Unicru, a provider of workforce recruiting solutions, says many carriers have not changed their driver recruitment strategies in about 25 years.

According to a poll conducted by Unicru during the American Trucking Assns.’ (ATA) HR and Safety Conference, of the 26 fleets that responded to the survey, 28% said they rely on newspaper recruiting and 21% rely on employee referrals. Only 9% of the responding companies listed online applications via company website as a most commonly used recruiting method.

“Although the labor market has changed significantly, the strategies and tactics for finding drivers have not,” stated Adam Mertz, Unicru senior manager of transportation workforce solutions. “At a time when drivers are leaving the profession for other fields, the industry needs to look to adopt new tools and techniques to retain current drivers and increase the rate at which it attracts new drivers.”

In an interview with Fleet Owner, Mertz said that carriers taking job applications online may be victims of their own success. Utilizing online application forms via company websites and leveraging job boards such as monster.com tend to bring in more prospective drivers than the recruiters have time to process, he explained.

“It turns out that [carriers are] sticking to [newspaper ads] because different job boards elicit different reactions from carriers— both positive and negative,” he said. “Some people felt that they were getting more applicants that weren’t qualified, and that was eating up HR time unproductively.”

This is why Unicru advises carriers to leverage automated screening technologies to process the increased volume of applications that come from job boards and online forms.

“Many carriers haven’t really looked at implementing technology to eliminate the paper application process, and at the same time ensure the consistent following of DOT [Dept. of Transportation] guidelines as well as integrating background checks,” Mertz said.

Unicru cites Southeastern Freight Lines (SEFL), a carrier that has beta-tested its integrated system in which 75% of its prospective employees apply online.

Mertz said that since SEFL rolled out its automated driver recruitment system online almost a year ago, the carrier has found it is receiving more applications from on-the-job prospective employees.

“SEFL realized people were applying when the carrier wasn’t open,” Mertz said. “Typically the carrier received applications from people who already had a job— which is the kind of people they were looking for. On Sunday nights, for example, they were missing out on a portion of the applicant pool that they realized…statistically the trend is the candidates are scored higher who apply online.”

“We no longer take paper applications or have the need for an 800 number,” said John Pryor, SEFL vp— human resources and safety. “Our service center managers are quite surprised at the volume of applications they’ve received and the quality that has come through the door.”

“The bottom line is that someone who puts the best processes in place to hire the best people is the one who will be ahead of the pack,” said Unicru’s Mertz. “If all these service centers have these paper files from all these different applicants, and they try to pick the best people out of the bunch— that’s going to take forever.”

For information on Unicru’s products, visit http://www.unicru.com/industry/trucking.aspx.