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Setting Job Expectation to Find the Drivers You Need

Written by: Rick Acosta

I’ve discovered a conflict after speaking to several smaller trucking companies. This conflict arises when there's a disconnect between what the carrier expects of the driver and vice versa.

I want to address some of those common expectations, and advise companies on what they can do; not only to attract the drivers they want, but also communicate their expectations to attract the drivers they need. After all, companies want drivers to stick around, and good drivers want good companies to stick around with.

Pay expectations

Why do some drivers experience a disparity between the money they earn and the money they expected to earn?

It’s easy for disappointed drivers to point a finger at the company they work for and shout dishonesty or fraud, but the truth is often more nuanced.

Disclaimer: For the purpose of this post, I’ll ignore jobs that are clearly fraudulent or dishonest - that sort of conduct is indefensible. Furthermore, some of the arguments below may apply more towards smaller to mid sized trucking companies as opposed to mega carriers.

The company’s perspective

Let’s say you’re a company that hires from all over the country. You arrange transport for drivers, and depending on their location within their country, you adjust where they run and how long they run for.

Since your single job is so flexible, you advertise it as such as well. You tell drivers that they can be home on the weekends, and they can earn up to $1,800 per week. You’re not wrong, but what’s the fine print?

Naturally, in situations like this, companies expect drivers to run a lot and take the initiative to be efficient on their own if they want to make more money. Sometimes that means running more - being out for two or three weeks instead of one. Sometimes that means spending less time with the ”left door open” at truck stops.

From the company’s perspective, the driver has the opportunity to run more for the money, and if they don’t they are responsible for lowering their own paycheck.

Companies such as this are rarely sympathetic towards any driver that complains about low pay while running little or insisting on significant home time.

What companies that have jobs like the ones described above need is to make sure their drivers have an understanding of how revenue is generated. They need drivers that are willing to be productive and give their all to the job. They want their drivers to be part of the team, and to think in terms of benefiting the company as a whole rather than just being an ‘employee’.

The driver’s perspective

Every driver has a different background and different expectations for the job. Not all drivers are correct in their expectations, but many are frustrated at the industry in general - that’s a fact.

The source of their frustration isn’t always valid, but it’s usually caused by a disparity between what they are “promised” versus what they actually receive.

Naturally, given the fact that any halfway decent driver has a lot of bargaining power in the trucking industry, they’re quick to jump ship as soon as something isn't quite right. Recruiters are always on the prowl for unsatisfied drivers that want something better.

However, this tends to happen time and again, and create a vicious cycle. The driver gets a better offer and is convinced that this new company is where he/she’ll finally prosper. The driver hops from job to job until, in the worst case, they find themselves unemployable due to switching jobs too often.

Also, drivers often feel that the expectations set on them are unrealistic and feel disheartened by the promises in the industry, believing the higher performance standards to be unachievable.

Some beg to differ - especially companies run or operated by former OTR drivers who managed to make good money.

Bottom line is: Drivers want to read a job description and consistently get what they want. Some work harder than others, and some still want a work-life balance while raking in the big bucks. The key here is understanding expectations and understanding the realities of the industry.

What about sign on bonuses?

The driver, when they see a significant sign on bonus, expects it to be paid in full and gets frustrated or disappointed when that money is not given to them directly in the form of a lump sum.

From a carrier’s perspective, doling out the sign on bonus directly encourages the driver to collect & run. Since many drivers see the company as a stop before their next job, opportunistic drivers may take advantage of a sign on bonus before proving their worth to the company. As a consequence, many carriers have choose to forego offering a sign on bonus altogether.

Sign on bonuses are tricky things, and carry a lot of negative baggage in this industry. However, I have a fun suggestion for you:

Rename your sign on bonus to a 'Stay on' bonus instead!

If you don't have a sign on bonus, consider rewarding drivers with periodic bonuses to show them you value their time and commitment. Many companies already do just this, but have a hard time getting drivers to understand what they mean.

Companies that disguise their 'stay on' bonuses as 'sign on' bonuses aren't doing themselves any favors, so why not come clean and call a spade a spade?

Finding a middle ground

Fixing these tensions and avoiding expectations comes down to communication.

As a company, you need to create job descriptions that reflect what you're looking for in the ideal driver.

  • Make sure you advertise your job accurately in the right areas to ensure you attract the kind of driver you're looking for.
  • Do you prefer your drivers to stay out for a while? Find a solid middle ground but make it clear that in certain circumstances you allow for shorter days out and more home time.
  • Let the driver know what their earning potential depends on.
  • Be clear about your expectations from the first interaction - this goes for drivers and companies.


As always, sorting out these conflicts comes down to honest, transparency, and communication.

However, sometimes it comes down to a lack of organization on the part of the company. Even though it might seem easy to package your job into one description and send it out in the form of an ad all over the country, you might need to get more specific if you want better hiring results.

Creating separate ads for different types of drivers might seem like a daunting and time consuming task, but it can be made easier with tools such as YouCruit. By allowing you to easily set up job descriptions and designate your hiring areas, YouCruit allows you to set up multiple lanes in minutes. You'll target the right drivers with the right expectations, and save yourself a lot of headaches.

If you're interested in a free recruitment consultation, let us know at and we'll reach out to you. Happy hiring!

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