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Truck Driver Recruiting & Retention Strategies for 2023


The truck driver shortage isn’t getting any easier to solve. With experienced drivers retiring and fewer young people entering the profession, trucking companies are struggling to find and keep drivers. But just because recruiting is hard doesn't mean you should give up. In this blog post, we'll share some strategies for recruiting and retaining truck drivers.

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What's Inside:

  1. The Driver Recruiter Perspective
  2. Recruiting & Retaining Millennial Drivers
  3. Apprenticeship Programs as a Recruiting Source
  4. Don't Overlook Your Recruiting & Hiring Process

The Driver Recruiter Perspective

Our episode of “Solving The Driver Problem” features special guest Jason Crowell, Recruiting and Retention Manager at Brady Trucking, Inc.

Scott Rea and Crowell discussed the recruiting evolution in the trucking industry. With their insight, you can attract a fleet of qualified drivers, even in the midst of the ever-changing supply and demand curve.

Purpose-Driven Recruiting Ads

“Rather than talking about the company, we talk about the driver.”

As Crowell points out, every business is a people business. Your business is connected to people. Your employees are connected to you, to each other, and to the market they serve. If you want successful recruiting ads, try focusing on your drivers as people.

Crowell utilizes recruitment ads that feature videos of drivers talking about their experience with Brady Trucking. The videos aren't about Brady Trucking, though. They're about the driver and their unique perspective. Crowell knows that emotional connection causes people watching the ads to act quickly and click the call to action.

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Realistic Job Preview

“No company needs to recruit everyone. We need to recruit the right ones, not millions of the wrong ones.”

Crowell has a tough job selling to drivers. His drivers face long, hard hauls that take them away from their families, their friends, and their homes for weeks on end. How does he convince someone that it's the right job for them? He doesn't. He just tells it like it is.

One way to hire best-fit drivers is to utilize a "realistic job preview." A realistic job preview is a short video that shows job candidates what the job they're applying for is like, including specific job duties and job requirements, before they apply.

By investing in a realistic job preview, you will:

  • Attract better-fit candidates
  • Save your time by not wasting it on poor-fit applicants
  • Reduce your voluntary turnover

Recruiting & Retaining Millennial Drivers

Recruiting and retaining millennial drivers can be challenging. While it’s true that generations have different expectations, these tactics will help you be effective with ALL generations. 

  1. Offering competitive pay and benefits packages — Don’t just compare your pay to other trucking companies. Compare your pay and benefits to other blue-collar industries. You’re asking people to live in a truck, deal with the motoring public (who becomes more distracted every day on their phones), heavy regulation, and billboard lawyers looking to sue them. Is it worth it compared to swinging a hammer or working a line on a shop floor?
  2. Providing opportunities for career advancement — Millennials demand opportunities for career advancement. Create a tiered system of driver certifications they can earn and eventually have the opportunity to be a driver trainer if they want. We have clients who have used LLLC Instructor and Driver Certification to create a three-year career path that’s laid out on day one of the job.
  3. Creating a positive work culture — Millennials are game for a work-life blend. You need to show them their purpose and how they make the world a better place. It can be the lives affected by what you haul, helping another driver build a career, or owning charitable programs that you have in place.
  4. Using social media platforms and other digital platforms — Your drivers are physically distant from their friends, family, and co-workers. Social media at its best is designed for people to connect across the county. Use the tools your drivers are already spending their time on to build groups and form connections. This will have another benefit of showing your culture to your outside world. You have driver influencers working for you now even if you don’t know it. Use them to be your spokespeople and incentivize them to do so.
  5. Offering flexible work arrangements — Work from home ain’t a thing for truck drivers. Things go wrong all the time in trucking that isn’t the driver’s fault but that impact their home time and paycheck. Do you put that burden on their shoulders or do you have systems in place to immediately give them a break to catch up? Enough time at home to do laundry doesn’t count. 

You need to understand millennial values and build recruiting and retention strategies around them. And best of all these are not just millennial values - these are human being values that everyone wants.

We’ve put together a number of articles that can help you attract and retain millennial drivers:

Apprenticeship Programs + Finishing Schools Expand Your Recruiting Pools

Apprenticeship programs and Finishing Schools expand your recruiting pools and help you ensure new drivers don’t come with bad habits. A driver’s tenure with your company is a better predictor of having an accident than a driver’s tenure in the industry. In other words, you can create safer drivers from rookies than by recruiting experienced drivers. Some of the benefits of offering an apprenticeship program include:

  1. Structured training program — Every trainee gets the same, best-practice experience when you have a structured playbook delivered by certified Instructors who want to be teachers. Your new recruits value repeatable processes - they don’t want to feel like guinea pigs when screwing up behind the wheel could cost them their lives.
  2. On-the-job training — Learning happens in the cab, around the truck, and in the yard…not the classroom. People want practical learning environments.
  3. Talent pipeline — Companies with warehouses or dock workers have a great pipeline to choose from for a finishing school. Apprentice programs make your community the talent pipeline, not just other trucking companies. 
  4. Improved retention rates — Drivers stay when they feel like you’re investing in them. You opened a door for this person. All things being equal between your job and others they see, they’ll stick around. You’ve already proven with your actions that you’ll invest in them whereas other companies are just using their words. Drivers don’t want to leave companies that invest in them.
  5. Commitment to career development — Everyone wants to see the map of where they are, where they can be, and how to get there. Offering an apprenticeship shows that map and lock in a mind to a three-year plan.

Registered apprenticeships enable employers to provide on-the-job training that meets industry standards while also giving workers competitive wages, benefits, and the opportunity to earn nationally recognized credentials. Through these programs, truckers can develop a wide range of fundamental trucking skills such as hard braking, lane changing, anti-lock braking, and tractor-trailer coupling. Registered apprenticeship programs have been an emphasis of the Biden administration in an effort to improve driver training programs.

Don't Overlook Your Recruiting & Hiring Process

When was the last time you applied to work at your company? How hard is it? How long does it take? Do you feel good or frustrated at the end? 

It's important to ensure that each potential driver has the skills and experience to effectively do the job, but also that they’re able to get through the job pipeline quickly.

Reducing friction in the recruiting and hiring process can improve the quality of job candidates in several ways:

  1. Reduce ghosting and dropout rates — By offering a clear, streamlined, and efficient recruiting and hiring process, you’ll have fewer people abandoning your process. Wouldn’t it be nice to need fewer leads to find your hires?
  2. Improving the candidate experience — Think about how quickly and easily you can get someone through the driver hiring process. You need to collect a lot from them. Start by chunking into three groups so you don’t slow the process down by asking for information you don’t need:
    1. The information you need to get excited about a phone screen
    2. The information you need to make a hiring decision
    3. The information you need to onboard
  3. Order your hiring process based on cost — Be diligent with your phone screens. Balance getting info, selling your job, and cutting bait quickly when it doesn’t make sense. Then order screens you get back quickly and cheapest first:
    1. MVR
    2. PSP
    3. Background screen
  4. Improving the accuracy of hiring decisions — Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. It’s why we look at MVRs. But you also want a driver who’s easy to work with and friendly to your customers. By using structured interviews, assessment tests, and other tools, transportation companies can better evaluate a candidate’s values, motivations, and personality to make more informed hiring decisions.
  5. Increasing employee satisfaction and retention — Drivers that like your job will stick around. It’s why Jason Crowell uses Realistic Job Preview videos. When you show candidates the job, they get a real sense of what you have to offer and you save time. Win-win. By hiring the right drivers and providing them with the support and resources they need to succeed, you can create a more positive and engaged workforce.

What Are Your Recruiting Strategies?

We live in a VUCA world - volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. That much is out of our control. You're not helpless, though. It’s still possible to solve your driver problem, as long as you take a new approach.

What are you doing to evolve your recruiting strategy? Click on the following links to learn more about AvatarFleet’s Driver Marketing and Driver Recruiting services.

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