The driver shortage is one of the biggest concerns for the trucking industry. Our three-part series addresses the issue of finding and keeping the best drivers you can in this challenging environment.
People will come along with suggestions of how to deal with the driver shortage: better compensation and perks; finding ways to attract millennials; exploring the women and minority market. Until that magic formula is discovered, companies still need to find the most productive ways to recruit new drivers. But until that happens, there are processes that need to be in place that will enable you to select the best candidates from those that apply for the open positions. Recruiting managers need to start the process well before the first “want ad” is placed.
Identify the Need
It’s not enough to recognize that the company wants to hire drivers. First, you have to be able to detail exactly what is expected of that person, not just in the particulars of the job, but in other aspects as well. Our members that offer dedicated contract are hiring drivers that will interact with their customers, so being able to get the deliveries to their destination is important; however, it’s also important that the drivers be courteous and professional in their appearance and demeanor. It’s vital that you know precisely what you’re looking for. That becomes the basis of the job description.
Want Ad or Job Description
Once you’ve established the job description…which will be presented to qualified applicants…you can start working on the “want ad.” It’s a highly competitive world out there when it comes to seeking drivers, so you need to have an ad that’s going to catch a job-seeker’s eye and makes that person want to work for the company. Although the basic requirements and functions do need to appear, it’s more important that the ad focus on the company culture and why people want to work there. Look for those positive things that differentiate your company from the competition, then tell a compelling story.
As far as placing the ads, technology has definitely changed the landscape, with companies now looking to online recruiting as the most successful path. Many companies have found Craigslist to be very productive when it comes to a search for drivers, along with Indeed.com. Social sites are also valuable resources, taking on more and more prominence, so make sure you have a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. And don’t forget the one resource you have complete control over, your own website. It’s still possible to search, using recruiting services, print ads, even radio; but the internet has proven both more affective and affordable than any other media.
Find the Right Candidates
Here is where that job description comes in; use it to evaluate the resumes and/or applications you receive. Since there is rarely, if ever, a “perfect match,” assess how many of the criteria you’ve established are met. The more the resume aligns with the job description, the more that applicant should be put on your radar. You should also establish deal-breakers, those things that would immediately rule out an applicant. That would vary, based on the requirements of the job.
One of the things I like to do once I’ve found people I think are qualified, is have a quick phone screen that includes a couple of simple questions. The two questions I like to ask are, “What interested you in this position?” and “Do you have any experience in this type of job?” Both of these questions can give you some insight as to why the candidate might be applying for the job. Ideally, you want to find someone who has a real interest in your particular position; not someone who is just looking for a job…any job. That should set off an alarm; remember, hiring the person is just step one; step two is retaining them. Once you identify the most qualified applicants, have them come in for the interview.
Conduct the Interview
Interviewing may not come natural to everyone, but it can be, and should be, learned. There’s a great deal more involved than simply asking a list of questions. You’ve already pre-screened these people and found them basically acceptable. That’s why they made it to this point. Now you need to find out more specific information, especially when it comes to how they would deal with the job’s functions and with other employees. Behavioral based questions can be very informative. Don’t ask if someone likes working as part of a team; ask them to tell you about the best team they’ve ever been a part of. Try to get your applicants to tell you about a situation that happened to them and how they resolved it. What you’re looking for are honest answers; not just answers the applicant thinks you want to hear. Most important of all; let the applicant do most of the talking. The more you talk, the less you’ll learn.
Make the Decision
You may want to winnow down to two or three people. Remember, your competitors are also looking for drivers; they may be making counter-offers or your candidates may simply decide to stay with the job they have. You need to keep the pipeline open until an offer is made and accepted. One caveat here is to remember an old quote, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” If you keep looking for the “perfect candidate,” you will probably lose out on great candidates who would prove to be true assets to the company. Once you find the right person, don’t wait too long to make the offer.
Check Them Out
This task has become a bit more difficult over time. Some companies won’t allow their managers to give any references, and HR may only tell you the candidate’s dates of employment. Although background checks can be invaluable, make sure to review your company’s background check process with an attorney or advisor to ensure that you’re following legal guidelines.
Make the Offer
Although a formal job offer may come from HR, it’s advisable to have the hiring manager involved in the process as well. In many companies, managers and supervisors have also interviewed the candidates and either have made the final decision or, at the very least, been involved in that decision. Since there’s a normal two-week period before a job starts (that timeframe can be shorter for a candidate who doesn’t need to give two weeks’ notice), you might want to maintain some communication with your new employee. This is a great time for the manager, and even the team, to follow-up with the new hire before the start date. There’s nothing better than positive reinforcement to let the new driver know that everyone is excited to have him or her joining the team.