The truck driver shortage is getting worse, not better. This problem emphasizes the need not only for a strong retention and rewards structure but also for a comprehensive recruiting strategy. The companies that are faster and more effective at finding the right drivers will remain competitive over time, and the best firms are using data from existing drivers to support their recruiting efforts.
Using Driver Survey Data
You are asking your new and existing drivers questions to assess onboarding practices and engagement levels, but have you thought about using that data to help hone your talent acquisition approach? There have always been challenges in the transition from “applicant” to “driver,” but leveraging the data from new hire surveys can help to identify gaps between expectations and reality. Below are three ways to use data to improve your recruiting.
Let’s say that the recruiter explained to the candidate that they would be home every weekend. While this may be true for the majority of the fleet, this particular candidate lives outside of the major freight lanes the company has in its network. As a result, after a month on the job the new hire has worked two weekends over the road. That sort of discrepancy would show up in survey results as a mismatch of expectations and reality, helping the company to see where its recruiting messaging needs to be clearer.
Creating Realistic Job Previews
It’s not uncommon for drivers to see the position as a “dream job” after talking with recruiters about the opening. It’s human nature to believe that the grass is greener on the other side, and it’s the job of a recruiter to sell that concept to potential hires. This is especially true in a tight labor market like we see in the trucking industry.
To combat this, one option companies can leverage is to create a realistic job preview based on the new hire survey feedback. The new hire survey might include a question such as, “What part of your job is different than what you expected?” The resulting answers paint a picture of what life is really like as a new driver. Those results can be used by recruiters during meetings and phone calls with candidates to offer an accurate picture of what life on the job is truly like, limiting the surprises new hires encounter.
Finally, the messaging around company brand and value proposition is an important part of the recruiting equation. If you’re familiar with the “Best Places to Work” awards, you have seen this in action. The winners of these competitions proudly label themselves in an attempt to stand out from the competition. Companies compete for those awards to set themselves up as recruiting powerhouses. Simply put, it’s easier to recruit for a place where people like to work.
You don’t have to win an award to put this strategy in place. Simply evaluate your engagement survey results from your existing workforce, pick out some of the most-liked features and benefits, and highlight them in your recruiting messages. This can encompass a wide variety of media and options, from radio commercials and print ads, to online job postings.
Perhaps the most powerful messaging doesn’t even come from the company at all. People like to talk, and your drivers are conversing with their peers from both partner and competitor organizations. Assuming you are treating your drivers the right way, the things they discuss in those conversations can serve as an on-ramp for your recruiting efforts. Consider the difference it would make in your hiring if each member of your driver workforce was raving about the culture and respect they receive.
Finding the Perfect Driver
On the company side of the equation, you have a few other options for profiling your ideal hire. Every company wants to find the best drivers, but few actually put forth the effort to ensure hiring success.
Again, data is the key to making the right call. You have several sources available to you that help to create an overall picture of a candidate’s abilities and skills related to the job.
- Applicant tracking software
- Background checks, PSP and MVR checks
- Performance and safety metrics (MPG, idle time, CSA scores)
- Interview records
- Common traits of past successful hires
- Candidate source (referrals, job boards, etc.)
When I have coached organizations in the past on hiring practices, the conversation usually starts like this:
Think about your current and past employees in this role. Consider who has been the absolute best performer in this capacity–someone you would clone if given the chance–then let’s determine what was special about them. Was it a specific set of character traits, behaviors, or skills?
Using that short list of differentiating characteristics, we would develop a hiring plan to target more individuals just like the successful one. Maybe it was a specific type of education, background, work history, or skill set. Whatever the case, it helped to form a picture so that we knew which candidates fit the mold and which didn’t.
This applies to trucking just like any other business. Maybe you’re looking for drivers that have high productivity scores and few CSA points that have been driving for 5-10 years. It’s possible that drivers applying through Craigslist with more than 15 years of experience perform better at your company than their peers. These are just two examples, but without analyzing the data on hand you won’t know for sure. What has characterized successful drivers at your company historically?
Whether you are using data to improve and target your recruiting messages or you’re trying to profile the best driver and find similar candidates, digging into your own requirements will help to ensure you have the best possible set of drivers on hand ready to meet the needs of your customers.