Tough Times In Trucking: Getting Pre-Hired Is No Guarantee

by Brett Aquila

A bit of startling news today - one of our own authors, TruckerMike, who is currently in CDL training and was pre-hired by the trucking company of his choice, has been informed by the company that they have just put a hiring freeze on until April 1st. This is quite startling because not only had they pre-hired TruckerMike, but they had even given him his orientation date! Now they turn around and basically say, "Sorry, but you're out of luck for a while."

How Is The Economy Affecting The Trucking Industry?

This economy is quickly getting to the point of total devastation. Luckily, TruckerMike will indeed find work after he graduates from truck driver training. He didn't put all of his eggs in one basket. He has many other applications out there and is currently working on getting hired with a lot of different trucking companies. But for those of you getting ready to begin your truck driver training, this recent news does not bode well for your entry into the trucking industry.

I am under the impression that the economy will turn around either later this year or early next year. But for trucking companies to begin hiring drivers, including student drivers, the economy needs to be running strong. For a company to hire, invest, and grow, what they need is hope. They need to believe that good times are ahead and that if they spend the money on hiring and invest in their growth, they will indeed succeed shortly down the road. But if there is no real clues as to the timing of a recovery, companies go into "wait and see" mode.

Now many of us, myself especially, have been following TruckerMike's journey very closely. And for all of us, this has been troubling news. But we're not going to get outraged, we're not going to plot revenge on the company, and we're not going to waste our time with the "life's not fair" thing. We already know life isn't fair. That doesn't matter.

What does matter is now is two things:

  • How TruckerMike handles this first real setback
  • What this means for those considering entering the trucking industry soon

Lookin Out For TruckerMike

First, let's get the concern for TruckerMike in perspective. From getting to know Mike like I have recently, I know enough about him to know that there is nothing to be concerned about. He's intelligent, diligent, and insightful. He was surprised and concerned by the news, but as I expected, he never showed one sign of retreat. He will continue to put out applications, he will continue his schooling, he will get his CDL , and he will find work with a good company. Of this I have no doubt.

But Mike is human and I can assure you that like all of us, he benefits from kind words of encouragement. So take the time to go to one of TruckerMike's Blogs and leave a comment or an email (his email address is at the top of every one of his blogs) and let him know you're behind him. We've become a community here at TruckingTruth and we need to help each other out when we can. If you happen to be new to our site, please understand that this means you, too! We're growing fast and we hope you'll come along for the ride! And if you decide to get into truck driving, you can be sure we'll do whatever we can to help you out too!

Is Now A Good Time To Become A Truck Driver?

Up until now, my answer to this question has been a resounding "yes!" But for now, I would say "it depends on who you are". For many people, the situation is desperate. They have families, they've lost their job, and now they're going to lose everything if they don't act quickly. For those people, my answer is a resounding "yes!" You should not hesitate to get into truck driving if you feel it's a good option for you - especially right now when there are very few good options available.

There are a lot of companies that offer CDL training for free, or at least very little money up front. There are also a large number of truck driving schools that will help you with financial aid, government grants, and trucking company sponsorship to handle the financial burden of becoming a truck driver. Continue exploring TruckingTruth. Do the research, consider your options, and go for it. Again, there aren't too many other good options.

For those of you who are considering becoming a truck driver but your situation is secure right now, I would say maybe hold off for at least a few months. By spring '09 things may begin to pick up a bit and companies may see a glimmer of hope. If so, they'll start hiring again like crazy and you should pile in right away! Take the extra time to research the industry. Here's some good places to start:

So I hope you guys will head over to TruckerMike's blog and shoot him some encouragement. I also hope you'll continue to do your research and follow the trucking industry and the economy closely. Things change quickly, especially in the trucking industry, so you have to stay on your toes. If you're considering becoming a truck driver, know your options, know what you're faced with, and make the decision that's right for you in your situation.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. You can find my email address at the top of this page. Best of luck to ya!


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.


What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


Operating While Intoxicated


When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

by Brett Aquila

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TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

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