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A Little Driver Recruiting Secret

August 1, 2015

Each day we get dozens of calls from recruiters and fleet managers asking what they can do to attract larger numbers of qualified drivers. Our response is always the same. The two single biggest factors in driver recruiting are:

1. Geography – where you are hiring at
2. Desirability – how desirable your position is in relation to others in the same market

For most recruiters geography is fixed and can’t be manipulated. That leaves the “desirability” aspect. No matter where your open driving job is located you are no doubt competing with other jobs and carriers for the best drivers; and as you know, the most desirable jobs always have the greatest numbers of applicants and hires.

The question is “What can you do to make your driver jobs more attractive?” Obviously, if your open driver job offers great pay and benefits you will likely be able to fill it more quickly. However, if you’re like most carriers, with limited resources to increase pay for prospective drivers, you will need to look elsewhere for ways to improve the appeal of your positions.

One area of opportunity that few carriers think to exploit is the notion of “predictability”. This may sound foreign to you but a few subtle changes can go a long way in making your positions more appealing. Certainly its great to put together flashy ads with eye-catching pictures of trucks and mountain scenery, but most drivers are sharp enough to see past the fancy ads and recognize a worthless opportunity for what it is. Instead, you will want to focus your creativity on the substance of your open job rather than the substance of your job-advertisement. After all, you can have a great advertising message and communicate it thoroughly to the masses, but as they say, “Even if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.”

While many in the industry have accepted “quality of life” (QOL) as the Holy Grail of driver recruiting, few have been able to impact QOL enough to make their positions more desirable. Most of the typical enhancements miss the mark on what QOL truly means to a driver.

QOL is more than just comfy truck seats, or a computer application that shows families where dad’s truck is on a map, or saying that “You’re not just a number here.” Those things certainly help, but they fall short of QOL.

QOL begins with the security of knowing what to expect on a daily basis. Being able to predict with some degree of certainty in five crucial areas can significantly enhance the desirability of any driving job. These five areas are “when”, “where”, “what”, “how much”, and “how long”. This is a simple yet powerful concept. Companies that are able to address these questions adequately can greatly improve their ability to recruit qualified drivers. Let’s look at the five crucial areas;

– When? – When will I work? When does my day start? What days will I work?
– Where? – Where will I be most of the time?
– What? – What will I be doing, driving, sitting-waiting, loading/unloading etc…?
– How much? – How much will I make each day, week?
– How long? – How long will my shift/run/load last? How long before I’m done? How much downtime before the next shift/run/load?

Note that most local driving jobs are inherently better able to answer these questions than their long-haul counterparts, and as a result, they are typically more desirable and easier to fill.

Drivers, like everyone else, strive for stability and predictability in their lives. Like most of us, they have bills that need to be paid on a regular basis, doctor’s appointments to schedule, personal events they would like to attend, and the need for predictable downtime. Drivers want to be confident that they will be home for Aunt Sally’s birthday party next month, or to see their son play in the big game. Ask yourself whether or not you could ever consider a job that didn’t answer all of these questions precisely. Would you want to go home and tell your spouse that you are considering a job where you’re not sure how much money you will actually bring home, or how often you will be home? Could you be comfortable not knowing how frequently you might have idle or unpaid time?

A good starting point to offering better QOL comes through offering drivers greater predictability in their work-life. While we understand that shippers often make it challenging for carriers to plan, or offer, more predictable schedules, we have seen how a proactive campaign on the part carrier to create more structure can pay off over time, in a big way. From there, the driver can build in the aspects of life that ultimately bring him the feelings associated with QOL.

For most, driving is not a very attractive profession. However, for every job out there, there’s someone who thinks that it’s a perfect fit for him/her. You simply need to apply as much structure as possible to your jobs for them to compete more closely with other mainstream jobs. The old school thinking that the driver’s job “is what it is”, must go away.