The lying recruiter damages fleet retention, reputation

Avatar photo

I recently asked a large group of truck drivers what I should write about when it comes to driver recruitment and retention, and many suggested the topic of “The lying recruiter”. There appears to be a large gap between what the driver is told to get them through the door, then what the job entails once they actually start. Is this because a recruiter will tell a driver anything just to get them hired? Sometimes. But not always.

I have come across many recruiters over the years who are willing to greatly exaggerate what working for a company is like, just to get a driver hired. Time and time again, this has proved to be the worst way to recruit.

lying recruiter illustration

It will not take the driver long to find out that they have been misled, and it will not take them long to leave your company and go elsewhere. This damages your fleet’s retention numbers, your fleet’s reputation, and your reputation as a recruiter.

It is very difficult for a company to shed the reputation for being dishonest and can be even harder for a recruiter to do so. Drivers are used to being burned, so it doesn’t take much for them to lose their trust in you. And it is nearly impossible to gain it back.

Why the lies?

Why would a recruiter take this approach, knowing that it almost always results in a failure? For some, they are focused on short-term goals. They keep track of how many hires they make, without much consideration for the more important stat: how many drivers they retain.

I imagine that some recruiters are paid a flat rate for every hire that they make, which incentivizes recruiting but not retention. Other times, recruiters feel the pressure from operations to fill unseated trucks. Once again, they act on short-sighted thinking, hoping they can just hire any available body to fill the seat.

Other times, the recruiters give the drivers false information because they simply do not know any better. When asked a question, instead of researching the correct answer, they will just tell the driver what they want to hear. This benefits no one.

To be fair, sometimes recruiters are unaware they are giving out the wrong information. Many recruiters rely on feedback from dispatch or operations to know what to hire for. If this information is inaccurate, the recruiter will look like they intentionally misled the driver, when that is not really the case.

Avoiding the trap

How does one avoid the trap of being a “lying recruiter”? The recruiter must know what type of role they are hiring for and what type of driver it will attract.

Ask your operations team lots of questions. A good recruiter should have the correct answer for just about any question that a driver asks them. Share with your operations team the job description that you have made and make sure they approve it. If possible, have the driver talk to the dispatcher/planner before they are hired. Before the driver signs their contract, have them go over “mutual expectations” with their dispatcher and have them both sign it.

While all recruiters want to highlight the positives of the position, it is important to point out the less attractive features of the job. The drivers will be more accepting of these features if they do not come as a surprise.

Above all, be honest. Not every driver that you speak to is going to be a fit for the position that you are hiring for; at least at this point in time. I have had great success not hiring someone, only to hire them months or even years later when a position better suited to them becomes available.

There you have it; the way to avoid being the “lying recruiter” is to tell the truth. Pretty simple, isn’t it?      

Avatar photo

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.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.


  • This is very very true I know firsthand a recruiter for company will lie through his teeth knowing what the drivers will find out and about 5 mi of driving their trucks. They refuse to fix anything. The owner don’t believe in. Nothing. he’ll buy the trucks brand new and only fix when he needs to fix for the next 4 years. You’ll argue over a wiper blade Even a glad-hand rubber near impossible to get replaced I tried for a year. I just finally gave up. Felt on safe and gave up. And it’s getting worse with these owners and companies.

    • Rick, that’s pretty bad. Also, unfortunate that it is so costly to quit and find another (hopefully decent) company to work for.

  • A very well written article. Just plan excellent! Thank you, Michael. The part about talking to operations, dispatch, and other departments first and have each conversation and/or department representative sign off with the potential new hirer is excellent. Having a 4 decade run sitting behind the steering wheel, I hope your arrticle suggestions are followed. I pray they are carried out by trucking companies. Retention would increase very positively. Remember, folks, retention is far cheaper than recruiting. FAR, FAR CHEAPER.

  • Don’t forget to mention that many companies screw you out of your rightfully earned wages. This is one reason why such a high turnover. Heck I remember when a employer was shot and killed because he screwed over the driver!

    • Robert, also a very good point and 100% true. I have been misled regarding $$ more than once. There seems to be very little integrity or honesty to be found within many trucking companies. Doesn’t matter how many questions you ask them when applying… you rarely, if ever, get the full truth. Very sad indeed.

  • Excellent article, 100% true that the “lying recruiter” results in unhappy truckers and the company suffers loss of many GOOD drivers. I drove for over 25 years and was lied to almost every time, including lies of omission. The so called “benefits” of the job were always pumped up and the true cost (or labor intensity) was slyly covered up or not mentioned, until after one was hired. The most ridiculous requests (never mentioned upon hiring) were that a drivers must write down or log their mile/km reading at every provincial, state, or country border they crossed for IFTA purposes. Is this not requiring a driver to break the law by being distracted while driving? Or do they expect a driver to stop at every border to do the company’s job? In this day and age when companies monitor trucks via GPS, they know exactly when & where a driver is at a border and can view the mileage at any point via the driver’s eld. It is to the point that every ridiculously top-heavy company passes various administration duties to the driver! One company’s dispatcher was forever calling drivers (more distraction) and asked “Where are you at?” I would say the burden of trucker shortages falls upon every company with admin staff that can’t do their own jobs. Truckers are tired of all the excess duties, piled on them over the years. I sold my truck in 2021 – best decision ever!!