We’ve all heard many unhappy stories of how some recruiter at XYZ Trucking promised so-and-so the moon and stars but really pulled a fast one on the driver. Maybe things got so bad that the trucker just quit and went home, swearing never to drive again. It’s like the wry comment about Navy recruiters which was making the rounds years ago – “The reason the recruiter pats you on the back as you meet him is to feel for the best place to stick the knife in.”
But there has to be a better way for two business people to meet and make a decision whether you want to go with the motor carrier he or she represents – or not. And that’s the first thing to always keep in mind: It IS your decision. You can sign or not sign that contract on the basis of what you’ve learned during your interviews, or a toss of a coin from your pocket, or just because you like the drivers’ lounge. The decision is always, ultimately, with you. However, making a decision that important isn’t a frivolous or impulsive move with you. You’re an adult, with work experience (whether or not it’s in trucking so far) and you deserve the carrier that’s going to fit your lifestyle.
Here are a few quick tips to help you with those extremely important interviews – and that big decision.
- Get serious with yourself and ask some questions – are you leaving your present carrier because you can’t stand another driver? Is the dispatcher giving you a hard time? Is there another dispatcher that you could get assigned to? Does the carrier have another office somewhere else that you could transfer to and get out of the office where you’re presently headquartered? Changing carriers always means losing money, at least at first. You’re going to have to play catch-up with bills and obligations until you can get your money stream flowing again. Sit down in a quiet spot and cool off before you jump.
- Do a little research on the motor carrier before you walk into that office. If you’ve talked to a couple of other drivers, and looked at the company’s website, then you should have a good idea of what freight they run, how long their drivers stay out, and how large the company really is. But don’t stop there. Do a little digging, and research (read that ‘Google’) whether the carrier’s been in the news lately, and why. Check customers’ comments, if you can find them.
- Always, always have a list of questions to present to the recruiter when you first enter the office door. (If you can’t think of any, well, you’re not really ready to change carriers. You need to read a bunch of Tim Brady’s columns and get those questions together.)
- Give an honest presentation of yourself when you come in too. If you generally run with three days’ growth of beard and don’t bother to wash your jeans or shirt all that often, you may as well not get ‘dressed up’ for the interview either. But frankly, any company recruiter who doesn’t send you packing after one look – isn’t working for a carrier for which you want to drive.
- Have your paperwork in order. If you were cited for a traffic violation, but it was dismissed in court, have those documents handy. If yo want to surprise the recruiter, and get a little psychological edge on him, carry copies of your paperwork with you in a folder.
- Don’t let the recruiter rush you. Even if you’ve got a mortgage payment due and groceries to buy, at least give the appearance of taking your time to gather information before you make your decision.
- Have at least two interviews and a day or two to think things through before you sign that new contract. The recruiter’s a business person, just like you are. Business people don’t make major decisions on the spur of the moment, and you shouldn’t allow yourself to be crowded into making one prematurely either. If necessary, remind the recruiter that you’re making a career change here, not just switching the name on the cab door. You’ve got future plans and intend to stay for years at the motor carrier you select.
And then, give yourself a genuine pat on the back as you sign that new contract. You did your homework, chose carefully, and now you’re launching yourself upward into a better position. Congratulations. You’ve earned it.