Now, more than ever, truck drivers have the ball in their court when it comes to selecting and applying for CDL job listings. Drivers are able to make their decisions based on many factors, including benefits, distance from home, freight type, and pay.  


Traditionally, many recruiters have focused on pay as the key differentiating factor that could set them apart from their competitors. However, today’s drivers are making it clear that higher pay is not always enough to increase driver satisfaction and retention rates.  


So then, what is the most important factor in truck driver recruitment? Keep reading to find out why pay isn’t always the number one answer, and how you can adjust your recruiting efforts to keep up with evolving industry trends.  


The Importance of Pay 

Driver compensation is still an essential part to recruiting and retaining quality drivers. In recent years, sign-on bonuses and benefit packages have continued to increase in value nationwide. In fact, in a speaker panel at the 2023 American Trucking Association Management Conference, CarriersEdge President Mark Murrell noted that some carriers are now paying between $200-$500 per day of driver orientation. This is a steep increase from the long standing industry standard of $100 per day.  


An increase in base compensation also still topped the list of driver concerns in Drive My Way’s recently released Driver Happiness Report, which collected the responses of over 500 drivers nationwide. However, nearly 10% of surveyed drivers also answered that an increase in employer communication and listening would improve their satisfaction and workplace happiness.  


In the same ATA Management Conference panel, American Central Transport President Phil Wilt noted the success of the company’s weekly driver surveys and the introduction of an employee life coach. Wilt believes that listening to driver concerns and providing extra support during the initial six months of employment has been critical to increasing driver satisfaction.  


“Every year, we’re figuring out what is the next thing that we can do that really positions us as a place where a driver says, ‘I wish I had come to you before,’” Wilt said. “And honestly, that’s probably what we hear a majority of the time from our drivers.” 


Listening to and Understanding the Drivers 

It’s important to keep in mind that different drivers prioritize different qualities in a position. Drivers just starting out might want to be on the road more than drivers who have a family. These drivers may only be looking for positions where they can be home each day.  


When launching your driver recruiting campaign, keep in mind the type of driver you are looking for. Researching and understanding this persona will help you reach your target audience, and will also enable you to provide what that driver is seeking. For example, if your carrier allows pets or partner driving, mention that in your recruiting efforts. Even if some candidates aren’t looking for this benefit, those who are will be more inclined to apply.  


There are also many ways you can demonstrate to your drivers that you listen to them and value their feedback. Providing surveys or frequent touch points is extremely beneficial, especially during the onboarding process and first months of employment.  


Carriers that create a positive work environment by prioritizing drivers’ physical and mental health are also more likely to have satisfied drivers with less turnover. Offering opportunities for professional development and support when drivers need it can increase your chance of word-of-mouth recommendation and internal promotion.   




Over the years, recruiting for CDL drivers has changed a lot. Pay is no longer the sole factor that can set your carrier apart from your competitors. By focusing on offering benefits, listening to your employees’ feedback, and fostering a positive work environment, you can decrease turnover and increase driver satisfaction.  


If you’re looking for more advice on bolstering your driver recruitment efforts, be sure to check out our Employer Blog, or follow us on social media