Unless you’ve been living under a rock, at some point this year you’ve probably heard about the massive bus driver shortage going on in various parts of the country. While it seems to be a shortage of everything as of late, the driver shortage is unique in its own regard.
Why? Because it could have been avoided
Bad cultural practices, low morale, and an outdated employee model had been brewing internally within bus transportation over the last decade. It’s been waiting for a boiling point, and when the pandemic hit, that was all the industry needed to spill over.
I have multiple articles that talk about things like culture and how they have negatively impacted things, and I would love for you to check them out here on Linkedin, but that’s not what I came to talk about today.
Today I came to talk about one of the biggest mistakes recruiters and talent acquisition agents make when recruiting bus drivers.
Deploying Outdated Advertising Practices
Boom there you go.
As someone who specializes in bus operator recruitment, when I work with clients one of the immediate things I look for is where exactly are they spreading their message. The internet is a huge place, and there are so many websites to let people know you’d like to pay them money to drive stuff for you.
However, the transportation industry has historically underutilized conventional advertising, social reach, and video messaging to hire drivers. In my experience, most transportation companies post-hiring messages in about 5 places, all of which present their own unique challenges that I will list below.
How we advertise vs the status quo
Everyone’s favorite hiring platform. At Supir we love indeed, it’s a great tool, however, it’s a very crowded space, and most times unless you pay a massive amount of money to sponsor posts, or lie about salary (which is extremely common in our industry) your hiring ad will be lost in the shuffle.
Craigslist is the proverbial “OG” on this list. While it still possesses the ability to reach people looking for jobs, it’s spammy, full of bots, and full of recruiters who populate the feed with multiple advertisements saying the same thing.
Zip Recruiter & Monster Jobs
In my experience, these platforms have been the least effective in recruiting drivers. Not that the platforms are bad, my data shows that when it comes to hiring sites, Indeed appears to be the primary choice for drivers while Monster and ZipRecruiter comes secondary.
There’s this old marketing technique I learned a few years ago called “meet your customer where they are at”
For the rest of this article, we’ll tie the word customer with bus driver, got it? Now, let me ask you, how many active bus drivers do you know on LinkedIn?
Seriously think about it.
Here is another question, if you are a transportation business, or talent acquisition department, how many bus drivers do you have in your network?
Not many, right? I love Linkedin, but bus drivers aren’t on it. They’re in Facebook Groups.
Can you see where I’m going with this?
Government jobs is a great site to fill out a job application, manage offers and stay up to date on openings, however, it’s the last stop in the funnel, not the first. Government jobs is where you go to apply for the gig, not where you typically discover it.
Now, am I saying that you can’t randomly browse and come across an opportunity? Absolutely not, what I am saying is that when drivers go to government jobs, they typically go to find opportunities that can get them off of the bus.
One big thing that all of the sites above have in common is that they are designed to target a specific group of people….
Active Job Seekers
Now while that may seem ok on the surface, it’s flawed because most bus drivers already have a job. They typically only look for other opportunities when they’re unhappy (most of the time) or unemployed(not most of the time). I say that to say, the reach is small.
The transportation industry needs to grow drivers, that’s the true answer to solving the shortage.
(We can help with that, and yes that was a cheap plug)
But for the time being, your company needs a way to convince drivers to want to work for them now, and in 2021 do you know the easiest way to do that?
Social influence and incentive
Both of which bus transportation lacks.
Now before we continue, a signing bonus a year after signing isn’t an incentive. Let’s get that out of the way. This needed to evolve yesterday.
Around 2015, we started seeing the rise of influencers, push notifications, freebies, and trials to sell products, classes, or services. In 2022 that is still the model.
Social selling combined with free offers, constant messaging, and incentives is thee only way to land “customers” in 2022.
People need to connect, they need to feel included, they need to feel like they are getting a deal, they need an immediate benefit that matters to them.
Simply put, drivers need to know WIIFM (what’s in it for me)
I know you as the business owner may think it’s great that this is a “family-owned business” but respectfully that isn’t my family. That’s doesn’t benefit me.
Great company culture? Everyone says that, are you making Youtube videos to show me that? How are your ratings on Indeed? What are the employees saying? No benefit–
Signing bonus a year out? That doesn’t benefit me.
Health insurance and benefits? Not hard to find, that doesn’t benefit me.
$21 an hour? Industry-standard is $20-ish anyway, not hard to find. That doesn’t benefit me
Do you see where I’m going with this?
In order to get more drivers, you need to reach the drivers where they are, so you can influence and incentivize them with things that THEY care about.
Under this link is a short video ad we posted in order to get driver leads on Youtube and Tik Toc. It has an incentive, pain point, target audience, location, and call to action.
Placement: Youtube Tik Toc FB IG
Target: Young drivers who have bad seniority and get bad shifts because of it. Why? Younger drivers will have the pain points mentioned later.
- Sundays off
Why is this important? Because Baltimore is a big football town, Ravens games are a big deal here. It’s a part of our cities culture. Who doesn’t want to watch Lamar on Sundays with their friends and family while eating crabs and drinking natty boh?
Why is this important? Because at other transit agencies you will start at the bottom and stay there for a while. Here you can be the #1 guy at the age of 22. More flexibility, more choice.
- No swings
Why is this important?
The most important thing to drivers is time. Especially younger ones. You’re dealing with a generation that will not watch a video because it has ads they can’t skip and your plan is to give these folk a 5-hour unpaid break?
- Apply today, start next week
Why is this important? Again..we live in the era of instant gratification and quick responses. The big transit folks will take months to respond to you, some smaller companies take weeks. We get you started in less than a week’s time.
Location and other demographics: Baltimore: Bus depot’s of competitors, Men, and Women aged between 22-32
Why is this important? You cant have blanket ads. You have to know whom you are talking to and where they are located. The way we crafted this campaign would have not worked on someone 45+, nor would it have worked if we targeted Mcdonald’s employees. We needed to specifically target and talk to younger adults who had some sort of relationship or history with bus transportation.
- Call To Action: (Landing Page+ Short job application via simple type form, super quick screening via Calendly booking. Same-day answer in response to your application. This is the social influence part )
Why is this important? As mentioned earlier, this ad was built for younger people. They have come to expect things to be a certain way. Easy applications, around-the-clock support, and quick turnarounds.
The goal of all of this was to leverage our competitive advantages that drivers actually care about.
I knew coming into this campaign that most drivers had a job. It was my job to sell them on why mine was better. It’s that simple. The reality of advertising is that most people “don’t need” what you’re selling.
Most people don’t need cable, most people don’t need the iPhone 13. But the companies behind these campaigns do a damn good job of convincing you why you do.
As talent acquisition or recruiters, it’s our jobs to reach candidates and sell them on why they should join our team by way of incentive and benefit to them. In 2022 the game has changed significantly, and you need to be more human, more accessible, and more relatable The days of the“Come Join Our Winning Team” are long gone. You have to work much harder now to earn people’s attention and time.
You have a few seconds to genuinely get a candidate’s interest, tell them why they should choose you, and close the deal!
It is very possible to still get drivers in today’s market, you just have to know how to find, target, and talk to your demographic. The blueprints above!