Category Archives: Signing on with carriers

You’ve Got to Give a Company a Year!

I was reading some questions lately about drivers looking for jobs and as I went through a few posts I began to notice a disturbing trend. Many of the drivers asking the questions were asking where to go to drive hauling a certain type of trailer. What was comical is that if you went down the list and read every question many were contradicting each other. The drivers may as well just switched companies. The trend I noticed was that the drivers all were fairly new drivers and many of them were looking to change companies after only 6 months of driving time. What these drivers may no realize is how much they are hurting their employment record by moving companies within a year of starting in their career. You’ve got to give a company a year as a new truck driver.

TTSAO Hiring Event 2018

The first two years of your career are critical to success as a new driver and the best thing you can do for your career is learn all you can and work in a stable environment. Forget the money, forget the lanes of operation, forget everything. Drive safely and learn all you can about the job is the best way to have success in the industry.

Why stay for at least a year?

What many new drivers may not realize is that there are many factors that work together from insurance to safety to experience and if you can stay at a company for at least two years before moving to another company it helps your employment record dramatically. Once a driver has two years of experience the insurance companies look at that driver as an experienced driver and they become easier to insure. Two years is also the amount of time that it takes for a driver to learn the basic skills of the job and be self sufficient in their position. When a driver moves from company to company within the two year mark it becomes a red flag to many companies that this driver isn’t stable and it will cause them to question investing in that driver.

What looks better on an employment record? A driver that has been with a company for two years and is now looking for an improved opportunity? Or a driver that has had three jobs in the last two years and is still looking for more opportunities?

This is why it is important for new drivers to investigate companies properly when first getting started in the industry. Start your career with a reputable carrier that will offer the training and help you get the experience required to have a solid career as a driver. Don’t worry about making money, just gain as much experience as you can and stay stable at your job. After two years your options will open dramatically for the new driver and you will have enough knowledge to know what type of job you want in the industry.

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Tips for Evaluating Your Trucking Job Contract

Remember the days when you went to apply for a job and the employer had you sit at a desk and fill out a generic one page application? Your young hands shaking as you try to get your printing neat enough for someone else to read and your mind focused enough to remember your social insurance number. Then you reached the part where it asked for your experience and you tried to think of everything you have ever done that remotely related to the job you’re applying for. My first job was like that as I applied to a fast food restaurant where washing the dishes at home became my closest experience to working for a restaurant. I did get the job as a dish washer!

Today things are quite different. You have resumes that have to be provided in a certain format or length with background check information to be verified by the employer. Contracts are now normal and negotiating an employment contract is a regular part of the process for accepting a job. We often think of contracts as something that only happens in business or high level projects but everyday applications such as a truck driver position have to deal with contracts as well. This is important to understand because you could be agreeing to things you don’t understand or be leaving benefits on the table.

This happened to me when I went to work for a global company. I had never really dealt with employment contracts and didn’t understand that contracts were negotiable. I accepted the contract and found out later through discussions that other team members got other benefits because they negotiated them. For me it may have meant another week of vacation each year. Contracts are now a normal part of the process and it is important that you read and understand them to protect you and your benefits. You may not have to get a lawyer involved but you should know what you are signing and agreeing to so I have offered you a few basic tips below.

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Read the Contract

I used to work closely with a company that was mostly owner operator based and management would relate horror stories that owner operators didn’t understand what was expected of them because they didn’t read their contracts and were then surprised when items were taken off their statements that they hadn’t agreed to. The fact was that they had agreed to it and would have known that if they had read their contract. READ EVERY WORD!

Have Someone Else Read Your Contract

Contracts have lots of legalese in them and it can be hard to understand the legal language sometimes. Always have someone else read the contract as well and if you still don’t understand it find a lawyer or paralegal to help you.

Evaluate Every Line Item

It is very hard to read contracts or other important documents on a phone or tablet. If possible always print out or receive a paper copy and go through it line by line. I like to print off a paper copy and highlight all the items to be changed and add notes in the margin of items to be reviewed with the employer. Make a spare copy for marking if you only received one as your primary copy.

Sleep On It

Never feel pressured to sign a contract on the spot. If you are asked to sign it without reading it then run. Most employers will send the contract ahead of time or send it home with you for review. Read the contract and then sleep on it overnight and read it again the next day. If you need longer because you need to get a lawyer to review it then do so and let them know you are having someone else review it. Realize that a contract can be a starting point for negotiations and doesn’t need to be looked at as the end point of an agreement unless you have signed it. Once you sign it you can’t go back and negotiate.

Contracts are becoming a normal part of business and employment processes. Understanding the benefits or issues with your particular contract application is important for success in the future. Ensure you read your contracts and all the best.

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast for Truck Drivers. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Should you switch carriers for the money?

The fight for drivers is becoming intense as wages go up to attract talent. With salaries over $80,000 being promised by some carriers drivers are starting to perk up and look for work else where even though they may have been happy at their existing carrier.

I was reading a question the other day in an article where a spouse was looking for suggestions from other drivers as to whether her husband should move from one carrier to another as he was the sole income earner for the family. He was working for a good carrier, home every night, had seniority, Union support, benefits, etc. I won’t say the name but it is a well respected carrier in the industry.

As a single family income he of course is looking to make as much money as possible and feels he has reached his income potential with his current carrier. He is seeing the big offers by other carriers, applied for the job, and received an offer. His dilemma now, does he take the job? The new carrier is offering an over the road job and requires him to be away 5-6 days per week. The family is okay with that but will he really make more money?

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This is an important question that people don’t always think through because the salary potential gets in the way. We see the dollar signs and that can cloud our judgement causing us to make the wrong decision. Let’s break it down a bit more.

First the salary you see in an advertisement is often an average or above average salary of what is possible for a driver. If all the stars align you could make “X” number of dollars. It is against the law to put out false advertising so you could make that income if everything is right. The world of transportation doesn’t work that way however and each driver has their own work pace. Some drivers are slower, some have more experience, some have better travel lanes, some have certain equipment, so there are many variables when it comes to how much income a person can make even in the same fleet.

Delays are the next variable that can really hurt the income stated by a carrier. If you get delayed for long periods of time that can affect your earnings. Expenses on the road can take a large chunk of income from a driver. Like the driver above he was home every night, slept in his own bed, showered at home, and possibly took his lunch to work each day. If he takes the job over the road he may now have to pay for showers, buy meals on the road, and buy personal items and equipment for his truck. These are all expenses that many times comes out of the drivers own pocket and income.

If you leave one carrier to drive for another carrier that may give you a raise of $10,000 but if you have to put out more money for expenses you really aren’t ahead of the game. You’re just taking that money and giving it to the truck stop or other vendor. Do your homework if looking at new opportunities as they may not always be what they seem. It’s what you want for a career that’s important, not just the money!

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Truck Training is a Relationship

The TTSAO (Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario) had their 4th annual conference at the end of February with a lot of good information shared with attendees. There were new awards, many great discussions around truck training and how schools or carriers can work closely together. Check out the conference recap here.

A panel discussion led by Geoff Topping of Challenger Motor Freight and consisting on Leanne Quail of Paul Quail Transport, Matt Richardson of Kim Richardson Transportation Specialists Inc, Garth Pitzel of Bison Transport, and Philip Fletcher of Commercial Heavy Equipment Training talked about carrier and school relationships and how it affects students coming into the industry. One of the areas that I thought was interesting about the panel discussion was the fact that relationships between carrier, school, and student were extremely important in the success of a student becoming a professional driver.

Geoff-Topping

Schools are working closely with carriers and developing strong relationships because they understand that carriers are playing a major part in truck training even if they don’t provide it. I have always said to new drivers that their first point of contact should be with a carrier of choice to find out what type of training they require and if they work with certain schools. This allows a student to get training knowing they are able to be hired once they graduate from the school.

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Good certified schools also understand that truck training is more than just passing a test and that training is a foundation for your whole career. Having that relationship with a carrier allows a school to prepare that student for the carrier style of operation so the student is successful at the end of the training.

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Carriers are investing in a student when they sign on and much of their orientation is focused on competency and skills training when a new driver starts with the fleet. The carrier’s job is to groom that driver once they have the basic skills and working with certain schools is offering that comfort that a new driver has been trained to certain standards. Although many carriers have formal mentor programs they know that mentorship and training happens best when it is a natural fit between the new driver and trainer. Many of us can remember our mentor or trainer when we got started hopefully as good memories. Carriers realize this and are focusing on soft skills and the customer service side of the improving a driver. Trust is a main factor in a relationship between a school, student, and carrier. Careers, safety, and the future depend on it.

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As a new student or driver it is important for you to spend time building that relationship with a school and a carrier. Go to events and meet the recruiters. Call carriers and find out which school they work with in your area and why. Talk to the schools about their training programs and which carriers they work with to evaluate what job types are available. Start that relationship before you even choose a training provider and it will help streamline the process of becoming a truck driver. Not only will that save you time, resources, and money, but will also fast track you into a quality carrier right from the start. If you need help getting started then www.ttsao.com is a good place to start.

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast for Truck Drivers. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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What Type of Experience Do You Need as a New Driver?

A friend of mine graduated from a school with a new commercial drivers licence. He has completed training, did well on his test, and is now looking for a position with a company. He has been told by many carriers that he needs at least one year of experience before they will send him over the road to drive across the country. He has a couple of opportunities that would take a chance on hiring him, but he is not sure he is ready to go out on the highway. He says he prefers to stay close to home and has the opportunity to work at a local job picking up garbage for a local waste company. His dilemma is if he accepts the job at the waste company will that experience go towards having one year of driving experience? My answer is yes and no!

There is no right or wrong answer to the question of experience because much of it depends on the equipment, company, and type of work you are involved in. Let’s break it down so you can see how the experience will help or not help my friend.

Getting the job at the waste company will offer him some experience in the industry. He will be around equipment and will be conducting items like pre-trip inspections, city driving experience, and possibly offer advancement in the industry. What he will lack at the waste company depending on the equipment is the experience of driving a tractor trailer as much of the equipment in those types of operations is class “D” Straight truck equipment. He may not be gaining experience that will help him later transition to being an over the road highway driver. Once he moves to another job after a year he may be even more rusty because he hasn’t used those driving skills for a long time. After a year in a straight truck companies will still look at his experience as a new driver so he may not be so far ahead. He would need additional training.

Man driving tractor

If my friend was to go directly to work for someone that operates the type of equipment he was trained on such as a tractor trailer he would be gaining the experience for the equipment he was trained on. He could find a local company if that’s what he chooses and that would be a great way to gather experience for the open road. He would have more options after that year because he would have verifiable experience on over the road equipment.

It is important to gain experience directly after your training for that training to be engraved in your mind and become something that is routine. There are many licenced drivers that have never turned a wheel because they have decided to go in another career direction after training. They may be licenced but they aren’t experienced and are effectively at the starting point again. I am a firm believer in a step type of program for new drivers but it is important that program includes the type of equipment they were trained on. Look for experience in your trained type of equipment and it will work towards that experience marker.

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast for truck drivers. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit

www.ttsao.com

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Are You Being Too Social?

Are companies watching what you say on social media?

Recently a question was asked on a social media platform from a driver trying to get hired on by carriers and was wondering if he would be monitored on social media. Apparently he didn’t watch what he said much of the time and was active on many platforms such as Facebook. He found many of the carriers he talked with frowned on him being such an open book on social media and he wondered if they actually watch their employees? The answer to his question is “Yes” they do watch your account but maybe not in the way that you think. Social media is both good and bad depending on how you use it.

I don’t think I know anyone without a social media foot print except one older gentleman in my building. Anyone under the age of 80 has been forced onto social media either for business, to keep up with the Grand kids, or to book a vacation. There is almost no getting around it now and even though many of the platforms seem to be focused on personal communication and connecting with friends they are almost all designed to appeal to business owners and companies. Any platform that grows an audience will attract marketers and advertisers in order to promote their products.

Many young people use social media as a way to talk to each other on a regular basis and that has opened up another market for businesses in the way that they can now get a better feeling for the type of people employed on a team and whether that person fits in the company culture. That can also be good and bad. We have all heard the horror stories of someone that uploaded that party video on the internet when they were a teenager and had it come back to haunt them later in life when being promoted in their career. There are a few politicians that come to mind and we all know about the latest election issues with Facebook.

How do companies monitor your accounts?

There are a few ways carriers or employers can monitor your accounts. The first one is the basic search someone may do when beginning a job reference check. They put your name in the big Google machine and see what shows up. They will most likely flip through a few social media accounts to see if you fit the company profile.

The second way they monitor accounts is through special programs that watch for their name and how it is used on the internet. This is very similar to a hashtag in a program like Twitter where everyone using that hashtag will view the content into one place. The account holder gets notification whenever their name is used and can review the post.

The third way is sharing and direct monitoring and this is possibly the most popular way of finding a post. Someone posts on social media and it gets shared by those connected to you. You never know who is connected to who and all it takes is one share to your network and the post is alive forever. Even if you delete the post at a later date the content may have already been shared, viewed, and possibly saved by someone.

It could go like this; you share a post, I share the post but also download a copy or save it somehow. You delete it later, but I still have a copy. If I’m your employer then this may be the evidence I need to let you go. Hopefully that won’t happen but it proves you need to be careful what you put on social media even if no one is commenting, they may still be watching. A good general rule is that if you wouldn’t say something in public then you may want to keep it off social media.

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast for Truck Drivers. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit

www.ttsao.com

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The Humboldt Tragedy Shows Us Why You Want to Work for a Good Carrier

The Humboldt Tragedy Shows Us Why You Want to Work for a Good Carrier

Many new people coming into the industry are often looking for a fast way to make money quickly. That is understandable as many have been out of work, paying for training, or have other commitments and will often take the first job that is offered to them. In other industries such as manufacturing or office work choosing a job that is not a fit for you won’t impact your safety or the safety of others. In the trucking industry signing on with the wrong carrier may be a life or death decision and that is why professionals in the industry are always urging students to their homework.

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The largest example of this is the Humboldt tragedy that has impacted so many lives from the families that lost loved ones to the driver that made many mistakes and now has to live with the factors of that tragic day his whole life. The case is currently scheduled for sentencing but jail time will happen in some form. This driver had only been on the road for three weeks working for a carrier that only had two trucks and a shaky business history. Items from poor inspection procedures, to not following the law, to lack of training were all contributing factors in this crash. Had this driver had more training and done his homework to find a more compliant carrier to work for then this incident may never have occurred. This is why it is important to investigate the carriers you plan to work for and ensure you are going to work for a company that believes in being safe and compliant on the road.

What does a safe compliant carrier look like?

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Carriers like clothes come in all different types and sizes. If you went into a store and asked the clerk for a jacket they would guide you to shelves and shelves of jackets and ask you to choose one. How would you know which one is good without knowing your preferred brand, style, or trying the jacket on. It’s the same process for looking for a carrier. If you just go to a job fair and say I am looking for a carrier you will see a whole room of them, now what? Only by understanding the location, the cargo type, and other criteria can you begin to focus your efforts on certain carriers.

The second part of your carrier search after the basic criteria of where they operate, home time, and other basic factors is the safety aspect. You want to look at things like ongoing training, vehicle maintenance, and compliance in the industry. If a company won’t talk about those issues then you should run as fast as you can because it may be unsafe for you to work there.

The driver of the Humboldt tragedy is in his thirties. He worked for the company for three weeks before the crash. The company was found to have a number of compliance issues and has been fined and taken out of business. The driver is facing at least ten years in jail and will live with with his forever possibly never driving again. Don’t shortcut your training or the process of looking for the right carrier to work for, your life and the lives of others depend on it!

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast for Truck Drivers. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit

www.TTSAO.com

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Have Good Customer Service Skills-Try Driving Coach

We have a bad habit of focusing much of our efforts on getting drivers into driving trucks especially over the road in our industry. I won’t lie to you that is where the bulk of the jobs are in the transportation industry, but those certainly aren’t the only jobs. A carrier can be anyone from a company that transports freight over the road to someone that transports people. Those options are also available for traveling long distances or just around town. So how do you choose one option over another and do you have the desired skills that may set you ahead of the pack when it comes to the job application process?

Good customer service skills are an asset to any driver hauling freight or people but especially people. If in the past you have developed those skills through working at a retail establishment or had additional training in that area then that may help you transition into a certain line of work as a driver. If you are looking for short haul options or a steady schedule then this type of work may also be appealing to you. What type of work am I talking about?

Coach-Buses jobs

Coach work of course! We often don’t think about it but all those tourists have to get to the casino and back somehow. That hockey team needs a bus driver to take them on the road so they can win those playoff games. Coach driving can be a good career for someone that has good customer service skills and wants a somewhat steady schedule although many truck carriers can offer those same type of schedule options. We often think of the buses that operate around town or school bus drivers with many kids on board, but those aren’t the only options available. Think about all the buses required for casino operations, hockey teams, specialized charters, and other operations such as regular travel routes and transport of the population. There are many options available and a coach licence also offers driving options below that licence as well.

Find a carrier that has your type of work here!

TTSAO-carrierl-banner-2018Coach driving is also a very viable option for female drivers that may not want to work with freight such as flatbed or other physically demanding types of cargo. For the most part coach driving is a clean atmosphere where safe driving and managing people will set you ahead in the field. If you’ve never thought of operating a bus over the road or in your home town then it may be worth investigating especially if you are good with people and have a neat appearance. Not sure where you options are in the industry? I would suggest you start by talking with a TTSAO Certified school in your area or contacting one of the bus carriers in your area to find out what training you need to drive a bus. It may set you off to a new career path that you didn’t even know existed.

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Reading between the lines of an interview

Interviews can be tough! You work hard to get prepared for the interview, work on your answers with friends and family, and pray before the interview that everything is in order. You get through the interview sweating the whole way with no direction or indicators as to whether you did well or not. Did you get the job? If you didn’t get the job what did you do wrong so you know to improve in that area for next time? If you did do well why did they not ask you to move to the next step? All these factors can play on your mind as a potential applicant for a job and many times the only indication of success is being asked for another interview. So how do you handle the interview process without driving yourself crazy?

This is a typical scenario for many new applicants and I recently came across this question on a social media platform where the person asked if they did poorly in the interview process because they hadn’t been asked for another interview before the current interview ended. Just because you haven’t been asked back for an interview doesn’t mean it wasn’t successful as there are many steps and pieces to hiring someone.

man talking on telephone

When I was in charge of a fleet our interview process was quite involved and included many departments. As a Fleet Supervisor I was the first step in the process. I would accept the applications and check to see that the applicant met the basic criteria for the job. Did they have the required experience and training, did they have a good driving record and so on. Once their resume met our criteria and I felt the candidate would be a good fit for a position available they would be called in for an initial interview and road test with me. If the interview was successful they would be scheduled for a panel interview with other members of the management team. The management team would then have an additional meeting to discuss the applicant to make sure they were a proper fit for the company.

Depending on the size of the company and the operation this process can take anywhere from days to months. Our operation was very involved and it was much more than hoping someone could drive well. They had to have customer service skills, knowledge of hauling hazardous materials, be physically fit, and much more. So if you are going through the interview process don’t be discouraged because the interviewer didn’t book you for another interview right away. It doesn’t mean you weren’t successful there just may be other factors required in the process before they could book that meeting or interview. Just ask when an appropriate time will be to hear back from them or for you to follow up and have confidence in your abilities. Understanding the interview process is the first step to being hired on as a professional driver.

Check out these carriers that are hiring new drivers.

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Linamar holds Job Fair-January 26th, 2019

Linamar Transportation is holding a job fair on January 26th, 2019 for those looking into opportunities with a top carrier. Learn more through the poster below.

job fair jan 26 school posterLearn more at www.linamar.com

 

 

 

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