Whenever I find myself addressing a group of automotive students, one of the questions all ask is, “What are employers looking for in an automotive professional?” It’s a good question, and the answer involves a lot of common sense. It’s never too early to start thinking about that first job. Being properly prepared to enter the job market, regardless of your career path, can make all the difference between landing the position you want, or settling for something less.
So what are employers looking for? First on the list is attitude. If you are enthusiastic about yourself and your skills, that enthusiasm will carry over during the interview. Employers want individuals who are excited about their chosen profession, knowing that it translates into extra effort on the job. Let prospective employers know you are willing to put in the time and effort to develop into an outstanding employee. Express an interest in learning all you can, and carry that interest through on the job.
Next on the list is appearance. Let’s face it, first impressions are important. Most successful businesses got there by projecting a professional image, and they want their employees to convey the professionalism right out of the box. While it’s probably not necessary to show up in a coat and tie, a neat and clean appearance is very important. Avoid extremes in dress, jewelry and hairstyles. In most cases, the more conservative the look, the better you’ll appear during the job interview.
Professional credentials are as important to a prospective employer as they are to most customers. You’ll want to include copies of your diplomas or other certificates of achievement in the information you bring along with you to the interview. Employers are not just looking for proof of training and accomplishment, they want to see some evidence of the effort you put into your chosen career. Even if you don’t have the job experience to qualify for certification, taking and passing an ASE test, for example, will speak volumes about your commitment and knowledge. It’s also an incentive for an employer if he or she knows that you’ve already passed an ASE certification test and will receive your credentials once you have the time on the job. And by the way, if you graduate from a qualified technical program, that counts as one year of your two year experience requirement for ASE certification.
Finally, employers are looking for individuals with good math, reading and communication skills. Being an automotive professional means a commitment to ongoing training to keep up with changing vehicle technology. That means you’ll read a lot. And you have probably already noticed how important good math skills are on the job. Being able to communicate effectively with co-workers and consumers is one of the most important skills you can develop. The better you are at it, the more successful you’ll become.
As I said, a lot of this advice is just common sense. And there’s more, of course, such as having the right tools and knowing how to use them. But when talking about landing that first big job, it’s all about first impressions. Make sure yours is a good one.