Before you create an ad campaign, you must first determine whom you want to recruit. Sure, you want drivers, but are you targeting owner-operators or company drivers, regional or long haul, flatbed or dry van, men or women?
Men or women? Why should your ad consider the reader’s gender, aren’t all drivers looking for the same thing… pay, home time, equipment, etc.? Not necessarily. If you truly want to recruit women, you might consider changing your message and your graphic to be more inclusive.
If your ads depict scantily clad women spread across the grill of a truck, you aren’t going to attract female drivers. It’s offensive to them. What about the wording in your ads? “Take your wife to the big island” claims one ad. Wife? A simple solution would be to change “wife” to “spouse”, but then you’ve excluded all the single drivers.
At Women In Trucking (WIT), we’re concerned about the way our industry reaches out to potential female drivers, and recruiting ads are part of the challenge: the message and the image often exclude our target audience.
To better understand the driver’s perspective, we teamed with Dr. Jeanette Kersten, EdD. Assistant Professor in the Department of Operations and Management at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Graduate students Anyradha Nigam, Martha Vang and Tracy Abrahamson designed a recruiting ad project to better understand the female driver perception.
Nigam began the project with a survey and handed it off to Abrahamson and Vang who took it to the next level with additional research and a final report. Some of their findings were surprising. Sixty-eight CDL holders completed the survey, which also depicted three advertisements from WIT member companies. The respondents were asked for their opinions on the ads. The questions asked if the ads were believable, relevant, persuasive and clear, in addition to other criteria. The drivers were able to provide additional input in a comments section.
One of the ads featured a professional driver; the other two were stock photos (models). The respondents questioned the ads’ honesty with comments such as: “lies,” “dishonest,” or “biased.” One even remarked that the teeth were too “white” for a professional driver! The ad with a couple (team) was criticized for not using “real drivers.”
When asked, “If you were to create a recruiting advertisement, what would you include?” Eighty percent wanted information on “home time” and “benefits” to be included. “Experience requirements” scored 75% and “wages” was listed as the fourth most important item to include in a recruiting ad. The type of equipment was important to 67 percent of the respondents and “miles run” was next with 64 percent. The routes (or lanes) were important to 61 percent of the drivers and “perks” followed with 57 percent.
One notable finding was that 52 percent of the drivers wanted to know about the company’s pet policy! Women are often more apt to want to bring a pet with them for security reasons or just for companionship. The carriers that allow a dog or cat in the cab should be sure to include that in their recruiting ads.
The survey included a few open-ended questions. When asked what should be included in a recruitment advertisement, the comments included things such as the company turnover rate, CSA score, background requirements, bonus information and special benefits such as gym memberships, satellite radios and group discount programs.
One driver felt the ads should reveal the “attitude of dispatchers!” Another respondent wanted to know the dispatch policies (forced or choice). Several of the comments asked for the type of freight the company hauls.
Our goal is to encourage companies to take a hard look at their recruiting ads and consider whether they appeal to women. Models in short skirts in front of a truck need not apply.
Women In Trucking Association, Inc. is a nonprofit association established to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry. Membership is not limited to women, as 17 percent of its members are men who support the mission. Women In Trucking is supported by its members and the generosity of Gold Level Partners: Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, Daimler Trucks North America, BMO Transportation Finance, Great Dane, J.B. Hunt Transport, Ryder System, Inc., U.S. Xpress, and Walmart. Follow WIT on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. For more information, visit http://www.womenintrucking.org
Ellen Voie founded the Women In Trucking Association in March of 2007, and currently serves as the nonprofit organization’s President/CEO.