Tell the full story in driver recruitment ads

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I was recently looking for an experienced truck driver for a run based in the city of Elmira, Ont. Calling it a city might be a bit of a stretch as the population is not much more than 10,000 people. Using the law of averages, you can assume that there is not an abundance of experienced A/Z drivers in Elmira.

This particular run required a driver to start at 1:30 a.m. This is not an ideal start time for most drivers. It doesn’t cater to the typical nighthawk, like a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift might. It certainly doesn’t cater to the typical day driver, so I knew this would be a tough role to fill.

There was a point in my career where my first thought would have been to place the ad in neighboring Kitchener or Waterloo to attract more people. I would have made a point not to include the start time, as I am sure it would deter a lot of people from applying.

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(Illustration: iStock)

My thought process would have been: ‘Well maybe once I can get them on the phone, I can really sell them on why this start time is doable.’

A lot of candidates

In this scenario, there is a good chance that I would attract lots of candidates. Despite everyone clamoring about a “driver shortage”, an ad like this would probably get 40-50 candidates. Having a guaranteed salary certainly helps to drive up that number (but more on salary another day).

This version of me would have spent a lot of time combing through 40-50 resumes. I am blessed with a 437 area code, so when I call people for the first time they often think it is an automated service. This means that I talk to a lot of answering machines and need to send a lot of follow-up text messages.

When I eventually do talk to the potential hire, I sell them on all the positive features of the job before dropping the start time on them. This ends a lot of conversations. Some polite drivers would let me try to sell them on it, maybe even tell me that they will think about it. But the reality is, I am going to struggle to find any good candidates this way.

Why to be specific when hiring

I have learned over the years that it is best to be as specific as you can when making a hire. Aside from those just kicking tires, any driver who is interested in the position should have a lot of questions. A good ad will answer almost all of these.

When you post all available information for a position, it does a lot of the screening for you. For this particular posting, I listed it in Elmira and in two different areas of the posting I mentioned the time that the shift starts.

The job was posted for a few days and the applicants were few and far between. I definitely did not get 40-50 applicants; in fact, I think I had six. This is a good thing though!

I did not have to waste my time going through applicants that had zero interest in the shift time. The six drivers who applied were all attracted to this shift for whatever reason. Could be based on sleeping patterns, family commitments, lack of traffic, etc. The important thing is they knew about the early start and still applied.

I compare this to fishing with a spear instead of a net. You are able to target the exact type of person you want and you do not have to waste your time ciphering through pages and pages of applicants who would prefer to be asleep at that time.

This is a very basic example of quality over quantity. The driver that we hired started four weeks ago and absolutely loves the job. The driver wins, our company wins and our customer wins.

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Mike Zelek has been working in transportation for more than 10 years. He has worked in logistics, dispatch and recruiting before settling into his role as vice-president of human resources at Wellington Group of Companies.

Mike was named the National Recruiter of the Year at the National Recruiting and Retention Symposium in 2021 and has led Wellington to three straight years of being named one of the Truckload Carriers Association's Best Fleets to Drive For.

He has presented at many industry events and currently volunteers on several transportation related committees.

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