As with any career, it can be daunting applying for positions without having any prior experience. The same goes for newly qualified HGV drivers, who may also face challenges when applying for jobs in logistics. Fortunately, the demand for HGV drivers is growing steadily, particularly as the current working population within the sector are getting older, with the average age of HGV drivers being between 50 to 64 in the UK. And whilst the transport and logistics industry went through some challenges in 2021, more competitive salaries are now offered. HGV drivers earned an average of £12.25 per hour in 2020, whereas now they can earn £14.34 per hour on average. With this in mind, now is the perfect time to apply for transport and logistics jobs, to reap the benefits that a career as an HGV driver can offer.
The transport and logistics sector is a dynamic industry which offers a wealth of opportunities for growth. And although it can feel like a challenge trying to find a job post qualification, it’s one that can certainly be overcome, and there are a number of ways to do this and secure a position.
In this article, we’ll provide newly qualified HGV drivers guidance on how to get their foot in the door. After all, even the most seasoned HGV drivers had to begin somewhere.
Many firms offer training programmes for newly qualified HGV drivers. These induction programmes are a fantastic way to develop and build on your driving skills, as you’ll learn to drive a commercial vehicle in a real-life work environment. Keep in mind that pay rates are often lower whilst you’re learning, but you’ll get the necessary on-going support and guidance needed to help you further your career.
Driver development courses will also arm you with a better understanding of the company culture, so you can decide whether you want to continue working with them after training. You’ll also get to meet fellow HGV drivers as well as industry experts who can support you when it comes to finding new opportunities for jobs. Not only that but by tapping into this network, you’ll gain sounder understanding of the industry, for example issues impacting the sector, how freight businesses operate, and best practices. Therefore, enrolling in a driver training programme will not only help you find better jobs in logistics, but also set the foundations for long-term success in your career.
Most employers want experience, and of course newly qualified HGV drivers won’t have this, particularly younger drivers. We interviewed Peter Barham from Driver Hire Colchester earlier this year for our article on tips to recruit millennial HGV drivers. In this, he explained further why younger drivers don’t have as many opportunities available to them when it comes to gaining experience:
“…employers want experience, which younger drivers don’t have, and it can be hard to get that experience because insuring younger drivers in HGVs can be really difficult.”
Peter did offer a solution to help the younger generation amongst the pool of newly qualified HGV drivers:
“Doing agency work can be a good way for younger drivers to get experience in different vehicles, with different loads and so on.”
Local agencies may have clients in the haulage sector who are open to recruiting and supporting newly qualified HGV drivers. We have a number of case studies from our own drivers at Driver Hire, where you can find out how they found agency work and then permanent work following on from this. Working on temporary contracts will allow you to build your experience at different businesses, and depending on your performance, some may even end up offering you a permanent position.
You need to prepare yourself for the possibility that you may be asked to relocate. This is because the best suited jobs that are open to the idea of you having no prior experience may not necessarily be available in your area. All in all, the most important takeaway here is to secure your first job as an HGV driver as soon as you can.
Whilst you may not think it because you’re behind the wheel a lot and in your own company, excellent communication and interpersonal skills are invaluable as an HGV driver. Not only will it help you during an interview, but throughout your career too. As an HGV driver, you’ll be the public face of the haulage company you work for, and you’ll be interacting with clients, managers, vendors, and road and traffic authorities on a regular basis. And with a job as such, sometimes things don’t work out as planned.
For example, you may deal with bad weather, traffic jams, mechanical failure, and even minor accidents. These circumstances are out of your control, but they could lead to a delay of a scheduled delivery or become issues on the customers’ end. In situations as such, you’ll have to keep in touch with all concerned parties, and that’s where excellent communication and interpersonal skills will prove extremely beneficial.
You could open a whole host of new opportunities for yourself if you looked at adding to your qualification. For example, you could do HIAB training – a licence for operating lorry mounted cranes. Specifics do differ from one course to the next, but you could train in hook, as well as brick grab, and become familiar with a range of equipment like a remote-controlled crane. The more experience you have in this area, the better, as it could mean earning a higher salary, as well as more job opportunities.
Drivers could also consider doing ADR training in order to be able to drive vehicles with tanks in addition to vehicles carrying dangerous goods in containers, packages and other structures. This type of HGV driver training is a fantastic way to begin specialising your HGV career, and if you’re driving hazardous goods, it’ll most likely open opportunities for better-paying, niche jobs.
Having a first-aid qualification is useful in general but it could also be the deciding factor when you apply for a job, and they’re deliberating between you and someone else (who doesn’t have one). By having a first-aid qualification, you’re showing your potential employer that you have an awareness of the importance of safety, whether that be in the depot or when it comes to other road users. At Driver Hire Training, we offer an Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) course.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can develop your career as an HGV driver, we’ve put together a number of ideas to help further your career.
Working within the road transport industry doesn’t limit you to being a heavy goods vehicle driver. In fact, the sector is incredibly dynamic and offers a variety of different roles. Our Driver Hire colleague, Rachel McWilliams, Operations and Development Director for Wilson Gibb Management Services (WGMS) is a shining example of this. Over the past decade, she has discovered her love for driver recruitment, particularly when it comes to attracting women to the industry as the benefits of a career behind the wheel has grown significantly for females. Other job opportunities within the logistics industry include (but are not limited to) the following:
The road freight industry in the UK is in need of more HGV drivers, and although there are plenty of opportunities, getting your foot in the door in the first place can be a little challenging. But with our guidance, you can speed up your job search. And you can also use our additional training courses to make you stand out from the crowd as well as our support resources to help you find an HGV driver job.
If you’d like to talk to us further about how we can help, call us on 0808 178 9977 or chat to one of our agents right now.