Storytelling Your Way to Better Recruits

To get the next driver in the seat, most trucking companies rely primarily on some firmly entrenched tactics: 1) Advertise in various driver recruiting publications (print and web), 2) Attend truck shows and job fairs, and 3) Visit truck stops. These are time-tested ways to solicit new employees and independent contractors, but they can be costly and time consuming. These are also rather passive ways to get your message out, and passive doesn’t cut it in today’s environment.  Some larger trucking companies have the luxury of resources to promote and incent potential recruits using all of the above media outlets. This coupled with sign-on bonuses, streamlined onboarding and structured orientation, you would think the deck is stacked against the small and mid-sized carriers. I would argue the opposite is true. Most of these larger companies have been doing much of the same for decades – their tactics and strategies have stayed the same. Enter Social Media. The whole purpose of Social Media is to amplify a message, reach people you would never have reached via traditional media, and most importantly make a connection with the person on the other end. In short – a Network Effect.

Throughout this article, I would encourage you to keep the following in concept in mind. The best marketers and recruiters are effective Storytellers. Although this label may seem a bit fluffy to you, when each of us think of the most effective and charismatic leaders, without fail they are all great storytellers. You know, the ones that can convince us to do something we’ve never done before or consider a new way to think about an old problem. To reinforce the value of storytelling in recruiting and business, here is a great article by Peter Gruber on “The Four Truths of the Storyteller”.

Social media is now used for just about everything in life by many people.  It offers you a way to build both a relationship and trust with many prospects that would be otherwise hard to connect with.  Media agencies like Ideas That Evoke uses the following strategy – “Meet your audience on their platform of choice” – Forbes Nov 21, 2017.  This was originally how they handled B2B marketing, but with the large number of millennials using social media every day, it has now become the best way to meet your next associate.

Most companies have a favorite platform, and essentially ignore most others. This is a common error, and is typically the result of a perceived lack of resources. The Hightower Advertising Agency has listed (not ranked) the most important media sites for the trucking industry (see article here).  First is LinkedIn.  When it comes to recruiting, LinkedIn is hard to beat as it is made for job seekers and businesses to connect.  You can create a large professional network without having time or geographic restrictions.  Next is Facebook, because it is the most popular social network.  It’s ability to let you target very specific demographics allows you to have your message reach the right people.  Third is Twitter as it allows you to present your message to people outside of your own network of connections.  The sharing or re-tweeting of messages allows you to get a large reach with only 140 characters.  You do need to make sure that you are offering valued content that is relevant to your audience.  Finally, there is YouTube.  This platform allows potential recruits to connect visually with your people, places, equipment and culture. To see how other industries use these social media platforms for recruiting, see this article on L’Oréal here and how Deloite uses it in a tight Dutch labour market here.

You are probably looking at this list and are saying – so what? How are these going to help me put drivers in seats?  The Society for Human Resource Management recently found that 84% of organizations use some form of social media to recruit.  This is because passive job candidates (ones who are not actively seeking to change jobs) use social media as a way to become open to new opportunities (see this TCI Business Capital article for more information).  There is not a lot of trucking industry specific research, but these findings make a pretty strong case that they will work.

The new skills trucking companies need within their walls are content creation and marketing.  Most companies think nothing of loading up on more admin people and would never think about hiring a graphic designer or social media expert on a full time basis. These companies will eventually this has a strategic flaw. Content creation and marketing is not making a job posting – it’s telling the company story visually and audibly – with consistency and honesty.  With social media traditional “push” messages just are not effective.  The point is to build relationships and give people a reason to interact with you.  Let your people create! Let them tell their story. Let your people create! Give them a reason to come back to you – just throwing up a “we’re hiring” post will only attract the people currently looking for a job – your ideal candidate is not currently looking.  If you engage them and get them to interact with all your social media platforms as well as your website, you start to gain mindshare with them.  They may not be currently looking to leave their current job but if you show them why you are better and provide them with interesting content that they come back for more you will start to have them begin to question why they are not driving for you.  Now you have an engaged candidate who will give you a much higher candidate to new hire ratio!  Recruiterbox.com offers this short article on using social media to hire.

Regardless of which platform(s) you use, here are a few key points to keep in mind:

  1. Just like anything else, discipline is key. Make a structured publishing schedule – and stick to it!
  2. Make sure your people are trained on effective Social Media and Inbound Marketing. Udemy is a favorite with the inGauge team for learning new skills. There are currently 960 online courses on Social Media / Digital Marketing. Take one, take many! Get better!
  3. Find out what platforms your targets prefer and interact with them there. Sounds simple enough?
  4. Offer content that is valuable to your audience. Create items that not only bring people to your content but keep them coming back for more and participating in conversations with you.
  5. Do not just blast out job postings and nothing else. It may be a ‘check’ on a to-do list, but it won’t get you the people you need.
  6. Use the content to draw positive attention to your company. Monitor your media platforms for negative comments and engage those users (ignorance = acceptance).  Find out why they feel that way and offer an alternative point of view without trashing their point of view.  Ensure that responses are done in a timely fashion and aren’t just automated and canned responses.
  7. It’s all about mindshare – give drivers a reason to seek you out instead of the other way around. At the end of the day you will cut down on the tire kickers and retreads and get more applications from the kind of driver you want and who also wants to drive for you.
  8. Get scientific about lead capture and tracking. Ensure you have a mechanism to capture leads throughout your social media channels – targeted ads, and urls with ‘calls to action’. Further, once you capture those leads, you then need to nurture them over time (newsletters, micro quizzes, and follow requests are all great ways to keep you on their mind).
  9. Finally, like any other business strategy, you need to test and iterate. If something isn’t working, change it or stop doing it. Although this may sound like a ‘catchall’, it is the most important point listed here.

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