6 Ways to Break Into Management in the Trucking Industry


What’s the difference between a leader and a manager? Is there a difference at all?

Many will give you a list of ways leaders inspire followers, have a long-term vision, and thrive in changing environments while managers direct their employees, have short-term objectives, and need stability. However, the fact is that a great manager and a great leader are the same. Lee Iacocca, former president and CEO of Chrysler Motor Company, highlights this with his famous adage, “Management is nothing more than motivating other people.”

In this blog, we will explore 6 ways that will help you combine leadership and management qualities that will prepare you for the future position—and set you apart from your competition.

Consult With a Current Manager

As you research management positions, the best resource you have are actual managers. If you are uncomfortable asking your current manager for information, contact a former manager or someone in a related department. Most people are willing to schedule a meeting with you as long as you respect their busy schedule and give plenty of notice.

While you speak with him or her, be sure to ask about more than just your interview process. Discuss their management strategies and what challenges they faced when they first started the position and how they overcame them. These questions may:

1. Inspire more specific advice than the old standbys (like the accurate but less helpful “work hard”)

2. Give you a sense of the types of issues you might encounter once you’re granted the promotion

Remember that managers are a trucking company’s motherboard. They are responsible for coordinating and executing transportations matters. Without them, the system would falter, so don’t underestimate speaking to one directly.

Be Observant

One of the most impressive things you can do when you apply for a management position is recommend practical improvements. Nearly anyone can point out problems. Most of us do it on a daily basis. But it takes a leader to see a problem, consider it, and supply a solution that the company can feasibly implement.

So, observe the company. Are there any inefficiencies? Could employees use a morale boost? What should management do to improve? Show that you have “done your research” on what the company needs, and most hiring managers will appreciate and reward that initiative.

Find Open Positions

The trucking industry is a “buyer’s market.” With thousands of available jobs, you have career flexibility that other people dream about. You just have to know how to find these open positions. If your current carrier doesn’t have a management opening, you can access hundreds of jobs from different carriers. Just visit FASTPORT’s job page to compare their locations, starting salaries, and experience requirements.

Show Pride in Your Current Job

A leader-manager leads by example. People are infinitely more likely to rally behind a manager that displays prowess at their job. Become an expert at what you do. If you are already an expert, request more responsibilities that prepare you for management. These extra duties will cultivate essential skills and put your foot in the door for a higher position. Even if they don’t have a task for you, most managers will remember the offer and take a second glance at your resume if you apply for another position.

Develop Your People Skills

Many job seekers focus on the technical skills that trucking managers need—and rightfully so. Managers have to use many different computer systems to ensure their department functions at the highest level possible. However, the lion’s share of management involves interacting with people. Employees look to you when they have concerns about their routes, hometime, or even their co-workers, so you will need to play the role of a diplomat on a daily basis.  

In addition, you will need to give meaningful feedback. General feedback such as “great job” is a nice thing to hear, but it doesn’t give much managerial help. Meaningful feedback gives specifics whether it’s positive or negative. Instead of saying “great job” to that dock worker, tell him or her, “I noticed you unloaded that truck quickly but still managed to talk with the driver throughout the process. Thank you for being so conscientious about safety.” That tailored response will show workers that you notice and appreciate their hard work, which may boost morale and productivity.

If this way of communicating doesn’t come naturally to you, practice on co-workers, friends, or even managers. Over time, you will feel more comfortable with a foundational management skill.

Take a Proactive Approach

Remember that your manager is not a mind reader. If you want to rise in the ranks, you need to make your ambitions clear. Take pride in your merits and ask management to acknowledge them. Many supervisors will appreciate your work if you do it well, but you might need to give that extra push in a one-on-one meeting if you want that appreciation to translate into a promotion.

Do you have other advice for soon-to-be managers? Comment below!