A Conversation with Truck Driving Recruiter Samantha Woody

Behind every excellent trucking company, there is a full cast of support staff helping truck drivers deliver customer freight on-time and to achieve company objectives. We sat down to talk with one such vital cast member, Samantha Woody, who holds the important responsibility of making sure that the company has exceptional employees driving Roane Transportation trucks. As a professional recruiter, Samantha is likely to be the first person you speak with on your journey to becoming a Roane Transportation driver.

Life at East Tennessee Transportation Company Roane Transportation

Tell me about your position and what your typical day is like?

I am the sole recruiter here at Roane Transportation, and so my day usually depends on how many driver applications we received in the previous 12 hours. The first thing I do is to review new applications and reach out to applicants to help guide them through our recruitment process. I manage the entire recruitment cycle, so I will also set up orientations and drug screens for drivers and organize travel arrangements for out-of-town candidates as necessary. I also work as the Social Media Manager for our Facebook page initiatives and help the accounting department stay current by working in accounts payable along with our cloud and accounts payable software. This usually means finding receipts, scanning them into our cloud software, and filing them.

 

What did you do before getting hired at Roane Transportation? What is your background?

Previously, I was a customer service specialist with The Kroger Co.  I married a Marine in 2017, and we moved to Jacksonville, NC. When he was deployed last December, I moved back home to Rockwood, TN, and landed this job shortly after. My dad knew Roane Metals was hiring, so he was the one who originally put the idea of working at Roane into my ear.

 

What are your favorite things about working at Roane Transportation?

This is going to sound cliché, but 100% the people that work at Roane Transportation are my favorite thing about working here. I have always been a “people person,” but, like any new job, I was slightly nervous during my first day. Everyone was friendly right from the start, and I warmed up to everyone quickly. I especially enjoy interacting with the drivers. The drivers come from a variety of different backgrounds and always have cool stories from the road.

 

What do you consider the most rewarding aspect of your job? Explain.

I really like the idea of giving someone the opportunity to earn for themselves and their family, especially when they really want the job. When they come in for driver orientation and are excited and gung-ho, it gives me a really good feeling. Another reason I know I am working at a great company is that I have never heard a candidate say a single negative thing about Roane Transportation drivers that they have seen out on the road.

 

Recruiting New Drivers

 What is your approach to recruiting new drivers?

We have a reasonably straightforward process here and usually see at least three to four new driver applicants a day. If a driver has the experience that we need, I will call them and start a dialog. Although, I especially like the candidates who call me first. I just like that “go-getter” attitude.

 

And what experience does Roane Transportation look for in new Drivers?

We look for a minimum of two years’ experience driving flat-bed trailers for insurance purposes. If a driver is coming out of a transportation company that we know has a fantastic training program, we might consider one and a half years of experience; but this is rare. Additionally, we prefer drivers who live in Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, or Ohio, because we want to make sure that we can get them home on time at the end of the week. This isn’t a firm requirement, but these states are within, or close to, our regional hot lanes.

 

Do you think recruiting drivers is harder or easier than most industries? 

I think the mentality of truck drivers makes recruiting for the industry easier than most. Drivers, for the most part, are highly motivated, really want to work, and don’t want to sit around unemployed for long periods. That motivation is what makes recruiting truck drivers easier than to recruit than, say, city maintenance workers or delivery drivers.

 

On average, how long does it typically take to fill a driver position? 

My goal is to fill trucks as fast as possible with highly qualified drivers. Filling a truck driving position can be as quick as two or three days if they live locally and are ready to start working immediately. Of course, we often have drivers that have to put in a two-week notice before they begin, which is fine, but that is about as long as it takes to fill a driver position once we find the right candidate.

 

What are some of the biggest challenges of recruiting for new drivers?

No shows have got to be one of the biggest frustrations of recruiting new drivers. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s a colossal waste of time and money. It happens like this: I’ll talk to a driver several times over a week or two to make sure we have everything on our checklist completed and ensure they are still interested. Then I’ll set up a drug screen and book a hotel room for them to stay in during orientation. Then on Monday, I show up expecting a driver to do new employee orientation and they are a no show. It’s extremely frustrating.

 

Why should an experienced driver look at Roane Transportation for employment? 

One of the biggest complaints I hear from applicants when I ask them why they are looking for a new driving job is that they are getting fewer miles. Roane Transportation has plenty of freight to go around all the time. Our OTR drivers can expect between 2500 and 2800 miles per week, and our regional drivers can expect 2000 to 2500.

 

How has your recruiting process changed since you first started? 

My process hasn’t really changed since I first started, but I’ve grown more accustomed to it, and for that reason, it’s a smoother process. I feel much more confident in answering driver’s questions and have learned much of the “driver lingo.” On the driver terminology: I’m so grateful for my mom and dad’s help when I first started, they both worked for Pilot and helped me out with a few key terms from the truck driver lexicon.

 

Have you incorporated new tools to streamline your operations?

We primarily utilize our online driver application and Facebook as recruiting tools. We hire a lot of new drivers through Facebook because it’s more personable than your typical interview process. For example, I will get tons of messages when we post pictures of our trucks. We pride ourselves on having the best equipment, and because every trucking company says that, people tend not to believe that until they actually see how clean and new our trucks really are.

Truck Driving Industry and New Driver Jobs

Why do truck drivers leave jobs? 

I always ask drivers the question, “why are you leaving your current job” or “why did you leave your last jobs?” One of the primary reasons I hear for drivers want to quit is because they are leaving a larger company where they are just a truck number. Their company isn’t interested in their personal lives and is solely concerned with how much money they make the company.

Another big reason why drivers make a move to a new Transportation company is that their other company didn’t prioritize home time. I see many drivers who are only getting 600 to 800 miles a week and are looking to earn more money as well. Other times, company recruiters have lied to candidates and sold them on something about their company that wasn’t true.

At Roane Transportation, we treat everyone like a person and not just a truck number. Furthermore, honesty and getting our drivers home to spend quality time with their family are top priorities within our company.

 

Is it difficult for an inexperienced person to land a job in truck driving? 

I don’t think it would be hard for a new driver to land a driving job if they had the right attitude. Despite the perception that drivers just sit and hold a wheel for eight hours, driving a truck is a physically demanding job. Truckers lift things, load and unload freight, and tarp and strap down materials. You must be willing to work hard and learn.

 

Is there anything that will eliminate someone from being hired as a trucker such as a speeding ticket or traffic accident?

Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) is what we use to gauge past driver safety and see all accidents, moving violations, DWIs, and DUIs. If you have a DUI, DWI, or reckless driving in the past three years, that’s an instant disqualification.

If you’ve had more than three accidents in three years, you’ll have a tough time finding a job as a professional driver. Also, you can’t have more than two moving violations or two at-fault accidents in three years. Drive safe, whether in your personal car or driving professionally!

 

Are the benefits that a truck driver receives good? Is there a retirement plan?

Truck driver benefits vary from company to company, but the benefits at Roane Transportation are fantastic. We have health, dental, and vision insurance available to employees. We also have a 401k retirement plan with a 2% match after one year of employment. After one year at Roane, you even begin receiving paid vacation time. We also provide $25,000 worth of life insurance to each employee at no cost to them.

 

What does the typical truck driving job pay? How do you get raises?

According to the US Department of Labor and Statistics, drivers can expect on average anywhere from $.28 to $.40 per mile. When working at Roane Transportation, new hires typically start out around $.47 per mile and will top out at $.50 per mile.

I sometimes speak with candidates who say they have been paid $.57 mile, but they only get 600-800 miles a week. Our drivers average much higher miles, and so they make more than even these companies with low weekly miles.

Also, we offer our drivers a $1000 weekly guarantee. As a driver for Roane Transportation, if you work 5 days a week, you are guaranteed to make $1000. This helps drivers if they’re truck breaks down or something happens that is outside of their control that would cause them to earn less than $1000 for the week. Roane will bump up their pay to meet that $1000 threshold. That weekly guarantee increases by $100 for the first three years and caps out $1200 per week.

 

Getting to Know Truck Driver Recruiter Samantha Woody

What initially attracted you to recruiting? 

I already have a customer service background, which I have found to be complementary to recruiting. I love being around new people and meeting people, and that’s sort of my job now! As a recruiter, I am primarily selling Roane Transportation to new people, and I feel like that is a good fit for my personality.

 

Where are you originally from and what made you want to live there?

I am originally from Rockwood, TN. I’ve always known my husband, and when I moved with him to Jacksonville, NC, it was a tremendous change going to a huge city. I love the small town feel here.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I am a runner, I like reading books, and ,of course, I love sleeping. I also really look forward to going out to eat with my family on Fridays.

Favorite Restaurant? 

I think I’d have to go Texas-Roadhouse. I love those rolls!

What is your most recommended book, movie, or television show? 

I like anything by James Patterson but his Second Honeymoon series. I think there are like three books in that series, and they are about a serial killer who murders people on their honeymoon.  Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham is also a book that read on my husband’s first deployment that I really loved. I also love anything that Stephen King writes, I recommend King’s book Thinner.

If you could put up anything you want on a billboard, what would it say?

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People tend to run with things they read on Social Media, not really realizing that you can create whatever narrative you want on social media. Branch out and learn different things.

East Tennessee Truck Driver Jobs

If you’re looking for a new job in trucking, reach out Samantha Woody at Roane Transportation, who can help guide you in your process of applying to Roane Transportation. Call her directly at (865) 354-3288 ext. 212. Alternatively, send her an email, or fill out a driver application on the Roane Transportation website.