Webinar Q&A Part I: Driver Recruiting Today: Why Is It So Hard?

Did you have a chance to attend our recent webinar, "Driver Recruiting Today: Why Is It So Hard?" We received more questions than we had time to answer in the allotted time frame, so Jeremy Reymer, Wendy Bartz, and Priscilla Peters, our presenters, answered them below in this Q&A-style blog post.

If you weren’t able to join the live webinar, don’t worry – you can watch it on-demand anytime!

Question: Do you think that OTR is not paying enough or the miles are not there yet, which would push drivers to a local position? Or do you think they are okay with taking a pay cut as a result of the pandemic?

Answer: Currently, drivers are looking to be home more due to the pandemic. Several local positions are now paying very close to the same pay as being OTR. Depending on their home situation, kids/virtual learning, is encouraging this local mindset. In some cases, staying on unemployment versus going OTR isn’t painful enough financially for the driver to want to go back to work.

Question: Do you feel that offering an hourly rate over a per mile rate would make a difference in driver interest?

Answer: Yes. They want to get paid for everything they do and have more stability in their weekly pay check. Know what I’m going to get paid and when. That’s been an ongoing discussion for years, and resurfaces as the demand for drivers increases.

Question: I am a local company and we are having a hard time securing drivers because of the pay perspective. Would you suggest us paying more as well?

Answer: My suggestion is you review your overall marketing strategy and driver pay with the local competition in your area. Check in with an industry expert to get some advice. (I would love to talk to you and see how I can help! wbartz@driverreach.com)

Question: Do you think some of the drivers are choosing not to work because they can make more money with unemployment?

Answer: Yes there is a group of drivers who are going to stay on unemployment until the additional funds run out.

Question: We're offering home nightly/local and paying top of the market. We still have very low interest! What gives?

Answer: I would challenge your team to do a complete review of the market(s) you’re trying to hire in, and ask the team: Is our pay competitive? Are we investing in enough marketing to get in front of the target market? Are our job descriptions telling the correct/true story of the position? Review your recruiting and hiring process from the driver’s standpoint - take the entire journey that a prospect would take and then fill in the gaps. This should be a good start.

Question: How can we compete since local does not pay as well as OTR? Local freight rates and loads are limited.

Answer: Focus on where you do stand out - home time and being able to be home with family during these unprecedented times might outweigh pay for some drivers right now.

Question: Will Hair Testing deter potential new driver candidates – especially in the younger group?

Any new driver entrant will be subject to a pre-employment drug test. Whether that test is a urinalysis or a hair test is less important. That being said, it’s proven that hair tests have a significantly higher rate of detection. I expect there are some veteran drivers who have been able to skirt urine detection for years, who may want to reconsider their profession if / when hair tests become reportable to the Clearinghouse. 

Question: What are your thoughts on the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse having a negative impact on drivers "moving" in the industry?

Answer: There may be a minimal impact on driver turnover due to the Clearinghouse, but I wouldn’t think too much about it. At least, I don’t think it would be because they may be a drug user and don’t want to risk detection (they have that same risk staying put and being subject to random tests). More importantly, the Clearinghouse (driver registration and authorizing a full query) has become a barrier in the hiring process. That is where I think it could have a negative impact on drivers moving in the industry.

Question: Have more local jobs become available in the industry due to the pandemic? Maybe before, drivers didn't think enough local jobs existed.

Answer: There aren't more local jobs available, just more drivers looking for local positions.

Statement: I have students graduating every Friday and all of them want local and they will wait 2/3 weeks/months until they find one.

Response: This should be a concern for carriers who are hiring over-the-road drivers. If the talent we have coming into the market is willing to wait for a local position, we need to do a better job of selling the OTR job to drivers as an industry. We need to determine if this is largely ‘Covid-related’ or a bigger shift among new entrants. If it’s the former, it will pass. If it’s the latter, there will need to be a major restructuring of our freight system.

Question: As you see other industries and trades coming back do you predict an even bigger exit from drivers from the industry?

Answer: This could be an additional challenge we face. As housing starts continue to rise and the construction industry begins to boom again, as an industry we can’t ignore the threats that will pose to our talent pool. 

Question: How are carriers keeping their recruiters motivated in this challenging environment?

Answer: I have seen where recruiting leaders are offering their teams flexible hours, additional incentives and financial bonuses, and even giving away large rewards and prizes for top recruiters. It’s important to foster a culture of teamwork and cooperation, keeping morale high.

Question: What impact could the upcoming election have on having drivers stay at current employment or seeking work?

Answer: I don’t think the election itself is a factor; however, how the market behaves as a result of the election could become an issue. If, for example, a steep recession sets in, that will certainly have an impact that could last for multiple years. I’m reminded of that time in 2008-2009 when companies were shuttered and many drivers were looking for gainful employment. People want some sense of certainty. If they don’t feel good about the economy, they’re less likely to seek something new.

Question: We have struggled filling our local positions even. Do you think Amazon and/or DoorDash have become the main issue?

Answer: I think it’s a combination of multiple factors - unemployment benefits are still keeping some folks from looking for employment, these delivery services for sure are playing a role, and also I think competition for CDL holders right now is so fierce, companies are having to do more to get their name in front of potential drivers. We also believe that many drivers have left the industry this year, while new entrants are a fraction of what they are in a normal year. Add to that 35,000+ drivers eliminated from the pool due to drug/alcohol test failures. All of these factors are contributing to the environment we’re in.

Question: How do you think the quality of applicants has changed since the start of the year? Commitment levels as well?

Answer: When freight/miles are strong your “cream of the crop” drivers stay where they are and run miles. They know now is the time to get more miles and more pay. Changing jobs during this will cause them to lose a few months of productivity. 

Question: What about the impact of autonomous trucks? We have a large trucking community on Facebook ( about 120,000 followers and members), they are terrified that in the near future, self-driving trucks will put them out of business. They say that they would rather quit now before "robots" and AI will replace them. They are actively looking for new jobs.

Answer: As an industry, we’re going to have to navigate this topic well with drivers. It will be important to note that truck drivers will always be essential - the job might “look” different, but we will always need drivers. This new technology could be compelling for younger generations considering joining the industry. It could be a great enhancement to their driving experience.

Stay up to date on CDL trucking trends! Be sure to check out the DriverReach blog for other relevant articles and head over to our webinars page for an up-to-date list of upcoming events and on-demand recordings.

Interested in seeing DriverReach’s modern Recruiting and Compliance Management System in action? Request a demo!


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