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A $5 Billion Hiring Problem (& What’s Being Done About It!)

Finding a new job may not be easy, but sometimes it’s just as hard to be on the other side of the hiring equation. This week, we’re putting the spotlight on the problem by showcasing an industry where employers have a hard time hiring and keeping employees.

We’re talking about the transportation industry – and truckers. Whether you love or hate tractor-trailers on the highway, the trucking industry moves supplies that feed us, clothe us, house us, and cure us when we are sick.

Yet Tucker Robeson, CEO and Co-Founder of CDL Helpers, a company that provides employeeTucker Robesonretention services to the transportation industry, says the system truckers use to hire and retain employees is beyond broken. So broken, there’s an 89% turnover rate of drivers year-to-year in big trucking companies. Can you imagine working for a company where less than one out of ten employees stay for more than a year?

How expensive is this problem to the trucking industry? Robeson says it’s a $5B dollar problem, and he’s created a business to help fix it. A former recruiter, Tucker was born in Winona, MN and graduated from Saint Mary’s University of MN with a degree in Entrepreneurship. He started CDL Helpers to change the way the trucking industry thinks about its work force, and how drivers are treated and supported by their employers. In a nutshell, Tucker’s mission is to make the trucking industry ask “how’s my hiring?” just as frequently as they ask “how’s my driving?”

We sat down with Tucker to get his perspective on how the recruiting process is flawed and how it can be fixed. While today’s process focuses on the trucking industry, the problems faced by companies in this industry are not unique – many industries struggle to find employees and manage their own reputations. Want proof of this? Just ask companies who’ve had their jobs profiled on the TV show Dirty Jobs?

Here’s Tucker’s take on the challenges faced by the trucking industry in hiring, what’s broken and what can be fixed, and how you can feel confident when you’ve found the right company to work for…

This is the first of a two part series, next week we’ll share Tucker’s unique take on job search strategies that work – and learn more about how he hires!

You say that the recruiting process for the trucking industry is fundamentally flawed. How so? What’s the problem – and what are the costs to both the industry and employees?

Recruiting new truckers doesn’t address the real problem the trucking industry faces: Why are people leaving? If I’m running a successful business, and I pay/treat people fairly, shouldn’t they want to stay?

So many trucking companies have had their names poisoned by former employees, recruits, and others that had a bad experience.  Since they weren’t customers, nobody thought to focus on their personal experiences with the company.  However, bad experiences they encounter could ultimately, end up hurting the company in the future.

When I used to recruit drivers, there were some companies I couldn’t pay people to go to, just because they had heard some horror story from another driver at a truck stop about things going sour. Word-of-mouth is incredibly important to drivers as they look for work.

What are common qualities of top employers in your industry? How can job seekers spot companies who have these qualities?

As is the case with many industries, top employers in the trucking industry are hard to recognize because a lot of advertising and recruiting efforts tout great things that don’t always turn out to be true, and there are very few ways to hold the bad companies accountable. So, you can’t always go by advertising.

There’s a huge lack of trust and misinformation in the industry which has left many drivers extremely skeptical or cynical. That’s part of what we are trying to fix. My company, CDL Helpers, partners with trucking companies to address employee issues. Trucking companies hire us to provide support to new hires during their first few months on a job and we have the ability to escalate problems directly to the top if necessary, to make sure their concerns are addressed.

Breaking into the trucking industry can be challenging for prospective drivers, as there are many hiring requirements that are rigid. You have to be in good physical health, hold a strong driving record, and more often than not – have experience.

Other than that, they should look for companies that are easy to communicate with. After 10 business days post-application, if they haven’t heard anything and can’t reach anyone inside, that’s often an indicator of how things will go from then on out.

The best trucking companies to work for are also usually the hardest to get into. They require the most experience, and the cleanest records. Drivers that work for companies that are headquartered or have a main terminal within 30 miles of their domicile seem to do much better. If drivers can’t find a company that’s close enough to home, they should seriously consider either re-locating to another area, or looking into other careers. Their time at home will be better, they won’t have to risk as much of their own personal resources going to orientation, and they will probably have more reliable miles at the company if they live close by.

Stop by StartWire News next week for Tucker’s perspective on great ways to stand out in the applicant pool and get noticed. In the interim — if you haven’t done so already — pop by StartWire and take advantage of our free tools to organize your search.


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