Well, here we are again. It’s the start of a new year and we are all eager to see the craptastic crappy crapfest that was the year 2020 in our mirrors. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather use Tabasco sauce as eye drops than go through another year like that! So since we’re all looking to start fresh, let me make a suggestion to you.
Look for a new trucking job
Hear me out here. I’m not saying you should quit your job just for the sake of starting afresh. What I’m saying is that you should look around to see what options are out there. The problem here is complacency.
We’ve discussed complacency about driving safely on a couple of different blog posts/episodes, but now we’re talking about a different kind of complacency… job complacency.
TD97: A Trucker’s Worst Nemesis – Complacency
TD104: Complacency Strikes
No one likes change
Listen, I get it. No one likes change. If you’re happy where you work, why would you want to look for another job? In true Trucker Dump style, let me tell you a personal story that will hopefully drive my point home.
My job change story
I was comfortable at my previous job. I knew how things worked and I figured out how to get the most out of it. I genuinely liked my dispatcher and I was generally treated with respect. I had a pretty good idea how much money I was going to make each year and I assumed I was at the top of the pay scale for truckers… assumed being the key word here.
Heck, I liked this company so much that I worked for them for 5 years the first time. When The Evil Overlord decided to get back into team trucking, I quit so we could work for a company who had better team operations. But when the Great Recession of 2008 hit, she left the trucking industry for good. What to do?
Well, to emphasize even further how much I liked this company (and my job complacency), I didn’t even bother to shop around again. After being away for 1.5 years, I went straight back to them. I never cracked a trucking magazine, talked to another trucker, or visited a trucking jobs website to see what the options were. And I continued to work there for the next 8 years.
If you do the math, that’s 13 years of my life I gave to this carrier. Was I happy there? You bet! But just because you’re happy where you are doesn’t mean you can’t be happier somewhere else.
At some point around the eleventh or twelfth year with them, I finally started to long for something that would get me home more often than every three weeks. To be fair, their policy was only two weeks out, but I always chose to do three weeks to maximize the money.
Also, for years I had been hearing through conversations and eavesdropping that there were trucking jobs out there where you could make a lot more money than I was making. I had heard this from many different drivers, but I always chalked it up to another trucker lying about how much money they made. I’m assuming we’ve all heard the driver bragging about making $100K working for 40 CPM (Cents Per Mile), right? Whatever, dude.
Well, it turns out that not every trucker is full of bovine dookie. I can tell you from personal experience that the stories are true. But I digress.
The job search
Let me make a suggestion to you. Do what I did and put out some feelers. There’s no obligation here; just humor me.
Sign up with job sites like Indeed.com and Monster.com and set up email alerts for the type(s) of driving jobs you’re interested in. Peruse services like AllTruckJobs.com, CDLjobs.com, or a frequent source of trucking news on the Trucker Dump Podcast, TheTruckersReport.com to see what trucking companies are offering nowadays. You can even take a different approach with an app like TruckDriverPower, where you can set the parameters of pay, home time, trailer type, etc. you’re willing to take and trucking companies then come to you if they meet that criteria. How’s that for an interesting concept?
The idea here is simply to make you aware of what’s going on outside your comfy little workplace. Again, there is no harm in doing this. You aren’t being disloyal to your current employer. You’re just being smart.
Finding the new job
Now I’d like to tell you that as soon as I put the feelers out, I found the perfect job and jumped on it immediately. But that’s not the way it happened. I honestly didn’t keep track, but I’ll bet I had my eyes peeled for at least a year, probably closer to two.
I was admittedly disheartened before I finally saw one of those coveted jobs I’d been waiting a lifetime for to pop up in my Indeed.com email. I applied and got a phone interview.
The job was offered to me, but sadly it wasn’t going to work out. It would’ve been a great job for a younger trucker who had some time to work their way up the ladder, but this 50+ year-old dude didn’t have the patience to take a $20K per year pay cut and unsteady work until a bunch of old-timers retired.
Sure, this discouraged trucker was still driving for a carrier that he liked, but something was missing now. I had been sooooo close to landing that “perfect” job where I would’ve been home every day. With that door closed, it seemed like it would be a long time before I found another golden egg.
The transition period
Despite my pathetic self-pity, I continued to keep my eyes open. One day I saw the name of an LTL (Less-Than-Load) carrier in my home area. The advertised pay was equal to mine and the home time was far better.
But instead of seizing the day, I started doubting again. Would this new job really pay what they advertised? What if I quit only to find out I’d been lied to? I chose not to even bring it up to The Evil Overlord.
After seeing the ad run again a few months later, I finally brought it to The Evil Overlord’s attention. Now she wanted me to get off the road as badly as I wanted it, but she’s even more risk-averse than I am. And that’s saying something.
While my willingness to take risks had expanded, her’s hadn’t. She knew what to expect with my employer. Like me, she had grown comfortable. She convinced me not to pursue it.
Every 3-6 months from then on, that advertisement peeked it’s little head up out of a hole like that pesky groundhog in Caddyshack. I swear I saw it taunting me with a funky little dance once!
He who does not ask, does not receive
After the third or fourth job taunting, I finally chose to act. Wisely, I chose to call the listed phone number instead of exploding a bunch of dynamite on a golf course. I spoke to the guy who would be my boss. He was really laid back and didn’t appear to be in any hurry to get me off the phone, which is a good thing considering how many questions I ask. Anyone who knows me, who read How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job, or is married to me could tell you that.
Four times I talked to this guy for approximately 30 minutes. After each call, I would inform The Evil Overlord what I learned and I’d give her a little nudge. Anyone who knows her knows she doesn’t bend easily. Heck, my idea got knocked down so many times, I felt like Rocky Balboa.
During this time, I found and questioned every driver from this company that I could find. They all said that the advertised yearly pay would only be that low if I was lazy, which I’m not. They told me the pros and cons and then every one of them said it was the best trucking job they’d ever had. And their many years with the company seemed to back that up.
Just like Rocky in the big match, in the end I wore her down and claimed my victory. She finally said, “Fine. Go ahead and apply.” When I hung up the phone I may have even shouted, “LORINNNNNNDAAAAAAA!!!! Or not. I later found out she only relented to get me to shut up about it. Well, what do you know? Apparently it does pay to be annoying sometimes! Regardless, when you’re married to someone called The Evil Overlord, you take the win however you can get it!
The new job wound up being better…. MUCH better
To make a long story slightly shorter, this is by far the best job I’ve ever had, trucking or not. I get paid a good mileage rate, I don’t have to mess with customers, I have fabulous insurance, I get paid for holidays, I’ve got good vacation time and sick days, and I’m guaranteed to get home every weekend (I deadheaded 607 miles home this week).
But that’s not all; there’s more! I get paid a good hourly wage for everything from fueling, to layover/detention, to drop/hooks, to loading/unloading freight, to waiting to get a tire fixed, or heck, even when stuck in traffic due to a wreck.
To put it in plain terms, my gross pay is about 25% more than my old job. It will probably be even higher next year since I had 10 weeks of lower pay 2020 thanks to the cursed COVID.
Even crazier is that my bring home pay is almost double my old paycheck amount, largely thanks to the vast difference in insurance premiums. I’m not saying this extreme pay hike will happen for everyone, but it certainly won’t if you are so focused and content with your current job that you don’t look for other opportunities.
Basically, for the first time in my life I feel like I’m getting paid what I deserve.
I realize I’m only slightly less than two years into this job, but I have yet to dread going to work on Monday. Can you say that? Even if you can, how do you know your work life couldn’t be even better?
Now is this job all peaches and cream? Of course not! There are some really weird company rules and the equipment I drive is anything but stellar. But hey, you’ll be surprised how less-stressed you are about breaking down if you’re getting paid for your time!
The worst thing about my current job
The crappiest thing about my current job is knowing I could’ve been doing this for the past 11 years if I hadn’t been so complacent with my old job. If I had taken those “lying” truckers at their word instead of assuming the worst, I would’ve been about $200K richer and I would’ve been home to enjoy it a heck-of-a-lot more!
To sum up…
I’m just going to repeat what I said earlier. Even if you’re totally happy with your current job, put forth some effort to see if you could be happier somewhere else. I’m not just saying that either, I’m still doing it.
I just told you how pleased I am with my current job, but remember, I also thought my previous job was the cat’s meow. If I go back to sticking my head in the sand, then I shouldn’t be surprised when I miss another golden opportunity. Right now, it seems unlikely that I will ever find a better trucking job, but then again, that’s the kind of stinkin’ thinkin’ I had before I found the best job I’ve ever had!
On the other hand, if you’re currently unhappy with your pay, the home time, the respect you’re getting, or anything else, then what the heck are sticking around for? Start looking for that new job today!
Let me reiterate once more in case you didn’t catch it the first 18 times
Job complacency is a mistake! You’ll never know if there is a better trucking job out there if you aren’t actively looking. This is why I still get an email from Indeed.com every few days… because you just never know. I encourage you to do the same.
Yes, I realize I’m harping on this. It just kills me to think of the complacent version of yourself 11 years down the road realizing how much home time and/or pay you missed. But even if you’ve got the best job you’ll ever have, at least you’ll never have to look back and wonder if you reached your full potential.
Because trust me, that can only make you feel like a craptastic crappy crapfest of a loser.