A Common Dilemma
“I love motorcycles! How do I get a job in the motorcycle industry?”
We get this question all the time. Usually it comes from a passionate motorcycle enthusiast who has a thriving career yet feels that something is missing. Something to help put a little pep in their step, especially when the alarm goes off Monday morning. I completely understand this. I lived it after graduating college while working for our family firm. While I was honing my skill set, I was totally obsessed with my new favorite hobby, motorcycling.
Let’s Start With Some Facts
Fact #1 – No matter your area of expertise, it is likely your earning potential is higher in other industries outside motorcycling. Salaries are strong in hospitality, finance, IT, cybercrime, pharmaceuticals, construction, healthcare, and the list goes on.
You’ve heard of the “sunshine tax” in places like California or Florida, right? Well in our industry, it’s called the “fun tax.” Generally speaking, more people want to come into our industry than leave. But if you are ready and can adjust to a highly probable (but not always) financial change, there is no better time to explore your options than right now.
Fact #2 – “I ride and love motorcycles. Your business is motorcycles. Hire me!” Unfortunately, such a laudable desire just isn’t that easy.
Some basic research can go a long way in discovering what someone with your background and experience (professional and personally) might earn in the motorcycle industry. If your area of expertise, strengths and wisdom is of value to our industry, then I challenge you to hunt down and launch that second, more gratifying career.
On the surface, it sounds simple right?
So What Do I Do?
Connecting the Dots – Unfortunately, riding and having passion for the product isn’t enough. You need to present skills that are directly applicable to real-world job descriptions for industry positions that catch your eye. And I mean directly.
Remember those connect the dots pictures in your coloring book. Get out the thickest sharpie in the drawer for this project.
Keep it Realistic – I talk to candidates who tell me: “I want to travel the country (or world) and attend motorcycle events. I want to ride, meet other riders like me, need medical benefits like what I have now, a 401K with a 4% match please, and of course, earn a handsome pile of cash.” Nothing is impossible, but you need to have reasonable expectations. Keep in mind the “Fun Tax,” but also keep in mind how much happier you would be if you were doing something you truly loved.
Valuable Key Ingredient – One of the keys to a successful career transformation is a robust address book of industry insiders. Growing your moto industry network and understanding how to do it properly will be the subject of a future article.
Transferable Skills – For now, let’s focus on how to connect those dots from all you bring to an open role, to your resume, a cover letter, during a short conversation with a hiring manager, or in advance of a one-hour interview with the HR Manager, who often serves as the “gatekeeper.”
The popular recruiter and job board site Indeed.com describes transferable skills as “qualities that can be transferred from one job to another,” and “highlighting your transferable skills is especially important when changing jobs or industries. You likely already possess many transferable skills employers value, like organization, communication, relationship building, or attention to detail.” Softer transferable skills may also include communication, teamwork, leadership experience, and technology literacy.
The idea of leaving the security and success in one industry for another can feel daunting or cause anxiety, but you don’t have to jump into the deep end. Take it slow and start with these steps.
Job Description Overview – Set up a regular search on LinkedIn for jobs in the motorcycle, powersports, and/or RV and marine industries. Start reviewing them and save all the job descriptions (JDs) that sound interesting.
Job Description Evaluations – Next, you should read every bullet point and think deeply about what you have done in your past (as an employee, as a motorcycle enthusiast, as a volunteer, and/or in another industry) that is somehow connected or could be “transferable” to this job.
It might take a few passes to remember things or make the connection. But if you go back to it a few days later, I guarantee you’ll think of additional roles you held or projects you completed that will help you connect the dots.
High-level examples of transferable skills include customer service, sales, and administrative support. For example, if you are looking at a motorcycle salesperson role, don’t count yourself out just because you have not sold motorcycles. Selling is selling. If you can talk about a history of selling and provide specifics and metrics that showcase those skills and your success, you are off to the races.
Resume Revisions – You’ll want to revise your resume to include motorcycling in the other activities or volunteer section of the document.
Cover Letter – Here is where cover letters are most helpful. Use that document to tell your story. It should explain how you can parlay your passion and knowledge of motorcycles and the industry, with your experience in sales. New non-industry team members regularly infuse our industry with fresh talent who bring a new perspective.
A Real World Example
WRN Co-Chairwoman Sarah Schilke’s company, SW-MOTECH USA, recently hired a customer service specialist whose resume was all about health care and non-profit administration. But Kara, the applicant, had plenty of experience and knowledge in street and off-road riding AND an impressive customer service history. Although her resume didn’t quite bridge the gap, her cover letter sure did. And that is what got her the interview.
“When we spoke with Kara, it seemed like a long shot,” says Sarah, “but we were intrigued by her cover letter detailing how she wasn’t just a rider, but active in the local riding community and emboldened new riders. This indicated she was good at communicating with various people about motorcycles.”
When Kara interviewed, the managers learned that her strong client service and management skills combined with her knowledge of motorcycles and parts and her aggressive desire to learn and perform all contributed to a great synergy of skills SW-MOTECH was hoping to find.
Kara is one success story of many. It takes some extra work and creativity, but passion alone is rarely enough. Applicable and transferable skills and a solid presentation will help you get there.
Truly understanding our industry is so valuable. If you have deep product knowledge, know the landscape well (brands, categories, models, parts, key OEM players) and you think you are ready to combine your passion with your career, take a deep dive into your skills and explore all the points of entry and positions our industry has to offer.
This Month’s Hot Jobs!
Harley-Davidson MotorClothes (SE USA, Rocky Mountains, Texas and Southern California)
ACTION Recruiting has more than a half dozen career opportunities for experienced Harley-Davidson MotorClothes team members (management and non-management). Contact Jan Plessner at Jan@WomenRidersNow.com.
FOX Factory – Gainesville, Georgia
My friend and colleague Laura Pascua, OEM Account Manager with FOX Factory, is looking for a Sales Demand Planner in Gainesville, Georgia. The details of this position may be found on the FOX Factory website under “Careers at Fox.”
Learn more here: https://www.ridefox.com/careers.php?gh_jid=4714634003&gh_src=db1a963d3us
Laura Pascua joined the motorcycle industry as a sales associate for an independent powersports repair shop in Northern California, followed by some seat time in management with her local Cycle Gear. She moved over to a BMW dealership after Cycle Gear and that’s when I met her. With my encouragement, she relocated to Southern California to join KTM North America in Business Development. Not long after, Kawasaki nabbed her from KTM with a lucrative Business Development (National) role. Not long after joining Team Green, Laura was promoted to hold one of the few coveted Kawasaki District Manager spot for the Engines Division.
Head of Service | Client Confidential
ACTION Recruiting is searching for an experienced candidate for a Head of Service role in the South Central USA. We are looking for someone who has experience building a Service Department Parts Fulfillment Center from the ground up. Experience with diagnostics, troubleshooting and time training and leading an overseas technical support call center would be the icing on the cake. Some national and International travel required. Contact Jan Plessner at Jan@WomenRidersNow.com if you or anyone you know may be qualified and interested.
ACTION Recruiting offers a $1,000 CASH bonus for referred candidates who get hired by any of our more than 100 powersports industry clients.
Compensation ranges vary from $35,000-$55,000 annually to start. For more information, please contact Jan Plessner at Jan@WomenRidersNow.com.