Truck Driver Recruiting: Challenges and Opportunities

Despite increasing wages and job stability within the transportation industry, many companies are finding it extremely difficult to fill their open jobs. Qualified candidates can afford to be picky, which means employers need to work hard to attract them and keep them happy.

Demographic changes and long-standing assumptions about the transport industry can make it difficult for companies to recruit the employees they need. Here’s an overview of the challenges — and how employers are overcoming them to improve their truck driver recruiting efforts.

The Retirement Tsunami

According to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the industry continues to face a major shortage of drivers. While retention remains a general concern, retirements are the main reason for the deepening worker shortage. Because of an aging workforce, the number of truck drivers facing retirement age continues to climb at a time when interest in the profession has waned.

Meanwhile, ongoing economic growth drives the steadily increasing need for additional trucks, drivers, and other support staff.

CDL class A over-the-road drivers are among the hardest drivers to find, according to Scott McNiel, marketing manager at E.L. Hollingsworth & Co. With the large number of open positions available, it’s easy for skilled drivers to hop from job to job in search of better pay and conditions, which creates a retention problem.

One of the main ways transportation companies can improve truck driver recruiting is through strong compensation packages, McNiel says. Offering pay increases, comprehensive benefits, and signing bonuses is key.

Coping With an Image Problem

The transportation industry also faces several other challenges, including its public image. Additionally, long hours and lots of time spent away from home are often required which can pose a challenge to hiring, particularly for families where both parents work outside of the home. Also, sitting in the driver’s seat for long stretches of time, in addition to eating out frequently, can make it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

McNiel agrees, saying the industry’s image needs a makeover and that corporate culture needs to shift to better source truck drivers. The American Trucking Associations (ATA), for example, works to boost trucking’s image in particular. In fact, the organization’s annual Mike Russell Trucking Image Award recognizes individuals, carriers, trucking organizations, and suppliers that boost the industry’s image.

The DOL found that inadequate access to non-traditional labor pools such as women, veterans, and people with disabilities, were also problems. Providing a strong work-life balance for employees can be a good way to start changing the culture while also improving the industry’s image, McNiel says.

Connecting With Millennials

Millennials tend to not consider skilled trades as career opportunities, which can make it harder for employers to recruit for those positions, especially as millennials and Gen Y take over the workforce. McNiel says transportation companies are having a difficult time reaching younger workers, and that members of Gen X are finding work in other industries.

It’s vital that companies get the word out about the opportunities they can offer to young employees. Todd Berger, president and CEO of Redwood Logistics, says his company recruits college graduates heavily on college campuses and attends college job fairs, looking for top talent among college graduates.

According to PwC’s Next Gen study, millennial employees expect to work as part of a team, and enjoy doing so. Berger says his company stresses this when recruiting. “The most successful transportation and logistics companies make maximum use of teams and there is no room for ego or self-serving behavior. Employees have to be enlisted in teams they want to join and where they can be effective,” Berger says.

Berger says his company looks carefully at soft skills such as attitude and personality, as well as hard skills. The company screens for work ethic as well, trying to assess if the candidate will go above and beyond for customers.

Get More Truck Driver Recruiting Resources From the Experts

With the high rate of retirement and public image challenges, recruiting truck drivers is an uphill battle. But with better messaging, competitive compensation packages, and an inclusive approach, you could put yourself ahead of the curve. At Monster we understand the job market and we’re ready to put our expertise to work for you. Find out how you can get free access to the latest hiring tips, job market insights, and more, to get your business rolling.