The 16th Annual Recruitment & Retention Conference took place in Nashville, TN, and brought together some of the top minds and thought leaders in the CDL driver recruiting and retention world.
In 2019, the conference was intently focused on attracting, recruiting, and retaining drivers in the increasingly competitive and demanding market. With the ongoing driver shortage looming over everyone’s mind, many of the educational break-out sessions focused on reconnecting the CDL driver recruitment with the people at the heart of the trucking industry: the drivers themselves.
Whether you missed the conference or if you just want a quick-hits recap of the 2-day event, here are five key takeaways from the 16th Annual Recruitment & Retention Conference:
Takeaway #1: Create a culture of personalization and empathy
While the trucking industry is one that is literally driven by human beings, many carriers have unfortunately lost this sense of ‘basic human decency’ in the recruiting process. Drivers are being treated as numbers in the process or names to be pushed down the funnel instead of actual people with real value. Instead of leaning into this negative stigma, modern CDL driver recruiters can break through the mold by creating a culture of personalization and empathy. It’s about being authentic and putting the driver first at every step of the recruitment process.
This authenticity and personal brand voice can go far, especially when communicating and engaging with potential drivers. Instead of hiding ‘negative’ press or fudging the truth in conversations, be honest with your applicants. Let them know what a real ‘day in the life’ of a driver looks like. Being open and upfront with applicants shows that you respect their time, their value, and what they can bring to the table. It shows that you actually want them to join your organization and that you’re not just looking to fill a quota.
Takeaway #2: Leverage technology to drive change
Improving the relationship between carriers and drivers and re-creating the driver application process won’t happen overnight. This is where technology can help move things along. Like any industry, the trucking world is now, more than ever, powered by data. For a while, leaning into these metrics and data scared carriers because they didn’t understand it or they didn’t know how it could help. Now, it’s time to embrace what technology and data can teach us as an industry and learn from it.
Leveraging CRM tools and Applicant Tracking Systems are only the first steps in this technological revolution. Automated trucks, Verification of Employment solutions, and other social connectivity platforms are helping reach a new, tech-savvy driver audience like never before. Additionally, optimizing other parts of your recruiting process – such as shortening your online application forms or setting up Single Sign-On functionality – can help recruit and retain more drivers in the long term.
Takeaway #3: Target more female drivers
Part of finding and attracting more drivers means providing these potential drivers with what they actually want in a career. One of the largest untapped markets of potential drivers is women. While women make up over 50% of the entire US workforce, they only account for 8% of professional drivers. In order to market your organization to this audience, it might mean changing up your messaging – or at least tailoring it to females. Try highlighting the benefits a truck driving career can offer a woman, such as more time at home, job security, and a low accident rate. Attracting and retaining female drivers should be high on the to-do list of any driver recruiter in 2019.
Takeaway #4: Don’t forget about the younger generation
The ongoing driver shortage skewed much of the conversation at the conference towards new ways to find potential CDL drivers. Gen Z drivers (today’s 18-23-year-olds) represent an entirely new audience of potential drivers that are just getting ready to hit the roads. While drivers under the age of 21 can’t legally drive across state lines right now, new regulations and conversations are moving this discussion forward and making a case for younger drivers to fill the gaps in the workforce.
Takeaway #5: Monitor the recruitment process from start to finish
The overall messaging coming out of the 2019 Recruitment and Retention Conference was that carriers and recruiters alike had to do a better job of tracking and monitoring new drivers through the recruitment process to make sure they sign on – and work for an organization for a long time. This is why ATS and engagement tools are so important: they give recruiters visibility into how drivers are actually converting from a lead to a new hire, and then how they’re engaging with an organization down the road. This can help measure driver loyalty and increase retention rates.
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