Over the past few months, the CDL trucking industry has experienced its fair share of ups and downs. From a near-total lockdown of national supply channels to bouncing back and trying to cope in the 'new normal’, carriers and driver recruiters have been put through the wringer this past year. When you add in the ongoing concerns plaguing the industry for years – namely the ongoing driver shortage – it's easy to be overwhelmed by the issues.
We're here to tell you that there is, in fact, a light at the end of the tunnel. While more and more older drivers may be retiring after this year (due in large part to safety concerns), there is a new generation poised and ready to hit the roads. Gen Z, the generation born between the late '90s and early 2000s, is taking the U.S. workforce by storm and is the perfect solution for recruiters looking to fill the gap in driver supply and demand.
Before we get into how recruiters can attract and retain this new generation of drivers, there is something to note here. Right now, federal regulations state that a driver must be 21 years old to obtain his or her commercial driver's license. There are currently efforts to lower this age to 18 (with additional training and monitoring through the DRIVE-Safe Act) that would allow thousands of new Gen Z drivers to start working almost immediately. With more Gen Z'ers looking to enter the workforce much earlier than Millennials, this could be an instant win for the CDL trucking industry.
Here are some go-to ways to successfully hire and retain a new generation of CDL drivers:
- Mobile-first is paramount.
If you're wondering what sets Gen Z apart from any other generation thus far, it's their reliance on and acceptance of mobile technology. This new recruiting class was born in the age of smartphones and the internet, and they expect their future employers to understand this connection as much as they do.
When you're structuring your recruiting experience for Gen Z, make sure your application is easily accessible via mobile. Turn on e-signature technology and avoid any downloads or need for a printer. Leverage text message communication, video interviews, and other digital-first channels of communication throughout the interview process. And finally, connect with Gen Z drivers through social media, apps, and other channels for engagement.
- Structure your recruiting process for this new generation.
As a CDL driver recruiter, you already know how hard it is to capture and keep a driver's attention during the recruiting process. Gen Z is accustomed to bite-sized content, on-demand experiences, and other social media-driven engagement and will expect the same from their future employers. If your team has not started structuring your recruiting process from the driver's perspective, now is the time. Anywhere you experience an unnecessary step, a process that takes too long, or a workflow that wastes time for the driver – change it. Streamlining and cutting out any unnecessary processes will be critical for getting Gen Z drivers to join the recruiting journey.
- Highlight and promote your professional development opportunities.
For younger Millennials and Gen Z drivers across all industries, learning new things and working one's way up the ladder is a huge draw for new opportunities. While truck driving might not seem like the right place for a climb up the corporate ladder, setting professional development goals with new drivers can help keep them engaged and excited about the opportunities in front of them.
- Engagement – even in person – is vital.
When it comes to retaining this new generation of drivers, engagement will be the number one tool for recruiters. Highlighting your drivers on social media, setting up an interactive online forum for benefits, resources, and feedback, and making time for in-person (or video) check-ins where necessary are all great ways to engage and communicate with your drivers. Building an engaging and valuable company culture, even with your employees on the road most of the time, will keep your Gen Z drivers around for the long haul.
You can learn most ways your team can start recruiting the new generation of Gen Z drivers here.
Stay up to date on CDL trucking trends! Be sure to check out the DriverReach blog for other relevant articles and head over to our webinars page for an up-to-date list of upcoming events and on-demand recordings.
Listen to Taking the Hire Road podcast, hosted by Jeremy Reymer and in collaboration with FreightWaves, for timely conversations with industry experts. For more information, or to join a live group demo, visit www.driverreach.com/livedemo