Training as a recruitment tool

As we all know, the problem of recruiting and hiring talented people for our industry hasn’t been resolved. I had written a previous article that focused on how ongoing training of current employees can improve employee retention.

But let’s go a step farther: Can training have a role in initial recruitment and onboarding of employees?

For those companies lucky enough to attract the interest of a young person to the vehicle maintenance field, there may be considerable challenges in getting that person to commit to a job. While the candidate may have some schooling and core skills, he is not likely to be qualified to handle the tough diagnostic tasks in your facility.

Most recruits would agree with such an assessment. But they also want to know that they won’t be stuck sweeping shop floors and doing oil changes for years, either. Most will expect to be doing more meaningful, fulfilling tasks within a reasonable timeframe.

Career Development

If your company can show recruits from the beginning the goals surrounding training – such as a policy of minimum annual training hours-per-employee – and a breadth of training course offerings, it will ease some concerns the recruit may have regarding his own abilities while showing a company commitment to employee development.

While there are many potential new hires that are just “looking for a job,” the top candidates are looking for a career path. Demonstrating that your organization will take part in such career development through training can go a long way in sealing the deal with these recruits.

The Onboarding Process

Another important factor where training meets recruiting is onboarding. Also known as new employee orientation, onboarding is, basically, a proactive, clearly defined approach and process to getting new employees acclimated (“on board”) to their jobs sooner, with a closer connection to their new company’s culture and way of doing things.

An important element of onboarding is giving recruits a walk-through of your facility, explaining the various departments and operation. This should also include a discussion about what these employees can expect the first week, first month and first year. Discuss areas where training and assigned mentors will assist the new hire in accomplishing tangible milestones.

The new hire training and orientation processes can be crucial in planting the seed of “lasting commitment” with your candidates.

Common Onboarding Mistakes

Finally, the onboarding process itself is crucial to getting buy-in from a new hire and convincing them that they made the right choice. Nothing turns off a new hire more than these common mistakes companies make:

  • Poor planning for Day 1, resulting in the employee sitting for hours without contact from the people he will be working with or for. Simply giving the employee a lengthy policy manual or employee handbook to sit and read is not much better.
  • For the first week or more, assigning the new hire “busy work” or menial tasks that have nothing to do with his job description, because no one has the time to walk him through his expected tasks or provide the necessary onboard coaching.
  • Showing the new hire to his work area and then leaving him to “sink or swim” with no initial instructions, training or mentoring.

In short, make sure the new hire is fully aware of his job description, the people he’ll be working with and for, milestones he’ll be expected to reach at various points during his first year on the job, and the training and coaching that you will provide or facilitate to further his growth.

Doing all this helps create a favorable impression. Plus, with new hires knowing that there are promotional opportunities, turnover is reduced.

Stephen Howe is a field trainer and technical training consultant for United Rentals, the world’s largest equipment rental company with more than 850 branch locations in North America. He is a past president of the Automotive Training Managers Council (ATMC), a global organization of training managers from automotive aftermarket, OEM, supplier, service tool and training companies.