Working Together for Recruitment

June 22, 2015

by Thi Dao - Also by this author

Many fleet managers I’ve spoken to are proud of their teams — their employees are knowledgeable and experienced, and many have been there for decades. What that means, however, is that they’ll be retiring soon, and they’ll have to replace these knowledgeable employees.

Fleet managers have said they can’t get enough qualified technicians to apply for open positions. A good number of respondents to our private sector technician survey (of working technicians) said they are interested in joining the public sector, but a few wrote that jobs are scarce and hard to get. Some even gave us their phone numbers in the hopes that we’d get them a public fleet job!

Something’s missing here. It seems like people who are interested in public fleet jobs don’t know where to turn to in their search.

And, as discussed in our cover story, current automotive students haven’t heard of public fleet jobs.

To address these issues, the industry needs to band together for outreach. Government fleets need to let students know there is a career for them in the public sector early on, so government fleet jobs can at least be on the radar of a new generation of technicians. They also need to make it easier for working technicians to learn about job openings in the industry.

Reach Out

One of the outreach projects Jerry Rutter with Universal Technical Institute (UTI) mentioned for the article was career fairs. He noted that fleets serious about recruiting should come multiple times to career fairs to interact with students.

Of course, this requires both time and expense. Can a government fleet manager or supervisor with limited staff go to multiple career fairs to attract talent? And can they hold student interest by telling them about just one opening at their agency?

A larger scale recruitment effort involving local fleet associations can turn a single agency’s efforts into a collective outreach program. While a small fleet team might find it hard to spare a person or two for multiple days, an association can assemble a few volunteers among its membership relatively easily. And since these fleets represent multiple government entities, the message then is not “apply for this one position” or “apply when we have an opening,” but rather, “apply for all the government fleet jobs that are open in nearby agencies, because public fleet jobs are a good career option.”

Staff can also market fleet open house days — the ones open to the public — specifically to technical colleges. You’ve got your technicians out there answering questions, your large trucks out there for kids to climb on, and maybe you’ll even provide a facility tour. What a great time to show automotive students the variety of vehicles they could be working on, allow them to talk to their potential co-workers, and check out their future place of employment — which I’m sure will be clean and sparkling for the event. An open house is a festive environment and a great introduction to fleet as a career choice. And having a shiny red fire truck on display certainly doesn’t hurt recruiting efforts.

As for already employed technicians, is there a central location where they can find out about public fleet openings? Aside from telling them to check various agency websites, where can you direct those who have expressed interest? A national directory can be hard to manage, and a local directory may get less publicity and reach. I don’t have a solution, but it’s something the local associations could tackle.

Any exposure to public fleet is beneficial, and even if the potential employees you’ve talked to don’t end up at your fleet, they might end up working at neighboring fleets. And you know what that means — you can steal them.

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Thi Dao

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Thi is the executive editor of Government Fleet magazine. She is interested in maintenance management and alternative fuels.

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