In many industries, an employee can be hired and retained based on how well they deliver their services. This is no different in the truck driving industry but is perhaps even more important given that there is a shortage of drivers.
This decrease in the workforce stems from two particular causes. Firstly, the rate of drivers who are retiring is faster than hiring drivers to replace them. The traditional workforce is of an older demographic, but there has not been a significant enough recruitment effort until more recently. Add to that the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen many potential employees take the stimulus checks instead of working through the coronavirus (as it was significantly more cost-effective), and there is another reason why a usually thriving industry is shrinking. As a result, drivers who hold active endorsements are in demand.
The methods behind driver recruitment itself are also starting to age out. Traditional methods of hiring replacement company drivers are being done not help in the digital age where social media and online job search engines are the main hubs of activity. Relying on physical advertisement boards in truck stops is not progressive. The conditions by which new drivers see their job ads have evolved, but the delivery of these advertisements has not.
If you listen to our team of transportation recruitment experts at FATj.com, truck driving recruiters need to go to where the drivers are. The current and newer generations of motor carrier personnel now need to rely on social media themselves since this is where the largest portion of potential hires will be. These days, almost everyone has a Facebook or LinkedIn profile, so it makes sense that this should be the first place to start putting relevant job ads.
That's not all, as the online delivery of a job advertisement will only show that a motor carrier is looking for staff. To fulfill that quota, it is recommended that the online forums are also used for pre-employment tests, which drivers are invited to as part of their online application. For completely new truck drivers, this allows the employers to perform due diligence on their prospective applicants. It is a process used largely in retail and by big brands such as Walmart––a customer service applicant will see an online job posting, send an online application, and then be asked to perform a pre-employment test. The latter will ensure that the person is right for the job. As it pertains to the truck driving industry, this can be a place to declare their trucking licenses, such as their Commercial Driver's License (CDL), and have a clean record. It would also be the place to list any endorsements.
Though recruiters in the trucking agency would do well to diversify their methods, unfortunately, you cannot perform some elements online. Important elements like a drug test cannot be performed online for obvious reasons, and nor can a practical road test. Whilst there is no workaround for the former, the latter can be achieved via an endorsement.
An endorsement in the Truck Driving industry is an additional privilege added to the CDL, allowing drivers to perform more tasks. There are six different endorsements that a driver can potentially add to their license and will show as a letter on the I.D. itself.
- Hazardous Materials/ Hazmat (H), which allows the driver to transport chemicals and inflammable or combustible materials such as explosives.
- Tank Vehicles (N), which deem the driver can operate tankers and transport liquids and gases.
- Passenger Transport (P) and School/Passenger Transport (S) allow drivers to ferry a number of people or school children, respectively.
- Double or Triples (T), meaning that the driver can transport two or three trailers.
- Tanker and Hazardous Materials (X), although similar to other endorsements, will allow a driver to transport dangerous materials via a tanker.
Having additional endorsements on the CDL is essentially the same as having extra qualifications. By having one or more in addition to a clean driving record, the job opportunities equally diversify, meaning that a driver is much more in demand than previously. They also have the option to vary their driving work or take on multiple contracts should their endorsement allow for it. It isn't obligatory to have an endorsement on a CDL, but it does widen the search fields for drivers looking for work and narrow the candidacy for recruiters during the selection process.
Benefits of Endorsements
For recruiters, who are struggling to help the truck industry grow during this downturn, endorsements present a unique ability to see how much a potential driver can provide to a carrier and their seriousness as a candidate. Those who have endorsements will have had to take the requisite exams and passed their road test to achieve them, which requires a dedication that cannot be conveyed in a simple job application. (That said, most endorsements don't necessarily require a formal road test or practical exam, which can be a real difference-maker in times of Covid-19 social distancing measures.)
Furthermore, drivers with more endorsements can be matched to more jobs––instead of having three drivers take on as many different contracts, one driver with three endorsements can do all three. Again, this takes the pressure off the recruiters to find more numbers, as instead, they have found more skills with fewer people. Some states limited the number of endorsements to three per person, but as the industry continues to shrink, this could change. This does mean that skilled drivers with more endorsements are likely to command a higher wage, but ultimately this should be less than having more drivers performing fewer tasks.
Implications for Drivers
For drivers, the pros of having more endorsements are obvious. Aside from more job opportunities, it also provides the ability to network with more companies and demonstrates possibilities with more defined career paths. To become an expert in a particular field means that the driver is never out of work and has the option to take one contract over another to suit them. This does have the negative implication that it contributes to the shortage of drivers once more, but the resolve to that should be an encouragement for more drivers to attain endorsements of their own.
The process of applying for these extra qualifications is relatively easy––an online application when applying for a commercial learners permit (CLP) or in addition to the CDL. There is usually a small fee involved, but with the number of opportunities that this opens up, the candidate will make it back in minutes.
Endorsements are like badges of honor for truck drivers. They require dedication to the business and can open many doors. Drivers who have more endorsements tend to cost more, but in the face of a shrinking workforce, they are worth the added expense.
Truck drivers that obtain endorsements are qualified for far more positions than non-endorsed truckers. And due to the driver shortage, this drives up their value and cost to hire much more. In addition, with so many freight companies looking for contracting services in order to meet demand, it’s a great time to get your business on board! Request a demo of our platform today if you want help getting qualified drivers or find out how we can work together to reduce turnover rates by providing a unique benefit to your workplace.