Newbies - Approaching
The Application Process
Some of the federal requirements concern the documentation that you must submit to the motor carrier prior to employment. First, you must provide a list of any violations (FMCSR 391.27) to the company and you must provide proof that you have successfully completed a road test. Many carriers will give you their own road test and complete the certificate for your files, but you can eliminate this step if you can provide them with the certificate from another company. The carrier must have you prepare an application for employment (FMCSR 391.21), which will ask for your former employment and driving history.
The rules for the application are specific and will ask for dates, names, addresses and phone numbers. You will need to be prepared. Be sure to have all of your information with you or ask the carrier if you can take the application home so you can look up all of the contact information from past employers.
The first section will ask for personal information such as your name, address, date of birth and social security number. You will also have to provide your addresses for the past three years. You will need to give them your CDL number and expiration date. Many carriers will photocopy this document and keep it for their records. Be sure to take it with you.
Your background regarding your professional experience must be documented when you apply for a driving job. Be prepared to write down the estimated miles and the dates for which you operated various types of equipment. For example, did you drive a bus? Have you had experience pulling vans, flatbeds, tankers, etc? You should know the difference between these vehicles and whether you have operated any of them prior to applying for this job.
Although the carrier will obtain a copy of your motor vehicle driving record, you will be asked to write down any accidents you have been involved in regardless of whose fault they were. These pertain to both your personal vehicle and your commercial driving experience. Make sure to note every accident and whether it was your fault or not, because the carrier will want to know why you didn't list it if they find it on your state record.
You will also need to know the exact dates and locations of any violations you might have on your driving record (FMCSR 391.27). Ask your auto insurance agent to get you a copy of your state motor vehicle record before you go to a carrier to apply for a job. These violations will also be checked by your carrier. Don't think that you can leave any of them off because you consider them to be minor. If the deer that you hit caused property damage to your car, it will probably be noted on your motor vehicle record. You will be given space to explain the circumstances involving each violation, suspension or revocation. Don't omit any violations because your carrier will assume that you are being dishonest and this could affect your chances of being hired.
The application form will also ask for your former employers. You should have the name of your supervisor, the phone number of the company, the dates you were employed and why you left that company. You will need to bring this information from the past ten years if you have been driving that long. The carrier is required to verify your employment history, so try to be as accurate as possible and don't forget to explain any gaps in employment.
If you have a copy of your physical exam certificate (FMCSR 391.41) you should take it with you. Some companies will accept a prior physical exam, but other carriers might send you to their own appointed medical examiner for an updated physical. This document must be carried with you at all times and will be provided to you in a wallet-sized card. Your physical exam must be completed every two years to maintain your certification as a commercial driver.
Your employment will still be conditional until your alcohol and drug test results are returned from the collection site. Since carriers are under strict guidelines requiring drug testing, the process is described in detail by the government (FMCSR 382.105). Most carriers will send you to their appointed collection site and the results will be returned to them after a few days. All commercial drivers will be tested prior to being hired, but you should also be aware that you will be subject to random drug and alcohol tests as long as you are operating a motor vehicle.
Being prepared with the proper documentation will make the application process easier for both you and the carrier. Review the paperwork you will need and bring it with you when you apply for a job. You will complete the required forms without too much effort because you were prepared and will appear to be a more professional driver because you took the time to learn the process before you were even hired.