How A.I. Improves Hiring In Transportation And Logistics

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Is transportation and logistics hiring on the decline?

This is a complicated question. In the short-term, the answer may be yes. This is truck transportation employment in the United States over the past year or so:

The good news: From April 2018 until March 2019, roughly 35,000 new jobs were added to the trucking industry in the United States. And, broadly, hiring within the transportation and logistics sector rose by 7,300 in March after a 4,700-employee decline in February. Final piece of good news: trucking employment is still 1.9% higher than it was at this point in 2018, which outpaces the general economic growth of 1.7%.

PS: the trend lines for US and Canada trucking employment are similar overall.

Now for the bad news: there are concerns about hiring in the trucking/general transportation space, in part due to increasing automation. Here’s a common headline in the space right now: “Developers push robot trucks while claiming that drivers have a future.” So, there are admittedly future concerns about the state of driver hiring within trucking, transportation, freight, and logistics shipping. (We will save discussions about oceanic shipping for a different post.)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics captures employees currently on the payroll, however, so they’re not always the best indicator of drivers being hired, as drivers may be operating in a contractor set-up. In general, though, with automation getting closer to scale — remember Otto the self-driving truck’s 120-mile beer run? — and the industry adding capacity, the demand for drivers has cooled a little bit.

With overall industry growth, though, the demand for other back-of-house roles — coordinators, project managers, customer service, etc. — is increasing. And if carriers go to even a fraction of their fleet being automated, the need for these roles will continue to increase, as people on the other end (those receiving the goods being trucked/shipped) will want easy access to a human being with any questions about their loads.

Trucking and freight can be seen as a growth industry, then, just not in the ways we’ve conventionally thought about it as such. The growth might be more back-of-house in coming years. Being within the industry is still one of North America’s “No. 1 jobs.”

Hiring within transportation and logistics

Due to seasonal fluctuations in good shipments, oftentimes hiring in the trucking and freight area is high-volume. We actually just met a Missouri-based recruiter who had to fill 750 roles — drivers and customer service, primarily — in a matter of 3-4 weeks. That’s undoubtedly a high-volume situation.

Thankfully, we’ve been working with high-volume hiring for years now, including both innovative strategies for high-volume hiring and ideas to optimize high-volume recruitment. (We’re also a fan of LinkedIn’s tactical guide to high-volume hiring.) If you are trying to hire high-volume in freight, trucking, or transportation, here are some bullet points to consider right now:

  • Talent rediscovery: Even though companies tell candidates they’ll “keep their information on file,” and have the best intentions of doing so, it’s often very hard to search and find these prior resumes for new open positions. For high volume roles, 65% of resumes received on average are completely ignored. That means most recruitment departments are sitting on a goldmine of potential candidates in their ATS but without a way to quickly, easily, and accurately access their resumes for open reqs. This is where talent rediscovery comes in. Similar to how AI works for sourcing, AI for talent rediscovery can automatically find previous applicants in your ATS that are good matches for your current open positions. A recent survey of recruiters found that 69% of them report their hiring volume has increased this year but only 26% of them say the size of their recruitment teams has increased. You need a more strategic approach.
  • Screening: A manual approach means recruiters are spending 42% of their productive time during a week just screening and shortlisting candidates for interviews. That’s inefficient. Many companies have begun using AI for screening and standardized shortlisting, which reduces time spent on repetitive tasks and frees up recruiters for higher-value work.
  • Mobile: It has replaced desktop at the forefront of job search, so make sure your job application is mobile-friendly. Keep in mind that some who want to work in driver roles may not have access to a desktop computer in the first place.
  • Recruit where your ideal candidates are: For driving jobs, this is not LinkedIn, which is a great site but has never mastered blue-collar work. Look at niche job boards or…
  • Build a referral ecosystem: Tap your employee network by creating a short email for current employees to send to friends and contacts and encourage employees to share job postings on social channels. Ask for others with industry experience that could fill open roles.

Effective hiring in growth industries happens at the intersection of having the right processes and having the right technology tools at your disposal. That’s how to fill roles in the transportation, freight, and trucking world. What else have you seen?