How To Land A Job In The Trucking Industry

By: US Xpress, Inc

Chattanooga, TN ? At most companies, fully 15%-20% of the drivers who show up for orientation get disqualified. Why is that number so large? Carriers spend thousands of dollars a year to attract drivers. Driver demand is currently high. The miles and jobs are out there, so there has to be an explanation.

Although most drivers won?t want to hear it, the problem is most often a lack of preparation. Every company wants to hire new drivers. Their recruiting departments exist for exactly that reason. A company that has invested the time it takes to get you to orientation wants to bring you on board. They are just as disappointed as you if they have to send you home. So what can you do to make sure you leave orientation in a company truck instead of heading to the bus station for the long ride home?

Getting hired starts with a phone call to a recruiter. Most drivers speak with more than one recruiter and so they hear a lot of different information. It?s really important to take notes so you can remember exactly who told you what.

During your recruitment phone calls, it?s critical that you be 100% honest. Tell the recruiter your work history background for the last three years. If you have been a professional driver for the past 10 years, you will also be required to provide information about these driving positions for this time period. Have the names and addresses of everyone you?ve worked for. Be prepared for this question, not only will you have to tell the recruiter, you will have to fill it out on your application when you show up for orientation. Companies you?ve worked for in the past may be out of business now. Bring W2s, DOT numbers, letters from the safety department, or reference letters. Recruiters need plenty of proof to certify your work history.

Basically, you can?t have too much documentation. The more you have, the faster your application process goes. Build your briefcase as you go, filling it with names, addresses, reference letters, and your own copy of your driving record.

Part of the hiring process is a background check. Homeland Security regulations require it. Companies will see your Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) from every state in which you have held a license. Companies will also see your DAC report which reveals previous driving jobs along with accidents or other problems with former employers. Criminal records will also be checked and compared with your application. You may consider something an incident, not an accident, but you must mention it anyway. If it happened in the last three years, any potential employer is going to need to know about it and will probably want to see an accident report. It is a good idea to always keep a copy of any ticket or accident report. Remember, driving is your livelihood, so keeping copies of these reports will aid in a quicker background check and hiring process.

Honesty gives you a chance of being hired. If you are less than completely honest, most companies will disqualify you immediately and you won?t have any chance of staying.

This next tip will sound basic, but you wouldn?t believe how many drivers arrive at orientation with a CDL expiration date that has already passed or will expire within the next few weeks. Yours must be current and must match your current home address. No excuses! In addition, the name on your Social Security card must match the name on your driver?s license exactly. Having a different married name or a Jr. can cause confusion. Have your card available and make sure all information matches.

If you?ve been in the military, bring your DD214, so the recruiter can see that you have an honorable discharge. If you have had any periods of unemployment, bring names and numbers of solid references the recruiter can call and get a hold of during your orientation. Daytime telephone numbers are required. A notarized letter is the best way to account for time in between jobs.

Recruiters know that not everyone is in perfect physical health. If you?ve had surgeries, medical issues, accidents or if you are on prescription medications, you are going to be required to show a doctor?s release. This release needs to specifically mention that you are cleared for tractor-trailer driving with no restrictions.

The long and short of it is being prepared like a boy scout. Bring all your information to orientation so you don?t have to start calling home and searching frantically for references. If you show up without all the above documentation, you will probably be sent back home. Being unprepared will only delay you getting out on the road and earning money. Recruitment delays cost carriers a lot of money in time and staffing resources. That?s money that could be used to give drivers better pay.

Once you arrive at orientation, you must be prepared to take a road test, pass a DOT physical, and take a drug test. Plan on orientation lasting between one and three days. Arrive like you plan to be hired. That means heading straight out on the road for a week or two. Remember that freight doesn?t go to your house. Freight goes from a shipper to a receiver. If orientation turns out right, you won?t go straight home.

Besides being honest, and being prepared, the other important factor in being hired is attitude. Orientation is three days long. It?s not a party. It?s the time to learn how to do the job so you can maximize your potential for earning. You have to be alert. Showing up late is bad form. Go in with the attitude that this is your career and you are anxious to make the most of it. A smile makes all the difference in the world. Being friendly and positive will help you get the most out of orientation.

Gary Kelley, Vice President of Recruiting for U.S. Xpress, offers this incentive for drivers to get themselves together before orientation. ?A prepared driver flies through orientation and will be the first one in a truck. Others will still be fumbling with documents while you are out on the road.?

Mr. Kelley, who has recruited thousands of drivers throughout his career, adds ?If you come to work for U.S. Xpress, and stay for the rest of your career, you?ll never have to go through this process again!?

And why would you want to? The U.S. Xpress fleet consists of more than 5,600 company-owned and independent contractor trucks running throughout the contiguous 48 states. If you are a company driver or independent contractor interested in one of the many fine opportunities available with U.S. Xpress, call them at 1-800-830-3834, or visit their website and apply on-line at www.xpressdrivers.com.