Given the unprecedented times, current hiring freezes and restructuring, the word “experience” may lose its place on almost every entry/mid-level job posting. For years, “experience” has been leveraged as an interviewing tactic to weed out candidates not “fit” for the position. It is relative and unrealistic for the current job market, where hordes of potential wait eagerly to be unlocked. A kind of potential that is remarkably similar to that of the automotive industry. Whatever your current employment status, the next move in your playbook should be looking at the rookie on the bench.
What really is “experience”? To one person it can mean mastery of a trade, to another, gaining knowledge through observation or participation. Both of which we have seen in dealerships across the U.S. and are prevalent throughout the industry. There is something to be said about the recent college grad and their resemblance to the seasoned history of the auto industry. Let’s dive into the common denominators:
- Perseverance – steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. The college grad is persistent. Were there struggles along the way? Inevitably, yes. Do C’s get degrees in some cases? Why yes, they do.
Regardless of the situation, the recent college grad has gone through some of the best and most challenging years of their short life. They have persevered through those late-night study sessions, grueling final exams, and maybe the occasional nutty professor. Although it may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of life, it is no easy feat and shows one of the best qualities of perseverance through struggle.
- Thrift – economical management; economy; frugality. The college grad is thrifty. From Ramen Noodles to all-you-can-eat at the Café, most college students are on a steady grind. In many cases, their income is little to none while also juggling student loans and other expenses. However, there is no better time than college to realize the time value of money and the thriftiness of capitalizing your income.
Given the current economic situation and the ever-imposing margins dealerships are facing, thriftiness is key to success. Who better to bring into an organization than someone who has spent the past 4-5 years of their life figuring out how to make $10.00 last a whole week? Not to mention that there is no food in the fridge, their gaslight just turned on, and good ol’ rent is due at the end of the month. While cutting corners is not an option, employing a thrifty individual can produce great economical benefits.
- Grit – firmness of character, indomitable spirit; pluck. The college grad is gritty. Now, I know what you’re thinking. That doesn’t sound right. However, if grit is taken out of context and used in relation to perseverance and thrift, there are only benefits to gain. Grit is the culmination of that feeling when you run, despite falling and scraping your knee, you get back up and continue on; and the acceptance of a role or project that is less than ideal. It is pushing through the mundane and acting as the bulldog. Recent college grads are all that and more. They deploy enthusiasm, an eagerness to succeed and prove themselves regardless of what it took to get them through.
The recent college grad’s “experience”, while it may not be exactly 3-5 years of related business acumen, is the epitome of perseverance, thrift, and grit.
These three principles apply directly to life in a dealership and are the exact reason a rookie is the right call. Perseverance, thrift, and grit go hand-in-hand with the auto industry’s past, present, and future. Through several recessions, wars, and crises, to substantial changes with innovation and mobility, the hardships and determination are what led us to where we are today.
The humble beginnings should not be forgotten, where “experience” was learned and qualities more important.
Where perseverance, thrift, and grit can realize their full potential and young professionals can capitalize on an opportunity. One fleeting moment in time is all it takes for greatness to be achieved. The recent college grad is the next move in your playbook as they emulate the very modest beginning of our beloved industry. With that in mind, I stand with other college grads and say, “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play.”