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In-House vs. Third-Party Driver Recruiters

January 3rd, 2024

Jeron Rennie

Jeron Rennie

Having grown up around the trucking industry — with his dad and several uncles serving as truck drivers — it’s only natural Jeron found his way into the industry as well. Jeron joined ATS in 2018 as a member of the marketing team, where he grew his knowledge of the trucking industry substantially. Now as the driver recruiting manager, he is responsible for ensuring a smooth recruiting process in order to create a quality driver experience.

If you’re applying for truck driving jobs, chances are likely you’re going to have to speak to a recruiter sooner than later. It’s difficult — if not impossible — to go through the entire process without talking to a recruiter at all.

Depending on where you are in your journey — maybe you’ve settled on a company to drive for or you’re looking for any company to drive for — you’ll speak to different types of recruiters: in-house driver recruiters and third-party driver recruiters. In some cases, you might speak to both. 

As the head of driving recruiting here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), I have experience working with both types of recruiters. I manage a team of in-house recruiters and we also work with third-party recruiters. 

In this article, I’ll help you understand what each type of recruiter does and their place in the recruiting process. You’ll learn why working with one type of recruiter versus the other may be beneficial for you. 

What is an In-House Recruiter? 

In-house recruiters work with the trucking company they’re recruiting for. They get paid by and receive benefits from that trucking company. In other words, they’re trying to get you to drive for their company. 

In-house recruiters tend to have more of a personal stake in you driving for their company. 

Why You Might Want to Work with In-House Recruiters 

When you work with in-house recruiters, you can trust you’re talking to someone with a deep understanding of the company. They get the company like no one else does. 

Because they’re in-house, they have easy access to every department within the company — from safety to operations. These personal connections mean they have more control over the hiring process and have a better understanding of where you are in the hiring process. If something changes with your application, they’ll be the first to know. They’ll update you immediately so you know where you stand.  

This also allows in-house recruiters to have the most accurate information about the company. When policies change — when it comes to pay, bonuses, benefits and more — they’ll know right away. The same can’t always be said for third-party recruiters. 

You can even use them as a resource throughout your career with the company. 

On the other hand, the number of in-house recruiters on staff might be limited. You may have to wait to speak to them and they might not be as readily available as third-party recruiters. 

Unfortunately, in-house recruiters can also be somewhat biased or operate in a funnel. They might not have a lot of information about other trucking companies and their programs. 

Work with an in-house recruiter if: You know which company you want to drive for. 

Two third party recruiters sitting behind computers. They wear headsets and matching blue shirts.

Third-Party Recruiters

A third-party recruiter, on the other hand, works for a recruiting company and recruits drivers for multiple different carriers. They probably work for some sort of recruiting company and they may or may not be in-office. You may be talking to someone across the world. 

A third-party recruiter can work with you throughout your entire recruiting experience until you get to orientation. However, in some cases, you may need to speak to an in-house recruiter to finalize details and get scheduled for orientation.

Why You Might Want to Work with Third-Party Recruiters 

Think of third-party recruiters as the Expedia of trucking. If you want to book a flight but you don’t care which airline you fly, you’d go to Expedia, type in your trip details, and let them do the work for you comparing flight details and prices. That’s what it’s like calling a third-party recruiter. 

On the other hand, if you have a preference for Delta Air Lines, you’d go straight to their website to find a source. This is similar to how you’d work with an in-house recruiter. 

You can think of third-party recruiters as industry experts. They might be recruiting for a long list of companies. That means they know exactly which company pays the best and which one doesn’t. 

Because they have no skin in the game, they can direct you to which company is a better fit for you based entirely on your wants and needs. If you don’t feel like you have a ton of time to research companies, they basically do the work for you. 

Third-party recruiters — because there tends to be more of them — can often spend more time working with you.

However, working with a third-party recruiter isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. They have less control over the hiring process. They’re often working with a point of contact (or two) from each of the trucking companies they’re recruiting for. 

Third-party recruiters might be missing information or they might miscommunicate important details because they can sometimes be playing telephone between you and the trucking company. Because they’re recruiting for so many companies, they can also mix up details between companies. 

This doesn’t offer a great recruiting experience for you. You could end up going to a trucking company based on inaccurate information.

And while they may be able to spend more time talking to you than an in-house recruiter, the experience isn’t always very personal; they may not particularly care about one company versus the other. 

Work with a third-party recruiter if: You’re still shopping around and have no clue which carrier you might want to drive for.

Reaching Out to Driver Recruiters

If you want to reach out to a recruiter, it’s pretty similar no matter which type of recruiter you want to work with. Maybe you hear about one particular trucking company from a friend or a social media ad and decide to give them a call. You can be targeted by ads from third-party recruiters too. 

You can also go straight to the source by searching online for truck driver recruiters or going directly to a trucking company’s website. In some cases, this allows you to talk to them online via chat rather than calling them immediately.  

Young female truck driver smiling as she sits on the back of her semi-truck.

Research, Research, Research!

In-house and third-party recruiters play distinct roles, and each has their pros and cons.

In-house recruiters, deeply connected to their company, offer insider knowledge and personalized guidance. They provide up-to-date information but might be limited in availability and biased toward their employer.

On the other hand, third-party recruiters act as impartial industry experts, offering a wide array of options. They provide a broader perspective but might lack detailed company information and could have communication gaps.

Choosing between them depends on your stage in the job search. Opt for in-house recruiters if you're set on a specific company. If exploring options or seeking impartial advice, third-party recruiters offer a broader view.

A lot of bigger trucking companies actually use a mixture of both types of recruiters, so you may end up working with both. 

Whether you work with an in-house driver recruiter or a third-party driver recruiter is up to you. Just make sure you feel like you can trust them and you take the time to do your own research on the company, too.