The workforce is changing.
Baby boomers are retiring. Millennials want jobs that offer clear career paths — plus training, flexibility to telecommute and/or spend more time with family, and they aren’t afraid to job hop.
Amanda Looney, manager of talent acquisition at Insurance Auto Auctions, and Will Farmer, executive director of dealer sales at TradeRev, said the auction industry faces the same challenges as other industries when it comes to hiring, training and retaining employees.
Partnering with local trade schools and creating career maps for employees are among the ways the auction industry can help keep employees happy, engaged and in some cases, on paths to promotions, said the two auction executives whose jobs involve keeping tabs on auction jobs.
“What we’ve done is put together entire career maps, virtual maps where you can see the position you are in with arrows pointing to every direction you can take within the field,” said Looney, 34.
“You can actually drill down through that career map and determine what skills are required for that position, what additional training you can get from your manager and the company as a whole. You can map out from day one on the job, exactly where you want to go within the organization, how you want to get there, and we build your performance reviews around it.
“Utilizing that as a tool has been a great technique from a recruiting standpoint.”
More transient millennials
Farmer, who manages a field sales team of about 165 in the U.S., said millennials are hard workers but tend to be more transient and more likely to move from job-to-job in search of a flexible work-life balance.
“I run the sales organization, I don’t work at the corporate office, and I telecommute when I’m not on the road visiting dealers,” said Farmer, 38. “There is a way to adapt to the needs of your employees.”
Looney and Farmer will share insights about recruiting and nurturing talent for traditional and technology driven auction jobs and careers during their presentation: “The Talent Shortage: Attracting the Next Generation of Auction Employees,” scheduled for Nov. 14 at Used Car Week, which is being held Nov. 12-16, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Both IAA, a salvage auction company, and TradeRev, an appraisal tool and dealer-to-dealer digital auction marketplace, are owned by KAR Auction Services Inc.
KAR Auction has an “enterprise-wide people process” that includes identifying the career-steps for mid-level leaders and high potential employees and developing plans to get them ready for their next roles, the company said.
For example, Farmer cited an employee who joined TradeRev three years ago as an entry-level, market sales coordinator who is now a market sales manager for the company in a large Florida market.
The company has identified that she is on her way to becoming a district sales manager and given her a framework of the skills she needs to acquire over the next six to 12 months to reach that goal, Farmer said.
“To go from a market sales manager to a district sales manager, you become a people leader, meaning you have the ability to coach and hold accountability,” he said.
“Great salespeople don’t always have great leadership management skills immediately. Some skills you have to work on over time.”
In another example, some IAA regional directors started their careers as entry-level yard attendants whose duties are to process and move vehicles around an auction yard and photograph vehicles for online auctions, Looney said.
Connecting with careers
Though IAA has not had a problem attracting service technicians, Looney said the company helps fill that employee pipeline by partnering with programs such as SkillsUSA, described on its website as a national membership association serving high school, college and middle-school students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations.
“We have events on state and national levels in which we participate; we are sponsors of the events,” Looney said of IAA’s support of SkillsUSA.
“We speak to them about our company, we speak to them about career opportunities, we do mock interviews with the students and help them prepare for job seeking.”
IAA also works with Collision Repair Education Foundation, which “supports collision repair education programs, schools and students to create entry-level employees and connect them an array of career opportunities,” according to its website.
IAA, through its support of the foundation, donates vehicles to high schools for students to repair and sell, Looney said. Revenues from the sale of those vehicles are plowed back into the schools’ training programs “so they can continue to educate students,” she added.
Both Looney and Farmer said physical auctions are here to stay and are complimented by efficiencies created by technology.
TradeRev uses digital, mobile technology to run its auctions and strives to create a workplace culture that is “fun, honest, accountable and brave,” Farmer said.
“So, for us, it’s about promoting from within and finding tech savvy people who are really driven to grow the business.”