Recruiting and keeping good drivers is always an issue. They’re not always available, and many longtime drivers are gradually reaching retirement age. The average driver in the US is almost 50 years old, and young drivers aren’t signing up in sufficient numbers to take the place of these old pros as they retire.
Much has been written about “millennials,” young people coming of age in the 21st century. They’re in their early twenties to mid-thirties, the children and grandchildren of Baby Boomers. They also make up one quarter of the US population.
You may have met a millennial at the auto parts store, you know, the one who couldn’t change windshield wipers, batteries, or a tire, and who had no idea how to check his oil. Despite the stereotype, they’re not all clueless. They may be thinking about college or some other career training, but may never have considered driving. Perhaps no one has reached out to them and given them something to consider. But what does it take to recruit and keep a Millennial as a driver? How do you convince one that driving is a viable career for them?
One thing we hear over and over is that young people entering the workforce want to “work to live, not live to work.” Work is a means to an end, to help them do what they’d really like to do. They’re also somewhat nomadic, more accepting of new technologies, and access more information faster than previous generations. Many plan to attend a college or university, but the incredible debt load after graduation is off-putting. Watching their parents and grandparents work and receive little in return (or seeing them laid off after years at a corporate job), Millennials don’t want the same fate. Some see this as “lazy,” but as a recruiter, you can use this to your advantage.
What’s the secret to convincing young drivers to work for your company? Talk to them on their level, and show the advantages of driving that a high school counselor or university recruiter won’t.
- Review and update your online presence: Young people live online, and primarily use mobile devices to get there. A long, complicated job application is a turn-off. An application that’s short and easy to use on their mobile device and send in gets their attention.
- Investigate your competition and comments about your company: Find out what’s being said on job boards, forums, Facebook and other social media. How does your company compare to the competition? What makes a potential driver talk them instead of you?
- Social Media: Everybody is on social media these days, especially millennials. Facebook and Twitter are the obvious frontrunners, but short posts on Pinterest leading to your site, or recruiting videos on YouTube as well as other favorite social media channels puts you right in front of a young audience. Find out where they go, and bring your company there.
- Performance marketing: Interactive advertising on websites where your recruitment audience lives. Facebook ads, Google sponsored ads and the like are a more targeted way to get in front of potential drivers.
- Advanced technology: It’s an integral part of any fleet. Millennials grew up with technology from the time they were tots. That makes them better prepared to learn and use new technologies faster, and improve your company’s driver tech with feedback.
- Experiences and Travel: Millennials put a high value on “experiences,” including travel, and not necessarily buying “things.” Driving can offer experiences along with a salary, bonuses and benefits. Discussing these points in your social media is a big advantage. They won’t be at a desk 9-to-5, and will go places most desk jockeys would never see.
- Opportunity: In addition to a great career, drivers also have the option of later becoming an owner-operator, and owning their own business. This can be attractive to many young people who want to be their own bosses.
- Fringe Benefits: It’s more than paid health insurance. Flexible time off, work-life balance, and other nontraditional benefits are valuable. Showing what your company has to offer them in a new career goes a long way.
- Healthy Image: Dispel the “big, fat truck driver” stereotype. It’s not your grandfather’s trucking company. Talk about your company’s health & wellness program, and how the program keep all their drivers healthy so they’ll be happier and drive as long as they want.
- Company Culture: Many young people are more eager to do something meaningful. Driving is an important job—without it, people around the country won’t have access to food and other important goods. Use company training, mentoring, events and incentives to create a company culture where young drivers can feel part of something more than just a job.
- Stay Connected: Remember what we said about millennials living online? With cell phone data and WiFi available nearly everywhere, drivers are almost as connected as their friends and family at home. Smart devices keep the communication lines open and keep boredom at bay. The variety of online education (including degree programs) now available means that drivers can even pursue higher education part-time while they work, and finish a degree without owing a lot of money.
- High school outreach: The days of vo-tech in high schools are long gone. Talking to 18-year-olds and younger about the benefits of driving during “career week” is a one way to get in front of potential younger drivers before they head into another career direction.
By understanding a little more about millennials, finding the “sweet spots,” and updating your recruitment tactics, you’ll be better situated to attract young drivers a career in trucking at your company.