Perspective: Rethinking Driver Recruiting

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The trucking industry’s shortage of drivers and high turnover rate make it hard for many regional and over-the-road carriers to recruit and retain qualified candidates, but there is a system carriers can adopt that will help them attract and keep good drivers who fit their company’s requirements, and culture.

This combination of a proven formula for predicting driver needs and a concrete methodology for recruiters to follow is a concept known as backward planning. In a nutshell, it is a method of determining how many conversations a recruiter needs to have to complete the process of hiring a qualified driver. By knowing the number of calls or leads required to ultimately produce an offer to hire a driver, each recruiter can predict how much effort is needed to achieve his or her goals.

For example, if a carrier needs eight new drivers monthly to address turnover, how many calls will three recruiters need to make to fill those spots? Experience will dictate the number of calls and contacts per week each recruiter must complete to get, for example, 10 applications — which might generate five qualified candidates and one actual hire.



Each recruiter must maintain a calendar for daily and weekly planning in order to schedule, in advance, each day from start time to finish with critical data. This includes the number of outbound calls or inbound leads needed, actual contacts, follow-ups completed, inbound calls handled from prospective drivers and other vital activities — all designed to work a plan with predetermined goals.

Adjustments can be made as the quality of the recruiters’ prospecting efforts, interviewing skills and relationship-building improves over time. Consequently, application and driver quality will improve.

By expanding the number of drivers that recruiters talk to in order to meet specific numbers, they will be able to select more qualified drivers. Better qualified drivers will result in more satisfied drivers who will stay on and perform better, leading to an eventual slowing of the revolving door of driver turnover.

Conducting backward planning that will lead to increased driver count will allow carriers to forecast with greater certainty their additional equipment needs and also create new capacity available for customers in order to gain a competitive advantage.

Also, remember that the recruiting department is a sales center, not a call center just responding to leads. It may be necessary for carriers to rethink marketing and advertising activities, and train recruiters with new interviewing skills that reflect the needs and wants of today’s drivers. Carriers can develop a series of questions that will help a recruiter screen a driver better and also determine the company’s “fit” for that driver. By taking common objections or complaints that drivers raise and turning them around into probing questions for drivers, recruiters will be able to gain more insight about a driver.

Finally, carriers can use a method that will help a recruiter and driver understand the requirements of the job to make sure that the driver is fully aware of the company’s needs. For example, carriers can invest in third-party assessment tools or software that can match a driver’s behaviors and preferences to a carrier’s needs to determine whether the job will be a good fit.

It is important to get agreement with the driver as to the specifics for the job being offered. No surprises. The unexpected or a bad fit could cause drivers to leave soon after the first load.

While the recruiting environment currently is tight, carriers can follow these steps to ensure the best possible results.

Norris Beren is chief executive advisor at Risk Reward Consulting Inc., providing guidance to trucking industry CEOs on various strategies to reduce conditions leading to driver turnover and improve recruiting strategies to attract better drivers. He is the author of “How to Create An Intelligent Driver Retention System.”