Over at Smart-Trucking.com, driving experts have compiled a set of tips for identifying the right trucking company for you—big or small, national or local—depending on what you're hoping to get out of your trucking career.
1. Consider the Benefits of Big Trucking Companies
On the plus side, big companies often provide free CDL training and can offer you a job immediately afterward. This is helpful if you're interested in staying on with the company long-term. You also have a chance to gain time and experience on well-maintained equipment.
On the other hand, their wages are often low and because they have so many drivers available to them and their loyalty is to the schedule, not to you, no matter what hours you've been promised.
2. Consider the Benefits of Medium Trucking Companies
These companies are more likely to know your name, know your skills as a driver, and be aware of the results you produce on the job. The owner may be more accessible to you than a big company's CEO would be—they're paying your salary and see you as a human asset, not just a body in a vehicle.
The company's pay scale may be more competitive as well, and unlike a smaller company, they can afford to give you time off when you want it because they have sufficient coverage to replace you.
3. Don't Rule Out Small Trucking Companies
You might be a big rig in a small pond for this company, but that also means they're going to run you hard because they depend on you. Keep an eye out for under-maintained vehicles or unreasonable expectations that you'll be carrying the burden of repairs.
4. Consider Freight Lanes
When you're deciding where to focus your job search, knowing what parts of the country the company ships to should be an important part of your decision-making. It doesn't matter how good the rate is if the destination at either end is someplace you hate going or way out of your way when it's time to go home. Find out where they go, and how often, before you submit your resume.
5. Don't Forget About Company Attributes
Whenever possible, get to know currently employed drivers for the companies you're zeroing in on. A recruiter is hired to convince you to sign on with a company—get the straight dope from a current employee if you want to know what's up. Do their companies focus on produce hauling, flat bed work, dry freight, etc? How many weeks on do they work for every week off? Do they get weekends? Do they treat drivers like equals, even business partners, or do they seem to think you're a mannequin who knows how to work a gear shift?
Even if you're thinking "I'll be off on the road, it won't matter," you should know that eventually it will wear you down not to be treated like you're valued and appreciated.
6. Avoid Job Hopping
Do as much research as you can now, before you're hired, so that once you've started working you can stay put for at least a year at a time. You don't want to accumulate a job history that makes you seem flighty or unreliable. Hiring records are digitized now and they will follow you.
Most importantly, know that only you can determine what works for you and your family. Do your best to understand your own expectations, and to seek out a company that can meet them.
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