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Trucking Jobs: Surge In April, Drop in May—Reasons For Hope?

Employment in the U.S is getting better, and some experts feel the trucking industry is actually starting to catch up.

trucking_blog_image

In the past few years, hiring in the U.S. has been steadily on the rise. The nation added more than 40,000 jobs in the past 12 months, with 151,800 new jobs created since March 2010—when the country began to climb out of the economic hole of the 2008 Great Recession.

In May 2013, American employers added 175,000 jobs—not necessarily robust growth, but strong nonetheless.

However, for the trucking industry, the most recent labor numbers were a little less rosy. In the same month, for-hire truck driver jobs actually dropped by 700. Although small, this number represents a stark contrast, particularly when compared to the 12,500 jobs created in April.

Job Growth Steady, If Not Energetic

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy added 12,000 fewer jobs in April and March. An average of 155,000 new jobs added in the past three months, below the average of 237,000 new hiring from November through February.

Last week, the labor Department announced a slight increase in unemployment in April, to 7.6 percent from 7.5 percent. More people are beginning to look for work. Three-quarters of new job seekers had found jobs; something many economists see as a good sign.

Employment Numbers, Stock Markets and the Fed

Stock markets varied on speculation the Fed would inhibit bond purchases for the rest of the year. Modest job gains might cause the Federal Reserve to keep the pace of its bond purchases. The Fed has promised to maintain a steady pace of bond purchases until the job market improves significantly.

Regular bond purchases help drive down interest rates, as well as rise stock prices.

Job growth has been steadfast in the first quarter of 2013, even in the face of higher taxes and spending cuts by the federal government. Many fear that continued austerity—spending cuts and poor growth worldwide—will continue to frustrate the job market.

For the transportation industry, that was the first of the bad news.

Manufacturing, Federal Employees and the Trucking Industry

To add to trucking company woes, manufacturers last month reduced their labor force by 8,000 jobs, as well as the 14,000-drop in the number of federal employees. it was the third consecutive month of cuts for both of those employment sectors. Severe government spending cuts, combined with higher Social Security taxes, could also slow progress through June to a rate of 2 percent or less annually.

A New Hope for the Transportation Industry?

On the other hand, a few trends are giving the trucking industry a glimmer of hope.

In the most recent economic numbers, the economy continued to produce constant annual rate of 2.4 percent for the first quarter of the year. However, the best news comes from consumer spending, which rose at the sharpest rate in more than two years.

Overall, trucking industry experts predict the general hiring direction as a plus—with the slight decrease in May more of a “speed bump” than a downward spiral. When taken as a whole, they see the April growth demonstrating a business sector that is trying to play catch-up with the rest of the nation, and mostly succeeding.

Five Rules for Optimizing Job Ads for Drivers

Searching for the finest experienced drivers in the trucking industry, the best piece of advertising is your job ad. Putting up the right job description makes all the difference, especially in the quality of the candidates you see.

great job adOptimizing driver job ads does not have to be a difficult process. In fact, when you know the elements of an effective job ad, creating them will certainly become second nature.

Great job ads give your business a wealth of benefits:

  • More choices—the immediate benefit of a well-optimized job ad is attracting a larger pool of qualified drivers. This increases your chances of finding just the right driver to have behind the wheel.
  • Time efficiency—without having to contend with a flood of unqualified applicants, you waste less of your valuable time by focusing on only the most relevant applicants.
  • Higher loyalty—an optimized job ad will produce better hires, more reliable and better performing drivers. Your employee drivers will be the best representatives of your brand.
  • More bang for your advertising buck—optimized job ads do not cost more than weak ads, but they do give you significantly higher returns.

To find your next great driver, follow these rules of the road

There are five rules when optimizing job ads in search for drivers; they are the advertising secrets to have your next driver job ad rise to the head of the pack. Use these rules, and you will win the biggest prize—high-quality drivers that make your business shine:

#1: BE Specific With Headlines

When placing job openings, your biggest challenge is visibility. To fill a job opening immediately with the right person, the job must stand out amid thousands of similar ads saying essentially the same thing.

The problem with a majority of job descriptions is that they are simply too vague.

With online job searches for drivers, candidates often fall victim to “advertising blindness.” This is a natural tendency for viewers of a web page to ignore much of the information—either consciously or unconsciously.

The way to prevent this natural tendency is to be as specific as possible. Short and descriptive titles will resonate with your targeted audience. Instead of a generic and bland “Truck Driver Wanted,” give your job description some detail (and pizazz) with “Company Driver CDL Class A (Jefferson County).

#2: BE Unique

Your trucking company should provide drivers something exceptional—a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Discover one thing that will set you apart from the multitude of competing voices, and use it to be memorable to job seekers.

Let the USP of your business become one of your best driver recruitment tools. Give drivers something substantial to talk about and driver word-of-mouth will do the rest.

Some of the most effective USP’s:

  • Industry Awards
  • Better Benefits
  • More home time
  • New or upgraded trucks/equipment
  • Signing bonuses

#3: BE Simple

The easiest rule to remember in optimization job ads—KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).

The best drivers have more choices than unqualified drivers. They certainly don’t have time to waste. Long-winded and complex job ads will lose the attention of the reader quickly, as well as limit response rates.

Above all, for a job ad to be effective, it has to appeal to qualified candidates. Short, clear and descriptive ads will pique the interest of the right candidate. Leave out the fluff—and save extraneous details for a face-to-face interview.

#4: BE Urgent

Any advertising pro will tell you—ads need urgency to be effective. A job ad should stress how your business needs the right driver, right now:

  • Emphasize the current pricing (pay per mile or signing bonus)
  • Remind the reader of the limited amount of driving positions available (using specific numbers)
  • Promote hiring deadlines (specific date or number of days)

#5: BE Credible

In today’s interconnected world, informational social influence—called “social proof”—is one of the most powerful forces to transform lookers into buyers. This phenomenon increases the value within the marketplace or industry as well with. Companies use social proof to turn job seekers into interested candidates and applicants.

An experienced driver doesn’t care much what you have to say about your company, but they will listen to what others have to say about you. The biggest assets in hiring new drivers are your current drivers.

Use social proof to optimize a driver job ad in a number of ways:

  • Accreditation and awards from well-respected  and credible professional organizations (i.e. CSA awards)
  • Testimonials from current drivers
  • Mentions, articles and reviews in leading media

Optimizing your job ad is an essential part of hiring and managing quality drivers. A properly written job ad—no matter where you place it—will ensure both applicants and employees understand their roles, how they are accountable in their jobs, and exactly how valuable they are to your company and its success.

craigslist hiring nightmare

Hiring on Craigslist is a Nightmare

It’s no secret. Hiring on Craigslist can be a nightmare.

You spend an hour or two creating a job description using specific keywords and language in hopes of attracting the right candidates for the job. You spend some more time getting the details neatly formatted, take one more look for final edits,  then (finally) submit your job ad.

You wake up the next morning, get a cup of coffee and sit down at the kitchen table, ready to check a few emails before heading to the office. As you pull up your inbox, you almost spit out your coffee!

57 resumes are waiting in your inbox.

After the daily commute, you settle in to your office. Again, you open your inbox. Suddenly, the number of resumes has now climbed to 85, all in the matter of an hour or so.

You start to feel a bit overwhelmed. Determined to make way through this daunting stack of resumes, you reluctantly open the first resume at the top of the list.

And this is what you find:

bad resume

Does this look familiar? Photo via FunnyorDie.com

Obviously this is a gross exaggeration but it makes a solid point.

You spend the majority of your time filtering out applicants who are completely unqualified in the first place. The endless stack of resumes consuming your inbox is plagued with candidates who either have no relevant experience, unrealistic salary expectations, or simply those who use a “shotgun approach” and blast out resumes to any company that is hiring at the moment.

You’ve made a valiant effort so far, but your’e running out of time because you need to choose at least 5 applicants for a phone interview by the end of the day.  So after only getting through half of the resumes, you decide to cut your losses and wind up choosing only from the resumes you were able to scan through.

The result of all your hard work?

You rarely end up with the best candidate for the job.

This unfortunate result is not because all applicants are unqualified. Most likely, it’s because a candidate you “should have” hired was either lost, languishing at the bottom of the stack, or their resume was glossed over due to mental fatigue.

So how can you prevent this?

At Ovation, when it comes to screening resumes, we believe in the 80/20 Principle. You should spend 80 percent of your time focusing on the best 20 percent of applicants. With the 80/20 Principle, your company will arrive at the best possible hiring decision,

Ovation’s dynamic hiring tool puts you in charge! Ovation makes the 80/20 Principle possible by automatically vetting and ranking each incoming application, based on your custom criteria.

Resumes are no longer crammed in your inbox based on “first come, first serve”. Instead, they are neatly organized and placed in order by “best-fit,” so top candidates (those that deserve to be noticed) rise to the top.

Finally… Hiring on Craigslist doesn’t seem like much of a nightmare anymore.

8 Ways to Eliminate Hiring Bias During Interviews

Finding the perfect candidate has always been a challenge. Hiring bias, by emotionally and subjectively judging candidates, does not make these complex hiring decisions any easier.

hiring bias during job interviewIn a competitive marketplace, the best way for business to thrive is by hiring the right people. A candidate that is not a good fit can have a negative effect that ripples throughout the entire company.

Not only can poor hiring be responsible for things like lost sales, revenues or profits, they can also potentially affect the efficiency of the whole workplace.

Hiring Bias Is a Major Problem

Hiring bias is a problem that hamstrings the process. In the end, prejudice in hiring hurts everyone—the company, its employees and reputation.

Prejudice in hiring is nothing new. However, prevalence of hiring bias—a hiring manager allowing emotion to influence the outcome of an interview—has turned into a substantial problem for companies of every size. Businesses are clearly at risk when they continue noncompliant hiring and interview procedures.

Hiring Bias on the Rise

In the 12-month period from October 2011 to September 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received nearly 100,000 claims of prejudice in hiring. One can only imagine the number of incidents that go unreported. With more charges making way to the EEOC, and millions of dollars in fines assessed to irresponsible companies, hiring bias has arrived in the federal spotlight.

Benchmarking Helps Curb Prejudices

One way to help reduce bias in hiring is by benchmarking. Companies use benchmarking to define job descriptions clearly as a way to rank each candidate objectively—eliminating the majority of subjective judgment that leads to charges of prejudice. This modern benchmarking process identifies competencies, behaviors, and motivators required for each one of the jobs a company looks to fill.

Benchmarking is a powerful tool which ensures your business will hire the best candidates—fairly and objectively. Here are 8 tangible ways you can combat hiring bias in your organization.

Eight Ways to Eliminate Bias in Interviews:

1.  Be crystal-clear on the jobs you need to fill.

It is necessary to start with a complete, clearly written job description, knowing exactly why the job exists and how the company measures success in the jobs. Hiring managers should also know the history of the position and how each of the jobs fit into the company’s overall business strategy.

2.  Start with an extensive phone interview.

After benchmarking a job description, and establishing a ranking system using objective qualifications, begin the process with a 30-minute phone interview prior to an in-person meeting. Not only will this support the rankings, but also it will help reduce anxiety when the candidate actually comes in for a face-to-face interview.

3.  Wait at least 30 minutes in the interview before deciding.

Before you make any decision during an interview, wait about 30 minutes after the interview starts. This delay will help reduce the impact of first impressions. This will allow time to discover that the good may not be as impressive as you first thought, and the bad is not so terrible.

4.  Do not do-it-yourself; have a hiring team.

A second interviewer—or group of interviewers—removes a lot of emotion from the process, with fewer opportunities for bias in filling jobs.

5.  No one person on the hiring team gets a full “Yea” or “Nay.”

Both benchmarking and candidate ranking make hiring less subjective. In the interview, use a similar procedure. If using two interviewers (or more), each should be responsible for ranking two or three different factors. After the interview, team members use evidence and facts to support their rankings.

6.  Be harder on the people you love.

Often, when an interviewer likes a candidate, they relax, ignore negatives and start asking “softball” questions. Do not be afraid to ask well-liked candidates questions that are more difficult. Dig a little deeper into their experience and qualifications.

7.  Stick with the facts.

Stop using emotionally-charged words to describe the interview—words like “think,” “feel,” “good” (or “bad”) personality and “soft skills.” These, and other words, hint at emotion and prejudice—a path leading to charges of favoritism. If hiring managers uses those words frequently, it is a hint they are not applying the right filters during the interview. When employers stick with facts and concrete evidence, they remain objective and avoid claims of prejudice.

8.  Take time in the interview.

Hiring and interview tools, such as Ovation’s candidate ranking feature, can speed up the overall process considerably. That does not say an employer can shorten interviews. Each member of the hiring team should individually spend 30-40 minutes with the candidate, or organize a group interview lasting at least an hour. To arrive at a fair hiring decision, simply add up the rankings from each interviewer.

Bias Begins With Human Nature

We are all human, and we naturally seek out evidence supporting our initial reactions to a candidate. They also filter out contradictory information, sometimes unconsciously. Reducing bias in hiring begins by recognizing that bias is a part of human nature.

Technology Removes Bias In Hiring

Ovation Technologies’ innovative hiring tool takes the guesswork out of the hiring process. Benchmarking transforms a standard description of jobs into a set of key accountabilities within the organization. Ovation prioritizes and weighs key accountabilities, using them as the focal point for an interview.

Ovation grades candidates, providing reference points to define the appropriate candidates for the selection, interview and coaching process.

Using technology to rank candidates objectively, taking the time in making a hiring decision and requiring interviewers to justify assessments with evidence allow every company to take one more step toward eliminating hiring bias.

Help, I have been Stricken with Technology Blindness!

"Technology Blindness is when a person experiences anxiety about new technology and mentally freeze, unable to comprehend it.", "technology blindness", "Technology for Dummies", "new technology", "user friendly"Have you ever tried to explain some sort of technology, be it software or hardware, to someone who is less than receptive to the idea? It usually starts with them saying either “How does this work?” or “I can’t figure this out”. As you begin to explain, if they are already in a state of anxiety over their lack of comprehension,  a common reaction is them throwing their hands up in the air, either literally or figuratively, and experiencing a temporary case of ‘technology blindness’.

Technology blindness is a brain freeze caused by sheer anxiety. Often, the victim has experience in frustration with technology and has convinced themselves that software and “gadgets” just aren’t their thing. The human mind doesn’t particularly like feelings of incompetence or failure and might recognize those feelings about to descend upon it. Whatever the reason, the victim’s mind goes blank and their immediate reaction becomes, “Would you do it for me?”.

IT support people have dealt with technology blindness for many years and often develop a distain for its victims. One can almost read an IT person’s mind when a request for help arises- ‘”Yes, you dummy, I will perform miracles now”. You can’t blame them though when recipients of their wisdom typically gush praise when their problem is solved, often with a couple of keystrokes.

As many a psychologist will tell you, until victims of certain maladies want help, they must suffer.  One personal favorite way to cure technology blindness is to take a deep breath and remind yourself that most things are designed with the average person in mind. Onward, to the help files!

You Are Not Blind, Relax.

Ovation’s hiring platform was designed to be simple and it really is once you walk through it. Admittedly though, some users have had trouble getting going. Fortunately, for us, the stumbling blocks seem be limited to a couple of things that we are working on to make them more obvious. I have encouraged more than one user to give it a try and I tell them that if they hit a wall to give us a call. We also offer a weekly WebEx QuickStart demo on Thursdays.

Here at Ovation, we take turns with the after-hours requests for support. Incoming calls are forwarded to our cell phones and we can usually talk through problems quickly. Last week, I took one of the support calls from a user in California, Lane,  who stricken by technology blindness, wanted to know “What do I do?”. My first question was whether he had signed-up for the application. Hearing him say “How do I do that?”, I knew he had an extraordinary severe case of blindness and needed some tough love to regain vision.

I asked Lane if he would do me a favor. I said that our intent was to make Ovation a very easy to use, effective hiring platform.  I asked if he would go ahead and sign-up at the “Try it for Free” button and give it a try on his own. I was very curious to see if and where he might hit a wall in posting that first job. I made sure he understood that he could call back at any point and I would lead him forward. I ended the call with optimism.

Fifteen minutes later, I received a call from Lane. He said that he was successful in signing up and had a job ready to post. When he went to open the job, the system reminded him that opening the job would use the free first job post credit and asked if that was the intent. However, Lane couldn’t see where to click to agree and was stuck.

My blindness is cured!, technology blindness, help I'm stuck, It's a miracleI was already glad to hear he made it on his own. I knew what the problem was- browser incompatibility.  He was using an early version of Internet Explorer and it sometimes misses in rendering pop-ups completely. I walked him through switching to the Chrome browser and re-logging in. Now, the problem was fixed and he opened the job with ease. While I was on the phone, we walked through publishing the job to Indeed and SimplyHired and I congratulated Lane on his success. Lane was really relieved and happy. He was cured!

As we develop and improve our platform, we have the user in mind. Ovation is designed to make hiring easier and organize the process. And, cure blindness!

Your Best Employees Are Working for Someone Else

For most hospitality businesses, hiring is a chore—eating up time and money—and as a result, restaurants have become notorious for high turnover rates.

passive job seekers are the highest quality employees for your restaurant, profile of a job candidate, job seekersThe task of finding new people is seen as a constant distraction to most restaurant owners because it takes them away from what they believe to be most important—providing the best service possible for their patrons! Over time, the cycle of hiring-training-firing-hiring has become known as a necessary evil and for many restaurant owners this is still the case. 

But does it have to be this way?

Look around your restaurant. Do your employees convey the quality, excellence and friendly environment you worked hard to establish?

Most restaurants, bars and nightclubs rely exclusively on walk-ins for their hiring pool. Why? The main reason is that we like to size up potential employees in-person to see if they fit the look and feel of our establishment. As you may have learned the hard way, relying solely on walk-ins can limit the scope and therefore the quality of employees that you have to choose from.

So where are all of these seasoned, experienced service industry job seekers? The answer is simple. They are currently working in other restaurants, and an alarming 74% of them are actively looking for a better place to work. In fact, 35% of these applicants, known as “passive job seekers”, start preparing for their next job search within weeks of starting a new one.

According to Careerbuilder.com, “long before candidates even step through a potential employer’s doors, they’ve already engaged with that employer in some way to find out about its reputation as an employer – much the same way consumers research potential purchases before even going to the store”.

So how do you reach this untapped spring of talent? Well, they’re certainly not “walking-in” your door but they are searching for job opportunities on the internet. Job seekers are conducting their job search by visiting your company website, social media and job boards.

The Ovation hiring tool allows you to reach more of these passive job seekers without the hassle of logging in and out of multiple job boards and social networks. Simply create your open job position in the Ovation app and it is automatically published to several popular networks with the click of a button. These highly-qualified job seekers can now find your business while searching on the web.

So, who would you rather spend your valuable time interviewing,  walk-ins off the street—or hospitality workers with excellent customer service running deep in their blood; people who love what they do?

Great people are out there and you might even see them now and then—working for someone else. Try Ovation absolutely free for 30 days and see the difference hiring automation can make on your quality of service and your bottom line.

Onboarding New Hires in the Hospitality Industry

Onboarding new hires involves performing background checks and delivering new hire paperwork like W-4, I-9, Direct Deposit forms, employee handbooks and other information, restaurant workers, new hiresIf you are in the restaurant, nightclub, bar or hotel/resort business, you are in the hospitality business. It is an exciting, people-centric and time-demanding business that is not for the faint of heart. It can also be one of the most “fun-centric” industries as well, since your customer is usually in the leisure mode when you see them, either eating, drinking, traveling or kicking back.

Most jobs below owner/management level are semi-skilled, typically low paid, tip-dependent and attract a younger worker. Oh, by the way, the work is hard. A big challenge in the hospitality business is the revolving door of workers. It is logical that turnover is great because of the age and demographics of the workforce. Young people change directions with the wind and hospitality workers generally aren’t in for a career. In fact, your training model becomes a key indicator of your company’s success since it is constantly in use.

A company’s culture is perhaps the most under emphasized component of small to medium sized businesses. A company’s culture is the assumptions and behaviors that the people in an organization use in engaging with each other and with the customer. The culture typically evolves on its own in a small business from the top down, for good or for bad. Large companies invest heavily in their culture since a good culture makes a business operate smoothly and affects the customer’s perception of the business.

The Four Seasons chain of hotels and the Nordstrom department stores are often used as examples of companies with culture built around an excellent customer experience. That is a great premise for an industry that must please a lot of people with different levels of satisfaction. Part of the instilling of a culture in an employee is providing a good experience when they join the organization. This experience is called the onboarding of a new employee and can set the tone for the relationship; again for good or for bad.

The key to a good onboarding experience is completeness, friendliness and consistency. In small business, onboarding begins with the delivery of new hire paperwork and the general instructions and expectations to the new hire. Believe it or not, businesses have a difficult time delivering complete and timely new hire paperwork since most have a rather harried environment and operate with a sense of urgency.

Every employee must fill out certain paperwork to comply with the law and to set up for payroll. This includes completing an I-9, a W-4 as well as various forms like basic employee data forms, and direct deposit forms. All this, plus the time an employee handbook is delivered, benefits information is made available to the employee and perhaps a welcome letter from the owner rounds out the batch of paperwork the new hire receives.

The job of collecting the information usually falls on the operations manager or human resources department if one exists. In the hospitality industry, people aren’t usually hired until they are needed so, the sooner they can be put to work, the better.

The proper completion of some forms requires verification of identification documents or submission of banking info for direct deposit. Inevitably,  new employees arrive without identification or some other documentation. This often results in starting the employee off without a complete enrollment and often the follow-up falls short. Not a smooth transition for either the employee or the employer.

Providing new hire paperwork electronically to the employee before they show up for work through either an email or a link to the documents can take some of the strain off of the first day and allow the employee to complete the paperwork in a more leisurely manner. The employee simply shows up with the forms completed and identification in hand for verification.

Ovation provides such an electronic new hire onboarding tool with its hiring and background screening tools in an affordable, easy to use, and effective one stop platform. The platform was designed specifically with the small business in mind and is a great resource for the hospitality industry where, time and first impressions are all important.