Pre-Hire Letters: What Are They and Why Are They Essential?

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The trucking industry competes for drivers. As the nation’s economy grows, so do its transportation needs, and carriers must keep up with that demand. But with the recent driver shortage, recruiters are having a more and more difficult time finding drivers to maintain (let alone grow) their fleets.

Drivers are the cornerstone of the trucking industry, and many carriers have started succesfullly using pre-hire letters to attact more drivers to long-lasting careers. But what exactly is a pre-hire letter? Read on to find out what they are, what they mean, and why they are essential for prospective drivers.

What Is a Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are a fantastic way to get your foot in your ideal carrier's door. Companies give these letters to CDL students or those interested in obtaining their CDL. Once students receive their CDL, that pre-hire letter acts as an invitation to attend the company’s orientation for free. Remember that if you drove large trucks in the military, you should use the Military Skills Waiver to get your CDL faster (and potentially make $10k more your first year driving). 

It’s important to note that the pre-hire letter is not an employment contract. It does not 100% guarantee a job after you receive your CDL, even if you meet the company’s minimum hiring standards. However, it does get you into the company’s orientation, which is a huge benefit when you are searching for a career.

What Happens During Orientation?

Trucking carrier orientation works in a similar way that school orientations do. Many elementary, middle, and high schools provide an orientation night where parents and students walk around the building, see classrooms, and meet teachers and other students. This familiarizes students with their new surroundings and classmates before the school year begins.

Carrier orientation is very similar. But instead of meeting teachers, you network with potential employers and coworkers to see if this is the company for you.

This is also a time for employers to give insight into the company and speak with all the pre-hires in an informal interview. Pre-hire letters are usually based on the information you gave online or in a phone interview. Since that could have taken place months before orientation, carriers will likely want to review that information to see if it is still accurate.

Are You Limited to One Pre-Hire Letter?

You should absolutely seek multiple pre-hire letters if you feel so inclined. Since pre-hire letters are not binding contracts, that means you can obtain as many as you want while you go through CDL training. You aren’t limited to one company.

Multiple pre-hire letters gives you flexibility and security. With those in hand, you can compare the carriers that will fit you best.

Are Pre-Hire Letters Essential?

Pre-hire letters are essential for drivers to get a solid understanding about their company—before they sign an official employment contract. With this letter in hand, you know that carriers are prepared to offer employment as long as you get licensed and pass any other Department of Transportation requirements. As you search for your new career, make sure to ask for one. Although it is not a legally binding contract, it will give you a leg up on the competition.