The Trucker Brief: Finding The Right Company
By: Jake Isreal
So, it’s time to find a company to work for? There are many things one must consider when seeking employment, especially in the trucking industry. Whether you are just getting into it, or a veteran of the road, the task of finding a job can be a daunting and stressful one. There are many companies to choose from; if you have experience, and a good record, they will almost all take you.
That is one of the good things about this business; you will always have a job. As long as you aren’t a drug addict, a drunk, or a horrible driver that constantly gets in wrecks, finding a job will not be a problem. However, many companies are simply not worth working for. If you’ve been on the road long enough, you’ve no doubt heard many horror stories from other drivers about the nightmare company they currently work for — or have worked for in the past. I’ve heard lots of these stories. Just recently, I was speaking with a friend who is in a bad place. His company keeps him out for weeks on end, with scarce miles, and as soon as he tries to go home the miles drop even more. Then, they send him in a direction opposite of his home. Sadly, this is a fairly common story. Many firms simply don’t care. You are just a couple hands on a steering wheel, and they know they can replace you with some other poor shmuck that didn’t do enough research into their company.
I find this especially interesting, though, because they say there is a driver shortage in the country. I’m not sure I buy that. I would argue that there is a good company shortage, and the bad ones are driving good drivers right out of the industry. In the absence of an employer that can provide you with stable and plentiful miles, along with a respectable work environment, it’s just not worth driving a truck.
There are good places to be, though. If you do your homework, and don’t rush yourself into a new place, you can find a good employer in short-time. I am guilty of that, rushing to greener pastures. It took me ten years of hopping around to find the company I’m at currently, and I couldn’t be happier. However, if I would have taken more care to find a good company, as opposed to just another job, I could’ve saved myself a lot of pain and stress.
So, I want to go over a few things to look for on your journey to the next step in your trucking career.
Miles: We get paid by the mile, usually, so it’s important to make sure the company you go to has steady and consistent miles available for their drivers. Don’t just listen to what the recruiter tells you, as they will often inflate these numbers. Instead, talk to some of their drivers. They are the ones who know, and they will also usually warn you of other problems, and/or tell you about some positive aspects of the company. Also note, that even the worst companies have their cheerleaders; some people seem to enjoy misery.
Equipment: If you have a truck that’s always out of service, you won’t be getting many miles. It’s important to find a company that takes good care of their equipment, and doesn’t sacrifice safety for a few bucks. You can usually tell this by how their trucks look on the road. If you see this company always rolling around with beat up old trailers, and junky trucks with bald tires, you may want to check them off the list. Safety is imperative to your health, as well as your paycheck.
Home-Time: Most of us don’t want to live in a truck for our entire lives. I have a wife and children, and enjoy seeing them regularly. After all, they are the reason I work. I have an OTR (Over the Road) job, but I also get home weekly to reset my hours. We run hard during the week, and need a reset weekly, so my company makes it a point to have the drivers do their rest breaks at home with our families. I love it. That being said, not everyone wants to be home weekly, or needs to be. Make sure to determine the company you are looking at has home-time policies that fit your lifestyle.
Benefits: At one time, a full-time employee could expect a wide variety of benefits, almost anywhere. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. The benefits offered by employers can be minimal and worthless, or great and valuable. Make sure to ask these questions. Is the medical coverage sufficient to meet your needs? Is there a retirement plan? How about paid time off? You don’t want to work forever, do ya?
Pay: I’ve purposely put pay last in this list. Yes, pay is very important, but so are the other things. A company may offer you 50 CPM (cents per mile), but if you only get 2,000 miles a week, that’s not very good at all. Also, if you’re never home to spend it, that’s no fun either. I think this is important to remember. I myself jumped around quite a bit in my early career, looking almost solely at the CPM offered, and that failed me miserably. My current company, who I also imagine being my last, is certainly not the best when it comes to mileage rate. Instead, they are best because of the mix of everything else. I get good benefits, I’m home every week, and I get lots of miles. I’m as happy as I’ve ever been, and it’s because I stopped looking at just the base pay.
Yes, there are a lot of things to consider when searching for employment. I would just suggest slowing down. If you’re new to the industry, there are a few less choices, but still a lot. If you’re an experienced driver, the industry can be your oyster. Either way, you have the time to find the right place.
Happy hunting, and good luck!
Author: Jake Isreal