In the Driver’s Seat: How to Recruit Veterans

Apr 23, 2018

The demand for professional truck drivers has never been greater. Because of the aging driver population, changes in regulations and the rigors of the job, more drivers are choosing to leave the industry than ever before. And when you combine this reality with tougher entry requirements for new drivers, it’s the reason our nation is facing the greatest driver shortage in over 50 years.

So where do many schools turn to find hard working, highly disciplined, qualified candidates who want to enter the industry? Military veterans. Each month, thousands of men and women are transitioning out of the military and are looking to use the skills acquired during their time of service in a new job profession.

As a retired U.S. Army Colonel and a professional truck driver for Stevens Transport, I have been asked many times why I chose the transportation industry, and what are the best ways to recruit military veterans are. Based on my experience, here’s a list of what is most important to Veterans.

  1. Provide current program details on your website. Be sure to have an updated and easy to navigate website that provides details on your training program, and if it’s on base. Details should include where it is, when classes are held and how long the training program lasts, as well as graduation dates. Together, the information provided helps with pre-planning a new career.
  2. Veterans want careers, not just jobs. Recruiters should outline a variety of career opportunities within the transportation and trucking industry. Providing all the careers within the industry helps with long-term planning. For instance, if a truck driver wants to retire, they know that they can still be involved in the industry but in a different role. Whether it’s becoming a school owner or an instructor, a previous truck driver’s experience it lends to future students and the industry at large is valuable.
  3. Recruiters need to understand military benefits. For transitioning military veterans, the benefit program can be very complicated. Everything from the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), Local Veterans’ Employment Representatives (LVER) and many others, make taking advantage of these benefits a very daunting process. Having a recruiter that understands or specializes and well versed in knowing how each can apply to a student applicant and how to best help he or she navigate the submission process is helpful.
  4. Understand on-the-job training and apprenticeship benefits.  Active duty, transitional service members and Reserve units may all qualify for additional on-the-job training benefits and stipends. These benefits can cover training, housing and other necessities, which is can add up to an additional $20,000 in income for a transitioning Veteran in their first year working.
  5. Follow through on what you say you are going to do. Veterans are leaving an organization where orders are followed, and plans are executed correctly. Therefore, a recruiter that provides specific details such as a start date and training location are extremely important veterans.
  6. Let Veterans know you want and appreciate them. Veterans are in demand within the trucking industry. If you have Veterans on staff, make introductions to allow them to share their experiences. Allowing for personal interactions that highlight your company’s commitment to hiring Veterans, special programs and opportunities can make a difference.

In closing, there are many Do’s and Don’ts when recruiting transitioning military or veterans, but ultimately each person’s needs will be different. My closing advice is a good rule of thumb that all veterans know and that is to be forthright, transparent, and answer all questions as straightforward as possible.

Gregg Softy
Driver / 2017 Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award Winner
Stevens Transport