It is a topic that has been on everyone’s mind. And it is also the never-ending topic: The truck driver shortage. Yet the truck driver employment problem isn’t the only factor impacting how recruiters do their jobs. Private companies must also pay close attention to internal policies that influence employee motivation, compensation, and benefits.
Yet, this is not the only issue pressing trucking companies and other transportation sector actors are facing. Indeed, the trucking industry is facing some serious headwinds, but this creates opportunities for recruiters looking for new hires. First, let’s have a look at the employment
A Transportation Crisis by the Numbers
Let’s look at the data underlying our assertion that the employment crisis is only going to get worse before it gets better. According to the American Trucking Association, the truck driver shortage currently sits at around 80,000 truck drivers, but by 2024 that number is expected to swell to 175,000. And in the next decade the trucking industry will need to hire approximately 1.1 million more individuals.
At the same time this is happening, experienced truck drivers will continue to retire. The problem is the industry is not adding new, younger truck drivers with the same frequency as older drivers leave. Turnover rates continue to present a vexing problem for trucking policymakers.
According to the National Private Truck Council’s 2021 Benchmarking Survey Report, private trucking companies experience an average turnover rate of 15.8%, which is above the 14.25% 15-year average. Even more concerning, that number is much higher when you evaluate medium-duty fleet performance. For medium-duty trucking companies, the average turnover rate sits at 23.1%.
Meanwhile, American shopping habits will only continue to drive these problems. In 2020, online spending rose 42% compared to 2019, for a total increase of $183 billion. As you could expect, this surge only increased the need for qualified truck drivers. In 2020, last-mile truck drivers serviced 20% more stops than in 2019, which is a trend that forecasters predict will not let up anytime soon.
A Crisis in Recruiting
Of course, all this is making driver recruiting more difficult than ever, with finding drivers, getting applications, and staying DOT compliant listed among the top challenged trucking recruiters face. The good news? There are ways private fleets can make the path forward easier for both recruiters and applicants while also doing a better job of filling seats. Recruiters can meet all the goals at the same time. It simply takes a specialized approach.
The problem consistently is in connecting with the right candidates. Again, according to data provided by the National Private Truck Council’s 2021 Benchmarking Survey Report, the average time a typical trucking company takes to find the right truck driver candidate is approximately 35.7 days. Even more disconcerting is the number of people a fleet must go through before finding the person they need: 19.7.
The fact is this: Since it takes a long time to connect with drivers, and recruiters must reach out to so many more people, it is important to start the process early. Recruiters must cast a wide net long before their timelines become critical. Fortunately, there is a solution that doesn’t involve spending mounds of money on the problem.
One Solution Among Many
Posting to multiple job boards is usually the go-to option for recruiters. But when each has its own interface to remember and website to track, managing postings and purchases across multiple, isolated job boards is a time-consuming, burdensome, and convoluted process. It’s also tough for recruiters to be confident they have attribution right. Quite simply, there are a lot of moving parts to track when it comes to using job boards.
The most efficient way to post truck driving jobs and reach the most applicants is to use a single platform that serves as the primary access point to multiple job boards. An example of this can be found in HubSpot, which is used by digital marketing companies to post content to multiple social media channels at the same time. This makes providing and collating information much easier.
Using a posting platform allows recruiters to:
- Use one ad for multiple locations
- Ensure more drivers see more job postings
- Better evaluate ad placement performance
- Maximize advertising budgets
Fortunately, platforms exist to make this possible. Some options can aggregate up to 20 popular job posting websites. This allows recruiters to access all postings in one place. In many cases, these systems also provide fully integrated services and are interoperable with other fleet management systems trucking companies use.
It’s Time to Ditch Paper Applications
Another vexing problem recruiters deal with day-in and day-out is that of incomplete applications. Far too often applications are not filled out properly. Getting completed applications is a critical step in the hiring process, but for many it isn’t a simple task, especially if the process isn’t properly set up for truck drivers. Outdated processes create bottlenecks that frustrate potential recruits and cause them to abandon applications.
The first step in alleviating these problems is eliminating paper applications. When applications are paper-based, potential truck drivers must fill out the same personal and employment sections manually every time they apply, which can discourage them from completing the process. Considering many recruiters complain that less than half of all paper applications result in a full application, this is a major problem.
The problem is usually that people can be imprecise when recording information on paper. Paper applications often have illegible or incomplete information, which means recruiters generally must go back-and-forth with applications before the application can be considered accurate or complete. This adds a lot of time and extra effort to the process.
Working with paper applications means that paper also must be stored. Without an online application, recruiters must physically store and process every application by hand. This process results in recruiters having no way of knowing if a truck driver is either qualified or even still interested in the position.
Switch to Online Job Applications
Online applications are simply more efficient and effective for trucking companies. They help you reach more truck drivers and streamline the application process. This, in turn, allows recruiters to process more applicants.
Transitioning to an online application system is important. But even more important is making your online application process simple. When truck drivers can apply to become a driver with your company in a fraction of the time, you not only get more completed applications, but you also wind up hiring more people. Consider focusing on these factors when setting up your online application system:
- Prepopulate applicant information
- Focus on a mobile-first design
- Allowing for digital signatures
Automatically filling in drivers’ applications with their information cuts application time dramatically. And since drivers are always on the go, optimizing applications to be completed through an app gives them significantly more opportunities to apply. Finally, giving applicants the opportunity to sign digitally allows them to skip the time consuming and inconvenient step of printing and faxing release forms. Many digital signature programs, such as DocuSign and HelloSign are accepted signature forms.
One downside to online applications is that they create a lot of “application noise.” This is simply because a lot of people start online applications but do not finish them. They may be filling them out at home and subject to various distractions.
Create DOT-Compliant Forms and Applications
Your final consideration should be creating applications and documents that remain DOT-compliant. One example of this is the DOT’s Ban-the-Box and Pay Equity Laws. If recruiters aren’t following these updates and adjusting their applications and documentation, they will find themselves out-of-compliance.
Motor carriers need to work with a flexible online application that adapts to a changing regulatory environment. Compliance features you need in your flexible online applications include:
- EEO tracking and EEO questions.
- The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) information.
- Background check information.
All these compliance features work together to ensure trucking companies remain protected and compliant. They also provide peace of mind to new applications who look forward to an easy application process.
Consider an Upgrade to Your Systems
All too often, motor carriers who want to upgrade their recruiting systems back out because of process intimidation. They become afraid that the process will simply be too cumbersome and difficult, resulting in high costs and low effectiveness.
That’s why it is important to decide whether you want to implement these changes yourself in-house or hire an outside vendor to handle it for you. If you do hire an outside vendor, make sure they offer a platform that requires minimal implementation time. Choose a partner who makes it easy to upgrade to their processes without all the pain of a major software or hardware switch.
Recruiters have far too many tools at their disposal to not use them. Whether it be recruiting software, online applications, or otherwise, using the right technology ensures you hire the people you need when you need them.