He’s Been Hired by Dozens of Trucking Companies
My buddy, “Skip” (not his real name), has worked for more trucking companies than you or I combined have ever worked for. Some time ago, however, Skip decided to reform his trucking job-hopping ways and get himself a fracking job. He combined his impressive collection of skills gained from working many different CDL jobs with the lucrative potential that oilfield jobs offer. As a result, Skip now has a great job which pays handsomely. I’m hoping this high-paying job stays somewhat permanent for Skip. Even if it doesn’t, however, Skip is even more marketable than he was a few years ago, having gained some experience in the oilfields.
Above: a job hopper gets ready to make his next move.
Most employers, and many other drivers, frown on “job hoppers”. But having the willingness and ability to bounce from driving job to driving job can allow a CDL holder (and anyone looking for a non-CDL fracking job) to seek out the highest-paying positions. Settling for a paycheck that is smaller than what your skills and experience can bring you not only negatively affects you, but your family as well. In addition, you aren’t helping the large community of drivers and other oilfield personnel who work long and hard to make a good living when you sell yourself short and thereby undercut what the market should bear. Supply and demand economics are at play in the oilfield, so take advantage of them. Don’t settle for a low-paying OTR job if you can make more money by taking your CDL into the oil and gas industry. Job hoppers like Skip get unfairly bashed, and by the way: Skip is one of the safest drivers I know. (Now, most of these sentiments don’t apply to someone who is a “newbie” driver and recently acquired a CDL. For newbies, taking on a lower-paying gig at the start of their careers is, quite often, necessary in order to gain experience. Find out more about your options as a newbie driver.)
Skip has worked at so many different transportation related companies that we created a spreadsheet giving the details of his work experience. We did this for two reasons: 1) Skip wanted it, kind of as a personal journal of sorts, and 2) because anyone reading this might get some insight into the trucking industry and, by extension, the oil and gas industry. Take a look at the list of Skip’s many gigs here.
What can we learn from Skip’s job-hopping ways? Quite a bit…
- Don’t be afraid to make a change if you aren’t earning what you’re worth. We already gave you the reasons for making a job change if you aren’t getting paid enough. If your current employer isn’t paying you what your peers in the oilfield are making, he’s stealing from you and your family. And that’s your fault, because you’re letting it happen. Shame on you.
- Don’t worry about DAC reports too much. There seems to be a great deal of worry amongst many professional drivers about what their DAC reports say about them. This is too bad, because in a lot of instances, that worry is all for nothing. For one thing, many smaller transportation and oilfield firms either don’t send driver information to the company that issues DAC reports, or don’t check them prior to making a job offer. Any current oilfield driver will tell you that if a company is hurting for drivers, they aren’t going to put too much stock into what a DAC report says. Why? Because while many oilfield jobs may require a CDL, driving will be a small percentage of what those jobs involve. Now, this isn’t to say that these same companies won’t check your driving record – they will. Companies can check your driving record without having to obtain a DAC report. But if you drive for a large trucking firm and you’re worried that leaving the firm in a hurry will “muck up” your DAC report, then line up an oilfield job before leaving your current driving gig for your own piece of mind. By the way, you can request a free copy of your DAC report, which is kept by a company called “HireRight” (formerly known as “USIS”). Learn more about HireRight and USIS here.
- You are in demand if you have a CDL and a clean record. Never forget this. No matter how bad the economy is doing, you’ll always find work somewhere if you have a CDL and (yes, this is key) a safe driving record. Take a look again at Skip’s job history. Many of the driving gigs he landed were not only paying a good wage, but Skip was brought on to work these gigs during some of the toughest years of the recent “Great Recession” in the U.S. Skip made money while millions of college-educated workers were laid off (and many of them have huge tuition debts). In fact, the only time it makes sense for a CDL holder to work for a lower wage than he or she normally would is when the economy is slow. But, at least, he or she will be working. When the economy picks up, like it is doing in the oilfields, it’s time to leave lower-paying driving jobs for higher-paying ones.
- Skip got hired, no matter how many other jobs he held. Skip is pretty good at dealing with job interviews, to be sure. However, how did a guy with so many jobs in his past manage to continually find work, again and again? Isn’t having too many jobs on your record a curse? Well, in most cases, yes. But there are some things to keep in mind during a job hunt for any CDL job (either with an oilfield company or otherwise). For example, applications for professional driving jobs require applicants to list their job histories going back ten years. Skip didn’t list every single gig he held, however; just the more significant ones. That is, the gigs where he worked the longest or that he felt would catch an employer’s eye. But wait – isn’t that dishonest? No, it isn’t. Here’s why: employers want that ten-year history because the D.O.T. requires it, along with many insurance companies. The employers themselves are less interested in your ten-year history than in what you’ve done with a truck for the last year or two (or maybe three). And smaller transportation and oilfield firms don’t bother to update DAC reports (see above). If the job you’re applying for doesn’t need you to list every single thing that you’ve done for income, then don’t list it. Frankly, your new employer won’t care. However, you should list your significant, longer-term gigs.
- More different kinds of driving gigs make you a better, not worse, driver. It’s a paradox that some experienced drivers and their employers look down on those who move around within the trucking industry. But, think about it: who’s a better driver? The driver who has pulled tankers, flats, vans, and reefers or the driver who has only pulled 53′ vans – and nothing else – during his or her entire career? C’mon, you know the answer to that one. If you’re running an oilfield company, you want a driver who has experienced a little bit of everything. You’d like your crew to have drivers who are willing to get in and out of a truck often, check tanks and warning signs, and can deal with muddy and sloppy road surfaces. A twenty-year driver with the same OTR company simply won’t have that mixed bag of experiences under his or her belt. (Interestingly, however, it’s those same twenty-year drivers who take the most shots at job-hoppers. Hmmm….)
- For professional drivers, staffing (aka “temp”) firms can be a blessing and a curse. There are times to contact staffing firms, and times to avoid them. If you find yourself newly arrived in a strange town and you don’t know a soul, consider finding a temp firm that provides staffing for oilfield companies. There are also a handful of temp firms that specialize in providing CDL drivers for companies that need them in a hurry. One of these specialized temp firms was the source for several of the positions that Skip listed on his employment record. Skip has had both good and bad experiences with using a driver-focused temp firm: he’s managed to get gigs when the economy was in a slump, but he’s also been assigned to gigs that put him in unsafe circumstances. Temp firms are operated by folks in an office many miles away from the client company’s fleet, so of course, the temp firm employees usually have no idea what kind of equipment they will be assigning drivers to use. In addition, temp firms take a cut off the top of a driver’s pay. If you drive for a staffing firm, you’ll be losing a small percentage of your pay to the staffing firm (it’s how they make their money!) While temp firms can find you work quickly, just be aware that you’ll pay a price for that convenience.
You won’t get anywhere without taking an occasional risk. Risks aren’t something you want to take behind the wheel of a semi, of course, but calculated risks are necessary if you want to further your driving career. We all are wary of change – it’s human nature – but change is good. If you’re unhappy with your current driving gig, then it’s time to make a change. You can wait another year or two and see if your current employer will offer you two cents more per mile over your current CPM rate, or find a fracking job and double your income next month. Your choice.