When The Evil Overlord (wife/ex co-driver) and I were in truck driving school, we were told that job-hopping in the trucking industry was akin to a mortal sin that could not only ruin your truck driving career, but also send you straight to Hell to burn in an eternal lake of fire. Is this true? Let’s talk about it.

But before we get to that, perhaps we should define “job-hopping” in better terms. From Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Job-hopping: the practice of moving from job to job.

“Well duhhhh,” you might say. “But like… how long do I have to stay at a job before I’m considered a job-hopper?”

According to this CNBC.com article, job-hopping is “generally defined as spending less than two years in a position.” Oh boy. Does that ever make truckers job-hoppers! In this industry, you won’t get that dreaded label unless you start job-hopping every 3-4 months!

According to this Monster.com article, the average turnover rate for large trucking companies has been lingering around 127% over the last few years. Smaller carriers don’t fare much better at 102%.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, “turnover rate” is the percentage of employees that leave a company over a certain period of time. So for the trucking industry’s average turnover rate of 127%, a trucking company with 100 employees would need to hire 127 employees every year to keep that number at 100! Yeesh.

The turnover rate in trucking is staggeringly high compared to other industries

To give you a comparison to other industries, the healthcare industry is typically regarded as having one of the highest turnover rates; and it’s only 14.2%. Take that, healthcare workers! We truckers scoff at your puny little turnover rate!

Why these turnover rates are so high is a topic in itself, and one we won’t cover today. Suffice it to say that “the grass is always greener” for some drivers and many carriers don’t put enough effort into keeping their current drivers happy. But I digress…

How much job-hopping is too much?

Sadly, there really isn’t a cut-and-dry answer. Some companies are more tolerant than others. But in general, all trucking companies are far more lenient than other industries. The fact is, trucking companies have learned to accept that high turnover rates are a fact of life for the trucking industry.

A recruiter quoted in that Monster.com article, said that the company he works for isn’t interested in a driver who has had three jobs in the last year. He went on to say he had one applicant that had 21 jobs in three years! Wow! Talk about ADHD.

I would agree that switching trucking jobs every 3-4 months is generally too often.

Reasons you shouldn’t job-hop

First of all, recruiters are less interested in fickle drivers. I mean, hiring a new employee is costly so why would they want to take a chance on someone who has a track record of being a total flake?

But perhaps the bigger reason not to job-hop every few months is that you simply can’t give a new carrier a fair shake when you work for them for such a short time.

It takes a while to get situated in a new job. With all the new operational changes and learning how the new carrier operates, it shouldn’t be a surprise if you aren’t very efficient for a while. Don’t blame that on the carrier. That’s just the nature of switching jobs.

In my opinion, I think you should give an employer at least 6 months to make good on everything the recruiter promised. That should be enough time to learn the ropes and work through any slow times of the year. That way you can see the true potential of the job.

Reasons to job-hop

Now I’m not saying this is a hard-and-fast rule carved into stone by the hand of God. If your employer is clearly abusing you in any way, then that’s a good-enough reason to abandon ship, even if you’ve only worked there for one month.

Keep in mind that abuse is subjective. Forcing you to take a crappy run to New Jersey is not abuse. Sure, it may suck harder than a dehydrated mosquito, but it’s not abuse. However, if they are trying to convince you to cheat on your electronic logs, failing to fix major safety issues on their trucks/trailers, or belittling you into driving in a blizzard because “all their other drivers are doing it” (FYI: they aren’t), now that’s abuse that may warrant a job-hop.

What I’m trying to say is that you should try not to job-hop.

But if you do need to leave a company after 3-4 months once in a while, it’s not going to kill your trucking career. Just don’t make it a continuous pattern like Mr. 21-Jobs-In-3-Years did.

Listen, employers know things go wrong and they know there are bad employers out there. Sometimes things just don’t mesh. And of course, it’s an added benefit that many trucking companies will ignore your iffy job history out of desperation to hire more drivers.

Another reason to job-hop

If you’re job-hopping for the right reasons, you should be able to easily explain your actions to any prospective employer.

Let me give you some examples from my own trucking career.

When The Evil Overlord and I got out of truck driving school, we took a team-driving job for 33 CPM (Cents Per Mile). Keep in mind this was 1997. Sadly, over 20 years later, some carriers are still starting new drivers at less CPM than that. Not cool at all.

We knew we could make more money elsewhere, so we started looking for a new trucking company about 10 months into our career. Now keep in mind our driving school instructor had told us that we shouldn’t even consider looking for a new job until we got at least one year’s experience.

Well, we started with our new company at the 11-month mark anyway. Turns out, they would have hired us around the 6-month mark if we had tried. But we didn’t, because, you know, that whole “all job-hoppers go to Hell” thing.

Anyway, we jumped from 33 CPM all the way up to 42 CPM with that job change. Even if it had been at the 6-month mark, no future employer would have blamed us for making that Spiderman-sized leap. Heck, they would’ve understood that even if we had left at the 3-month mark! In other words, we had a darn good reason to jump ship and it was easily explainable. We stayed with this company for four years.

For our next job, we actually took a pay cut back to 38 CPM. But again, we could justify the job change because we were building a house and our mortgage provider wasn’t happy that our previous employer couldn’t “guarantee” our gross wages for the year. Or at least they wouldn’t put it in writing. This new company had no problem with that. We only stayed at this company for 1.5 years, but it was long enough for our purpose.   

The next job change didn’t work out so well, but at least we did have a good reason to have made the switch. With the pay cut from the previous job, we only had to tell future employers we had gone from 38 CPM back up to 50 CPM. Any trucker can tell you that a 12 CPM raise in the trucking industry is phenomenal. To put it in more understandable terms, that was about a $30,000/year raise with the team miles we were driving! We didn’t much like this company though and we bailed out after only 10 months.

Our next job was only a slight bump in pay up to 52 CPM. Still, it was a justifiable job-hop because we explained that we just weren’t a good fit for the prior carrier. Again, no questions asked because good drivers are in high demand. One year later, The Evil Overlord got out of trucking altogether. Well, sort of. Stay tuned.

I’ll not bore you with all the drool-inspiring details of the other trucking jobs I’ve had. Basically, it was a series of job switches caused by The Evil Overlord deciding to make a trucking comeback and it not working out so well (thank you 2008 Great Recession). So I switched carriers a couple more times to jump from team-focused carriers to solo-focused carriers. The point being, I had a justifiable and easily explained reason to switch jobs each time.

Now I realize that working for anywhere from 10 months to 9 years at a job (one of the last ones) isn’t considered job-hopping, at least when it comes to the trucking industry. But that’s not my point.

How to avoid being a job-hopper

I am only one man with an opinion, so take this how you will.

I think the key to not be labeled as a job-hopper is to stay with a company for at least six months, keep your driving safety record clean, and always be able to justify your move.

Having said that, there are simply too many scenarios for this to be a one-size-fits-all solution. For instance, let’s say you just took a new job after being with your previous employer for six months. You’ve been at your current job for only two months when you finally get an interview with that driving job you’ve been chasing for five years.

Are you going to pass on that dream job simply because you’ve only been working at your current job for two months? Heck no! Job-hopper label or not, that’s gonna be my new job!

Again, you’ve got a justifiable reason for the job-hop. You had no clue when you took the previous job that this dream job would be opening up soon.

During your job interview, you simply express concern that you’re having to screw your current employer by leaving after only two months, but you just can’t pass up this opportunity to work for a company you’ve been chasing for five years. They’ll be both flattered that you want their job so much and impressed that you’re showing concern over the hardship you’re causing your current employer. That tells them you’ll give them the same respect if they hire you.

The problem with job-hopping

The easiest way to be labeled as  a job-hopper is to have your work history show a long line of jobs you only held for 3-4 months each. Even worse, you can’t identify a good reason for quitting any of them.

If you’re jumping from one job that averages 2500 miles per week at 50 CPM to another job for equal pay and benefits, then that’s kinda hard to justify. Add a few more of those job-hops in a row and you’ll earn the title of job-hopper. And no one really wants that, do they?

I’ve heard it said that all you need to get hired as a trucker is a CDL (Commercial Drivers License) and a pulse. While that may be true for some carriers, but that’s definitely not the case for the upper echelon of trucking companies who are far more picky.

Do yourself a favor and don’t ruin your chances at that future dream job by being a job-hopping flakazoid. And if you have been so far, make a valiant effort to change that pattern by giving any trucking company at least six months before you jump ship again. Because you know what happens when you jump ship? You drown. And that’s just no fun. 

Podcast Show Notes

Today’s main topic is job-hopping. How much is too much? Stay tuned.

But as always, we’ve got some news to cover including voting info, brake recalls, safety blitz stats, nuclear verdicts, trailer technology, broker scams, truck warranties, and think pieces on being an owner/operator and ANTs. Huh?

The FMCSA has also been busy with hairy drug testing, driver advisory panels, under 21 drivers, driver training exemptions, and yet another COVID HOS exemption extension. Wow. Say that three times fast.

And we’ll top it all off with six restaurants for the Trucker Grub segment, and listener feedback on weapons, railroad crossings, man vs. beast, and driving school experiences.

Listen to the podcast version or read the full article and the podcast show notes on AboutTruckDriving.com or search for Trucker Dump in your favorite podcast app.

Be sure to check out the 50% off ebook combo pack for Trucking Life and How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job while you’re there. This deal is only available for a limited time!

This episode of Trucker Dump is sponsored by:

Links mentioned in the news segment:

Budweiser Wassup commercial

For truckers looking to vote early or absentee, a look at each state’s practices from OverdriveOnline.com

Voter registration deadlines

Volvo recalling 17,545 trucks for possible cracked brake pedal from FreightWaves.com

CVSA Safety Enforcement Operation Catches More Than 66,000 Drivers from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

FMCSA Extends COVID HOS Exemption Until 2021 from TheTruckersReport.com

FMCSA Launches Driver Panel for Advisory Committee from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

UPS Wants FMCSA to Reconsider Exemption Request from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

FMCSA proposes under-21 driver pilot program from FreightWaves.com

Details of the under-21 driver pilot program from FMCSA.dot.com

HHS Issues Proposed Hair Testing Guidelines from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

PrePass adds safety alerts for drivers to app from OverdriveOnline.com

Trucking Targets ‘Nuclear’ Verdicts from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

Intelligent Trailer Technology Advances from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

Open a can of realism before buying that first truck from OverdriveOnline.com

Informed protection: Know exactly what’s covered before you buy a used truck warranty from OverdriveOnline.com

Growing broker/carrier identity theft schemes reaping millions from OverdriveOnline.com

As with fire ants attacking a DOT officer inspecting logs, beware the ANTs in your own mind from OverdriveOnline.com

Trucker Grub segment:

Tacos El Zarape in Ontario, Oregon

Shari’s restaurant in Troutdale, Oregon

Ranch Hand Trail Stop in Montpelier, Idaho

Lefty’s Bar-B-Q in Crossville, Tennessee

Stockmen’s Truck Stop in St. Paul, Minnesota

Alamo Sinclair in Alamo, Nevada

Links mentioned in the main topic:

Job-hopping is on the rise. Should you consider switching roles to make more money? from nbcnews.com

Job-hopping in trucking from Monster.com

How to calculate employee turnover rate from Workable.com

Links mentioned in the Listener Feedback segment:

Frankie NC heard @goose story in the Listener Feedback segment of TD148: Being A Chemical Oilfield Truck Driver about a truck stalling on a railroad tracks and wrote with some advice that could save your life.

Greg listened to TD146: Personal Safety For Truckers and answered the call by sharing his arsenal to ward off bad guys.

Driver Dave shares another exciting episode of trucker vs. wildlife. Everyone needs to keeps their pets out of the road when Driver Dave is in the area. Just saying.

New listener Stevie is binging the podcast and sending lots of comments for me to share with you. Today we hit three quick ones about TD001: Sometime You Just Need A Machine Gun, TD144: The Split, and agrees with the grossness of women’s restrooms from TD46: The Tale Of Three Trucker Slobs.

New Listener Scott Gunter heard TD100: What Makes The Evil Overlord… Evil? and we decide that all wives must be evil.

Scott Gunter, Todd R, and Zachary Smacherman @smakerman all heard TD147: Be Careful Choosing A Truck Driving School and share stories of their respective truck driving schools. Bonus: Zachary sent an audio comment!

Todd R @RoadToad also mentioned TD148: Being A Chemical Oilfield Truck Driver.

Zachary also mentioned Anthony, who I answered a question from in the Listener Feedback segment of TD131: Review Of The FleetUp Trace ELD.

And a big thanks to wtfGrumpy, Corvette 1977, ShadowDragonYin, TIK TOK CAN GO TO HELL (yes, really), 2014EJ, and douche you are (yes again, really) for rating and reviewing the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Show info:

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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."
2 comments on “TD149: Job-Hopping In Trucking
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