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Adam Wilke Talks Harley-Davidson Careers & Fitting Into Their New Business Strategy

Adam Wilke is the top Harley-Davidson dealership recruiter in the business, and he’s telling you everything you need to know about landing a dream job.

Harley-Davidson is an iconic brand, and its global identity as a premium motorcycle has drawn generations of riders to its banner. However, its legacy hasn’t been built by resisting change. Harley’s timeless reputation is founded on a willingness to adapt to the times and confront evolving market conditions with the rugged confidence that inspires enthusiasts to turn their passion into a career.

In fact, there’s a major change going on today that’s reshaping the Harley-Davidson hiring landscape. The top dealerships are acquiring more rooftops while many of the smaller ones are being consolidated. Leadership and management roles are becoming scarce, but the ones that are out there can be extremely lucrative—if you can land them.

That’s where Adam Wilke at V20 Recruiting + Consulting comes in, and if you haven’t heard his name, it’s why you aren’t getting interviews.

Wilke has built a brand name for himself as the talent connector for his Harley dealership clients who have embraced the acquisition trend and are positioning themselves to dominate the industry for decades to come. Adam brings more than a decade of experience and has successfully filled hundreds of dealership management positions across the dealer network. This includes his involvement in recruiting several of nation’s most elite General Managers, GM/Partners, in addition to the sourcing of Sales, F&I, Parts, Service, Apparel & Licensing, Accounting, Marketing & Events, and Riding Academy department heads. His clients rely on him to deliver the game-changing candidates it takes to grow their businesses.

OK. So now you know.

We sat down with Adam to talk about what he does, how to succeed where others fail, and walking the path from opportunity to success with Harley-Davidson.

Sarah: How did you find yourself in this unique role?

Adam: My career started in automotive retail and expanded into powersports and then to Harley-Davidson. I’ve been working with the top Harley dealerships and building my network of connections as the Director of Harley-Davidson Dealership Recruiting at V20 Recruiting + Consulting. Growing up in Milwaukee, WI, I guess you could say that Harley-Davidson holds special meaning, and my career just naturally took form.

I’m an avid Harley-Davidson rider and enthusiast and feel fortunate to have found a way to convert my passion into a career. As a Floridian, I’m blessed with a year-round riding season. I recently upgraded to the new ’24 CVO Road Glide ST. My ultimate dream bike!

Sarah: How can a Harley dealership achieve success in today’s competitive hiring landscape? What factors contribute to success for candidates?

Adam: There are two key ingredients that make a dealership successful: People and Process, in that order. It’s harder than ever to find the right people today with so many applicants from unrelated industries, which is why my clients rely on me so heavily.

An ideal candidate must have several things in addition to a solid track record, and they’re hard to evaluate using online or traditional hiring processes. The best candidates are the ones that have the untrainable qualities, things like a strong work ethic, being self-motivated, and having a positive attitude.

Sarah: What makes your clients stand out from the competition and what’s in it for a qualified candidate?

Adam: Talent is an investment, and all my clients understand that. For most of my positions, you don’t have to be perfect on paper—they expect to train you and dedicate resources to your success. They are also progressive on things like providing relocation assistance and paying attention to work / life balance.

There’s a misconception out there that you need a college degree to amount to anything in this world. My clients offer uncapped earning potential for management regardless of education. There are even a few examples of my GM placements that earn over a million dollars per year!

Sarah: How does a candidate get in touch with you?

Adam: If you’re an up-and-coming go-getter who’s looking to make accelerate your career, I’ll make this simple:

Call me.

Sarah: They can just call you directly?

Adam: Absolutely. My cell phone number is on the V20 website. The best way to reach me is by picking up the phone and giving me a call. Nowadays, a simple text message can get things started. Networking is a contact sport, right?

I’m also active on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, where I maintain a large network of connections across the motorcycle industry. I’m not so much a recruiter as a Talent Matchmaker—I identify my client’s needs, vet qualified candidates I connect with, and bring them together so everybody wins. It’s important that my clients know that I understand the unique intricacies of the Harley retail business, and they have someone like me who can identify the type of candidates that really are a strong investment for their business to make.

Sarah: Can you describe the candidates you’re looking for?

Adam: Most of the best candidates are employed at a dealership but for whatever reason, they’ve hit a “glass ceiling” and are feeling limited where they are at, and they want to break into the next tier of success.

In the likely chance a candidate is gainfully working, they should avoid posting their Resume on the Internet. It’s a small industry and people talk. Confidentiality is one of my requirements. This offers protection to both candidates and clients.

Sarah: What should someone expect working with you?

Adam: The number one thing people don’t realize is that it’s free to work with me. There’s no obligation, and if you give your best effort to become a great match for my dealership clients, I’ll open the doors.

When it comes to vetting candidates, I pay attention to the details. I’m keeping track of how a candidate interacts on the phone, over e-mail, especially their follow up, and will offer interview prep and coaching when needed. Often, candidates I work with have never written a Resume. I am excellent at giving suggestions and feedback to Resume drafts, sometimes I refer to these insights as the “answers to the test.” There are certain industry specific skills, certifications, systems, awards and accomplishments that my Clients like to see highlighted. I cannot stress how important performance-based metrics are today in the changing retail environment.

Look, I can be an intense guy, and that might turn some people off. That’s fine. My style is just part of playing in the big leagues, and it comes from a place of me wanting to make this equation work so you can change your life. Sometimes that’s what it takes, and if that resonates with you—if you’re dreaming of advancing your motorcycle career every night when you go to sleep—reach out. I’m here to assist in your career transformation.

Contact Adam Wilke at V20 Recruiting & Consulting to start exploring Harley-Davidson dealership positions, and follow him on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.