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Three Lessons From MATS For Truck Driver Recruiting

Image courtesy truckingshow.com

Recruiting is still about establishing relationships, and the most effective recruiting combines new solutions with old truths.

My yearly experience at MATS always confirms something I’ve said about the trucking business for about two decades now: There’s no industry or profession where people are more consistently, and genuinely, friendly. Which leads to my first, and most important, point:

1) Being Friendly Is Not Enough.
I know that sounds obvious to folks who’ve seen longtime drivers switch companies for what amounts to a few extra bucks a week. But my point is this: When you’re competing against organizations whose people are every bit as friendly and persuasive as yours, your brand is all you have to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Let’s put it this way: If I’m being perfectly honest, there really is little difference between Coke and Pepsi. So why would the typical self-respecting Southerner (like myself) take a bullet before serving Pepsi at a party? Because it’s not Coke. That’s the power of branding. And from the look of most booth displays and marketing materials I see at MATS, very few trucking companies fully understand the power that a well-defined brand (and brand message) can have in recruiting.

2) Technology Is Not Always The Answer.
There’s a reason the leading publishing companies have embraced online marketing as an extension of their traditional print magazines: It works. And its effectiveness is only going to grow as time passes. The same goes for social media—which, if some pundits are to believed, could ultimately become the single most powerful medium for effective recruiting.

Yes, PPC search-marketing, job boards, click-through banners and social media can be extremely effective tactics for attracting good candidates. But those tactics rarely ever close a deal for you. That takes person-to-person contact. Somebody on the phone speaking the same language as a driver—and asking for the sale.

Again, that seems like a pretty obvious point. So how do you explain recruiting departments who deal with incoming calls by directing drivers to their online application forms. “Why in the world,” a longtime veteran once asked me, “would you send someone to a website, when you have them on the phone?

3) Recruiters Need To Be Recruiting.
After all, recruiting is what recruiters do best. So why are so many recruiters spending large chunks of their valuable time creating and managing their ad campaigns? “It costs less.” A claim to which I would responded, “Yep, and it costs less to buy fabric and sew your own suits. But if you’re looking for a job on Wall Street, that ain’t gonna cut it .”

Not only that, when you consider the percentage of a recruiter’s salary that’s lost on those activities, some companies are actually spending more to produce pathetic creative work (and make terribly-inefficient media investments) than they’d pay to have professionals do it right.

To summarize:

  • Define what makes you different. Clearly, compellingly and professionally.
  • Never forget what’s really important.
  • Focus on what you do best.
  • Spend wisely.

And yes, keep being friendly. Outside of keeping our nation’s economy rolling, it’s the one thing no industry does better.

FOR FURTHER READING:
Truck Driver Recruiting: It’s Not Just What You Say, But How You Say it.
What the Super Bowl Teaches Us About Truck Driver Recruiting Ads
Better Branding Maximizes Truck Driver Recruiting Effectiveness.
Truck Driver Recruiting: Three Keys To Building Your Employer Brand
Truck Driver Recruiting: You Could Learn A Lot From The Mayor Of Newark.
Video Interviewing. Tailor Made For Truck Driver Recruiting.

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