It’s a great time to start a career as an HGV driver. With the UK still suffering from a critical shortage of drivers, you can earn serious money if you have the right skills. These are the top six skills employers are looking for:
Starting at the obvious end, the most important part of being a great driver is… being a great driver. That doesn’t just mean having the qualifications on paper, though you do need training and certifications to become an HGV driver. It also means expertise. You’ll need to be able to handle all kinds of vehicles in all kinds of weather, follow the best safety and efficiency practices, and be fully aware at all times. The best HGV drivers can foresee problems on the road and adapt to new situations as they happen.
You don’t need to be an engineer, but it helps to have an idea of what’s under the bonnet of your HGV. You’ll often be on the road in isolated areas where there’s no mechanic nearby to help you. Being able to solve minor problems yourself and get back on the road, rather than waste company time waiting for a mechanic, is a sure way to impress your employer. A basic knowledge of mechanics will also help you check your vehicle over and spot any potential problems before you start your journey.
HGV drivers keep the world running. People will be relying on you to deliver vital and often very expensive supplies. You need to show you’re trustworthy. This starts with being honest, having a positive attitude, and being a good team player. Demonstrate that you’re comfortable with working together with other people for the benefit of the whole company. Speaking of which…
For a job where you spend a lot of time on your own in the cab, being an HGV driver involves a surprising amount of communication. You'll need to check in with other drivers to make sure you’re all working to the right standards, update your boss on your progress during long journeys, and communicate with clients in a friendly and professional way. Good digital and phone skills will take you far–they could even help you win a promotion to a managerial role.
Another surprise about being an HGV driver is the amount of planning involved. You’ll need to plan your own schedule, including the best times to take rest breaks. Good organisational and strategic skills will help you meet critical deadlines. You’ll also need to be a great strategist in the moment, making split-second decisions to determine the safest course of action and the most efficient route.
While you may love your job when you’re cruising down a country road with nothing but nature for miles around, being an HGV driver isn’t all sunshine. You’ll need to be able to manage your mental health, take regular breaks before you get overwhelmed, cope with complex traffic snarl-ups and parking struggles, and handle unhappy clients. Above all, you need to prove that you can keep your cool behind the wheel, no matter what happens.
If you have all these skills, you’re well on your way to a great career as an HGV driver.