A recruiting consultant who focuses on matching the collision repair industry with talent says shops are making several missteps when recruiting technicians.
Chris Lawson, founder of Technician Find, appeared on a recent Mind Wrench podcast to share tips on how businesses can avoid making those mistakes and instead secure the best people for their vacancies.
Lawson laid out how businesses can set themselves apart on saturated job boards and social media ads by painting a picture of what it’s like to work in their shop, and what they might gain from taking the role.
“People want to feel like they’re part of a team that has their back, they want to feel like they’re not being treated as a number,” Lawson told podcast host Rick Selover. “Those things are universal. That’s not going to change. If you can really tell a story about your shop that is compelling, and shows them how they can be part of something bigger, your ads are going to be winners.”
He offered his advice as the industry grapples with an ongoing skilled worker shortage. A recent Techforce study found that 232,000 techs were needed in 2021 across automotive, diesel, and collision but schools were graduating only 42,000. In collision alone, the demand was 35,000 techs while only 4,500 graduated.
Job board guidance
Before blindly posting an ad online, he said those hiring should first do their research on particular roles to educate themselves on the going wages, perks competitors are offering, and expectations candidates have.
He said they should also be conscientious of avoiding common mistakes, including being too generic in vacancy listings.
Lawson said it just takes one scroll through a job site such an Indeed to discover that most technician ads are carbon copies of one another, making it impossible for one to stand apart over another.
“Every ad has the exact same headline and the exact same copy,” he said. “And it’s all mostly about them; it’s all about the company and what’s going to be required of you when you come to work at the shop. And that’s exactly the backward way to think about attracting a technician, or any position for that matter.”
On the topic of job boards, he said those posting vacancies online should consider the fact that just five-to-10% of technicians are actively looking for work. Another consideration, he said, is that small shops are often competing on job sites with larger employers like dealerships.
Better options might be carefully crafted social media advertisements that technicians are more likely to see, and relate to.
Snapping up talent quickly
When the right talent presents itself, shops shouldn’t sleep on it, Lawson said.
“We all know how fast this industry happens,” he said. “Today they may be interested in your shop, tomorrow they’re off in a different direction or their existing shop has stepped up to the plate and increased their offer. That happens all the time. We have to make sure that when you have interest, you’re getting on top of that right away. Don’t let applications sit around and wait for two or three days.”
Shops should also keep a list of candidates on file even when they’re not hiring, he said, so that they have a pool of options to consider if someone quits or they become unexpectedly shorthanded.
He also encouraged shop owners to include their mobile numbers on postings, so that candidates can reach them in real time.
“We’re all busy, it’s fast-paced,” he said. “They may see your ad and say they’ll get back to that. If you have a mobile number and they can text you, you can at least begin the conversation right away.”
‘Selling the dream’
Another recruiting element often overlooked by shops is the creation of a narrative that gives candidates an impression of what it’s like to work with them. Rather than focusing on job descriptions, they should use the space to sell the opportunity to prospective employees, he said.
“You want to make sure you’re inviting them into a story where they’re the hero,” Lawson said. “If a technician gets on the phone with you, they have a problem [with their current employer] and it’s your job to figure out what that problem is and match it up with your shop, which is the solution.”
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