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Top Five Millennial and Gen Z Recruitment Tips

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With a shortage of young people entering the auto repair industry, millennial recruitment is more important than ever. This issue of successfully attracting younger employees is becoming a challenge for more than just the automotive field—and it comes down to the key generational differences of the needs, desires, and expectations they have for their employment.  

“We believe that trends are going to be shifting more and more to employers—and entire industries struggling to attract younger talent,” says Ben Varquez, Whistle Work partner.

Varquez has been in the business of millennial and Generation Z marketing for a little over a decade now. He and two other partners developed Whistle Work, with the goal of improving the future of work for millennials and Generation Z job candidates, as well as helping organizations and industries with their hiring and retention needs. Varquez and Whistle Work have worked with clients including Google, American Eagle Outfitters and Capital One.   

Varquez shares his top five tips for shops looking to recruit and hire young candidates.


Tip No. 1: Know the generational differences.

Understanding the core differences between millennials and Generation Z is vital in knowing how to message to them, Varquez says.

Although it may seem easy to lump all young people together, Varquez explains that millennials and Gen Zers have key differences that shape what they look for in their employment—and can ultimately alter potential recruitment strategies:



Generation Z

Stage of Life

Well into their adulthood, roughly ages 24 to 36

Either still in high school or recently graduated, under 24

Digital Influence

Knew a life where the internet wasn’t always easily accessible

Has not lived in a time without accessible internet

View of the Job Market

Sold a vision that didn’t become a reality, entered the workforce at the peak of the depressed job market

Saw the effects of the recession, entered the workforce during the recovery of the economy, has more accurate job expectations

Key Identifying Employment Traits

Seeks job flexibility, participates in the “gig economy”

Seeks solid employment pathways, career path focused

There are quite a few similarities that run between these generations: both expect a lot out of their employers, Varquez explains, in terms of the way that the employer positions and presents themselves—so transparency is key. Shop owners should tell the potential employee exactly what the position entails, what will be expected from them and what the company culture is like.    

“Authenticity in presenting who you are, what you do and what your expectations are in terms of a career or employment [is vital],” Varquez says.


Tip No. 2: Respect work-life balance.

Like all ages, benefits are important to younger generations. On top of the traditional health care, retirement, ect., millennials and Gen Zers largely look for the benefits offered and company mission to match their own personal values, Varquez says.

Above all, a lot of younger generations value work-life balance, he explains. This includes work flexibility, and possible remote work. Considering it’s almost impossible to offer technicians the ability to work from home, presenting these younger potential employees a feasible schedule that values and respects their time away from work is crucial.

Millennials and Gen Zers, as a whole, really tend to value and prioritize family, Varquez explains. So, including a set time that he or she will have to spend time away from work with family will aid in the recruitment process.        


Tip No. 3: Integrate technology.

The two youngest generations in today’s work force were either born into a time where the Internet was always easily accessible, or only shortly knew a time when that wasn’t the case—but both millennials and Gen Zers look for jobs that are specifically technology centric and innovative.  

“Technology-centric doesn't have to mean that you're hiring computer science majors and coders, but it does mean you have to integrate technology into your business functions and business operations,” Varquez says. “Everything needs to be heavy on digital, just because we are talking about two generations that grew up digitally native.”

 This technological integration extends to onboarding, what systems are used to communicate and how employees are asked to execute and deliver on their work. Shops that use digital inspections, online communication, and other innovative and new technology should present these during the recruitment process. Shops can even perform candidate interviews over video chat to showcase their tech integration, Varquez suggests.       


Tip No. 4: Expand recruitment platforms.

In order to advertise the job position to recruit potential young candidates, Varquez suggests that shops take a well-rounded approach. Of course, digital needs to be a huge component of the recruiting and integrated into every step of the process, he explains. So, posting the job ad on LinkedIn, Indeed, and other online job searching websites is crucial. But the search shouldn’t end there.

“There are still very real, valuable opportunities for in-person recruitment,” Varquez says.

High schools and technical colleges are a great place to recruit young potential employees offline. Even if the search doesn’t end in a promising candidate, getting the word out and showing up will still help to grow your pipeline for the future.

“It’s never too early to start building your pipeline. Any effort that can be made through local community outreach to expose young people to the industry is valuable,” Varquez says.


Tip No. 5: Present your business properly.

Whether online or in person, there needs to be consistency in how employers present the business, says Varquez. Young job seekers are far more educated now than ever; this is largely due to the amount of available information there is on the internet.

Business information is largely available online to recruits via shop websites and job postings. The potential employee can explore everything from the shop’s mission, values, culture, benefits and team members, Varquez explains.  

Shops should make sure their information is updated in order to present the business accurately, and should be consistent across all mediums. The key is working to find core characteristics and leveraging those to create an entire story to attract these younger candidates, Varquez says.


Tips from Within

Josh Bird’s automotive journey began in the dealership industry—but just last year, Bird opened his own repair shop, Bird Automotive in Oak Grove, Mo., in search of more fulfilment. While service managing at a previous dealership, Bird was faced with filling a majority of the new business with staff, almost all being millennials and those in younger generations. Below are some recruitment tips he picked up during the process:

Highlight community involvement.

Employees in younger generations look for positions where they are able to make a difference in the world and give back to the community, Bird says. He suggests shop owners get involved in community events and present that to the young employee.

Gauge their willingness.

Bird says that, generally, younger employees are very open to learning. To gauge this, Bird asks potential employees if they could drive a manual transmission. With that taking out too many applicants, Bird began asking them whether or not they would be willing to learn how to drive a manual. 

"It’s something small, but it lets you know how willing they are to learn,” says Bird.

Offer a career path.

Younger employees are not the typical “nine to five” generation, Bird says. They want a path in their career. Offering a set direction for where the potential employee could go within the business is an important factor in the hiring process. 

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