership career sites, organic job boards, paid job boards, social media and more – drive applicants, it’s important to focus on the channels that ultimately drive the most hires. This will enable dealers to optimize recruitment, attract more top applicants and increase ROI.

Take career sites, for example. According to the data, while career sites drive just 4% of applicant traffic, they lead to 30% of eventual hires.

This means dealers should invest more in their career sites by creating compelling content such as job descriptions, employee testimonials, an overview of benefits and an engaging story about the dealership’s history and culture.

Dealers can gain a competitive advantage by having a full understanding of which recruitment channels drive the most quality candidates and eventual hires.

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Similar to marketing vehicles across multiple channels, the most successful dealerships use multiple channels to recruit applicants for their open jobs – and eliminate channels that don’t drive results. (Wards Industry Voices contributor Adam Robinson, left)

The insights outlined above are just a few highlights from Hireology and NADA’s joint research report. To learn more and create a human-capital advantage at your dealership, read the full report, “Saving the Lost Applicant: Hiring Trends to Watch.”

Adam Robinson is Hireology’s co-founder and CEO.

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