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Jason Crowell Custom Commodities Transport

The impact of 2020 is not finished. All of the repercussions are flowing through the supply chain, and it’s impacting manufacturing, the food system, and the labor shortage everywhere. Even though we are on the down swing of the virus itself, everyone is looking for a Truck Driver right now. Therefore, the job market is competitive, making it extremely hard on Driver Recruiters. Drive My Way’s CEO, Beth Potratz, spoke with Jason Crowell, Director of Recruiting at Custom Commodities Transport, and Jason shared his advice for staying motivated and recruiting for retention.

Q: What keeps you motivated as a Driver Recruiter?

A: Being a Truck Driver Recruiter can be a burn out job.  Each week, we Recruiters have the highest of hopes and often, we also have big letdowns in this unprecedented market. A Truck Driver is likely talking to 4 or 5 Recruiters at once in their job search, saying yes to one of them, and leaving the other recruiters hanging.  We call it “ghosting” and it’s on the rise, contributing to the Recruiter’s stress. The toughest part for today’s trucking company is finding and retaining qualified Drivers, putting incredible pressure on the Driver Recruiter because the success of the business often hinges on the Recruiter’s work. The recruiting office is getting more visits from the CEO than ever before. 

To keep myself motivated, I focus the positives. We know that what is happening in the market is cyclical. We are riding the best of economic times with more business than we can handle, and the gating factor is having the Drivers to do the work. With the executive team tuned in to the gravity of the recruiting need, it’s a great time introduce new and improved employer brand strategies, cutting edge recruitment advertising technology, and cool retention initiatives.

Q: Why is recruiting for retention so important now and always?

A:  The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse came online and eliminated tens of thousands of Drivers in the American workforce. Older Drivers are retiring at a faster rate since COVID-19, younger Drivers are not going into the trucking profession, and the Truck Driver schools were closed for a year. We recruit to retain because the nation-wide Driver shortage is only getting worse! America needs Truck Drivers. Retaining our brightest and best Drivers will make or break trucking companies over this next year.

Q: How do you combat pressure on Recruiters and how do you motivate them to rise to the challenge?

A: The state of the market has allowed Recruiting to have a seat at the Leadership table. Driver recruiting is no longer considered an admin function. We’re just as important as operations, safety, and sales.

To motivate our Recruiters, I like to share the bigger picture with our team. When our Recruiters know they serve a greater purpose and understand the vision of the organization, they can also communicate this to Drivers. All of a sudden, their job becomes more than just making calls and filling trucks. Recruiters are part of fulfilling a greater purpose.

Q: How do you incentivize Driver Recruiters?

A: Of course financial incentives are important, but we like to celebrate small wins and show appreciation for the work of Recruiters.  We’re trying to cultivate a culture of appreciation. If we meet our Recruiting KPIs for the week, that’s to be celebrated, not just with the recruiting team but also with the executive team. It’s important to have fun while we are working, so we share KPIs and headcount goals and get other departments involved.

Good Recruiters stay positive in nearly impossible situations, they find solutions, and they are tenacious and scrappy. It takes a unique personality to love the work, but for those of us who do, these are wild times. I’m having a blast!

Q: How much should a recruiter be selling the position vs listening to Drivers about their needs?

We never want a Recruiter to oversell the job to bring a Driver in under false pretenses. As a matter of fact, we share our “realistic job preview” to tell Driver candidates about the goods, the bads, and the uglies of the job.  Every candidate can’t fit into our jobs, and it’s the Recruiters’ job to help with that all-important selection. The Recruiter should really be listening to what the Driver wants and needs to identify if there is a mutual fit.

We’re working to provide our Recruiters with a library of Driver stories about every aspect of the job.  Recruiters can use these stories to demonstrate to the candidate how the company operates without reading bullet points from a script. We find that these stories are what stand out for the Driver in our recruiting process and that the stories are often what distinguishes our recruiter from some another company’s recruiter who may just be listing features and benefits.

Jason finished with these thoughts:

I must commend our executive team here at Custom Commodities Transport for being so open to new ideas.  We measure everything and use data to assure good decision-making, but this results-oriented team has shown that they value Drivers, understand the recruiting & retention challenge, and are willing to make big, bold moves to make Custom Commodities the benchmark that customers and competitors use to measure themselves.

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

Get the Ebook

recruit for retention
Many companies, either intentionally or inadvertently, incentivize driver recruiters to prioritize hires above all else. In some cases, this is an effective short-term solution but often, it does not hold companies in good stead in the long run. Instead, recruit for retention. Lowering driver turnover can dramatically save recruiting costs because there are fewer drivers to replace. Strong driver retention also improves company culture and driver satisfaction. While they may occupy different line items on the budget, recruitment and retention are points along the same spectrum. In your fleet, take concrete steps to incentivize driver recruiters to recruit for retention.

Analyze Your Current Structure

truck driver recruiter

The first step to incentivizing driver recruiters to recruit for retention is to assess your existing program. Frequently, recruiters are incentivized for fast hires. Bonuses based on achieving a set number of hires in a specific time frame or rewards based purely on hiring numbers are just that. When recruiters are put under extremely tight deadlines, this exacerbates the problem. Recruiters are likely getting lots of drivers through the door, but that does not necessarily mean those drivers are highly qualified or likely to stay. 

In addition to analyzing the incentivization structure for recruiters, take time to observe several recruiting conversations. How are recruiters connecting with potential candidates? What questions are they asking drivers? Are they taking the time to understand what these drivers are looking for in a job? The personal touch of a driver recruiter can make a big difference in first impressions. Recruiting for retention may require retraining driver recruiters to approach conversations with candidates as relationship-building opportunities.

Change the Reward Target

Once you have a clear view of your existing recruitment incentivization structure, decide whether you are effectively prioritizing retention. If not, determine the necessary changes to make retention the goal. 

One of the most common ways to incentivize recruiters is through a rewards system. Rather than rewarding recruiters for hires, consider distributing rewards only for new drivers who stay at least 30 days. If you feel a longer time period is necessary, try 60 or 90 days. Drivers often leave because of unmet expectations. So, encouraging recruiters to prioritize retention necessitates that they vet drivers carefully and clearly communicate job expectations to reduce quick turnover.

Drivers often leave because of unmet expectations. Encourage recruiters to be candid and transparent to better recruit for retention.

To ensure follow-through from recruiters, consider asking for notes about each driver’s future plans. This requires recruiters to ask each driver about their long-term priorities as well as the immediate qualifications needed for the job. Remember, even though many companies incentivize recruiters with financial rewards, there are other options. Vacation time as well as internal or external recognition are also significant motivators for many recruiters!

Train Recruiters From the Start

trucking recruiter on phoneFrom the moment of onboarding, driver recruiters should be trained to look at recruiting as a long game. Explicitly tell recruiters that the company’s mission is to minimize turnover and maximize retention of quality drivers. Train everyone who works closely with drivers to recruit through conversations to foster strong relationships. This may be a change from previous jobs that focused exclusively on hires, so it’s important to continuously reinforce recruitment for retention in both words and actions. 

After you make any necessary changes to the incentivization structure and train drivers to recruit through conversations, you are ready to revamp your recruiting – almost! As you restructure incentives, make sure you are setting recruiters up for success. Even the best recruiters cannot boost driver retention for poor jobs.

Drivers want jobs that meet their financial and home time needs, are a good fit for their skills, and have a company culture of respect. Without these components, recruiters are fighting a losing battle. To incentivize driver recruiters for retention, change the reward targets, train recruiters to have conversations, and make compelling job offers. 

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

Get the Ebook

truck driver shortage
Anyone who has been in trucking for even a few years is no stranger to the trucking shortage. This phenomenon has been growing for several years, and despite the unexpected twists of the past year, the truck driver shortage continues. As a single company, there is little you can do to change the overall industry conditions. However, there are ways to combat the trucking shortage in your own fleet.

Overview of the Driver Shortage

The current trucking shortage is a combination of several intersecting factors. First, there are still limited numbers of drivers entering the trucking field. This has been an ongoing trend for several years, and the industry as a whole has struggled to recruit and retain millennials and younger drivers. Second, the FMCSA’s Clearinghouse is in full effect. The Clearinghouse cleaned driver databases and removed tens of thousands of drivers who did not pass the drug and alcohol screening. The majority of these drivers have not taken steps to re-enter trucking. Both the lack of young drivers and the decrease as a result of the Clearinghouse were relatively expected influences. COVID-19 has added several additional challenges. 

When COVID-19 hit the trucking industry, there was a wide range of consequences depending on the company and haul type. For some, demand spiked overnight, and hiring drivers immediately was the biggest challenge. For other companies, business dried up, and they may have laid off drivers to keep the business afloat.

As we move through 2021, there continues to be mismatched supply and demand within different trucking niches.

In addition, drivers who were laid off have likely been collecting unemployment benefits. With the additional stipend provided by many states, some drivers are getting a good payout and are not incentivized to return to their driving jobs. The increased federal aid for unemployment is set to run through September 7, 2021, but many states intend to reduce unemployment benefits sooner. This may help reduce the trucking shortage, but fleets will still be contending with the other ongoing challenges. 

An Inside Look at the Shortage

The combination of factors mentioned above meant that it’s a driver’s market right now. Top drivers have their pick of jobs, and companies must have compelling offerings to attract drivers to their fleet. 

Drive My Way’s CEO, Beth Potratz, has deep expertise in HR and the trucking industry. She shared these insights on the ongoing driver shortage.

Beth Potratz

Beth Potratz, CEO of Drive My Way

“In the industry, there has been a stark decline in drivers searching for jobs, advertisement cost per lead is at an all-time high, and the average cost per hire has increased 41% higher month over month. ​

With local jobs aside, results with Drive My Way are consistent with the trends. Throwing more money at advertising will not fix the problem. Focus on the quality of your offering: pay, home time flexibility, and equipment quality. ​

The critical thing is that with fewer drivers looking for a job, those that connect first will win. It’s vital that you aggressively make a timely connection with drivers that express interest. Other recruiters are trying to reach them as well. Make those that express interest and who have completed a full app a priority.”

There is no single solution to becoming a top recruiting company, but successful hires start with an appealing job offer and a driver-centric culture. Optimize your offerings to bring in quality drivers that are right for your fleet.

How To Combat the Driver Shortage

Improve Your Job Offering

Because demand for drivers is high and supply is low, drivers can be particular and choose from top companies. Attracting drivers has to start with a top offering. At a minimum, your total compensation package – pay, home time, and benefits – should be at or above the industry average for that job type and region. If you offer a significant sign-on bonus, make sure that the rest of your package is also strong. The majority of drivers prefer higher pay to a large initial bonus and may be skeptical if the bonus is too big. Historically, some companies withhold pay in job advertisements to stay competitive with drivers. With demand for drivers as high as it is, that is a luxury that no company can afford. Drivers are looking for the best offer. Bring something valuable to the table, and make sure drivers are clear on your offer. 

Your total compensation package – pay, home time, and benefits – should be at or above the industry average. If you offer a significant sign-on bonus, make sure that the rest of your package is also strong.

In addition to a compelling compensation package, it’s important to clearly communicate the job description. The best job descriptions are specific and transparent. Drivers want to know what they’re getting into, and they don’t want surprises down the road. Make sure the most important details stand out, and use clear, concise language and formatting to convey the information. A well-written job description tells drivers that you are organized and understand their priorities.

Fine Tune Your Recruiting

A good job description may bring drivers in the door, but it’s up to recruiters to keep drivers interested. When a driver expresses interest in a position, it’s important to contact drivers quickly. That may mean changing staff hours to include shifts that are outside of the typical 9AM to 5PM. When demand for drivers is so high, even a few hours can be the difference in making the hire. If you have a top driver who is unsure about the position, put them in touch with a current driver. This demonstrates your trust in your drivers and is a clear commitment to transparency and company culture. If the compensation package is strong, one good conversation may be enough to convince a driver that you are the right fit.

female trucker

If drivers are not responding to your digital advertisements and marketing efforts, expand your candidate pool and evaluate your minimum qualifications. Reach out to underrepresented driver groups such as women, drivers of color, and young drivers. There are many great employees out there who you may be missing because your ads are not in the right places.

Another opportunity to bolster driver interest is through referral programs. Offer incentives (financial or otherwise) to current drivers who bring in new candidates. To incentivize driver retention, offer the referral bonus to your current driver after the new driver has stayed for 90 days or a similar trial period. Expanded marketing efforts and referral programs are a great way to help combat the truck driver shortage. 

Retain Current Drivers

One of the best ways to combat the effects of the trucking shortage in your fleet is to reduce the number of new drivers you need. Retention is just as important as recruiting. Start your retention efforts in the structure of your jobs. For example, if you are planning to give bonuses, reward longevity and performance over time rather than a hiring bonus. In addition, make sure your current drivers feel valued. Appreciation can come as a financial incentive, but you can also use home time, company or truck gear, or recognition to show drivers they matter. 

truck on the roadThe final, but perhaps most important, retention strategy comes from driver input. Drivers have years of valuable experience, and if they stay with your company for a long time, there’s a reason. Find those drivers who have stayed loyal, and ask why they stay. Then, amplify the things you are doing well! Many people focus on eliminating problems to improve retention, but it can be similarly effective to increase positive aspects of the job.

Ultimately, one company won’t resolve an industry-wide truck driver shortage. Instead, do your best to get clear, compelling, and concise job postings in front of the right drivers. Then, respond quickly to top candidates to make the hire. For current drivers, ensure that your HR structure supports driver retention so you can keep the good drivers you already have. 

truck driver incentive program checklist

FREE RESOURCE

Truck Driver Incentive Program Checklist

The best incentive program is the one that’s effective, sustainable, and engaging for drivers. Use this checklist to align your target behavior with rewards that motivate your drivers and create a program with lasting impact.

Get the Checklist

chelsee patton riverside transport

Becoming a trucking recruiter is a job that takes time to build up expertise. To be a top recruiter takes a combination of the right personality and a detailed understanding of the driver experience. Drive My Way customer Riverside Transport Inc. (RTI) is one of the companies that gets recruiting right. Drive My Way’s CEO, Beth Potratz, spoke with Chelsee Patton, Director of Recruiting at Riverside Transport Inc., who has her CDL and spent a year on the road. Chelsee elaborated on her driving experience at Riverside Transport and shared some trucking truths on recruiting for retention. 

Q: How did you get your CDL? 

A: I got my CDL through RTI’s Train Your Team program. I was learning to drive and learning to back and learning about all of the requirements to drive a truck while I was actually driving it. They put you in head first as far as the Train Your Team program! 

It runs a bit differently today because you have to have your CDL to be in that program. Nonetheless, I started running from Kansas City to Louisville and back on a Dedicated run. During that time, I would be trained on pre and post trip inspections, and we’d do backing exercises. I got to run freight and train to get my CDL, finally pass my test, and I got to blog that experience for Riverside. 

I did that right after I finished some schooling, but I had been in driver recruiting for some years before that, and I just feel very vested in the industry. I really care about the drivers and I have fun talking to them. I resonate with them. I think even more so now that I have my CDL, I understand what life is like out there on the road for them. 

Q: How did having your CDL and driving for a year, the experience out on the road, change your perspective as a recruiter?

ChelseeInPink

Chelsee, Director of Recruiting at RTI

A: As a recruiter in this industry, you have to gain the drivers’ trust. That’s the number one thing. I think that having my CDL and being in the driver’s seat allows me to do that much quicker and more effectively. 

It’s a great experience. When I’m talking to drivers and they mention something, I kind of throw it out there, and sometimes they catch on and sometimes it takes them a little bit to think, “Well, wait a minute…you have your CDL? You drove?” So, that’s really fun throwing that out there in some of the conversations that I have with potential drivers. 

Q: If you’re a recruiter and you don’t necessarily have the opportunity to get your CDL or don’t have that experience under your belt, what are some of the other things you can do to help learn about the industry and build rapport with the drivers?

A: One thing that you can potentially do, it’s going to be based on your company and their policies, is check and see if you have the opportunity to do a ride-a-long with a driver. Even if it’s just with a local driver for a day, spend some time there. That would be really cool. There’s also a lot of bloggers out there and so you can go and watch some of the trucker bloggers online and gain some insight there. 

When you’re talking with drivers, be inquisitive. If you really take the time to pay attention to what the drivers are saying and not try to rush them off the phone, you can gain some insight into what their life is like. 

The other thing that I would really encourage is when you’re talking with drivers, be inquisitive about the things that they’re saying. You really learn a lot through driver recruiting. It takes time. As a new person in the industry, it’s like, “What’s a dry van? What’s a fifth wheel?” but then you learn all those things, and if you really take the time to pay attention to what the drivers are saying and not try to rush them off the phone, you can gain some insight into what their life is like. 

Q: What tips would you give recruiters about effective interviewing? 

A: I would take a look internally at your current approach to recruiting and think about how different you can be versus what you’re doing today. What I really mean by that is, when you have a driver call you, and you are talking to that driver, listen to what you’re saying. Are you automatically going into, “How much experience do you have? How many tickets? How many accidents?” versus conversationally talking through all that with them. That’s something we recently got some really nice training on, and one thing I would definitely encourage is to qualify your drivers through conversation. 

Q: A parting question – when you think about the recruiting team and the culture you’re trying to build, what are some of the things that you and your team hear from drivers?

A: I would say I’m pretty proud of my team in that regard. Sometimes when drivers call the Riverside Transport recruiting line, they get surprised by the way the Riverside recruiters speak with them. We try to keep it very friendly and honest. We like our recruiting team to know as much information as possible and be willing and able to give that to the drivers. So, a lot of times, we’ll hear, “I’ve never had a recruiter be so nice” or “No one’s honest.” That’s definitely a truck driver recruiter stigma out therethat we’re all liarsso we’re definitely trying to change that and ultimately make sure that that driver feels valued and like they’re not being lied to. 

Beth finished the interview with these thoughts:

You really bring it back to the person and to their needs and to the relationship. And you even go so far as to really walk a mile in their shoes, or I should say, sit in the seat behind the wheel. We salute you and your team and all the innovative things that you’re doing, all of the commitment you’ve demonstrated to make a difference in the industry, and to help highlight that trucking is an industry that people can really join and enjoy. There’s a lot of fun to be had, and a lot of respect that’s been earned.

To hear more from Chelsee as the Director of Recruiting at Riverside Transport Inc., follow her on Instagram or Youtube as @ChelseeInPink.

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

Get the Ebook

trucking endorsements
Drivers are looking for companies that respect them, offer compensation that is commensurate with experience and skill, and that fits their lifestyle and professional trajectory. In a highly competitive driver market, and it’s difficult to stand out from other trucking companies. It’s also essential. To attract drivers, some companies help drivers obtain or renew trucking endorsements as a way of differentiating themselves. While this may not work for all business models, it can be a great way to incentivize drivers to apply, diversify your candidate pool, and build goodwill among your new hires.

Paying for Trucking Endorsements?

truck in the cityUltimately, the decision to pay for trucking endorsements is a company by company decision. Factor in driver supply, the difficulty of the position you are hiring for, and the type of drivers you want to attract. For example, Button Transportation offers to reimburse drivers for their Hazmat endorsement if there is high seasonal demand. It’s a competitive market for hiring drivers right now, and companies that want to stand out need to go above and beyond. Paying for trucking endorsements is a way to incentivize driver applications by making your offering more appealing. 

Financially supporting drivers as they obtain or renew trucking endorsements is also a good way to diversify your candidate pool. Without offering financial support, your hiring pool is inherently limited to drivers who already have the requisite qualifications. If you are getting plenty of qualified applicants, that might not be a problem. On the other hand, you may want to invest in newer, skilled drivers to grow your fleet. In that case, sponsoring endorsements is a great way to attract drivers who might not otherwise apply. 

Implementing a Sponsorship Program

If you decide that helping with their trucking endorsements is right for you, use best practices to launch successfully. First, make sure you set clear rules and expectations for what will and will not be reimbursed. Drive My Way Customer Button Transportation sets an excellent example.

Button TransportationButton Transportation pays for driver Medical cards, TWIC Cards, and Passports because top interested drivers expect these to be sponsored by their company. Button also clearly established a reimbursement policy for drivers. For each sponsorship, they pay when they receive the expense report and receipt. 

Consistency is critical for successful program implementation. Everyone from recruiters to finance managers to prospective drivers should understand the structure of the program in a successful launch.

Once you set up your program parameters, communication with drivers is the next step. Offering to help drivers obtain or renew trucking endorsements is a powerful advertising tool! Make sure to include the details of your program in a job description. In addition, make sure your marketing efforts are targeted at drivers who already have the necessary endorsements as well as those who might take advantage of your sponsorship program. In addition, some companies like Way Routes encourage drivers to study for their double/triple endorsement using the CDL Prep App. This app is a great option because it is available for both Apple and Android users.

We spoke with Guilherme Ribeiro, President at Way Routes, and he shared that:

“[CDL Prep] is the best app and will help you study before taking the test at your local DMV.”

Both drivers who have the necessary endorsements and those preparing for the test may be strong candidates. So, it’s important to include both in your recruitment and marketing. 

Supporting Drivers with New Endorsements

Supporting drivers as they earn a trucking endorsement is only the start of the road. Strong sponsorship programs also support drivers as they transition to their new roles. 

Way RoutesWe spoke with Guilherme Ribeiro, President at Way Routes, and he shared best practices based on their program’s success:

“If a driver gets [a doubles/triples] endorsement and has not driven doubles/triples before, we have a training program to help them gain the confidence and knowledge they need to be successful.” 

He continued, “When a driver starts, we have them train with someone for a week before they hit the road for normal shifts. You will spend your first week: learning how to connect and disconnect safely in the yard, shadowing a driver on local routes, and running local routes during evening hours when there is less traffic (live road training).” Way Routes continues to support drivers throughout their transition.

Guilherme added, “If after your first week you do not feel safe or confident with your new endorsement, you have the option to part ways with this opportunity, and Way Routes is very respectful about your decision and is happy to have given you initial training. On the contrary, if you are feeling confident but would like an additional week (+/-) of shadowing/training, Way Routes is happy to continue investing in training for you so you feel safe and confident when you hit the road!” 

Supporting drivers through their new role ensures that new drivers meet your safety standards and it builds a good rapport with new drivers. For some companies, helping drivers obtain or renew trucking endorsements is a great way to bolster recruitment and retention efforts.

truck driver incentive program checklist

FREE RESOURCE

Truck Driver Incentive Program Checklist

The best incentive program is the one that’s effective, sustainable, and engaging for drivers. Use this checklist to align your target behavior with rewards that motivate your drivers and create a program with lasting impact.

Get the Checklist

straight truck drivers
Hiring high-quality straight truck drivers is no easy feat right now. The demand for drivers is high, and the supply of drivers doesn’t match the current demand. That means that it’s a driver’s market, and companies must offer quality jobs that stand out to drivers to attract top talent. If you’re hiring straight truck drivers, these four tips will help you get the most out of every online or personal recruiting message.

1. Create Driver Personas

The first step to effectively hiring straight truck drivers is to know exactly who you are looking for. Driver personas are an opportunity to paint a picture of your ideal employees. What skills and endorsements do they have? Are there specific personality traits that are important to your jobs? Go beyond surface characteristics. Once you have a general idea of your ideal employees, consider what motivates these types of drivers.

As you develop your driver personas, study what makes straight truck drivers unique. Typically, straight truck drivers are looking for local work and regular home time. Many may have a family that they want to spend more time with. These drivers may not have a CDL A license. Their license type may give you insight into what kind of driving career that driver is looking for. A well-developed driver persona should clarify and direct recruiting efforts for hiring straight truck drivers.

2. Speak to Driver Priorities

Straight truck drivers are highly sought after right now. It’s a driver’s market, so companies need to make jobs appealing in order to stand out from the competition. Driver personas give insight into your ideal candidates, and this information is valuable. Use the insights on driver motivation and priorities to inform recruiting and marketing decisions. Driver priorities should be front and center in online marketing and advertising. In addition, these details can be part of recruiting conversations. Not all driver candidates will fit your profile, so take the time in recruiting conversations to ask a few questions about driver goals and priorities. Then, highlight how your available jobs are a good fit for that candidate.

It’s a driver’s market, so companies need to make jobs appealing in order to stand out from the competition.

When speaking with drivers, get them the information they care about quickly and succinctly. The driver personas can help guide the tone and content of your conversation, but the basics are still essential. Drivers want to know about compensation, home time, schedule, route, equipment, and customer interaction. Be specific when you share this information and give precise details on the job requirements. In job descriptions and recruiting conversations, include all required qualifications, skills, years of experience, and other prerequisites. This will help drivers self-select whether they fit your requirements and will save time for everyone involved.

3. Embrace Digital Recruiting

straight truck

Hiring straight truck drivers is a competitive challenge, and digital recruiting is a must. Many companies start with a basic website and social media channels because they are easy to set up and are typically free to start. That said, there are other online recruiting tools such as search engine optimized content marketing and job boards if you want to branch out. For any channels you choose, establish trackable metrics so you can determine which channels perform well.

Regardless of the channels that you utilize, a clear brand must help communicate your story. Be consistent in imagery and content tone across all platforms. Give drivers something they can recognize as distinct to your company. Photo and video content are powerful recruiting tools because they help drivers see themselves in the job. Many drivers are not job searching on a computer, so make sure all content is optimized for mobile. 

4. Support Driver Referral Programs

Driver referrals and word of mouth recruiting still reign as powerful recruiting methods. At the end of the day, nothing replaces a trusted source, and truck drivers trust other drivers. Referrals can be even more powerful in a local setting such as when hiring straight truck drivers because these truckers travel in the same circles. They are talking regularly and will be job searching in the same geographies. Word travels fast when companies have a distinctly positive or negative reputation, so make sure your drivers have good things to talk about!

Nothing replaces a trusted source, and truck drivers trust other drivers. Driver referrals are a powerful recruiting resource.

As a company, driver referrals, especially from top team members, help get other quality drivers in the door. A referral from a trusted source is a little extra confidence that interviewing the candidate will be worth your time.

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

Get the Ebook

honest driver recruiter
Recruiters often have a poor reputation with drivers. Many drivers are likely to start by assuming that all recruiters are dishonest and trying to trick drivers. If you’re a recruiter, that’s a tough starting point. Driver concerns are valid, but they may not always have access to the complete picture. To be an honest driver recruiter, you must prioritize continuous transparency

The root of the recruiter and driver tension often stems from unmet expectations. Information changes quickly, and drivers may have unspoken expectations that aren’t met. This combination can leave drivers feeling like they’ve been duped. In conversations with drivers, it’s important to give accurate information that applies to that specific driver, but preparation for transparent conversations starts long before then. 

Connect Your Team

Honest mistakes happen frequently as a result of miscommunication. Imagine you are a recruiter. You are giving drivers standard information on pay, home time, and routes. The driver seems interested and you plan to talk again tomorrow. In the interim, someone made route changes to accommodate a new client without you realizing it. By the time you talk to the driver the next day, the route no longer comes close to the driver’s house and home time will be much tighter. The same driver who was excited yesterday is now frustrated that they got “bad information.” It’s all too easy for simple miscommunication to leave a bad taste for drivers.

Drive My Way Account Executive and former Hiring Manager, Kilie Erickson shared her views:

“I do not believe recruiters are dishonest, I do believe that recruiters could be limited to the information provided to them. If they do not take time to have a complete understanding of the business operations, culture, future goals, and current struggles they will mislead drivers not because they are dishonest, but uninformed.”

Erickson continues, “As a recruiter, if all you get is a piece of paper with pay, benefits, home-time, schedule, and a phone, you have some work to do. The best recruiters are given the ability to see all aspects of the business. They have spent time getting to know the operations and how each department interacts with each other and, most importantly, the drivers”

To be an honest driver recruiter, carve out time to regularly sit with safety, dispatch, and company management. While it is time-consuming, it’s imperative that recruiters understand all of the moving pieces and are up to date on job changes. The increase in internal transparency dramatically increases recruiters’ ability to provide external transparency. 

Know the Equipment

Once you get beyond pay and home time, equipment is often one of the top priorities for drivers. As a recruiter, you likely spend limited time personally with the equipment. That makes equipment a prime opening for miscommunication in recruitment conversations. On the other hand, a driver would be delighted to hear from a recruiter who can vouch for the equipment quality because they were out in the yard earlier this week and keep tabs on the maintenance records.

Drive My Way’s Kilie Erickson adds:

“I urge recruiters to look at the equipment- get inside! Don’t be afraid to tell drivers the good, bad and ugly about the job. Giving only positive information will leave the driver thinking ‘what are they not telling me’ or ‘this sounds too good.'”

If you are a veteran of the trucking industry, you know the ins and outs of what drivers care about when it comes to equipment. However, if you’re a new recruiter or have never spent meaningful time in a truck though, you may not have an intuitive sense of what drivers really want to know. The best way to gain a better perspective is to spend time with the drivers while they’re on the job. If you’re not on a CDL track, ask to do a ridealong with a driver for a day. Even a single day will give you insight into the open jobs and the people you’re recruiting. 

Tune in to Current Drivers

One of your best resources as a recruiter is current drivers. Some recruiters spend very little time with company drivers after they’ve signed on the dotted line. In reality, these drivers are a huge asset! Get feedback from current drivers. This can be done through brief formal surveys or informally and gatherings like a company cookout. In their eyes, what are the biggest perks of the job? What are the biggest challenges? Why do drivers stay with the company? Why do they leave? Keep this information in mind as you recruit new drivers. Make sure the job details you highlight align with the perspective of your current drivers.

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

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new driver recruiter
When you’re a new driver recruiter in the trucking industry, there’s a lot to learn. Depending on your background, you may know recruiting well but are learning a new industry. On the other hand, if you’re familiar with the trucking industry, you may be in a new role as a recruiter. In either case, you’re starting at a new company that has specific criteria for their drivers. The most successful new recruiters do three things when starting a new position: learn the company, learn the driver, and follow trucking recruiting best practices.

1. Learn Your Company

As a new driver recruiter, one of the best places to start is with your company. You will likely go through a company onboarding process, and this is a great opportunity to learn key statistics and any new technology systems you will use. This is the one time that you will effectively be able to see your company through the eyes of a driver candidate before you know the ins and outs of the job! Take advantage of this time and look for answers to specific questions a driver might have. 

Beth Potratz

Beth Potratz, CEO of Drive My Way

In a recent episode of his podcast, Recruit and Retain: Trucking Edition, recruiting guru Chad Hendricks asked Drive My Way CEO, Beth Potratz, how driver needs are changing. Potratz shared:  

“In 2021, we are seeing that drivers are truly researching and assessing an offering before they will even provide any little bit of information. They are done being asked to complete a full app and providing all kinds of information, and now they are taking control and asking a lot of questions upfront.”

With that in mind, a job change is a perfect time to thoughtfully create your foundation in a new role. As a new driver recruiter, that should include a cheat sheet of key statistics and a clear employee value proposition for your company and driver jobs. If you’re new to the trucking industry, talk with experienced recruiters at your company and compile a list of Frequently Asked Questions. Creating a reference sheet is an effective way to reinforce key information for yourself and it is a reliable tool that allows you to jump right into conversations with drivers. 

2. Know Your Drivers

Once you have mastered the basics of your company, it’s time to focus on the drivers. Even if you’re familiar with the trucking industry, take time to understand how your new company’s driver needs are unique. Start by building a few essential driver personas. Ask yourself: Who is the ideal driver for your company? What types of candidates are in the pipeline currently. If there is a mismatch between your answers, you may need to develop a new recruiting plan to better attract your preferred candidates. 

As you start recruiting, prioritize driver retention in addition to filling your pipeline. When you speak with drivers, you are starting a relationship

In his podcast, Chad Hendricks also asked Beth Potratz, how recruiters can foster relationships with drivers. She shared:  

“It’s maintaining relationships with people who you have spoken to who shared they aren’t ready to make a move yet but are considering making a move in the future. It also could be looking at drivers who have left your organization and are now eligible to be rehired. Maybe the grass wasn’t as green as they anticipated when they made the move, so [it’s] reconnecting with those folks. Anything you can do to continue to put your brand and employee value proposition in front of people to spark interest.”

When the time comes, make sure your company is top of mind and there is an existing relationship. This is particularly important in priority geographies. If there are geographic regions that are high driver demand for your company or have low driver supply, building relationships early will help you down the road.

3. Implement Recruiting Best Practices

new driver recruiter

Once you take the time to understand your company and your future drivers, there are several new driver recruiter best practices to follow. To reach drivers effectively, contact drivers on their terms. Often, this means by phone or text messaging (with opt-in preferences!). In addition, be available when drivers can talk. Depending on the type of driver you’re recruiting, this may include evening or weekend hours. Reaching drivers on their terms gives you a better chance of getting in touch, but it also shows that you understand and respect drivers’ schedules.

Once you’re in touch with drivers, it’s important to follow up quickly and to maintain a consistent relationship. If a driver responds to a job posting, follow up with them as quickly as possible. Good drivers are in high demand, and they’ll get hired quickly! If you want to get top drivers in your fleet, you have to be faster than your competition.

Once you’re in touch with drivers, establish regular points of contact. For some drivers, you will need quite a few points of contact before they take steps forward with your company. Be patient, but be proactive. A quick follow-up and consistent subsequent touchpoints will ensure that you’re top of mind when that driver is ready to move jobs.

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

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Considering a Truck Driver Sign-On Bonus Program?

Most carriers in the United States now offer some form of a truck driver sign-on bonus. In 2010, that number was zero. There has been a dramatic increase in the popularity of sign-on bonuses, and at this point, sign-on bonuses are almost an expectation from truck drivers. However, if most companies offer sign-on bonuses, competition to recruit quality drivers becomes that much tougher. Here’s what you need to know to stand out to the right drivers and fill your fleet.

Why Are You Offering A Sign-On Bonus?

The bottom line is that a truck driver sign-on bonus can make your job more attractive. Sign-on bonuses aren’t the total compensation package, but if a driver is between your job and another similarly competitive position, a sign-on bonus might be enough to tip them to your side. However, a sign-on bonus that doesn’t also improve driver retention is not taking full advantage of the program’s strength! 

riverside transportWe spoke with Riverside Transport, a top Dry Van carrier in the Midwest, and they shared this about the impact of a sign-on bonus on their driver recruitment and retention. 

“Drivers love getting the extra pay for sign-on-bonuses. It definitely helps with their cash flow, thus drivers tend to stick it out with us to ensure they get their bonus payouts. It becomes a win-win when the drivers stay, earn more, and then statistically get past the 90-day mark. That driver could theoretically be a part of the RTI family for the long stretch. That is the ultimate hope with our efforts.” 

At the end of the day, the goal is not just to get drivers in the door, but to keep them with your fleet, reduce turnover, and save recruiting costs. Use variables such as the dollar amount and distribution period to fine-tune your sign-on bonus efficacy.

How Much Should You Offer?

The question of dollar amount is an important one for sign-on bonuses. If you don’t offer enough money, drivers might find the offer stingy or simply not attractive enough to change jobs. On the other hand, if you put a number that’s too high, drivers might be skeptical. Some drivers may see an uncommonly high truck driver sign-on bonus as a sign that your company is compensating for negative job elements. 

When asked about determining the right bonus amount for your drivers, Riverside Transport shared: 

“Be flexible with your sign-on bonuses based on market needs, make them attainable and realistic and not so over the top to scare away drivers. Many drivers can be leery of sign-on bonuses.”

Riverside continued, “Realistic sign-on bonuses with payouts that are are reachable [help] get the driver past the 90-day mark in terms of payout. This benefits both recruitment and retention, and is nice for our drivers.”

Unfortunately, there’s no uniform amount for every situation! One driver’s “too low” might be close to another driver’s “too high.” Ultimately, there is no set dollar number.

Since there is no standard dollar amount for sign-on bonuses, decide an amount based on your recruitment budget and the drivers you need to attract. Some companies offer all drivers a flat rate truck driver sign-on bonus. This simplifies job descriptions and ensures that there are no concerns about fairness between drivers. Other companies favor a variable sign-on bonus rate. Drivers may be paid more with more experience, endorsements, or other specific qualifications. Variable rates can be particularly attractive to experienced drivers who would earn the larger sign-on bonus.

When Should You Give the Bonus?

woman truck driverThe best sign-on bonus program is the one that’s engaging for drivers and sustainable. It’s as simple as that. With that in mind, keep your incentive program as straightforward as possible. First, identify what behavior you are trying to incentivize. 

For a sign-on bonus, set your sights on recruitment AND retention. Are you having a hard time getting in the door, but retention is strong? Is recruitment strong, but turnover is high? Are both areas a challenge? 

To encourage retention, consider a phased approach with multiple distribution phases. Some employers offer a truck driver sign-on bonus that is paid out over the course of 6 months or a year. For example, Drive My Way client Armellini Express Lines pays their sign-on bonus to drivers over a one-year period to boost retention. 

Extending the pay-out period encourages drivers to stay with the company until they receive their full bonus. The first few months after a new hire have one of the highest turnover rates. An extended bonus period can hold drivers through the adjustment curve and boost retention in the long term.

What Should I Communicate To Drivers?

A truck driver sign-on bonus program is just one part of a total compensation package. Advertise the sign-on bonus with the job description, and make sure the rest of the compensation package is a strong offer. Many drivers have been burned before, so be prepared to answer skeptical questions about the offer. 

Be clear about how much drivers will receive and when they will get the money. Make sure to be transparent about the bonus from the beginning. There shouldn’t be any surprises for the drivers later on otherwise you risk building resentment. If there are any additional stipulations on the money, make sure drivers understand. If they feel jilted, they’ll talk about it, and it will kill your reputation. The best way to create a positive program is with thoughtful program structure and transparency for drivers.

ultimate guide to retaining truck drivers

Ultimate Guide to Retaining Truck Drivers

You work so hard to recruit the best truck drivers for your fleet. The trick is retaining them. This guide is packed with tips for retaining your fleet.

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recruiter for driver applicantsWhen recruiting truck drivers, understanding the difference between active and passive driver applicants can be the difference between a consistent candidate pipeline and struggling to fill your fleet. Active driver applicants are ready to make a job change immediately. In contrast, passive driver applicants should be nurtured over time. An effective recruitment strategy should connect appropriately with active and passive driver applicants to allow you to nimbly shift recruitment strategies as company and drivers’ needs change.

Active vs. Passive Candidates

The difference between active and passive driver applicants comes down to the driver’s connection with the job search. Both types of candidates are necessary for a healthy recruitment pipeline, and it’s important to use the right type of strategy for each candidate.

type of driver applicants

Active Driver Applicants

Active candidates are currently looking for new jobs. They likely have applied to several places and want to make a job change soon. These candidates are often easier to recruit because they are ready to change jobs now. For active driver applicants, recruiters must act quickly because drivers want to move quickly to a new position and won’t stay on the market for long. 

Passive Driver Applicants

Passive driver applicants make up the vast majority of the job market, but may be overlooked in the recruitment process. These candidates include drivers that you have in your hiring database from any previous interaction, including re-hires. These drivers are not actively looking for a new position, so they may take a little more time and effort to recruit. Before reaching out to passive candidates, make sure to scrub your database and clean old driver information that is no longer relevant. 

Drive My Way CEO, Beth Potratz, shared her expertise:

“Recruiting is not a transaction, it’s a continuous effort that you should never stop. Active and passive job seekers are all consumers in the employment relationship whose needs will change throughout their career. Similar to consumers, they often have both articulated and unarticulated needs and you should explore both. If you build and nurture relationships with drivers, they are more likely to consider a job at your company when they are looking to make a change. It’s really all about relationships.”

Beth continued, “Start recruiting how you would like to be recruited and you will be surprised at the results. Listen for what is important to people and no matter what, always acknowledge their interest and get back to them with feedback and next steps. One thing is for sure, they will always remember how they were treated by you during the process.”

How to Reach Active Driver Applicants

1. Go Where the Drivers Are

The first step to reaching active driver applicants is to go where the drivers are. You know these drivers are already looking for a job change, so make sure they see what you have to offer! Now, a big part of being visible is a prominent online presence. While some drivers may still use old-school methods of finding a job, many drivers will likely start their job searching the internet. When they do, use digital marketing to make sure your brand is appealing and your job is visible to the drivers you want to attract. 

2. Send the Right Message

Once a driver sees your job posting or recruitment advertising, you have one chance to make a good first impression. Clearly share your employee value proposition (EVP) with drivers in the job posting. They need to know how your company is different and why they should come work for you! Active candidates are looking for a job change so they may be more eager to hear what you have to offer. That said, they are also much more likely to have multiple companies vying for their attention. A clear and well-written EVP as part of your job description is essential for recruiting top drivers.

3. Be Ready to Move Quickly

Active driver applicants are ready to move quickly. That means recruiters must be too! Active applicants are often not on the job market for very long. Hiring top candidates can come down to a simple decision of timing. If your company and another make similarly competitive job offers to the same driver, and the other company is more responsive, you will likely lose that driver. The better the driver is, the more competition you will have from other companies that want to recruit that driver. In order to attract top talent, you have to be faster than the competition.

How to Reach Passive Driver Applicants

1. Go Slow To Go Fast

An effective strategy for recruiting passive applicants is entirely different than recruiting active applicants. For passive applicants, start by building your driver lead pipeline. It will take time to nurture a productive driver candidate pipeline, but the payoff is significant. You are playing a long game. There are many ways to add drivers to your passive candidate pipeline. One of the most powerful ways to connect is via a referral from other drivers. These referred drivers may not be looking for a new job immediately, but if you nurture the lead, your name will be top of mind down the road when they are ready for a change. At its core, building a passive driver pipeline is all about relationship building. 

2. Maintain Regular Touchpoints

It can be tempting to focus recruiting efforts on active driver candidates because they will be ready to move quickly. Don’t fall into the trap! Just because applicants are passive does not mean you shouldn’t have regular touchpoints with these drivers! Regular touchpoints through driver-centric content or other outreach efforts build your relationship with passive applicants. Regular touchpoints also allow you to more quickly respond if a driver starts to look for jobs actively. 

3. Track the Data

laptop to track hiring data

Passive driver applicants are nurtured with a series of small touchpoints over time. As a result, tracking interactions over the lifespan of each driver lead is essential. Document each communication or touchpoint with the driver meticulously. Ideally, this information should be stored in a centralized repository or ATS that is shared among all employees who might contact drivers. It’s a good idea to also include anonymous passive interactions, like website traffic, in your data. These are potential ways to add drivers to your recruitment funnel, and you can optimize your efforts by amplifying areas that are successfully generating interest. 

4. Be Prepared to Court Drivers

For a successful recruitment campaign, both active and passive driver candidates need to know what you bring to the table. However, to hire passive driver applicants, be prepared to show your best! Remember, passive driver candidates weren’t looking for a new job. It’s your job to convince them why YOU are a good fit for THEM!  This is the time to review your data on past conversations and what content this driver consumes to understand what matters to this particular driver. Then, use this data to recruit based on their interests and needs. To convert passive applicants to hires you must be able to clearly state the advantages of your company and open positions and why it will be a good switch for them.

Building a Comprehensive Strategy

A strong recruitment strategy should account for both active and passive candidates because recruiting demands can change quickly. Having active and passive candidates in the pipeline helps ensure that recruiters aren’t left without any candidates when driver demand is high. There may be times that require recruiters to focus more on either active or passive driver applicants, but don’t neglect either side completely.

Drivers are not static as active or passive candidates. An active applicant may become passive once they find a new job. A passive candidate may decide they are ready for a job change and start actively looking for new positions.

A recruitment strategy that effectively connects with active and passive driver applicants allows you to nimbly shift recruitment tactics as drivers’ needs change.

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Top 7 Reasons Drivers Decline CDL Jobs

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