A Different Approach to Recruiting

I can’t hire quality drivers! There is a driver shortage so I can only hire the best that apply to my company! I hear comments like this all the time. I’m a safety consultant and clients say this to me on a regular basis. But this is nothing new. When I was working for the insurance industry it was the same thing.

Well I think it is time for a change of attitude. You can hire better drivers but if you are looking for an easy solution, I don’t have one. The answer is hard, very hard work. You have to make changes and some of them are not pleasant.

First, how do you tell the world that you are hiring? Most companies tell me that they rely on word of mouth. Let’s think about that. You are complaining that your drivers are not the best quality and yet they are the ones referring new drivers to your company? Do you see the problem? Poor quality drivers, you know the ones; the ones with the terrible attitude – why are you relying on them and their poor attitude to refer quality drivers to your company? Referrals from poor quality drivers are likely to lead to more poor quality drivers. It is a vicious circle. Let’s break the cycle!

So the first thing you have to do is to get the word out in a different way. But how? After all, you don’t have a lot of money as trucking isn’t very profitable right now. Well, nothing will put you out of business faster than lousy, poor quality drivers with bad attitudes. So you need to find some money to help break the cycle.

So after you squeezed some money out of the company, you now have a budget. But how are you going to spend it? Adwords? Facebook advertisements? The local newspaper or trucking industry magazine(s)? I believe that you have to go with the industry magazine(s). I still think that when a driver decides to change jobs, they check out the industry publications and listen to their friends. Yes, drivers do often listen to recommendations from other drivers. But you implied that you have too many of the drivers you don’t want and not enough of the ones that you do want. So you can’t rely on the referral system. That only leaves the industry magazines.

Don’t be afraid to advertise. The publication will help you design the advertisement. After you have the ad prepared and have placed it with a magazine, it is time to examine the hiring process. Start with the appearance of your company. When the applicant arrives at your facility, how does it look to them? Is it clean and appealing? Do you have a proper area for the applicant to complete the paperwork? Do you have a quiet professional interview area? Appearance is so very important. The driver wants to know that they will be working for a professional, quality company. So you have to project that image in everything that happens. Look at the application form & paperwork. Is it professional or has it been photocopied so many times that it is now twisted and covered in black dots?

I ask you these questions because this is what I see all the time. I know that small companies don’t have some of the recruiting luxuries that the major trucking companies have. The applicant knows this to. If they wanted to work at a big company, they would apply there. Probably, the driver applicant that is applying at your company wants to work for a small operation. Maybe, the last large company didn’t know the driver’s name and they got sick and tired of that atmosphere. Now they want to work for a little guy. Where they get respected for who they are and what they do.

If you are having driver quality issues, you need to do something different. I have given you a few ideas. But the major idea is that you need to do something different than what you are already doing. Because what you are doing is not working.

I know that of all the people reading what I have said, only a few will seriously think about making changes. For some of you, this will make a great deal of sense to you and you will act accordingly. So take action now! Make the change and if you need help, reach out. There are tons of resources out there. All you have to do is be committed and if needed, ask for help.

Stay safe.

Chris Harris
Top Dawg, Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.