Facing “Fierce Competition,” Schneider National Struggles to Fill Trucking Jobs

Schneider National, a trucking company with more than 20,000 people and revenues somewhere around $3 billion, just feels like a company that’s recruiting. It regularly sends out press releases announcing its hiring plans. It’s holding webinars to drum up interest in its positions. Its home page has a large photo of a man hugging his child, with the caption, “Drive for Schneider, be home 17 weeks per year.”

Seventeen weeks may not sound like a whole of time in one’s own bed, but Rob Reich, vice president, enterprise recruiting for Schneider, sure hopes it does. Some of his team’s efforts to find everyone from truck drivers to recruiting technicians have included:?

Advertising. TV-wise, Schneider’s focusing on demographics: who watches what. The television show Trick My Truck is a good target. Radio ads have delivered mixed results, depending on the part of the country. Newspapers are still used. Because of the growth in satellite radio, XM and Sirius are good places to find drivers working for other companies. There is, of course, the Internet. “We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the percent of people applying online,” Reich says. A year and a half ago, 45 percent applied online. Now, 70 percent do. Schneider has invested in search engine optimization, trying to improve its placement when people do Internet searches.

There are somewhere around a dozen niche sites for drivers, but those aren’t always goldmines for Schneider, which often pulls people from other fields into driving (and puts through them one of five training academies with an agreement that they’ll put in at least a year’s work at Schneider). The big boards often work better for finding those people who aren’t thinking about trucks. “For drivers, CareerBuilder has probably had slightly better results than Monster,” Reich says. “I’m not really sure why, to be honest with you.”

Webinars. Using WebEx, Schneider has held chats for candidates to hear more about what it’s like to truck-drive. A large portion of the events are devoted to answering people’s questions. Says Reich, “We don’t expect everybody to apply that comes to it. We’re usually getting several applicants and a few hires.” The webinars can draw about 40 people and result in two or three new employees.

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Public relations. The stream of Schneider press releases has been aimed not just at local media, but at local government agencies. “I think it’s fairly unique,” Reich says. “It works extremely well.” The company will send releases over wire services announcing that its hiring in a given area (often as a result of new business) and can score more than a half-dozen media interviews.

An AARP partnership. Schneider is one of AARP’s featured employers. It’s paying off. There was a dramatic increase in applications from candidates over 50 between the first quarter of 2005 and the first quarter of 2006. “It gets a ton of traffic to its website,” Reich says of the AARP, adding that AARP does a lot of public relations work to put the word out about its featured employers.

Local partnerships. “It’s corny, but we use the phrase Think Global, Act Local,” Reich says. This means big partnerships with AARP but also smaller ones with local divisions of La Raza as well as one-stop offices affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as working with schools affiliated with the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools.

Recruiting veterans. Schneider’s working with Army outplacement offices to let departing military men and women know of trucking jobs. This effort, Reich says, was more effective 10 years ago. That was partly because of a larger military, and partly because, “Today they’re back from combat. They’re saying, Hey, I don’t want to be away from home. But if people are struggling to find jobs, we have jobs for them.” The company’s going after Junior Military Officers, but “the competition is fierce for those guys.”?

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