You’ve completed your training and now your looking for your first OTR truck driving job. Most trucking companies require 1 – 3 years of verifiable driving experience. You need the experience to get the job that you want but you need the job to get experience. It’s a catch-22 that every driver faces and it’s kind of frustrating.
Reputable companies require experience for several reasons.
- First is safety. We want to see a track record of safety. Safety and compliance are the main drivers of all our operations.
- Service. It takes about a year for drivers to really understand the job and manage trips and the challenges properly. Carriers need drivers that can get the job done on time, and safely, without needing to constantly look over a driver’s shoulder. Trip planning is crucial, and it takes experience to get it right.
How to Get Hired Without Trucking Experience
Use Resources from Your Trucking School
Truck driver training schools have relationships with local companies that will hire drivers fresh out of school. These trucking companies usually have a short on-the-job training program that eases new drivers into the job. When choosing a training school, you should ask how they help drivers into the industry after you’ve completed your training.
Look for something other than OTR to gain experience
Seat time doing local work is valuable even if it is not a tractor-trailer. Local straight truck jobs are more likely to hire a driver with little to no experience. You’ll learn a lot about what it takes to be a professional driver. It is verifiable driving experience which is much better than no experience.
Trucking is a huge industry but a small world. Using any connections you have in your network of people can help you land a job with a good company – even if you have a little bit of experience.
Apply at Several Companies
You can expect lots of rejection when you have little to no driving experience. Apply with many companies and have a positive attitude. They may say they can’t hire you now but if you leave them with a good impression they may hire you once you have some experience, even if it’s less than they are looking for.
Don’t Job Hop
It’s common for drivers to hop from job to job quickly, often with many employers each year. It’s important to show stable employment history. Your value goes up considerably when an employer feels you can form long term professional relationships.
A great driver has a great attitude and hiring managers know it. You will show your value with a good attitude and the ability to learn. An employer might give you a shot, even with less experience, if they like your attitude.
Your first job in trucking might not be the job you want. Don’t waste that time. Learn as much as you can and make the most of the experience. It may take a year or so to land the job you want but it’ll be worth it. Trucking offers a lot of opportunities and it’s as good as you make it.