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Hard data on how the pandemic has reshaped driver recruiting – Taking the Hire Road

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Justin Reed, manager of DOT strategic services for Hire Right, joins this week’s episode of Taking the Hire Road to share the hard data on driver recruiting in the pandemic era with host Jeremy Reymer, founder and CEO of DriverReach.

Recruiting has been a top priority for quite a while because of the industry’s aging workforce but also because of the pandemic. COVID-19 has choked the amount of drivers able to be trained and receive their licenses while also driving many of its older segment out of the industry altogether.

Reed presented findings on a number of age-related statistics, describing how the workforce is aging at a rate faster than what can be replenished.

He said that 57% of today’s drivers are over 45 years of age and that 10% of the driver base is already past the age of retirement. What’s more, his research found that 25% of the entire current driver force will retire within the next 10 years.

What concerns Reed even more is that the pipeline of new drivers entering the workforce is slowing. Surveying driver schools, he found that there was a 40% reduction in certification of new drivers last year most likely because of the pandemic, He’s awaiting this year’s data to see if the schools have rebounded.

He said he wants to learn more about where last year’s potential trucker students would’ve ended up.

“Where are these people finding employment?” Reed asked. “Were they going to be a driver or if they would have gone to a driver’s certification school and chose not to, where have they gone? What is our chief competition for talent at this point?”

Reed said that it takes around nine driver job postings to capture one hire. Meanwhile, a warehousing job, oftentimes recruiting the same talent, gains around two hires for every job posting. 

Another thing that may or may not have steered a few candidates away from trucking was the launch of the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse. Reed noted that 46,000 drivers were in violation in this year alone. However, Reed believes its implementation to overall be a net positive for the industry.

Many recruiters assume they can retain talent longer by offering more money. In fact, Reed said that 56% of respondents from a HireRight survey declared that they were increasing pay to increase retention. At the same time, 58% of drivers who leave their organizations upon their exit interviews indicated that they were leaving to seek more money.

“We’re upping the money to get retention,” Reed said. “People are going out the door saying, ‘I want more money.’ But this seems like a cycle that would be tough to continue because you can only increase pay to a certain extent.”

Reed also shared some interesting insights on the effectiveness of social media influencers. Current and former drivers have taken to media platforms like YouTube to voice their opinions and reveal the realities of their jobs, often showing things recruiters would be unlikely to show.

He cited a HireRight benchmarking report that found that influencers have on average 561% more engagement on content regarding their company than the company’s own marketing campaigns. In addition, social media stars have around 10 times as many followers than the trucking companies themselves.

Although the opinions of these truckers should be taken with a grain of salt, Reed acknowledged that it’s smart to keep tabs on what the influencers are saying and that this tell-all style of documentation is nudging motor carriers to remain honest.

Trucking companies are free to influence what the influencers say, but Reed said that wouldn’t be a smart move on behalf of the influencer themselves, as it’s the organic truthfulness of their content that gains them followers, not the company they work for.

“The only way you can really make an influencer benefit your organization is to be what you actually claim to be and make sure you know what that is,” Reed said.

About our sponsor

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More from Taking the Hire Road:

Keeping drivers in the GreenZone

The economics of trucking during a pandemic

From driver wellness to recruiter fatigue, focusing on health matters

Jack Glenn

Jack Glenn is a sponsored content writer for FreightWaves and lives in Chattanooga, TN with his golden retriever, Beau. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business.