Learning how to find truck drivers to hire efficiently is crucial for long-haul transportation and local delivery businesses. By following some best practices—defining your needs, crafting a job ad, conducting interviews, running checks, and extending offers—you can effectively find the best truck drivers for your business.
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Step 1: Determine Truck Driver Specifications & Salary
Hiring truck drivers is similar to hiring any other type of employee. That all begins with understanding your needs.
The first thing to determine is whether your truck driver needs to hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL), as not every truck driver needs one. If you have a delivery van that’s driven around town, your driver won’t need a specialized license. However, you should still look for someone with experience using the type of vehicle you need driven.
For larger trucks, a CDL comes in different classes, allowing a driver to operate different vehicles with different cargo. Here’s a brief breakdown.
Tractor-trailers, tankers, livestock carriers, flatbeds, most trucks over 26,000 pounds
Dump trucks, city buses, tourist buses, school buses, box trucks
Double trailers, hazmat trucks, passenger vans
You’ll also want to consider your other needs, such as if the driver will be working locally only or will be traveling across states or regions. Will your driver be loading and unloading heavy cargo?
Truck Driver Salary
Additionally, at this stage, you need to determine what you’re going to pay this employee. The average truck driver employee’s salary is about $67,000 per year. But that amount will fluctuate depending on the skills, education, and experience you require. The more expertise and skill you need the truck driver to have, the more you’ll have to pay to get the right employee.
Alternatively, you could partner with an independent contractor truck driver. The average rate for an independent contractor truck driver is just about $70,000 per year. Although that’s higher than the average salary for an employee, your company must cover additional costs, taxes, and overhead for the W-2 truck driver, likely making the cost of employing them higher.
If you have the ability to let the truck driver determine when and how they work, you could classify them as an independent contractor. But if you need to control that aspect of the truck driver’s job, then they’re a W-2 employee. If you decide to partner with an independent contractor truck driver, make sure you understand the differences, and legal challenges, between 1099 and W-2 employees, as misclassifying a truck driver could lead to significant fines and penalties. You can check out the types of employees and what these classifications entail in our guide.
Compliance Tip: If your business is hiring a truck driver in certain states, you may need to put your target salary range in your public job posting. Check your state laws to see if you need to comply. Verify whether asking about a candidate’s past salary is allowed in your state as well.
Step 2: Create Job Description, Post Job Ad & Review Applicants
Including the CDL requirement and other specifications we mentioned above in the job description is crucial to finding a qualified truck driver.
Not only do you need to list the specifics of the job and the skills you’re looking for, but you should include keywords to help truck driver job seekers find your job posting when they search.
Here are some examples:
- Truck driver
- Commercial driver’s license
- The type of truck your company owns and similar models
- Professional driver
After writing your job description, it’s time to create a job ad, post it on a job board, and start fielding applicants. In addition to the basics, make sure your job ad includes at least a few sentences selling your company. Today’s job market is hotter than ever, and truck drivers have many options when looking for employment. What makes your company special? What benefits do you offer? Discuss these details and make sure you’ve done research on your competitors so you know if you’re offering above-industry standard benefits, something that will give you a competitive advantage.
Once you’ve posted your job ad, you should expect to receive applicants on the same day. The more junior your truck driving position, the more applications you will receive. You need to filter through these applications by removing unqualified candidates. While no applicant will be perfect and check off every box, understanding what your must-haves are for this position can help you quickly eliminate unqualified applicants and move forward with those more in line with your requirements.
Step 3: Conduct Interviews
After reviewing the applicants, narrow down the qualified applicants to those you want to interview. Keep this list to a dozen or so—otherwise, you could get overwhelmed and have too many options.
When you have your list of applicants to interview, don’t email them to schedule an interview—call them. Calling candidates gives you the chance to speak with them briefly and gauge their level of interest in the job. It’s also usually faster to schedule interviews over the phone instead of waiting for email responses. Learn more of the best practices to consider in our guide to interviewing applicants.
During the interview process, ask similar questions of each candidate. This ensures that you can evaluate each applicant based on their answers to similar questions, making the process fair. Here are some sample questions you may want to consider:
- Describe your most rewarding professional driving experience.
- Have you been involved in any accidents or breakdowns? Describe what happened.
- When you experience a delay in shipment, how do you handle the situation?
- Have you ever missed a delivery deadline? Why did that happen, and how did you handle the situation?
- How do you make sure you stay focused and alert while driving?
These questions will help spur conversation but also give you a better understanding of the applicant’s experience and critical thinking skills. Truck drivers, especially long-haul drivers, are alone frequently and must make quick decisions in a vacuum. You need to be able to trust your drivers to make the right decisions. Don’t be afraid to use real-world hypotheticals and gauge how the candidates respond in those situations. For a list of more questions you should ask, check out our best interview questions guide.
Step 4: Call References & Run a Background Check
After completing the interview process, you’ll need to narrow down your choices again. This usually happens naturally, as some applicants will stand out above the rest. Try to narrow your candidates down to no more than three. Ideally, you have ranked your options and have a lead candidate.
Ask each candidate at this stage for at least three supervisory references. You want to speak with at least two of them. Speaking with supervisors is important because they can give you insight into how the truck driver performed on the job, as well as alert you to any red flags. Check out our list of the best reference check questions to ask for an idea on how to handle this process.
It’s also vital that you run a background check on the truck driver you want to hire. A background check will reveal whether the driver has any job-related offenses, something that could change your mind about them. Background checks may uncover a truck driver’s past DUI, speeding violations, accidents, and other driving-related issues you want to know before hiring someone to drive your company truck.
Your truck drivers not only represent your business when they’re on the road, but they could get your company into trouble if they cause an accident. For example, if your truck driver is making a delivery, but they were under-the-influence of alcohol and caused a crash, your company could be liable for any injuries to others. It’s absolutely vital that you ensure your truck drivers have a good driving record and that you regularly conduct compliance and safety training.
Before you run a background check, make sure the applicant has signed off on it. The background check company you use will have a template form you can send to have the candidate sign. You can look into our roundup of the best background check companies for some options.
Compliance Tip: Check your state laws. Some states require that companies run background checks after a job offer has been accepted.
Step 5: Make an Offer
Now that you’ve decided which job applicant you want to hire as your next truck driver, it’s time to make an offer. I like to call the candidate first and speak with them, giving them the good news directly. This lets you hear their excitement and gives you both the opportunity to hammer out any final details like salary and start date.
Once those details are finalized, write up a formal offer letter—use our free offer letter template. In the offer letter, make sure to include the job title, job duties, salary, benefits, and the employee’s start date. Send the letter to the applicant and give them at least a few days to review the offer, sign it, and return it to you.
It’s perfectly fine to do all of this electronically too. You can speed up the back-and-forth process by using an online signature platform for both you and the employee to sign the offer letter. Once you’ve received the signed offer letter back from the candidate, you can begin welcoming them to the team.
How to Retain Truck Drivers
Many factors contribute to the high turnover rate of truck drivers. These include safety concerns, health challenges, compensation issues, and a demanding lifestyle, among others. Addressing these issues will help make truck drivers feel valued and develop loyalty, thereby improving employee retention.
Here are some steps you can take to help retain truck drivers:
- Offer competitive compensation: Offer competitive pay that reflects the experience and skill level of your drivers. Regularly review and adjust compensation to ensure it aligns with industry standards and acknowledges their hard work.
Read about different salary compensation tools you can use to determine the best truck driver salary.
- Establish open lines of communication: Regularly update them on company news, policies, and changes that might affect their work. Encourage feedback and address concerns promptly.
- Respect work-life balance: Promote a flexible work schedule to allow for adequate rest time and time with their families. Avoid overloading them with excessively long trips or tight deadlines.
- Offer benefits and perks: Provide a comprehensive benefits package that includes health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and bonuses. Consider offering amenities like comfortable sleeping quarters, entertainment options, and access to fitness facilities for drivers on the road. Check out our guide on creating a benefits package for more details.
- Invest in professional development: Invest in ongoing training and development programs that help drivers enhance their skills and stay up-to-date with industry trends. This not only improves their job satisfaction but also contributes to their long-term success.
- Safety first: Provide thorough workplace safety training and equipment, and ensure drivers have the necessary tools to maintain their well-being on the road. Drivers who feel safe are more likely to stay with your company.
- Offer wellness programs: Introduce wellness initiatives that promote physical and mental health. Offer resources like counseling services, stress management programs, and access to healthy lifestyle resources. Read our list of the best wellness program ideas for some inspiration.
- Conduct regular check-ins: Conduct regular one-on-one meetings to discuss drivers’ concerns, career aspirations, and overall job satisfaction. Address any issues promptly and provide the necessary support.
- Develop a positive work culture: Foster a positive and inclusive company culture that promotes teamwork, respect, and a sense of belonging. Drivers who feel connected to their colleagues and company are more likely to stay engaged.
Hiring Truck Drivers Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The best places to find truck drivers are online job boards, specialized trucking forums, and industry events. You can also find and hire truck drivers using an employee referral program or social media.
To attract truck drivers to apply for your company, offer competitive pay, set clear job expectations, offer benefits like flexible schedules and sign-on bonuses, and emphasize a positive work culture.
Retaining truck drivers can be challenging due to factors like long hours and time away from home. Implement driver-friendly policies, provide ongoing training, and prioritize open communication to enhance retention.
Finding qualified truck drivers involves using targeted job ads, partnering with reputable driving schools, conducting thorough interviews, and assessing driving records and experience.
Hiring a truck driver has nuances you don’t encounter in most other jobs, like needing a clean driving record. However, by following a clear and structured process, you can ensure you make the right hiring decision.