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Recruiters have an especially bad rap within the trucking community. Most truck drivers think all recruiters are big fat liars with flaming pants. But what if that wasn’t always the case? Today I’m going to give you a different spin on this line of thinking.

This post is an excerpt (actually an entire chapter) from my book, How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job. Now I don’t want to turn this into a promo for the book, but it seems as pointless as a cock-fight with furry little ducklings to not reuse something I’ve already written. So let’s get on with it.

Recruiters… Friend Or Foe?

An old joke: How can you tell if a lawyer is lying? His lips are moving.

You could replace the word “lawyer” with many occupations. With the 2016 presidential election fresh in our minds, naturally politicians come to mind. But for the purposes of truckers, “recruiters” would fit the bill. But do they deserve that reputation? Let’s discuss that and more.

Recruiters are the gatekeepers of trucking companies. 

They are the people who are responsible for “recruiting” drivers to work for their company. As a driver, if you have an interest in working for a particular company, you’ll probably call an 800 number and talk to a recruiter.

After talking to many different recruiters from different companies, you’ll narrow down your choices. Once you make your decision, your recruiter is the person that will guide you through the rest of the hiring process. Unfortunately, you may never meet your recruiter face-to-face.

Larger trucking companies usually have to hire from all over the United States to get enough drivers to fill their trucks. That’s just the nature of the beast.

Unfortunately, that means that most of the hiring is done over the phone. And it’s a lot easier for someone to lie to you over the phone than it is to your face. That certainly explains why that varsity cheerleader always had plans when you called to ask her out on a date. So however unlikely it is, if you can talk face-to-face, by all means do so.

Before we go any further, let me clarify where my job-hunting experience lies. 

I have never worked for a small company (1000 trucks or less) and probably never will. I have my reasons, which I discuss in detail in Trucking Life, but for now let’s talk about my experience with recruiters for smaller companies.

I openly admit that I haven’t dealt with very many. Of those that I have, I have mixed feelings. Being a smaller company tends to promote an “I’m your buddy” type of attitude,but I’ve talked to some really nice guys and gals that I didn’t entirely trust.

One particular recruiter was super nice on the phone. As fate would have it, I found myself stranded without a load in their town one day and I went to talk with him face-to-face.

I still thought he was a nice guy as he gave me the tour and introduced me to everyone in the office, which consisted of five whole people. All of them were ultra-friendly and I started to get an “at home” kind of feeling.

Then I was introduced to the owner himself, who was also very nice. I’m telling you, there was so much niceness in that building, it could almost make a man want to puke up his McGriddles. I talked with him for about two hours and was feeling so good about the whole ordeal that I filled out an application and did a pre-employment drug screen right there on the spot.

He suggested that I stick around and talk to some of the drivers after-hours, so I did. He was a moron for suggesting that, but man I’m glad he did. I found out that once you were an employee, the owner transformed into a controlling, tightwad-of-a-jerk with slave master tendencies.

Despite this, the drivers were generally happy with their jobs because of the money they were making. When I related all the information I had been told by the owner and recruiter, they gave me a knowing smile and said, “Yea, sure. We heard all that too.”

What neither the owner or the recruiter bothered to tell me was how I was going to have to run illegal log books nearly every day and get very little sleep just to get the job done and make all that money. No thanks. The money was good, but not that good. And trust me when I say that I need my beauty sleep.

So you can see that niceness can be very misleading. That’s not to say that large company recruiters can’t kill you with kindness also. They can, and sometimes do. So beware either way.

And when possible, you should always compare what the recruiters say to what the drivers are saying. I give you some tips on getting information from drivers in Trucking Life if you need some help with that.

Now that I’ve sat here and told you that “recruiters” are synonymous with “liars,” let me clarify that a bit. 

Among truckers, recruiters certainly have a reputation for lying, but in my experience that’s not entirely true. Sure, I’ve run into a handful of bald-faced liars over the years, but by-and-large I’m convinced that most recruiters get a bad rap because of a simple lack of communication between the driver and the recruiter.

For instance, most recruiters have a list of things that they’re supposed to discuss with drivers,but drivers don’t usually bother making up their own list of questions to ask the recruiter. Ta-dahhhh! Now you’ve got a list! Well you should have by now anyway. I’ve only linked to it about 457 times already. If not, download the questionnaire now!

 You’ve got to remember that when you’re speaking with a recruiter, it’sbasically a substitution for the typical job interview.

Most people think of a job interview as a one-sided affair; where an interviewer asks all the questions while you sit and dutifully answer them. I beg to differ.

I once took a career class where the teacher told me that a job interview should be a two-way street. In other words, you should ask your share of questions too. You can’t expect them to anticipate your every question.You’ve got to be prepared to ask the questions that they haven’t covered. As a matter of fact, maybe there’s a reason they aren’t covering certain topics.

Here’s a classic example of this:The Evil Overlord and I had gone through the entire recruiting process at a trucking company, attended orientation, and started team driving for them. Everything was going well until the first time a holiday rolled around and we didn’t get paid for it, even though we had worked on that particular day. After a quick call to the payroll department, we learned that this particular company didn’t even have holiday pay. No wonder our paychecks were light!

You see, we had always received holiday pay from our previous employers and had just assumed that this company would pay it also. If you’ve ever seen the movie The Long Kiss Goodnight, you know what Samuel L. Jackson’s character says about making assumptions. You make an “ass” out of “u” and “mption.”

Think the recruiter lied to me? Well, I hadn’t asked about holiday pay and they hadn’t bothered to mention it. Does that make them a liar? I don’t think so. Look at it this way.

Say I’m trying to sell a 4X4 Jeep. When a buyer approaches me, do I start out by telling him about all its flaws? “Dude. This thing is awesome. I’ve mowed down some trees with this thing! And I can tell ya it’s been through its fair share of mud pits in its day too! But look! There’s hardly any rust on it yet! I’m kinda surprised it’s still got plenty of power, considering all the miles it’s got on it and all the abuse I’ve put it through! And I only got it stuck in the river once.”Good luck selling it like that.

Likewise, a recruiter is not going to brag about the company’s flaws. I can hear it now. “Our pay is on par with the rest of the industry, but we don’t pay holiday pay like some companies do. Oh, and by the way, like most other trucking companies, we don’t pay you for every mile you run either. And did I mention that those bonuses I told you about are completely unattainable?”Why would they focus on their negatives? Now all of these things may be true,but they aren’t going to tell you about it. . . unless you ask.

Like I said, it’s partly the interviewee’s responsibility to ask the right questions. Getting back to our Jeep scenario, if the buyer asks me if it’s been used off-road much, I’m obligated to tell the truth. If I lie and the buyer later finds out, I can be held liable.

The same goes with your recruiter. If you ask them if the company has holiday pay, they’re obligated to tell you. If they tell you that you’ll be paid for holidays, then later you find out you were lied to, then you’ve got good reason to complain.

Also, asking the right questions puts you in the best position to make a wise decision. If you were the buyer in that Jeep scenario, you’d want to take the Jeep to your mechanic so you can get as much information as possible. That way you can make an educated decision as to whether you still want to buy it. If you know what’s wrong with it, you’re likely to get a better deal on it, too.

Here again, if you ask your recruiter all the right questions, you can decide if that particular company is going to be a good fit for you or not. If it’s not, keep looking. There are gobs of trucking jobs to choose from. Gobs… Good Lord. Am I a vocabulary giant or what?

All recruiters are not created equal. 

There’s no doubt; if recruiters had Pinocchio noses, some of them could be hands-free pole-vaulting champions. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to tell whether someone is lying over the phone. Other times, you get a prickly feeling in your ear. Watch out! It’s that nose coming through the phone line!

 Want the first step to figuring out if your recruiter might be tempted to lie to you? 

Find out what is motivating them by asking one simple question: “Are you paid by commission?” Sure, they might think you’re rude, but you have the right to know what is motivating them. And if you word this question correctly, they won’t be able to get offended.

Here’s how: When you pop the question, just immediately tell them that you want to make sure they get paid for talking to you. If they work on salary, they won’t care either way. If they’re on commission, it will look good that you want to make sure that they’re getting paid for helping you.

Keep in mind that this only applies if the recruiter is actually being helpful. If they aren’t, call back at another time and hope you get a different person. If you get the same person again, ask for someone else or call back until you get a different one. Most of the larger carriers have more than one recruiter, so you’ll get lucky eventually. You may be screwed if it’s a small company though.

Either way, the recruiter knows what you are hinting at: that salaried employees are more likely to be honest than those paid by commission. But at least you’ve said it nicely!

Is it true? Are commission-based recruiters more likely to lie?

Common sense tells me yes, but I have absolutely no solid proof to support that statement. What I do have is tons of phone time with recruiters.How so? You’ve only worked for six companies.” Yes, but just because I’ve only worked for six different trucking companies doesn’t mean that I’ve only talked to six recruiters. For each job search, I talked to dozens of recruiters in the process of finding the best job available at the time.

Generally, what I’ve discovered is that salaried recruiters tend to be more forthright about their company.

They still aren’t going to actively promote the negative aspects of their company, but they tend to be less eager than their commissioned counterparts. I’ve gotten some surprisingly truthful responses to some tough questions from salaried recruiters.

For example, I asked one salaried recruiter if he had heard what the drivers’ biggest complaints were about the company. He actually told me that he had heard a lot of complaining about a particular division within the company and he suggested I avoid it at all costs.

When I told him I was a little surprised he would tell me that, he said, “I’ve got no reason to lie. I get paid whether you come to work for us or not. Besides, if I’m dishonest you’ll call me out on it later, so why lie?” So,maybe I do have some proof for my accusation.

And that’s my point. Salaried recruiters have less reason to lie. They get paid no matter what. Commissioned recruiters, however, only get paid if they “make the sale,” so their motivation factor is high.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that salaried recruiters tend to be better informed than those paid on commission.

That’s not to say that they’re smarter, it’s just that there seems to be a higher turnover rate on commissioned recruiters. That’s just common sense. The less time spent on a job, the less you know about it.

For example, I have one large national trucking company (a former employer) that calls me every now and then to ask if I’m ready to come back. This particular company not only puts their recruiters on commission, but they’re independent contractors to boot.

What this means is that nearly every time I get a call from them, I’m speaking to a different person. When I tell them that I’ve been talking to Recruiter X, they usually say, “Recruiter X is no longer with the company. I’ve taken over her list of drivers.”What’s worse, sometimes the pay rates and other quoted information are completely different from what the last recruiter said.

This can cause countless problems. I tell a story in Trucking Life about how a bunch of drivers in our orientation group were told by their recruiters that they would be making 38 cents per mile. Once in class, they were surprised when the class instructor told them they had been misinformed and they’d actually be making less money per mile than what their recruiters had quoted them.

Later on, we found out that most of them had different recruiters, which meant that there had been a major miscommunication somewhere along the line. Does that mean that those drivers were lied to? In this case it sounded like the recruiters were simply misinformed, not forked-tongue liars.

On the other hand, when The Evil Overlord left me as a solo driver, I went looking for a more solo-friendly company. I’ve already mentioned how much we liked the first company we ever worked for.

Even way back then, they were better suited for solo drivers than for their teams, which you may recall prompted us to leave for more pay with a team-oriented company. So,when I became a solo driver, that company immediately came to mind.

I called them again and guess who answered? No, it wasn’t the recruiter that hired us in 1997 (that would be too good of a story), but it was a guy we had met way back then. This was 2005, so eight years later, this (salaried) guy was still working as a recruiter for the same company.

And let me tell you, this guy had an answer for everything I tossed at him. It didn’t work out for me in the end, but it does illustrate how salary can equal longevity and superior knowledge when it comes to recruiters.

One last word on recruiters: If it sounds too good to be true. . .

 A good indicator of an honest recruiter is a willingness to tell you that their company isn’t perfect. Then again, they know this. So maybe it’s a tactic. Until we can equip all recruiters with Pinocchio noses and videophones, you’re going to have to depend largely on your instincts. And that tickle in your ear. Good luck!

So let’s find your perfect job!

Okay, I admit it. There is no such thing as a perfect job. If you find one, let me know. Did you notice the title of this book? It’s How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job. Notice it says a greatjob, not a perfectjob.

It is said in trucking that your goal is to “Find a recruiter whose lies suit you best.” I’ve addressed the whole “lying recruiter” thing, but that mantra could also say, “Your goal is to find a company whose negatives you can live with.”Or perhaps more bluntly, “Find a company that you don’t completely hate.”

Your goal is not to find a perfect job. It doesn’t exist. I’ll bet even taste testers for Ben & Jerry’s complain about brain freezes. And those poor Victoria’s Secret photographers probably whine about sand getting everywhere on a beach bikini shoot.

Your duty is to find the best truck driving job that you can for what you want out of the job. Keep this in mind as you talk to recruiters, fill out the questionnaires, and compare trucking companies.

That’s the end of the chapter. So I know there has to be someone (probably many) who still think all recruiters and filthy lowlifes. Please share your bad (or good) experiences that are guiding these feelings. Leave a comment below or email me at TruckerDump@gmail.com.

Podcast show notes:

In today’s main topic, we discuss whether trucking recruiters are friend or foe? My views on the subject might surprise you.

But before that we’ve a tribute to a friend, a couple of funny videos, and DriverChrisMc will point you to some good Mexican food in the Trucker Grub segment.

We’ll discuss fancy pants new trucks from Volvo and Freightliner and what’s this about a truck with no mirrors?

Lots of other topics including trucker fatalities stats, a truck parking update, facial recognition for truckers, and a major construction warning in the south.

And of course, we’ll talk about the trucker who got beaten by security guards and we’ll talk about what qualifies as “adverse weather conditions” when it comes to log books.

We’ll also look at some length-of-haul stats and what that means, and we’re going to figure out if it’s true that truckers are considered unskilled labor.

In the feedback section, David will clarify something from the last podcast about hourly pay, BSHarlan1971 leaves an iTunes review, and screaminbob weighs in on the Weight My Truck app (see what I did there) and the Trucker Path app that we talked about in the last podcast.

Listen to the podcast version or read the full article and the podcast show notes on AboutTruckDriving.com.

Please fill out the Trucker Dump Podcast listener survey for a chance to win a Trucker Dump t-shirt!

This episode of Trucker Dump is sponsored by:

  • Citadel Fleet Safety– Call (800)269-5905 or click the link for a special discount for Trucker Dump listeners. Click on [Customer Login] in the upper-right corner, click on the Trucker Dump logo, and use password: trucker dump.
  • Volvo Trucks– Check out the new VNL series and all it’s awesome features.

Links mentioned in the podcast:

Dirt Road Trucker: Episode 1 from High Grade LLC

Dirt Road Trucker: Episode 2 – Opening Day of Gravel Season from High Grade LLC

Fleets to begin testing all-electric Volvo VNR tractor in 2019 from OverdriveOnline.com

Freightliner debuts Cascade with limited autonomous capabilities from OverdriveOnline.com

No Mirror, No Problem! FMCSA Allows Cameras In Place Of Mirrors On Truckers from TheTruckersReport.com

MirrorEye demo video

I-59/20 in downtown Birmingham to close for 14 months from OverdriveOnline.com

Michigan, Ohio expanding truck parking information systems from OverdriveOnline.com

How Do Bad Driving Conditions Reflect On HOS? from BigRoad.com

Record number of truckers killed in workplace fatalities in 2017 from OverdriveOnline.com

TD97: A Trucker’s Worst Nightmare – Complacency

TD104: Complacency Strikes

Team Truckers “Attacked” By Security Guards, Charged With Assault from TheTruckersReport.com

Trucker Targeted By Facial Recognition Artificial Intelligence from TheTruckersReport.com

Freight’s drift toward greater regionalization: Average length of haul on the spot market from OverdriveOnline.com

Truckers are classified as ‘unskilled labor’? Nope. from OverdriveOnline.com

TruckerNation.org – The Trucker’s Voice

Trucker Grub features Las Brisas in Charleston, MO. Submitted by DriverChrisMc, who spends enough time in Mexican restaurants that he probably speaks fluent Spanish by now.

Learn more about the ebook, How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job

Download the Trucking Company Questionnaire for only $1.99.

Buy the Trucking Job Combo Pack for only $14.98. That’s 25% off the regular price!

Links in the feedback section:

David writes in with a clarification on hourly pay.

BSHarlan1971 left a lovely review on Apple Podcasts.

ScreamingBob listened to TD134: 3 Free Trucking Apps Every Trucker Should Have and shares his thoughts on scaling loads and finding truck parking.

Show info:

You can email your comments, suggestions, questions, or insults to TruckerDump@gmail.com

Join the Trucker Dump Podcast Facebook Group

Join the Trucker Dump Slack Group by emailing me at TruckerDump@gmail.com

Join the iTruckers Slack Group if you’re a trucker who loves your Apple tech toys by emailing TheiTruckers@gmail.com

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About the Author
I'm a 22-year truck driver with an interest in tech stuff. I do the Trucker Dump podcast and blog, which is all about life as a trucker. I have also written two trucking books, "Trucking Life" and "How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job."

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