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Keys To Finding The Right Truck Drivers For The CDL Job

With the truck driver employment squeeze an ongoing issue, fleet managers are looking everywhere to figure out how to recruit the best people for the job. At first glance, many assume a resume with the correct work experience might be all that is needed to find the right fit. It is important to note, however, that having been a truck driver before or working numerous jobs, might not mean the operator is right for your position.

Hiring competent, experienced truck drivers that fit what you are looking for in an employee does not amount to wishful thinking. There are surefire tactics that fleets can employ to ensure they find diligent, passionate, and most of all, appropriate truck drivers, for the needs of their fleet. First, it is important to look at pay as the only answer.

Moving Beyond the Ad

Most fleets approach advertising for new truck drivers with the idea of a big ad that touts great compensation. In fact, the first order of business should not be compensation alone, but candidates who are instead the right cultural fit. Fleets must shift into this new way of thinking.

As a fleet goes about sourcing new candidates and evaluating their experience, driving records, and medical and skills tests, it is just as important to formulate a series of questions that addresses whether they are a cultural fit for the organization. Finding employees who are the right fit for a company ensures long term success and higher retention rates.

Furthermore, focusing on recruiters is just as important. Too many fleets consider recruiting a matter of quantity, when in fact it should be a matter of quality. Many recruiters are incentivized financially to bring in as many potential truck drivers as possible, when instead they should be just as incentivized to retain them. Are they bringing in people that are good for the organization? Or are they bringing in warm bodies for the sake of bringing in warm bodies?

Recruiters should be provided bonuses based on the retention rate of the people they hire. The last thing a fleet needs is for their recruiters to be simply “bringing people through the door.” When they are motivated by how many of the people they bring in actually stick around, success rates are higher.

With recruiters tasked with putting a higher value on retention rates over recruitment numbers, the task then moves on to the hiring manager, who’s job it is to evaluate the candidate’s resume. Even if a truck driver has worked for many fleets and has a vast resume, culture fit should be at the top of the list for a hiring manager.

If you consider the amount of truck drivers who are job hoppers, the importance must be placed on longevity, as opposed to years in the industry. Your motor carrier does not want to be just another number on someone’s resume. But how does a recruiter or hiring manager go about making the right determination?

Starting with the Interview

When hiring truck drivers, hiring manager shouldn’t view the hiring process in isolation. Just because they will be in the cab doesn’t mean they should not go through the same process as, say, a bookkeeper, IT person, or shop technician. The first thing to discuss in an interview setting is what the fleet is looking for in a potential candidate and what the candidate expects to receive once they are on board and working for the fleet.

If the recruiter determines that the goals of the fleet match up with the potential candidate’s goals, then the process can move on to determining whether their qualifications are a proper match. Getting past the initial interview is important.

When interviewing a potential candidate, attitude is one of the most important factors. If the individual does not exhibit an attitude that aligns with the organization’s, it would be best not to waste everyone’s time by moving forward. When it comes to attitude, however, recruiters and hiring managers often must rely on gut instinct to determine if the candidate’s attitude is a right fit.

Things to consider include their mannerisms, their facial expressions, how they interact with the staff as they are moving through the process, and the type of words they use when they answer questions. Do they seem combative? Are they smiling or scowling? Does their body language display someone who is eager and willing to be part of the team? All these are appropriate questions that must be considered throughout the interview process.

Gauging Understanding of the Industry

Candidates may have plenty of experience on the road, but more than that they must be evaluated on their understanding of the job type and industry. If a motor carrier is working in a specific application – say, driving coaches or running cement hauls – potential truck drivers must show an aptitude for this type of work. They must understand what it entails and be able to speak to it.

Different applications require specific routing, equipment, and client needs, so a truck driver’s skillset must match those needs. Even more, if a fleet is running many different types of cargo, and a potential truck driver may want to switch between load types, they must exhibit an understanding of those load types.

Potential candidates must understand the job type. Some might want a local job that ensure they get some home time every day, while others may want to spend more time on the road. They must understand how the job application will impact their personal lives.

Another aspect of the job that new recruits must keep in mind is physical appearance. Trucking is not a job that happens in a vacuum. Truck drivers are professionals who are proud of their jobs and there is no reason why they should not look the part. The first cue for a recruiter or hiring manager that a candidate might not be the right fit should be their appearance.

Truck driver also interact with others, depending on the type of haul they are running. The truck driver represents the company to the public, whether it be when interacting with other truck drivers at a truck stop, or with the shippers or receivers the company is doing business with. Are they properly showcasing what your fleet is made of?

What is your Mission Statement?

When interviewing specific candidates, a motor carrier must be able to properly articulate the mission of their company to recruits. For smaller carriers working in urban areas, public perception matters. Trucking, in a sense, is as much a service industry as it is a transportation industry.

Considering the mission of the company is important when hiring millennials. Millennial hires tend to gravitate towards organizations that they believe are having a positive impact on the community; companies that are doing good. The same goes for reaching out to veterans.

For example, a waste management company focused on recycling could use that as a potential hook to attract millennial truck drivers. Or, a trucking company making runs for the defense industry could target veterans. Trucking companies doing charity or disaster relief work could reach out to both.

Recruiting the right people is about more than just explaining what the load type is and where it should be delivered. It is also about service. A recruiter or hiring manager must be able to explain the mission and how what they do is helping society – it is about more than just making money.

Delivery drivers will service hundreds, if not thousands of people on their daily rounds. If the truck drivers are viewing this job as a service industry job, it will give them pride in the work. Delivering supplies to a local hospital is important work and if a recruiter can explain that to a potential employee, they will likely get greater buy-in and have better success in finding the right candidates.

Making Hiring a Priority

While it may seem well and good to ensure you are bringing on the right people, a fleet must first learn how to hire before they can ensure they are hiring the right people. Whether it be through sponsoring programs at a local vocational/technical school or hiring from within, to bring on the right people, one must first be looking for them.

Encouraging women and minorities to join the fleet represents a big way of doing this. With fewer than 5% of truck drivers being women, the female demographic represents a wide-open playing field for trucking companies to tap into. Minorities represent another untapped market.

If a woman or minorities recruit laments that they do not have any experience, fleets should be willing to tell them that they will be trained and coached effectively. Sometimes new recruits with no experience or preconceived notions of the trucking industry make the most motivated employees.

Either way, whether through hiring, recruiting, or finding the right fit, the best way for trucking companies to succeed in bringing on the right people is for them to have the right focus. Don’t just take a set it and forget it approach to hiring. With the right process in place, recruiting and retention can be a hallmark of your organization.

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