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Conventional Wisdom can be Wrong—The Changing World of Getting a Good Driving Job.

Here in Oklahoma, in the 1980s, the conventional wisdom was that energy, specifically oil, prices could only go up. After Three Mile Island, new nuclear power was at a standstill. Developing nations, to say nothing of the industrialized world would need more oil. OPEC was a cartel who controlled much of the world supply, some of the countries weren’t too stable and they would not do anything to slay their golden goose. Meanwhile, not much of the world was left unexplored for new oil and there sure didn’t seem to be any new dinosaurs dying to make new oil. So what happened? For a good decade the price of oil tanked. Oil is still relatively cheaper than 30 years ago. There’s a lot of faded bumper stickers on cars around Oklahoma that say “Dear God: Please let there be another oil boom. I promise not to [whiz] it away this time.”

This is similar to the “driver shortage” conventional wisdom of a few years back. Trucking companies needed drivers and they needed them now. The “old breed” of drivers were retiring. Young, potential drivers had other, more attractive career opportunities. Increased regulations and standards (drug testing, CDL testing, etc.) would further limit the demographic pool. Motor carrier transport as opposed to other forms of transport kept growing. Also, commercial driving was one job you couldn’t out-source to China. As a professional driver with even a halfway reasonable record, driving jobs were easy to come by.

And what has happened? If you’re like most drivers, you’ve discovered that it is not as easy to get a job as it used to be. I spoke with Brian Thomforde, CEO of Truckdriver.com, one of DOTJobHistory’s partners, a while back and there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. Brian has been in the business since 1996, and said “Some companies are starting to look for drivers again, although nothing like in the past.”

But one of the problems for drivers in the job hunt is that the downturn sent many past employers out of business. And so when potential employers try to verify past employment, the company has gone out of business and the employment is tough to verify. In the past several months, I have had far more conversations with drivers in which they have obtained their MVR, criminal record database scan, SSN check and “DAC Report” through our service and the DAC report does not list even half their employment. Many of their other past employers have gone out of business. And at the same time, because most employers are not desperate for drivers, they can afford to be more selective than they have in past times.

So what is the driver to do when faced with more selective companies (who will most certainly want to verify previous employment) when past employers are not around? The drivers who are getting jobs, at least the better jobs, are those who are those that make it easy on potential employers. Having an MVR, criminal record scan, correct DAC report has always been a good idea—a “secret weapon” for many drivers today is a verified report from the IRS that lists past employers of the past 5 years. In this way, regardless of whether the company has gone out of business, or reports to DAC, a potential driver employee can prove employment. (And speaking of the IRS, fees that you spend in your job search are tax deductible.)

The old conventional wisdom for getting a job is changing—but if you’re looking for a driving job, there are things you can do to stay a step ahead.

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