Never underestimate the value of unbridled enthusiasm in a potential new hire. Ultimately, the person possessing the passion for a career may be the one who exceeds every boss' expectations.
Surely there are some essential ground rules for hiring any new employee. Certain job openings, for instance, require a minimal level of formal education and training as well as practical work experience.
Plus, each automotive service facility — including tire dealerships and service shops — has its own particular personnel needs and its distinctive work environment.
But all that said, some of the savviest owners and managers I encounter have been emphasizing that they watch for applicants with an eagerness to learn and a willingness to establish a career.
This prospective new hire, they tell me, exudes a "fire-in-the-belly" attitude that distinguishes them from the person who just seems to want a job and a paycheck.
Any tire dealer or service shop operator worth his salt appreciates how sophisticated vehicles have become; he or she understands that capable, trustworthy technicians need ongoing education and update training. This means that auto service businesses are spending greater and greater sums on training every year.
More than ever before, they must invest in their employees in order to compete in the marketplace. Obviously they'd like to see this investment pay off by reducing employee turnover and keeping their businesses competitive.
An experienced boss also realizes that some workers embrace training while others avoid it. Many job applicants never understood — nor ever will appreciate — the company's investment in ongoing education.
These job seekers maybe the ones who nod their heads during interviews, insisting that they're committed to a career with the company. And a career means hours of update training per year. But later, these same people have a litany of excuses why they can't attend classes.
Once again, I emphasize that my sources describe these applicants as simple job hunters as opposed to career seekers. And I repeat, ongoing education is part and parcel of a career.
Traditionally, owners and managers have expected every new hire to produce promptly — turn substantial billable hours right out of the gate.
But these savvier bosses I referred to earlier are taking a different tack. They're willing to gamble on grooming the applicant with the fire-in-the-belly personality, cultivating a long-term employee. The person's productivity will grow as he or she grows, they assured me.
Sources stressed that previous managers' mistakes fostered this belief in the long-term approach. In the past they had seen their bosses demand too much of new hires — regardless of the person's knowledge or practical experience.
Eventually, then, they drove off these workers. Later, they were embarrassed when they discovered that these same techs were thriving at competitors' businesses. The competitor coached the worker along at his or her own speed and ability.
"A human resources manager may disagree with my approach, but I'm finding that the person with passion and a work ethic is the most-desirable hire," a source told me. "If they are eager to learn, then we'll teach them our priorities and our work culture. And we will enroll them in whatever classes are appropriate for them, too."
Owners and managers must pay bills, cover costs, but maybe they're shortchanging themselves and their businesses by recruiting the equivalent of auto repair mercenaries — people who just won't evolve into long-term, career-minded employees.
Consider what my colleagues have emphasized. Watch for that gleam in the eyes and the passion for work that may not appear in writing on a routine job application.
Finally, let me know about your hiring experiences at your business. Good luck and stay in touch.