Yesterday’s Advice on Candidate Experience Won’t Fix Today’s High-Volume Hiring Challenges

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Sep 9, 2021
This article is part of a series called ERE Digital: Fall 2021.

If traditional recommendations about improving candidate experience worked to address current talent shortages, then you wouldn’t be reading this article right now. It will take a better strategy to achieve high-volume staffing objectives — one that challenges conventional approaches to redefine the very meaning of candidate experience for hourly workers. 

At ERE Digital, Sept. 23-24, Shea Enright, director of driver recruiting at trucking giant US Xpress (and Variant), will deliver a presentation titled “Overcoming Today’s High-Volume Hiring Challenges Depends on Overcoming Yesterday’s Advice on Candidate Experience.” She will provide insights on how to:

  • Hire more workers faster and better through more efficient process adjustments
  • Reject conventional advice about candidate experience to actually improve it
  • Leverage technology more effectively to meet high-volume hiring goals

ERE recently spoke with Shea about her upcoming session.

ERE: So much of the advice about providing a great candidate experience entails taking a high-touch approach. But you feel that that can be counterproductive in much of high-volume hiring. Why?

Shea: Because that’s not really what candidates desire. Obviously, a lot depends on the industry and the job, but truck drivers, the people we’re recruiting, aren’t looking for some high-touch approach with a lot of human interaction. They want the hiring process to be easy and efficient. For us, we’ve been able to accomplish that through automation.

And yet some still tend to view automation as the antithesis to creating positive candidate experiences. 

Automation has been beneficial for us in high-volume hiring, and especially these days, speed is everything. We prioritize speed to hire in our hiring process. In doing so, we mapped out our entire hiring process and really looked at every step to see where we could start automating.

This ended up actually improving the candidate experience, because if you think about the traditional model, recruiting happens during daytime hours. But that doesn’t always work for drivers. They are on the road a lot, often coming off late at night at a truck stop. That’s the main time they may be looking for new jobs, but they are also tired and maybe frustrated in their current jobs. At that point, they don’t want to talk to a person. They’d rather just get immediate answers through a chatbot on their phone 24/7. That’s a better experience for them, and makes it easier for us to hire faster.

What do you say to critics who might argue that a focus on speed risks compromising quality of hire?

I’d challenge that. We’ve found that experienced drivers want the process to be just as fast as we do. They don’t have the time or patience for all the fluff and B.S. that might be part of the hiring process otherwise. When they get to the part of the process that involves talking to a recruiter, many of them already know what we have to offer and understand a lot about the job through earlier stages in the process. All that information and interaction was already automated.

Plus, through our capture of candidates and interaction with them online, they can get scheduled and fill out applications quickly with chatbots, which also help to nudge them along with reminders when needed. Again, drivers don’t want to talk on the phone like candidates in other fields might. They just want to get in and out of the process quickly and easily.

You mentioned B.S. and fluff a moment ago. What did you mean by that?

Drivers historically have had a sense that recruiters lie to them.

Drivers and everyone else!

Right, and it’s unfortunate. It’s unfortunate that people have experiences with recruiters who make promises that their companies can’t deliver on and then believe that recruiters are full of it. That happens to drivers a lot in terms of the logistics around their work, like expectations for hours on the road, days away from home, etc. With our recruiters, we never want to promise something we can’t deliver on. We are upfront and realistic about what we have to offer. For instance, at Variant, we promise drivers that they’ll be home on time — and 95% of the time, they are. 

Switching gears a bit — no pun intended, but hey, there it is! — what’s it been like for you managing today’s tough hiring climate?

Initially when Covid hit, the industry lost about 90,000 drivers due to furloughs and layoffs. Things did pick up a bit afterward as home deliveries and some stores opening back up created a greater need for drivers. But then things dipped again when stimulus checks started happening. 

Right now, the industry is still well below pre-Covid levels of available drivers. So when hiring, you have to be fast. These drivers are in demand. Plus, the current age of drivers who hold a CDL (commercial driver’s license) is 46.5 years old; meanwhile, 8% of CDL drivers have already passed retirement age. They could potentially retire tomorrow, while 23% will reach retirement age within the next 10 years. Plus, due to Covid limitations on CDL class sizes, there have been far fewer new drivers entering the field. So the looming challenges can be scary in terms of hiring enough people — which makes it all the more important to have hiring processes that are as efficient as possible.

Want to hear more from Shea? Experience her presentation, “Overcoming Today’s High-Volume Hiring Challenges Depends on Overcoming Yesterday’s Advice on Candidate Experience,” live at ERE Digital, Sept. 23-24. Use code EREEMAIL50 to receive 50% off registration at 

This article is part of a series called ERE Digital: Fall 2021.
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