How to Find a CDL Driver:
A step-by-step guide to hiring top-quality CDL drivers. Includes a full hiring process that will help you find, hire, and retain the best CDL drivers.
Attract the best CDL drivers.
Determine what sets your company apart from others.
Before you craft your job description, list all the reasons why a CDL driver would want to work for you. The long hauls and challenging conditions come with the territory, but there are things you can do to show your appreciation and make the lives of your drivers easier.
Some things CDL drivers value include:
- A fun and close-knit work environment, where drivers feel more like family than colleagues.
- Medical, dental, vision, and life insurance.
- A good retirement plan.
- Paid holiday and sick leave.
- Respect and appreciation for the work they do.
- No forced dispatches.
- Good work-life balance.
- Flexible schedules.
- Opportunities to become owner-operators.
Anyone can craft a job description where they paint themselves as a company that values the work CDL drivers do, but actions ultimately speak louder than words. Show your support for employees by, for example, going all out for National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.
Think about the type of candidates you're targeting and what may be important to them. For example, if you're targeting women CDL drivers or veterans, what kind of perks would be important to these candidates?
Create an appealing CDL driver job post.
An attractive job post needs to clearly define the responsibilities of the role, and advertise any benefits that the successful candidate will receive. To find a good CDL driver, you should also make it clear which certifications, skills, and experience the ideal candidate should have.
If there are unfavorable aspects of the job, for example, working on weekends and over the holidays, be transparent about this. You increase your chances of hiring the ideal CDL driver when you're honest about working conditions and responsibilities.
Clearly outline the duties, requirements, limitations, and benefits of the role.
Be sure to mention the type of CDL driver you require. In other words, specify whether they should have a Class A, Class B, or Class C license. If possible, go a step further and mention the type of vehicle(s) they will be expected to drive.
If there are any CDL endorsements (special permissions) candidates require to transport passengers, goods, or materials, be sure to list them.
Use a CDL driver job description template.
A CDL driver job description template will provide much of the boilerplate information you'll need, such as responsibilities and certifications, making your task a bit easier.
Advertise the position.
Post your job to general sites, such as Indeed.
Start by posting to general job posting sites such as Indeed. These are great places to start because they get plenty of traffic and they're free.
Make sure your job is picked up by Google.
Google for Jobs allows your posting to be seen in search results. This can greatly increase your job visibility. You can get it picked up by Google by having someone properly format it on your website, or by using a service (such as Betterteam) that creates a properly formatted jobs page for you automatically.
Target job boards dedicated to CDL drivers and truckers.
This will narrow your search to CDL drivers who have the necessary experience, certifications, and endorsements to fill the vacancy at your company. Use a trucking job posting site to advertise available positions.
Ask employees for referrals.
A great way to find and hire a suitable CDL driver is to ask current employees for referrals. Create an employee referral program to motivate employees to participate in the recruiting process. Essentially, the program offers rewards for any referrals leading to hires.
Make sure it is clear to your employees that the CDL drivers they refer should have the right skills, qualifications, work ethic, and attitude.
Share new job openings on social media.
Don't simply post new job openings on social media platforms when searching for CDL drivers. To attract the best talent, your posts should be engaging, informative, and professional. Maintain an active presence on social media and respond to any questions, comments, or queries in a timely manner.
Post multiple times every day.
Ensure that 65% of your posts are original and that 35% of your content comes from other sources.
Use images and videos to highlight your company culture, and to showcase aspects of the job CDL drivers would be interested in.
Engage as often as possible with your audience by liking and sharing posts.
Ask your current employees to like and share your posts.
For a more active approach, use Facebook and LinkedIn to research and recruit experienced CDL drivers working elsewhere, or to target new talent.
Start a blog or a vlog about trucking.
Starting a blog or a vlog is a fantastic way to create networks in the trucking industry. Whether you're sharing your adventures or giving your audience tips on how to keep healthy on the road, blogging and vlogging are great ways to become a trusted name in trucking.
When the time comes to hire CDL drivers, you'll have a network of them right at your fingertips.
Use your blog to share your compassion, respect, and appreciation for CDL drivers and the sacrifices they make each time they hit the long road.
Drivers can get to know your organization's values and culture through your blogs and vlogs, so be sure to highlight these aspects.
Use your blogs and vlogs to help build an online reputation as a name drivers respect and trust.
Vet your candidates.
Screen your applicants.
Even if you bold the requirements for the job in your posting, people often overlook those and apply anyway. Find the qualified ones by sending out a short email that asks a few basic questions, such as:
- How long have you worked as a CDL driver?
- Do you have any infractions on your MVR?
- Do you have experience driving flatbed trucks?
- Are you available to work evenings and over holiday periods?
This way, they cannot ignore your questions. If you're worried that your applicants may not be responsive to an email, you may want to try delegating someone to make short phone calls to ask these questions.
Conduct a phone interview.
In-person interviews take up a lot of time for everyone involved. You can schedule short phone interviews and quickly learn which candidates are the best to continue learning about.
During these interviews, check that their expectations for salary and benefits line up with yours, and find out why they no longer are at their previous job.
- Why did you leave your last CDL driver job?
- What do you expect for salary and benefits?
- What days are you available to work?
- When would you be able to start?
- Have you ever had a DUI?
- Can you pass a drug test?
- What made you interested in this job?
What you're looking for, mainly, are things that would disqualify the candidate. If they left their previous job because of issues that you know will be present at the position you're offering, for example, having to work weekends, the candidate won't be a good fit.
The same applies if they want a salary that's outside your range, or they cannot work during your business hours.
For candidates that meet your standards at this point, be sure to review the highlights of taking the job, and see if there are any other questions they have. Remember to keep selling the job, as they may be entertaining other offers.
Pay attention to why they're interested in the job, and reiterate the particulars they're most attracted to.
Keep a copy of the answers to the screening questions at hand when conducting the interview. If the candidate gives entirely different responses, this should be seen as a red flag.
Do a drug test and get an MVR report.
You don't want to go through the whole hiring process only to find out the driver has a violation or drug test result that prohibits you from hiring them.
You'll also want to obtain an MVR report now, even if the driver says they have a clean record. While you can ask the driver to provide a report, you may risk turning them away by asking them to spend the money and time getting it. It's usually better to pay for one yourself.
In some states, you may need to extend a job offer before requiring a drug test. Check your local laws.
Do a DOT background check.
Depending on the type of vehicles CDL drivers will be using, you may be required to run a U.S. Department of Transport (DOT) background check. You can register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to complete the pre-employment screening program.
The DOT background check will cover the following:
- Motor vehicle records (MVR).
- Employment verification.
- FMCSA drug and alcohol history screening.
- Pre-employment drug tests.
- Physical exam.
To find out more about how to register, visit the FMCSA's website.
Conduct tests and interviews.
Schedule a road test.
Verifying that a driver has a CDL may not tell you the full story about their qualifications. You'll want to give them a road test that covers the basic skills they'll need for a day on the job, and in some cases, you'll be required to do this.
Check your local laws to be sure that your road test covers what it needs to, and make sure the test puts them through the real challenges a workday represents.
Conduct an in-person interview.
At this point, you've got most of what you need to know if a candidate will make a good CDL driver, but an in-person interview will give you insight as to how you'd work with the candidate, whether they are punctual, and how they present themselves.
More importantly, it's a chance to continue selling them the job. Introduce them to co-workers, show them around, review the reasons they want to take the job, and highlight the benefits you offer.
It is advisable to schedule the interview directly after the road test.
Encourage the candidate to ask their own questions and to voice any concerns about the job during the interview.
For inspiration, read through our list of CDL driver interview questions.
Hire your new CDL driver.
Make an offer.
Once you've found a CDL driver who meets your qualifications, you'll want to make them an offer fairly quickly to take them off the job market before another company finds them. This is often best done in an informal call first, followed by a letter or email that provides the job description, salary, and benefits information.
Use our job offer letter template to craft a compelling and professional letter.
Onboard your new CDL driver.
Onboarding is a key final step in the hiring process that is not to be overlooked. Make a good first impression and get the new hire up and running fast by having a detailed and organized onboarding process.
Be sure to assign driver trainers to each of your new CDL drivers. These trainers will help with a smooth transition and ensure that all drivers understand their goals and expectations.