Newbies - Starting as a Company Driver

Job Hopping
Stability | Consequences | Before You Leave

There are a great many drivers out there who have changed jobs enough that companies are becoming less and less interested in hiring them. Why is this? With the so-called driver shortage it would seem that any driver, anywhere, could find a job with virtually any company he wanted to work for. Actually, the tides are beginning to change and companies are looking at job stability too, not just at safety and experience. In order to keep yourself employable with the top carriers, and to maintain some resemblance of professionalism, it's important not to job hop.

Recruiters, for the most part, average the number of jobs a driver has had over a past given number of years. The drivers recruiters are most excited about hiring are the drivers that stayed at one job for at least a year. If the recruiter is looking at your past five years of employment history there should be no more than five jobs, at least to place in the top list of potential recruits. One job per year is considered a maximum for stability.

There are exceptions to the one job per year rule. For example, if during the past five years you jumped around a lot during the first three years, but have been with the same company the last two years you will probably be rated highly. In addition, most recruiters do understand that out of the ordinary circumstances may cause a driver to job-hop a bit. Your best bet is to be forthright and truthful about the reasons you left previous employers.

The main reason some companies are beginning to focus on stability is cost. Although there is a driver shortage, there are enough drivers looking for jobs that a company does not need to hire the first one to call. On average, it costs anywhere from $3000 to $5000 to recruit, hire and train a driver. If that driver isn't going to stay 90 days, the company loses money. It is good business sense to hire a driver that has a proven sense of commitment.

With job-hopping, the DAC report that nearly all recruiters look at becomes incredibly long. If the report becomes too long, the recruiter may not even take the time to process the application or hold further discussions. The recruiter will probably just file it away. If there is a lack of stability, there will be few former employers to provide positive employment references. Sometimes a positive reference can mean the difference between levels of pay or available opportunities.

There are real financial consequences for job-hopping. When you leave a job you can expect one final paycheck, but you won't be getting paid for the time between jobs. Then, you will have to work into the flow of the new carriers pay system. If you are used to being paid weekly, it is possible you will go two to four weeks without a check after you change jobs. Are you prepared for that? What about vacation time? Most carriers will pay you for your accrued vacation time when you leave, but you will have to start over at the new carrier. That's usually another year before you can take a vacation. Are covered by insurance in between jobs? What happens if you get injured? Can you pay for it? Are you leaving at the right time? Perhaps you are close to achieving a bonus at the current carrier. Most carriers contribute to retirement, but you gain in your vesting the longer you stay employed. How close are you to reaching that next step in being vested? Financial consequences are well worth considering before you change jobs--sometimes thousands of dollars are at stake.

Before You Leave
Employment is never an issue since there are jobs with companies that don't focus on stability, but that kind of company may lack quality and treat its drivers poorly. So, before you leave your current carrier, consider what you have done in the past and what will likely happen in the future. Ask yourself, "Am I job-hopping?" Make certain you have a reasonable reason why you are changing jobs and be prepared to stay at the next job for at least one year.

The grass is not always greener at another carrier. Most carriers are essentially the same. They face the same problems, they haul similar freight, and the average pay and benefits package isn't much different. Job-hopping is a bad habit to get into, especially when you are just starting your career. Manage your career with professionalism and you will be enjoying the fruits of success before you know it.