Webinar Q&A: Transport Topics: Modern Recruiting in a Driver Shortage

Did you have a chance to attend our recent Transport Topics' sponsored webinar last week, "Modern Recruiting in a Driver Shortage"? We received more questions than we had time to answer in the allotted timeframe, so we've answered them below.  

Jeremy Reymer, Founder & CEO of DriverReach and presenter on the webinar, answers each of the questions we received in this Q&A-style blog post. Whether or not you were able to attend, these recruiting and compliance questions are applicable to any CDL driver recruiter.

Question: Can we get a copy of the slides from the webinar?

Answer: The webinar is now available on-demand and can be viewed in its entirety by clicking here

Question: What should be the average page count for an application?

Answer: If our focus is to improve the driver applicant experience, then we should make it as easy as possible for drivers to apply. We should limit the questions asked to only those which are specifically mandated by the DOT.

That being said, a DOT application can be a lengthy form - especially when we are requiring, in addition to all their personal information, all the previous employment information, releases, acknowledgments, and a signature.

One advantage of a mobile-friendly DOT application like DriverReach is that it’s optimized to be as simple and efficient as possible. Most drivers can complete it from their smartphone within a handful of minutes. In addition to that, once a driver completes it for the first time, it will auto-populate for them theraftewards.

Question: Applicants have problems remembering 3 years of work history - is there some sort of requirement drivers have to provide 10 years of history?

Answer: Regulations around the collection of previous employment information on the DOT application can be found in §391.21 Application for employment, specifically:
(10)(i) A list of the names and addresses of the applicant's employers during the 3 years preceding the date the application is submitted,
(ii) The dates he or she was employed by that employer,
(iii) The reason for leaving the employ of that employer,
(iv) After October 29, 2004, whether the (A) Applicant was subject to the FMCSRs while employed by that previous employer,
(B) Job was designated as a safety sensitive function in any DOT regulated mode subject to alcohol and controlled substances testing requirements as required by 49 CFR part 40;
(11) For those drivers applying to operate a commercial motor vehicle as defined by part 383 of this subchapter, a list of the names and addresses of the applicant's employers during the 7-year period preceding the 3 years contained in paragraph (b)(10) of this section for which the applicant was an operator of a commercial motor vehicle, together with the dates of employment and the reasons for leaving such employment; and

The regulations regarding verifying that previous employment history can be found in §391.23  Investigation and inquiries, specifically:
(2) An investigation of the driver's safety performance history with Department of Transportation regulated employers during the preceding three years.

There is no other reference to requiring employment verifications beyond three years.

Companies who choose to verify employment beyond the most recent 3 years are doing that according to their own company policy. I won’t suggest that there isn’t merit to that policy, but it will certainly delay the ability to hire and qualify drivers according to DOT standards and requirements.

Question: We use another vendor and the driver can not sign the releases needed to start a background check. Is there another way to move forward if a driver just fills out your application by phone?

Answer: Ideally you will want to use a mobile-friendly DOT application that includes the necessary releases so you can begin performing background checks immediately. Once a driver completes a DriverReach application, the previous employment verification requests are automatically sent out in order to expedite the most cumbersome part of the qualification process.

In the instance the DOT application is completed by a recruiter on behalf of the driver, DriverReach allows the recruiter to email or text a link to the partially completed DOT application so the driver can officially sign it. The ability to perform background checks is unavailable if the driver has not signed the DOT application.   

Question: If you already have an ATS system, what would be a good CRM system to work with my ATS?

Answer: The key is integration. Ideally you’d want a CRM platform that integrates with your ATS system. The advantages include removing duplicative data entry as well as data entry errors. Plus, there are a lot of efficiency gains when everything can be viewed and managed in one system.

DriverReach’s platform incorporates both ATS + CRM functionality to give a seamless experience to both the driver applicant and the hiring company.

Question: What ATS do you recommend?

Answer: Full disclosure, I’m biased: I believe DriverReach is the most innovative and progressive ATS available in the trucking industry today. Not only does it include full CRM functionality (email, texting, tasks, notes, etc.), but it also automatically sends previous employment verification requests as soon as a driver submits a DOT application. We recognize this is the most cumbersome part of the qualification process. Our ultimate goal is to reduce the time it takes to qualify CDL drivers so you can Hire. Better. Faster.

Question: What can you do to reach drivers in small, low-population towns?

Answer: Aside from the fact that it can be more difficult to recruit in a town with a small population, there are a few things that can be done to improve your success.  With a smaller, finite pool to work with, it’s important to build a database of candidates as large as possible. One way to expand that database includes reaching out to those who may not have a trucking past, but could be interested in a trucking future. In addition, your level of engagement will need to be more constant. A candidate who isn’t the right hire today, may be tomorrow. You can also develop a database of candidates who are open to relocation, so when a position opens up, you already have leads.

From a marketing perspective, a combination of targeted social media and driver referrals can be very rewarding.

Question:  How long/many times do you think we should continue to try to contact a lead?  At what point do you think we should say that they are not interested?

Answer: I recommend you always continue to try to contact a lead. That being said, the way you do it will change if the applicant is non-responsive. For example, when you first receive a lead, I recommend an immediate phone call. If a voicemail is left, then follow that up with a text message asking what time they’re available to talk. With a combination of voicemail and a text, you’ll be surprised at the success you have actually making contact with the driver.

If you never get a reply, you might try a combination of calls, emails, and texts for a few more days. If there’s still a lack of response, you can place that applicant into a drip campaign that continues to send a string of periodic emails and/or texts. You can monitor engagement in those drip campaigns to see if a driver has opened and/or clicked on any links in the message. If so, you should consider re-engaging in a more direct approach (phone or text) since that lead may have recently become more “warm”.

Question:  Do you suggest posting CSA BASIC scores on our website?  And put good turnover numbers there, too?

Answer: It’s important to tell your story in order to separate yourself from everyone else. If that includes a great safety culture with great CSA scores, or if it includes low turnover because drivers feel appreciated and sufficiently rewarded, then those should be used as a way to attract more drivers who are searching for that type of company.

Whatever differentiators you can identify that shed light on why you are a better company to work for, those are what you should highlight on your website and in your recruitment marketing.

Question: Instead of giving a cent per mile quote to the driver, a recruiter should be giving a base amount before taxes instead?

Answer: It’s common to communicate a driver’s pay in terms of CPM; however, that doesn’t give them enough context. It is more relevant to communicate what they can expect to make on a weekly basis.

I referenced in the webinar that a great way to remove a driver’s concerns about potential week-to-week fluctuations in pay is to offer a “minimum pay guarantee”. That way a driver knows he will never earn less than “x” each week. Likely the driver will earn much more than that, but a minimum pay guarantee puts a floor in that fluctuation and offers stabilization.

Question:  Let's say we get an inbound application from BestDriver.com, which has a statement at the bottom that says we can run a PSP/MVR and past employment verifications. Do we need a signature for us to start verifications?

Answer: In short, YES.  In order to properly comply with regulations surrounding background investigations, the driver must sign and date an application that includes the following certification and signature line (refer to §391.21 Application for employment (12)):
This certifies that this application was completed by me, and that all entries on it and information in it are true and complete to the best of my knowledge.(Date)
(Applicant's signature)

In addition to that, regulations in the same section (§391.21) also state:
(d) Before an application is submitted, the motor carrier must inform the applicant that the information he/she provides in accordance with paragraph (b)(10) of this section may be used, and the applicant's previous employers will be contacted, for the purpose of investigating the applicant's safety performance history information as required by paragraphs (d) and (e) of §391.23. The prospective employer must also notify the driver in writing of his/her due process rights as specified in §391.23(i) regarding information received as a result of these investigations.

The act of verifying that previous employment history includes the need to provide the driver’s consent. See §391.23 Investigation and inquiries (f)(1): A prospective motor carrier employer must provide to the previous employer the driver's consent meeting the requirements of §40.321(b) of this title for the release of the information in paragraph (e) of this section. If the driver refuses to provide this consent, the prospective motor carrier employer must not permit the driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle for that motor carrier.

Question: What recruiting sources do you recommend? Radio, billboards, etc?

Answer: As mentioned in the webinar, the answer to this question 1-2 years ago may not be the same as today, and may not be the same in 1-2 years from now. What’s critical, though, no matter what source/s you are using, is that each source must be tracked and measured. This way you can let the data speak for itself. DriverReach allows you to track and measure the success of each recruiting source. With this visibility in a variety of reports, you’re able to make better decisions with your advertising and marketing budget.

Question: From your standpoint, does having multiple parts to an application (i.e. Part I, Part II) discourage applicants?

Answer: The DOT application is a lengthier application than most. That being said, it’s still necessary. However, one tactic to get more leads into the top of the funnel is to encourage drivers to first complete a “short form”. This allows you to determine interest before asking them to complete the more involved DOT application.

The easier we make it for drivers, focusing on their “applicant experience”, the more success we’ll have. We’ve got to ensure that the application they do end up completing is as easy to complete as possible.

Question: What is an effective CRM in your opinion?

Answer: The most effective CRM is going to be one that is integrated in other systems you are already using.  The more you can operate in one system, the more efficient you will be. From a CRM standpoint, the most important factor, assuming you have all the basic functionality of a standard CRM, is the ease of use. If it is difficult to navigate or understand, it will be underutilized.

Question: What is your thought on offering a sign on bonus and how should the payout be 1 year, 2 year, etc.?

Answer: Personally, I’m not a big fan of sign-on bonuses. I understand why we utilize them, but the unintended consequence usually includes increased turnover as drivers leave for the next big sign-on bonus.

I am, however, in favor of a Referral Bonus program for your existing drivers. A good referral program is one of the best ways to amplify your recruiting efforts. It’s important that drivers who are engaged and actively referring other drivers be rewarded promptly and not be subject to the referred driver working for a specific period of time.

Question: What is a good policy on felonies? Our company is 7yrs from the release date, but we lose a lot of drivers due to the policy.

Answer: Because of the potential for discrimination, there are increasing states, counties, and even cities (over 180 so far) adopting ‘ban the box’ legislation. This legislation limits what employers can ask candidates regarding their criminal history on a job application. You can find more information on this topic in DriverReach’s recent Ban the Box blog (Part 1).

The mandate doesn’t remove the ability to ask that question later, but in almost all cases it is subject to a conditional job offer. You can find more information on what constitutes a conditional job offer, and what should be done afterwards, on DriverReach’s recent Ban the Box blog (Part 2).

The logic behind these laws stems from the notion that employers should consider how all candidates meet the qualifications for the jobs prior to considering criminal record information. There are many trucking companies that still have a question on their application inquiring about applicants’ criminal histories despite the growing ‘ban the box’ momentum. In most cases, it’s simply a legacy question that hasn’t been removed yet.

DriverReach has removed the criminal history question from our mobile-friendly DOT application. It is still available to be asked once a conditional job offer has been made, but it was removed to ensure companies aren’t exposed to any unlawful hiring practices centered around these ‘ban the box’ laws.

There are certain criminal activities that preclude employment in the trucking industry, however. Stay tuned for an upcoming DriverReach blog that specifically spells out what they are and when they can be asked.

DriverReach will also host a webinar in October on all topics related to ‘ban the box’ legislation in the trucking industry. Expect to see an email invitation to that webinar soon.

Question: We have a very low response rate on background/verification requests. How many attempts should we document?

Answer: Safety and Compliance circles in the trucking world generally suggest making three documented “good faith” attempts. However, that really is a choice based on the carrier’s policy towards due diligence. There is no guidance on how many attempts should be made. The regulations that do speak to the area around background / verification requests, §391.23 (Investigation and inquiries) are referenced below:
(c)(1) Replies to the investigations of the driver's safety performance history required by paragraph (a)(2) of this section, or documentation of good faith efforts to obtain the investigation data, must be placed in the driver investigation history file, after October 29, 2004, within 30 days of the date the driver's employment begins. Any period of time required to exercise the driver's due process rights to review the information received, request a previous employer to correct or include a rebuttal, is separate and apart from this 30-day requirement to document investigation of the driver safety performance history data.

(2) The investigation may consist of personal interviews, telephone interviews, letters, or any other method for investigating that the carrier deems appropriate. Each motor carrier must make a written record with respect to each previous employer contacted, or good faith efforts to do so. The record must include the previous employer's name and address, the date the previous employer was contacted, or the attempts made, and the information received about the driver from the previous employer. Failures to contact a previous employer, or of them to provide the required safety performance history information, must be documented. The record must be maintained pursuant to §391.53.

Previous employers have an obligation to respond (albeit within 30 days). If you don’t receive a response, §391.23 refers to that issue, as well:
(3) Prospective employers should report failures of previous employers to respond to an investigation to the FMCSA and use the complaint procedures specified at §386.12 of this subchapter. Keep a copy of the reports in the driver investigation history file as part of documenting a good faith effort to obtain the required information.

Lastly, if the driver didn’t work for a DOT-regulated employer during the preceding three years, §391.23 offers this exception:
(4) Exception. For drivers with no previous employment experience working for a DOT-regulated employer during the preceding three years, documentation that no investigation was possible must be placed in the driver investigation history file, after October 29, 2004, within the required 30 days of the date the driver's employment begins.

I am, however, in favor of a Referral Bonus program for your existing drivers. A good referral program is one of the best ways to amplify your recruiting efforts. It’s important that drivers who are engaged and actively referring other drivers be rewarded promptly and not be subject to the referred driver working for a specific period of time.

Question: What mobile system would you recommend to gather all the documents necessary to qualify potential drivers and what documents do you require?

Answer: Once again, full disclosure, I’m biased: I believe DriverReach is the best mobile system that enables you to collect all the necessary DOT application related documents as efficiently as possible. The applicant tracking system (ATS) makes it easy for you to perform the necessary background verifications in order to properly qualify a driver and make a hiring decision as quickly as possible. Speed-to-hire is critical. As mentioned before, DriverReach’s ultimate goal is to help companies reduce the time it takes to qualify CDL drivers so you can Hire. Better. Faster.

Question: What is considered a good CSA Score?

Answer: FMCSA has done a great job of providing relevant CSA content on their website. Just about every possible CSA-related question can be answered by visiting here.  

Stay tuned for more upcoming webinars, as well as other important recruiting and retention related topics from DriverReach's blog.  


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