Truck drivers are the lifeblood of this country and its economy. Sure, trains and planes are nice, but the fact is that truckers transport nearly three-fourths of all goods in the U.S. If you buy something in a store, it probably came off a truck.
Problem is, there’s currently a shortage of truck drivers, due to the hardships of their lifestyle — loneliness, stress, grueling hours, an aging workforce and high turnover rates. It doesn’t help that lots of truck driving schools went out of business during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Keeping that in mind, does your business need to hire a truck driver? Then you need to be smart about it. Despite the shortage of drivers, you can still find a good one — as long as you follow this step-by-step process.
1. Decide What Kind of Truck Driver You Need
Not every truck driver is behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler. There are different kinds of trucks, so there are different kinds of trucking jobs. They have different skills and different kinds of licenses.
Before you post your truck driving position on an online job board like ZipRecruiter or one of its competitors, you’ll need to know exactly what you need.
Unless your driver is just cruising around town in a delivery van, they’ll need a Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL. These come in different classes. Here’s a breakdown of your options:
Class A CDL
Your classic big rig driver. They can drive trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds, which includes tractor-trailers, tanker trucks, livestock trailers and flatbed trucks. They can also drive most vehicles in Classes B and C.
Class B CDL
They can drive vehicles that aren’t attached to a trailer. This includes dump trucks, box trucks, school buses, city buses and tourist buses.
Class C CDL
They can drive trucks weighing less than 26,000 pounds.
To haul certain kinds of specialty loads, your driver will need certain “endorsements” with his or her CDL.
P: The Passenger endorsement allows them to drive vehicles holding up to 16 passengers.
S: The School Bus endorsement allows them to drive a school bus. They need to get a “P” endorsement first, then pass a background check and a written test.
H: The Hazardous Materials endorsement allows them to haul hazardous materials.
T: The Tank endorsement allows them to haul double trailers, or even triple trailers.
2. Do a Little Homework
Something to keep in mind when you hire truck drivers: The truck driving industry is heavily regulated.
Before you write a job description — and we’ll get to that part next — you’ll need to do a couple of things. First, check out local, state and federal laws when it comes to trucking. You don’t want any nasty surprises there. Second, make sure your business insurance will cover a truck driver.
The federal government requires interstate truck drivers to have a USDOT number from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Some drivers also need an MC number or Motor Carrier number if they transport passengers or federally regulated commodities across state lines.
State laws typically govern things like maximum load weights, insurance requirements and various road and fuel taxes.
You’ll also want to check with your company’s insurance provider to make sure you have the appropriate coverage.
3. Post the Job
Now that you know what you want, it’s time to go find it. Here’s where your job posting comes in.
To advertise your truck driver position, you’ll want to use a job posting site like ZipRecruiter. It’s a marketplace that allows employers to post a job opening to multiple job boards at the same time. It’s a good place to find truck drivers.
ZipRecruiter uses artificial intelligence to decide where to post your job vacancies, and it uses its matching technology to analyze millions of data points to find the best potential matches for your job.
It’s free for employers to try for four days. After that, there are various packages you can buy, depending on your needs. ZipRecruiter offers three different monthly plans, based on how many jobs you want to advertise. Prices start as low as $16 per day for one reusable job post.
A key to success here is to write a specific job description. Describe what kind of truck driver you need, and also discuss salary, benefits, driving distances and scheduling. Do a little research on your competition before deciding on a proposed salary.
This is the best way to find qualified candidates and hire truck drivers. And your job description is key.
4. Interview Your Candidates
Hiring truck drivers requires a specific kind of interview. Once you narrow down your list of candidates, schedule some interviews. It’s up to you whether you do in-person interviews, phone interviews or Zoom interviews.
Some key questions:
- Ask them to describe their professional driving experience in detail.
- What licenses or license endorsements do they have?
- Have they been in any accidents? Have they been cited for any violations?
- How do they stay alert and focused while on the road?
- How mechanically inclined are they? What kind of truck maintenance do they do? Have they ever had to deal with a breakdown on the road?
Experienced drivers should have good answers to these questions. New truck drivers might have a harder time.
In addition to the interview process, you’ll want to vet your chosen candidates, just like any other employee. Run a background check and call their references.
5. Make an Offer!
These days, truck drivers have their choice of truck driver jobs. Once you’ve decided to hire a particular truck driver, let them know right away.
Did we mention there’s a shortage of truck drivers? Don’t dilly-dally. If your preferred driver is actively looking for work, you’ll need to hire them before someone else does.
Once they accept your offer, start the onboarding process. Go over salary, benefits, vacation time, expectations and training.
Like we said, there’s a serious shortage of truck drivers in this country, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
If you follow these steps, though, you should be able to get a great truck driver. ZipRecruiter is a good place to find truck drivers.