Is a Staffing Agency a Good Place to Get a Trucking Job?
It depends. In mid-June 2015, Mike Simons connected with a staffing agency as a result of a free job posting online.
During his trucking career, he has worked with at least two staffing agencies that operate very differently from each other. We'll explore some details on this page.
Free vs. Paid Job Bank Access
One placement service through which Mike attempted to get work (twice) had a business model of charging drivers a flat fee just to look at the jobs in their files.
Mike's memory of this is a bit vague, but he seems to recall paying about $80 just to see the jobs. Once that money is paid, there was no refund if none of the jobs were suitable.
The types of jobs in the job bank were -- in our opinion -- low quality jobs that
- had no paid job advertisement (in a paper or on Craigslist);
- had no free job posting anywhere online; and
- no one else wanted!
That's possibly why the firm wanted drivers (and other workers) to pay them first, because the employers may not!
On the other hand, as of early October 2015 and as a result of working for a great staffing agency, Mike has worked with numerous trucking companies. Some of the jobs that he has worked on have been listed openly on Craigslist.
The following lists of pros and cons are meant to be general but are based on Mike's experience with this placement service...
Pros of the Work
- If you don't like one trucking company -- or things just don't work out -- you can easily be placed somewhere else.
- You can develop a relationship with a placement specialist who knows what work you do and don't like.
- You have the opportunity to go from being a "temp driver" or "temp trucker" to being permanently hired by a trucking company.
- The placement specialist (who may go by the title "Operations Supervisor" or some other title) wants to make both the drivers and the trucking companies happy. There is a mutual need for each other.
- Temp drivers may be surprised to learn that employee benefits may be available to drivers who qualify. Check qualifications.
- Jobs through staffing agencies may be a good transition from OTR trucking jobs to local truck driving jobs.
- You may have the opportunity to learn new skills. (Mike has learned how to load curtain-side trailers, operate a lift gate and operate an electric trailer jack since starting to work there.)
- Experienced temp truckers are often greatly appreciated by the trucking companies who need them.
- Truckers can observe and report to their staffing firm a first-hand account of working conditions at the trucking companies. "Insider information" about what is "really" going on may be greatly appreciated by the agency who may not have been told everything by the companies.
- You have the opportunity to meet more people than you would have at just one trucking company.
Cons of the Work
- You may experience lack of consistency in miles, hours and days of work because temps get called whenever there is a need. Needs for temp drivers can change daily (or more often).
- You must be able to "flex" continually on work assignments. On the five days Monday through Friday, a staffing agency-placed trucker can literally work -- depending on circumstances -- at 5 different places.
- Because you can drive for numerous trucking companies, there may be no consistency in trucks driven or trailers hauled. You can't get to "know your truck" or "know your rig" to the degree you can in an OTR job.
- If the trucking company for which you work has no full-time recruiter, there's a possibility that it won't have a maintenance supervisor either -- and that the equipment you'll be driving won't be well maintained. Be on your guard.
- Each new trucking company for which you work has its own policies and procedures -- and you must abide by the right one at all times.
- Potentially, there is short notice on going to work. If you think that you won't go into work the next day, be prepared for that to change.
- Trucking companies that rely on a staffing agency to get them drivers may not advertise their jobs accurately. Be prepared for "bait and switch" tactics (or perhaps a lack of detail) regarding requirements of a job (about which the staffing firm may know nothing).
- As a "temp driver", you may feel as though you don't "belong" anywhere. If feeling like a "team player" or "team member" is important to you, then being a temp driver may not be for you.
Some Detail and Conclusion
Regarding point #4 under "cons", you always need to do thorough pre-trip inspections and point out the need for maintenance, especially at trucking companies that have no full-time maintenance supervisor. If there is a safety issue, do not drive the truck, no matter how "hot" the load is. No load is worth your life!
Regarding point #7 under "cons", be aware that a trucking company-placed ad -- the job of which is filled by a staffing firm -- may imply that the work at that company is a "day job" when it could be that the "training" is done during the day but the full-time job is a "night job" until someone on "day shift" leaves the company. If a particular shift matters to you, make sure that you make that clear.
Be aware that trucking companies that need staffing agency help to "fill seats" may have high turnover. If that is the case, then look deeper for other issues like lack of respect for drivers, poor equipment maintenance, etc. This isn't the placement service's fault.
No matter which trucking company Mike is assigned to work for, as long as he is an employee of the staffing agency, he takes employment issues back to the agency.
Overall, Mike has enjoyed working with the staffing agency and says that truckers who are willing to flex should consider it as an option when looking for local and even regional truck driving jobs.
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