There comes a point in every trucker’s career when it’s time to move up to a better trucking company. The reasons can be as varied as each driver’s needs and wants: better pay, better loads, more home time, etc. Choosing the right carrier is very similar to looking for a wife—there’s only one person capable of making that decision in either case, and that’s the trucker themself.
Imagine asking another person (even your best friend) if a particular woman or man is the one you should be with for eternity. This seems ridiculous, but many truck drivers will ask perfect strangers, “Do you think I should lease on to or go to work for XYZ trucking?” Now that individual may be familiar with the carrier, but what’s the likelihood he or she knows you intimately enough to make that kind of decision? The only person who can truly determine whether or not you should work for a particular trucking company is YOU!
So, what’s the best means by which to find that “perfect” trucking company? The answer is simple, investigate it. Know it from top to bottom and inside out. Researching a company will give you the detailed insight you need to make sure that you are making the right choice to start your career.
Remember, it’s human nature (whether you’re a trucker looking for a carrier or a recruiter needing to fill driving positions) to give answers that each thinks the other person wants to hear. For the trucker, it’s about wanting a better driving position so bad he’ll hear what he wants to hear or say what he thinks the recruiter wants to hear. From the recruiter’s perspective, he needs to find quality drivers to fill the orders that are constantly coming in. Moreover, if you fit the quality trucker profile for which he’s searching, with the deficit of available truckers, human nature will make the recruiter do everything in his or her power to land you as a driver. The mindset of both the driver and the recruiter creates an environment where important information is missed or glanced over with neither party being aware it even happened.
In the midst of the excitement that is hiring truck drivers, there are ways to get all of the information you require to make the decision that will keep you driving for this carrier for many years to come.
Step One: Making the preparations for the first interview with the recruiter.
- Have your questions in hand, listed on a sheet of paper with space to place the answers the recruiter provides you.
- Learn as much as you can know about the carrier before you ever talk to the recruiter. With today’s internet and a Google news search of the carrier’s name, along with the CSA Safety Measurement System (SMS) website (http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/sms/) you can have a good idea about the size, type of hauling, region, and safety history of the carrier.
- Be prepared to ask open-ended (not yes and no) questions and then listen and write down the answers. From answers you receive, you’ll develop other important questions. But even more important, by writing down the answers, it helps you hear more details and gives you something to review after the interview. It also gives you a point of reference to make sure you heard the answer correctly, not just what you wanted to hear. Don’t be afraid to ask the recruiter to repeat his/her answer if you didn’t understand or if you want to verify you wrote it down correctly.
- Make sure you look like a trucking business-person. This does not require a three-piece business suit, but dress in a fashion that indicates you take the job and trucking seriously. This generally means dressing comfortably, but appropriate.
- Don’t rush the interview process. Take your time, making sure you asked all your questions and received answers that you understand.
Step Two: Some things to remember before, during, and after each interview.
- As the driver of a truck, you become the trucking company’s manager of that truck. They will want to make sure that you are professional and responsible enough to represent the company both on the road and with customers.
- Always be prepared to politely say ‘no’ and walk away if the information about the company doesn’t meet your needs. It’s much simpler and less financially painful to walk before you’ve signed on the dotted line. Remember, there are always jobs available in trucking so there is no need to rush into a job that does not meet your criteria.
- Keep in mind that you have the skills and talent they desperately need. How you conduct your investigation and subsequent interviews will decide if you get to be the one in the driver’s seat.
- If there is a special condition mentioned in the interview and it’s important to your decision to work for the company, make sure you get it in writing with the recruiter’s initials and your initials next to it. This is much more official and much less frustrating than getting in a “he said, she said” argument over an important aspect of the job.
- Don’t commit to joining a company until you’ve had the opportunity to review the answers the recruiter has provided. Remember, trucking companies always need qualified drivers, so there is no need to jump the gun and make a decision immediately. Take your time to think on the decision considering it is a major life decision.
- Make sure you understand what is expected of you and what the trucking company is going to provide you. By both sides understanding what the other is going to do, there is no chance that either side will be disappointed.
Remember, taking the time to ask the right questions, understand the recruiter’s answers, and then review and compare them to the answers of recruiters from other trucking companies will lead you to a better decision in choosing the motor carrier that’s right for you.
Choosing a carrier can be either a very good decision or it can be your worst nightmare. The actual results will really depend on how well you do your homework, and what questions you ask once you are sitting in front of a recruiter. Just remember, if the grass seems greener on the other side, just make sure it isn’t greener because of the manure you have to walk through to get there.