Entering the Parking Industry
It was the winter of 2017 when I came across a posting for my current job. Republic Parking and Impark were looking for a corporate recruiter. Before this moment, working for a parking company — and, truth be told, parking companies in any context — had never crossed my mind.
Nevertheless, I was curious. As I applied, I wondered whether all business would be conducted on a parking deck. Did parking companies even have offices? As I did my due diligence, I quickly found, to my astonishment, that Impark is a billion dollar company with thousands of parking facilities in its portfolio. But it wasn’t until I attended my interview and entered a dialogue with my now-manager that I realized how complex the industry is.
For veterans of the parking world, my initial thoughts may seem somewhat naïve. But the truth is, my experiences are the norm. Many candidates who are new to the industry have little idea of what to expect when they apply for a position in parking. That’s why recruiters in parking, now more than ever, must embrace networking and marketing techniques to bring in the best of the best.
Opening the Dialogue
Most candidates I speak to have two thoughts on the parking industry. The first is that we charge too much. The second is the recollection of a negative parking experience. This leads me to wonder: what can we do differently to attract people into the industry? How can we communicate the appeal and potential of jobs in parking?
One approach is to share positive parking stories. For example, in just one short year, Impark has been recognized as a world leader in green parking and has successfully launched a game-changing accessibility campaign in Canada. These are the things people both inside and outside our industry can relate to and feel good about. Potential candidates, too, can use these stories to learn more about our industry, our brand, and how we, at a corporate level, live our values: create positive energy, be admirable, and be a trailblazer.
Our mantra is, “You can never over-communicate,” and that’s true both internally and externally. Using social media to communicate these stories and start dialogues about parking, too, could help. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and the like can all be used to communicate the realities of parking in an approachable manner.
There are things we should be doing to take that dialogue offline, too. Are we sponsoring local events? Doing our part in the community? Attending university job fairs?
Further, are we offering training and mentorships to those candidates with a flicker of great potential? I firmly believe one of the best ways to recruit and retain talent is through training and mentorship. The opportunity to progress and grow is one of the top things candidates look for. So, give a good employee a reason to stay — and make them a great employee in the process.
We’ve seen great success offering internships to student candidates. Many of our interns simply don’t want to leave at the end of their term and wish to double, even triple, their contract length. Because once they’re in the industry, they realize that there’s so much to learn, and so many good people to learn from and work alongside.
Parking Is For Everyone!
Just last month, the unemployment rate in the United States dropped once more to 3.9 percent. In Canada, too, where I also do a lot of recruiting, the market is just as demanding. In an environment where there are more jobs than people to fill them, we need to make sure that we’re attracting every good candidate we can.
That’s why I approach recruiting as an equal opportunity challenge. The industry has a lot to offer no matter where candidates start their journey. My childhood aspiration was to become a fighter pilot, quickly followed by a dream of coaching the Atlanta Braves (Go Braves!). So, it never occurred to me that a career in a traditionally male-dominated field could be beyond my reach.
However, the parking industry’s “boys’ club” reputation (unfounded as it may be), may deter highly skilled and qualified women from applying. And it certainly doesn’t help that the parking industry isn’t exactly the first thing we, as women, associate with a lucrative career when receiving our diplomas or looking to pay the bills.
That’s why it’s so important to shine a light on the women in our industry. As I scroll through our company directory, it warms my heart to see so many established women in decision-making roles, including directors of operations, human resources, sales support, and project delivery and planning, to name but a few. It’s hard to think that the glass ceilings haven’t begun to crack when we have 20-year veterans of the industry, such as Senior Vice President and General Counsel Nicola-Jane McNeill, heading our departments.
With Baby Boomers now exiting the workforce en masse and newer generations entering the job market with a plethora of choices, recruiters in the parking industry must work harder than ever to appeal to candidates who can afford to be picky. Gone are the days where you post a job and get over 100 qualified resumes. Now it is a game of networking and company marketing.
It’s a candidate’s world, where the difference between a “yes” and a “no” can be as simple as whether or not you can provide a remote work environment or a casual workplace. We have to move through the hiring process with an open mind — open to change in our work environments and how we recruit.
Alli Richards is a talent acquisition specialist for Impark and Republic Parking. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pick up November’s issue of Parking Today to see Alli’s article in print alongside other news and opinion pieces from around the world.