One Answer to One of America’s Toughest Recruiting Problems

From Fotolia

Hey Tech Recruiters — your job is really hard, isn’t it?

Do you want to know a recruiting job that is about a hundred times harder than yours? Try recruiting Truck Drivers!

The truck driving recruiting industry is insane. It’s reported that right now there are 36,000 truck driver open position in the U.S.!

Solving a recruiting nightmare

Go to any major corporation that has a shipping component that is handled by semi-trucks and they have openings, many will have openings in the hundreds! The largest trucking firms in the country have recruiting teams that dwarf the size any of the major tech companies in Silicon Valley.

So, how do you solve such a major recruiting nightmare?

By doing this:

The 2 problems with truck driving

OK, I hear you! “Wait, there still has to be a person in the seat! You don’t solve the ‘driver’ problem at all!”

The main problem with the truck driving profession is two fold:

  1. They can’t attract younger workers into the profession.
  2. They have high turnover.

Being able to use and operate the latest technology in any industry will attract a younger workforce. Can you imagine the people lining up to be able to operate one of those trucks above?! I can only imagine how this tech will revolutionize the profession of truck driving, and the skill sets needed.

Article Continues Below

Truck drivers turnover because they don’t see a future in driving truck.

It’s seen as a low skill occupation, and a lonely one at that. Hours, weeks, months, years on the road. Throw in the nasty-ass truck stops and you can see why our best and brightest are jumping at the thousands of open jobs.

A way to finally sell truck driving

Self driving technology opens up a whole new capacity level for the people sitting in those vehicles. I can imagine how organizations could begin training and teaching these operators an entire additional skill set to use while in vehicle, and even upon getting to their destination. It would easily be foreseeable where your self driving vehicle operators could also become your field sales reps, quality control, etc.

If the operator, theoretically, only has to pay attention to vehicle operations 15-20 percent of the time, this gives them so much time to concentrate on other ways to add value to the company and to themselves.

From a recruiting perspective, I can sell that. It’s hard to sell dirty bathroom and lot lizards to a kid who believes he has a future.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


39 Comments on “One Answer to One of America’s Toughest Recruiting Problems

  1. This sounds similar to pilot recruiting, they are also running out of kids to put in seats, seats that will be eliminated before they reach mid-career where they start earning enough to live on. Like this article, an ICAO paper suggests telling kids they will become “space pilots” as the aviation industry moves into space. Yep, lie to them, that’ll work. Good luck finding awesome and motivated sales reps who won’t mind spending most of their lives alone and at truck stops.

    1. Thats how trucking companies are–notorious liars. Some start out as they say but the bait and switch kicks in anywhere after three to six months.. Even though the driver is the most important asset, the company still looks at them as a necessary evil, pay as little as possible and screw them out of as much as they can.

  2. Henry Ford had problems filling his factories with workers due to the lousy working conditions. Every day he had to spend time and money hiring and training people. Then he raised the daily wage from $2 to $5. Suddenly he had a line of people wanting to get in and work. They also did not quit.

    1. Pay is one aspect of the problem. Reasonable home time is another. But the biggest problem I saw in the brief time I drove was the regulation from the FMCSA IE, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Being new, I was trained in the latest regulations only to have them changed at least three times in my short driving career! It was so hard just to know what you had to do to be legal, then they change something else on you! And as a rookie, you’re trying to get used to driving safely, never mind practicing legal skills on the regs! After 6 months I gave it up!

      1. Bet you’d have dealt with those issues if you were making 50% more than you were at that time. The “reasonable home time” problem isn’t a problem if you are making $125,000 working 6 months at a time.

  3. You can’t get a truck driving job without experience.

    You can’t get experience without a truck driving job.

    Round and round we go. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    1. Yep! Same thing with every other job that doesn’t pay shit with 32 hours schedules (just below full time) and “flex” scheduling which means you are on call 24/7 to work as little as 1.5 hours.

  4. Want to fix truck driving? Free training and CDL classes and GUARANTEED wages at 80, 90, 100,000 per year.

  5. The trucking industry is their own worst enemy. For years they (the trucking companies) have let the government, shippers and receivers run rough shod over their drivers. The compensation a driver receives for his or her time on the road, layovers, loading docks, scales etc. is far from necessary to keep a quality work force. The trucking companies can stop all of this if they want to, but they are too dog eat dog at each others throats trying to see who can haul the cheapest freight. The ATA (anti trucking association) gets in bed with the government trying to screw the independents, and create more regulations. If the industry really wanted to straighten it all out they would practice some civil disobedience and shut down every truck in the country for two weeks to let the government, CARB and everyone else know who was really in charge of the industry. But ALAS, they don’t have the balls.

  6. With 26 yrs of truck driving experience, First off your not going to get anyone that is smart enough to be behind a wheel of a truck that drives itself!! Most professional drivers will not even allow another to take the wheel ie.. snow, ice etc. And companies who higher teams are only hurting themselves in the long run. Yet alone if your co driver gets in a wreck.. guess what your at fault too or maybe killed in the process or the gilt and court hearings on something you were not even at fault for but guess what.. you team your fault too!!! Automatic trucks are non dependable and believe it or not I tried one… granted the first time the truck gets stuck between shifting and your on a down hill or free wheeling.. you will never trust your life with one again!! Second, If companies want to keep drivers then allow them to run 3000-3500 miles a week as a solo.. its totally legal and there is no reason why anyone can’t get at least 500 plus miles a night.. Third.. go ahead and higher younger drivers.. Just because they have to take there time to sleep you would be surprised how many companies are allowing Xboxes etc in the truck and when they should be sleeping…guess what… Fourth, terminals should provide better showers and conditions for drivers.. the up keep and cleaning is surely not there!!! Fifth, leasing a truck is paying for a job and if you can’t run at least 3000 miles a week then you will lose your truck, home and family… THEY NEED TO CLAMP DOWN ON LEASING COMPANIES WHO MAKE YOU PAY FOR THE TRUCK AND ALL EXPENSES THEN HAVE A HUGE BALLOON PMT AT THE END.. they say that America has a huge job growth well that what happened drivers got to go to work to pay for someone elses truck without ever hopes of true ownership. 6th, drivers need more compensation for time spent out on the road and that being more money.. benefits etc.. 7th….. just think with us American truck drivers who not only put our lives on the line day and night thru snow and what have you just to get Your products to you… what do we get.. it’s basically the same since in the 80’s time for increases!!!

  7. GPS guided ,steering wheel holder’s ! That what it is today ! 13’6 high trailer 12’6 bridge ! But my GPS told me to !

  8. The BIG PROBLEM is that most trucking companies expect their drivers to be clean of drugs. Yet ANOTHER FALLOUT in our misguided “war on drugs”.

    Only when Americans decide to end this PROHIBITION, will people be available to fill these critical transportation positions. Democrats do seem to understand this, but Republicans are still hung-up on testing these people, rather than TRUSTING them to live responsibly.

  9. when they big trucking companys started putting the long hauls on the rail or having a solo driver pick up a cali load in jersey and drive it to pa and swap it out with a trainer and you take his jersey losd and delv it and pick up another long run and have to swap it out for a short run and long wait to get unloaded. and at end of week you drove 1500 miles, when you had runs you had to swap that were 2800miles. that makes drivers get mad and quit. long haul means long haul, it I wanted a lot of pick ups and stops I would be a mailman

  10. I drove for 18 1/2 years OTR accident free. Here is the real reason the trucking industry has shortages. Smoke and mirror recruiting and companies that own the trucks. No protection offered to the driver by the company for simple things such as a safe place to spend the night comfortable. No laws were ever placed to make trucking companies add anti idle equipment on trucks that allowed the driver to sleep in a controlled environment. Ever try to sleep in your car in summer with windows open? truck drivers are forced to do this daily because of anti idle laws. Fake pay promises. You are never paid for what you actually drive. There is no compensation for down time. If you have to sit waiting for a load for hours you are not paid anything by most companies. Get stuck out over a weekend and it all on your own pocket. Then after being delayed hours to load then they want you to drive straight threw to delivery. Oh the computer showed you were stopped for 10 hours so you can drive all night. No I was up 10 hours waiting and calling you for the stinking load you now want me to drive all night to deliver. This is the real world of OTR trucking. Even when you have years of experience other may call you a professional. But making the job a profession would open the door to Migrant workers from Mexico and other south of the boarder. Leaving trucking as unskilled closes the door to work visa’s. To end my stance, here are some real numbers of dollars I made driving. Back in 1994 I hired in with military and family experience making 17 cents per mile which equaled 28,000 gross my first year. It coast me 100 dollars a week to live on the road Making my net before taxes 22,700. The last full year I drove was 2012. I grossed 49,000 driving 121,000 miles in that year. I drove flat bed and did some specialized meaning more sitting than average. My cost to live on the road increased to 200 a week average. I have more out of pocket expenses because of motel stays with oversize on weekends. After Taxes and expenses I netted 29,986. That’s working an average of 64 hours a week with no overtime.

  11. Here is an idea…pay the drivers! I moved to California 4 years ago and everyone wanted to pay $12.00 an hour! I’ve been a driver for 30 years, come on! They say there is a driver shortage? There is no shortage…the shortage comes from the owner of the company who want to continue to live like a millionaire and pay his drivers crap!

    1. IN Arkansas its like $10 an hour, no overtime. Neighbor does that. His take home is $282 a week.

  12. What could possibly go wrong with a truck that drives itself? I drive a truck, and I for one would not sit in a seat while a computer is driving the truck. It’s insane.

  13. the trucking is a joke low pay in the 70 and 80 we got 20% of what the truck made they say you drive like hell day and night keep two or three log books if you don’t get their you don’t have a job wait to load and pay to unload out of your pocket like Texas if you load in another state and unload in Texas you pay it is an state law I drove for 18 years OVR the same truck stops or still their no up grade like jolly truck stop in Texas a peace of shit look on Hwy 287 from Fort Worth Texas to Amarillo 333 miles how many truck stops with parking and showers for truckers the state has one rest area

  14. I’ve been driving for forty plus years and in my opinion, it’s a conglomerate of numerous reasons why it’s hard to find drivers and even harder yet to retain them. It is a vicious circle from the the company to the shipper to the receiver to the constant change in regulations to enforcement. It is not due to any one entity but partially the fault (yes FAULT) of almost everyone involved. Everyone to some degree is at fault due to any number of reasons, too numerous to list. The reason, in my opinion, these problems haven’t to some degree been rectified is that nobody wants to “give” in order to “get” any improvement. Start with Driver; give a good days work, Company; give a good days pay, Shippers; ship product WHEN scheduled, Receivers; receive product WHEN scheduled. Nothing is going to get resolved unless everyone agrees to work TOGETHER to achieve improvements. So long as everybody is cursing everyone else, there is not going to be any changes. At this time I would advise anyone who ask me about becoming a driver to find ANYTHING for a career other than OTR driving, why….no security, no retirement, (401K doesn’t get it), long hard hours, no family life, live on “fast” food, worry about personal health. and family well being while you’re gone. These are just a few reasons.

  15. first off i agree with everything i’ve read here so far one of the things that used to tick me off the most is arriving at a shipper on consignee and you knew it was a bad day when there was no posting or route to the shipping or rec office ,or meet a hostile guard or employee that couldn’t even give you right directions to where you needed to be.and i am sure any driver knows who i am referring to when i say this arriving at the con being on time or earlier and got to receivers office where there is 1 or 2 receivers checking in 30 or 40 drivers and marking you late because it took them so long to check you in and denying detention pay.with this and all everybody else has said here and is very true isn’t it funny how much time and effort and money they put into these self driving trucks to ensure or try to eliminate these problems for themselves,i think you see where i am heading with this.they will ensure when its affecting their lives and jobs but couldn’t careless to solve your problems.further more the dynamics of this industry including weather be a huge factor do they think they can really get a automated truck to detect and react or see these in a split second as we all know arise.its always been my opinion that drivers up north driving in ice and snow should be compensated more then sunshine fair weather drivers.but the underlying theme here is they search for solutions to their problems and work so hard and spend so much money getting away from human interaction,,hmmmm wow whoa automation is the way of life for people these days,,,hmmm seems to me the answer is starring us all in the face.i am no psychologist but i thought one basic human desire and need was meaningful human productive interaction..

  16. That’s the problem… Mr. Sackett. It’s seen as a low skill occupation. Have you ever spent time behind the

  17. Get behind the wheel for while then run your mouth about how to make it better. I’ve been doing this job for half my life so I know a bit about the industry. You really to know how to recruit drivers???? Simply lure to them like every other recruiter on God’s green Earth. LIE TO THEM. You’ll have them lining up in droves. To sum it up, keep your mouth shut till you know what you’re talking about.

      1. Let me try and replace your job with an algorithm and see if you get over the top nasty. I say it again. Do the job and then “fix” the problems. I’ll invite you and the original author come and work with me for a week. Come on. Try it. We are after all unskilled workers.

      2. throttle back ? are you kidding? apparently you think selling what basically will be a warm body in a seat, with no REAL concept of what truck driving TRULY entails, this career, with BS and smoke and mirrors, is a good thing.

  18. That’s the problem, Mr. Sackett. It’s SEEN as a low skill job, apparently by YOU as well, since you believe that technology that removes control is the answer. Have you ever spent time behind the wheel? I don’t think so. Have you ever figured out the cost of fuel, and the extra taxes paid by trucks, not cars? I doubt it. Have you ever dealt with figuring out how to get from where you are to where you’re going in the most efficient way, while staying within the governments Hours Of Service rules? I know you haven’t. Have you ever manuered a truck around those shippers, receivers, jobsite or truckstops? I bet not once. You are nothing more than another overpaid huckster, selling people what really isn’t there. You really think that self driving trucks are the answer? I personally think that you are a fool, if you do. Technology is not foolproof, nor is there a perfect failsafe when technology DOES fail. While a live person behind the wheel is also not infallible, I would rather have a WELL TRAINED driver CONTROLLING the truck and not some HACKABLE computer program, especially when my family is out there on the road with them. But you are doing a great job selling the next set of smoke and mirrors.

  19. The major problem in recruiting truck drivers is not that I see it as low skill. It’s that those kids coming out of high school, see this profession as low skill and a dead-end. It has nothing to do with how I view the profession. I have friends and family who drive truck for a living, and I hear the stories of how difficult of a position this can be.

    Regardless, we have an entire generation who doesn’t see OTR driving as a profession they want to get into. My take was how do we address that aspect. How do we get a younger workforce, who all want to program computers, to be excited about becoming truck drivers?

    The truck driving industry is basically comprised of old men. That’s a problem, because old men die. You need a source of more drivers, and that source will come from younger people joining the workforce.

    Will more money help? It could, but there is a limit to what organizations are willing to pay to goods shipped. That’s why we see technology like this being developed, as well as Amazon’s drone army.

    1. This is not something we can blame the new generation or on laziness. They have finally woke up to the fact that truck driving is not anything of a rewarding career and the word by us old men drivers on how things really are out there.

  20. Retiring after 35 years in the trucking industry I think I have a keen insight as to why nobody wants to drive the big rigs. Money and respect. Management treats drivers with such disrespect that everyone knows the trucking industry sucks. Sign on with a big carrier and you will run like crazy for 6 months. Then they will starve you, and you will be forced to turn your truck in, owing them thousands of dollars, and they will sell it to the next sucker coming out of school. Then there are the union freight carriers who treat their employees like garbage, and don’t want to pay a living wage, along with the non union companies paying even less and not even paying overtime. Hopefully all the big trucking companies will learn a lesson on treating employees good and paying them what they deserve, and the seats will be filled with proffessionals, Every former driver I know will never sit in a truck again because of the greedy owners. In case most of you dont know, the owners of these large companies are billionaires. They didn’t get there cuz they have a good reputation for treating people good. They got there by being ruthless. Ask any driver you see on the road and get ready for an earful. America moves by truck. Everything you can touch was once moved by a truck of some sort.

    1. I finally got out of it three weeks ago after 37 years (local, OTR, regional, yard dog and oilfield) You hit everything on the nail. Fortunately I was never a victim thank the Lord and never got into the Fleece Purchase thing. I won’t miss it a bit but I will always remember that if I have it, a truck brought it.

  21. Ok guys im a business owner of ten trucks. Lets talk. I drove most of my life. I was paid from 2 dollars per hour up to 500 per week. This was in the 70s thru the 80s. When I got to 500 per week it was usually 140 hrs per week. I know times have changed and yall have to have more to get all the nice things. I currently start guys at $15 per hour and they go up from there. They work 60 or 70 hrs if they want to. NOT mandatory which pays $1500 per week or $6000 per month. They go HOME EVERY night and get uniforms and a weeks vacation. Am I so out of line here?
    I love new rules and this kind of stuff. Because I will figure what drivers want and double it and raise the price of the product to accomidate them and give myself a raise and stick it to the consumer. Sooo if your thinking of building a new house just remember you paid a truck driver good.;

  22. Stay Metrics ( does a great job understanding truck driver behavior and helps clients retain and attract drivers.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *