Cycling and Job-Seeking

For the latter part of 2011 and early 2012, I found myself in search of work. As some of you may have guessed, I do not drive or hold a driving license as I (like most people) have never had the need for a car. I use bicycles as my primary means of transport, so I attended most of my interviews by bicycle.

Generally, I rode the DL-1 to interviews as it permitted me to ride in formal wear with relative ease and stay free of grime. The upright riding position also discourages excessive speed which can lead to a sweaty, dishevelled look. During the interviews I generally chose not to deliberately mention the fact that I had ridden in, although it was common for the interviewer to ask how I got in.

Revealing that you cycled to the interview can act either in your favour or against you, depending on the interviewer. I was quite lucky to encounter a few people who turned out to be cycle-sport enthusiasts during my interviews,who were impressed that I cycled in. Unfortunately, it can also work against you, Whilst I was fortunate enough not to encounter anyone who appeared openly prejudiced against cyclists, on several occasions issues did arise when I revealed that I did not drive.

None of the jobs I interviewed for actually involved driving as a part of the role (such as site visits in remote locations). The problem was merely the interviewers’ perceptions of what life without a car actually means. Because they couldn’t imagine living without a car, they assumed I would be unable to as well. Perhaps they assumed I would be unable to attend work when snowy, or that I would frequently be late, I cannot be certain.

I have also seen several job listings where the role itself requires no driving whatsoever, but the person specification stated that candidates are inexplicably required hold a full driving license, presumably because the person writing the listing simply cannot imagine that a person could manage to attend a job in a city, in Britain without at least having the option of driving.

Considering that young people are less likely to drive than at any time in our recent history and this same demographic is bearing the brunt of the current shortage of jobs, I feel it is time for the government to act on this issue. I am curious to see if existing anti-discrimination regulations apply in this area.

Does anyone else has any interesting cycling related job-seeking stories or experiences?

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10 thoughts on “Cycling and Job-Seeking

  1. Not cycling, but I had a non driving boss who was actively prejudiced against anyone who came to our office (in outer London) by car especially if they used ‘traffic’ as an excuse for being late. When I was recruiting & interviewing people, coming by bike would definitely have been a point in someone’s favour – although when one of our sandwich students took to commuting in by skateboard it just made the rest of us feel *old*

  2. Thankfully never experienced negative comments, if else the contrary, a usually very impressed “really?”… but I must admit that there’s a secret love between cycling and architecture, so in that sense I am quite lucky 😉 in a way (thankfully so) it’s becoming more of a faux-pas if people drive to work or even drive to site visits. By sticking to it you can change a lot of people’s perception. For on one of my major site projects (in the West Midlands area) few years ago, I used to get there by train, bus and then walk… everyone (fellow consultants and contractor) were mesmerised by this but within a couple of months they all thought I was the tough one and they were the wimps for jumping in their car for every single meeting (most of them were local), and actually I was never late because public transport + my legs were far more reliable than traffic jams and other delays on the motorway!

    • I have always found that once you get past the hurdle of peoples existing preconceptions about bikes, they are usually impressed with the reality of what you can do when you rely on them as your primary means of getting about.

  3. “Full driving Licence required” is a frequent requirement for many Carmarthenshire CC jobs including “Finance Officer” at a college about 3 miles from here on a good bus route. When my wife queried this she was told to “apply anyway, they’l never know”!

    • One of the jobs I applied for was actually a corporate cycle promotion and training job (I wasn’t expecting much). After I filled it all in, I noticed they stated that a driving license is required. If they couldn’t see past it, what hope is there?

      • I would have thought there was a disability discrimination aspect to this these days. After all, if you can’t drive due to epilepsy or vision problems you should be able to challenge the requirement. I think it’s often just a hangover from the past, or people not thinking the requirements through

        • You are probably right there. Most of the time it is just down to an inability of car-dependent people to imagine that other people might be able to get by just fine without one.

  4. Pingback: A standards-based approach to roads | Chester Cycling

  5. Pingback: Driving Lessons | Chester Cycling

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