Commentary: Hiring the technicians of tomorrow

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A new generation is entering the work force. Dubbed Generation Z, it consists of people born between 1997 and 2012. We are beginning to see 23-, 24- and 25-year-olds from that generation looking to start their careers. Given today’s technician shortage, we need to find ways to get them to apply for jobs at our companies.

In order to attract them, it is important to understand how they differ from previous generations. For one thing, they are digital natives. They grew up with technology, expect to use technology on their job and expect to see it used as part of your recruiting efforts. Make sure your recruiting efforts are mobile-friendly. This generation spends the majority of their time on mobile devices and will likely be looking at your recruiting ads on their small screens.

Kari Beeson is the senior director of recruitment and retention for Transervice Logistics.Kari Beeson is the senior director of recruitment and retention for Transervice Logistics.

This is a generation that relies on images. They are very visual. They are used to short, snappy messages and you need to keep that in mind when putting together your recruiting material. A short, punchy video is a great tool to add to your recruiting efforts.

If you are going to use video, incorporate your current employees in it. Gen Z is all about authenticity. Having actual employees talk about their jobs will resonate with Gen Z applicants. They want to see what it is really like to work for you, and are not interested in some overly polished, sanitized version of your work environment.

It is critical that you increase your presence on social media, including YouTube, Instagram, Facebook. Social media platforms are where Gen Z get information and communicate. If you aren’t on social media, they won’t find out about you — or even know you exist.

I am not suggesting that you abandon your traditional recruiting methods — after all you still want to attract technicians from other generations— but you need to supplement them with posts on social media or tweak your more traditional recruiting efforts. Still using job boards? That’s fine, but add a link to a video in the job board listing.

You also should continue to reach out to trade and vocational schools. However, you will make no headway if you merely stand up in front of the students and talk about your business. A video presentation will capture their attention much better than a canned presentation. This is also a place to bring your ambassador employees — the ones who are passionate about working for you. Let them talk about their experience being a technician at your company.

Make sure your recruiting messages focus on the technology used by your technicians. You need to educate Gen Z that being a truck technician is about much more than turning a wrench. Technician jobs are no different than other technology jobs except that they will be working on trucks instead of fixing computers. If you don’t show them the technology you have in your shops, they are likely to believe the old stereotypes of a greasy-knuckled technician flat on his back under a truck.

While this latest generation is very digital, face-to-face interactions are very important to them as well. They are looking to make connections and find their passion. You will need to educate your managers about the proper interviewing techniques to use with Gen Z applicants and to make sure they talk about how the employee’s job contributes to the overall success of the company. This generation wants to know how the work they do fits into the bigger picture of company profitability. They want to know that the work they do for you matters.

You also need to make sure your application and onboarding processes are not cumbersome. If it takes too long to complete an application or if onboarding is just a series of lectures, they will lose interest and move on to something else.

Once you have hired a member of Gen Z, you need to nurture them throughout their tenure with you. You do this through training and development programs designed to help them progress in their chosen career path. Pairing a Gen Z technician with a seasoned one will prove to be worthwhile for both.

When recruiting and retaining the technicians of tomorrow, don’t just concentrate on one demographic or you are going to come up short. You need to diversify your recruiting efforts to match the diversity of today’s job applicants.

Kari Beeson is a certified human resources professional responsible for creating integrated recruitment and retention plans to attract and retain top talent at Transervice Logistics.