How can I get a job in the car industry? That is one of the most frequent questions I’m asked by young people looking to break into a career in the car world. It’s a valid question, for while the car industry is a constant revolving door, it can be tough to get in to that cycle the first time.
Most dealership managers won’t hire someone with no dealership experience. It’s too much of a pain to train someone from the ground up. Often, the newcomer discovers the pace is too fast and they bail out after the first few days. Otherwise, they are oriented for a few hours and then thrown to the wolves. Again, they often don’t last a week. It takes a certain type of person to take the punishment a dealership environment can dish out, especially in the early days and most managers would rather know that you’ve already figured that out.
So, where does that leave the eager kid who wants a job in a dealership? You have a few options. Perhaps the easiest is to find a friend in the industry. Once you know someone, it’s always easier to get a referral. While it may not be much, it will help get your foot in the door. This industry has been called incestuous, because in each city we all seem to have worked with one another at some point, in some store or at least have common friends. The other option is to try selling cars. Look in the local want ads. Every day there are ads for car salespeople, no experience needed. Most often, these are large traditional domestics that go through sales people like water. The job may work for you, or it may not but once again it will get your foot in the door. It may also give you an idea of what life in a car dealership is like and if you really want to be here.
The second route was how I ended up in the service department. I had just tried my hand at a small retail store and failed. I needed a job. I saw an ad for car salesman and figured that I loved cars and people and that this was for me. I got the job. I think I sold 6 cars over the next 2 months. Rather than fire me outright, they told me I couldn’t sell cars, but that the customers liked me and they’d like to keep me around. They had a position open as a Service Advisor and offered it to me. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, much less that it was the real beginning of my career.
There is also possibility of finding work through an automotive training school. There are many of these schools around, the only problem here is that you need to have some idea what job you want to do beforehand. Also, many people in the industry don’t believe in the service these schools provide, so it can sometimes work against you. Years ago, there was a school in Toronto that got most of it’s students from an unemployement back to work program. Most of their students were there because they had to be & would rarely show up for their placements. I and many others I know stopped taking co-op placements from them.
The car industry is not for everyone and it can be tough to get in, but once you are in it can take you a long way. The are few other industries where practical experience and people skills are worth more than book smarts. If you want to try, be persistent, work hard and never stop learning. You will be rewarded with a prosperous career.
Now go out and find a friend in the industry!
This post is being submitted to Problogger for a new group project on How To posts. Be sure to visit Darren on Friday to read all the other How To’s. You never know, we may all learn some things!