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Has commuting by bike hampered your job search?

Old 04-27-12, 11:22 AM
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naisme
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Has commuting by bike hampered your job search?

Being met with some opposition to being a commuter while looking for employment. It seems future employers are hesitant to take on a qualified employee because they don't have "reliable transportation." I have great interviews, one of the topics always involves my quitting last year to go on a bike tour. They inevitably ask "What will you do in the winter?" I usually shrug and say "Ride my bike." I've been doing this for over a decade, only recently have I been car free for over a year.

Jobs I have had in the past, have always had coworkers who are impressed that I commute and say things we've all heard. I've been labeled "hard core" and have inspired others to get on a bike and commute, not as often as I do, but they're doing it. It's fun to have some fellow biker pull up at a light or pass on the greenway and share I'm the reason they're commuting.

Maybe there's some prejudice for someone just quitting to ride the summer and if I would do it again (I would, and may). But even using temp services I've had difficulty finding anything better than part time.

Is it me or is it the climate of the Country?
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Old 04-27-12, 11:43 AM
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Change your resume. You didn't "quit", you went on sabbatical to work on personal goals.

And, yes, it seems that this is the current climate in many cities, unfortunately.


Question: Are you being specifically asked for what type of car you drive? If you all you are being asked is if you have reliable transportation, just state that you do. Over a decade seems pretty reliable to me.
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Old 04-27-12, 11:48 AM
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I would think if you told them you've been commuting by bike for 10 years and it's never been a problem they'd be ok with it. Personally I don't see what business they have mandating how their employees get to work. Is this common?
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Old 04-27-12, 11:50 AM
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I get a feeling you're volunteering too much information. If they ask if you have reliable transportation, say yes and leave it at that. If they ask specifically, you can explain, but why volunteer information if it's not necessary. It's like you're shooting yourself in the foot.
Also agree with Wolfwerx above. Another example of volunteering information that is simply not necessary.
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Old 04-27-12, 12:17 PM
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Well said doc0c.

naisme, the time to begin to influence and inspire your coworkers is after you get the job.

And don't cross-thread your bike commuting and your bike not-commuting-because-I-buggered-off. As a potential employer, unless I'm just looking for a seasonal or term employee, I want to know there's a chance you're going to be around for a while. So if I get the sense that you are a snowbird or prone to go off on walk-about, it will increase other reservations I may have about you. I can't think of any reason why your choice to commute by bike needs to come up (unless you're such a hot shot with multiple offers that you're seeking info on their support for your life choices so you can assess your decision as to where to work). But if your bike trip is a significant part of your back story, then have an answer to the question they're really thinking, which is how long are you going to be around.
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Old 04-27-12, 12:21 PM
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Don't let them know you commute by bike until after you've been hired. Problem solved, and, unless there's some reason this actually impacts your (potential) job, you haven't done anything dishonest. If you're reliable about biking to work, then you have reliable transportation.
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Old 04-27-12, 01:05 PM
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I have been sacked for late starts .. and it was working in a Bike Shop.

NB: for May 1st, international Worker's day, the bill of rights is largely Void
on the job-site.

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-27-12 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 04-27-12, 01:22 PM
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Good points by all. I think there are probably two issues. 1 is whether you will stick around. Companies spent a lot of time/ moeny/ resources training people. They don't want to hire someone who may up & leave someday to go on a bike ride.
2. Commuting to work. I would just say that I have dependabel transportation. The fact that they are even asking indicates that they know you bike to work (or else you are applying for jobs that require you to move about during the day, or they are low-wage jobs where people have a problem with dependable transportation.) I would not mention the bike commuting to anyone before I worked there. In a competitive job market, if you have two equally qualified potential employees, you are going to choose the safer bet. Biking to work may not be a problem. But then again it might. The new boss has no way of knowing how dependable you will be. Telling a complete stranger that you will be at work on time in a blizzard by riding your bike definitely rasises a questison mark. Once you have the job, you can show them you mean business, but beforehand, it's just your word that you will make it.
Anything that makes you the unsafe bet will cost you in the job market. Also, your co-workers might respect that you ride, but they aren't paying your salary.
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Old 04-27-12, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by MK313 View Post
1 is whether you will stick around. Companies spent a lot of time/ moeny/ resources training people. They don't want to hire someone who may up & leave someday to go on a bike ride.
I don't understand what you mean here. Is someone more likely to quit their job to go on a bike ride compared to driving their car somewhere? Are bike riders more prone to just up and leave their old lives behind, riding off to Portland?
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Old 04-27-12, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by GuyForget View Post
I don't understand what you mean here. Is someone more likely to quit their job to go on a bike ride compared to driving their car somewhere? Are bike riders more prone to just up and leave their old lives behind, riding off to Portland?
See the OP.

Regarding finding a job, I agree that it's not so much a matter of bicycle commuting as it is a matter of quitting someday. Definitely some employers will be open to it, others not so much.
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Old 04-27-12, 01:55 PM
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oh, hah.. never mind, I read right over that.

OP: Seriously? Why in the world would you *ever* tell someone during an interview that you quit a previous job to go on a long bike ride? Unless they for some reason during the interview bring up the fact that they like to ride, and maybe you tell them that story from the perspective of you being young and it was a low end temporary type highschool/college kid job. Although it sounds like thats the sort of job you're trying to get, considering you say you would and may quit this job to go ride for the summer again. In that case, just lie to them since you aren't going to get a good recommendation for the next entry level job anyway.
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Old 04-27-12, 03:22 PM
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[QUOTE=GuyForget;14153033
OP: Seriously? Why in the world would you *ever* tell someone during an interview that you quit a previous job to go on a long bike ride? [/QUOTE]

Presumably because there's a significant gap in the chronology of his resume. For any job that involves sem-skilled labor on upwards, you're going to get asked why you left previous jobs. If there's a time gap of at least a couple of months between jobs, employers will want to know why. That's standard operating procedure.
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Old 04-27-12, 04:59 PM
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*scratches head*

OP is in Minneapolis and states they are being frowned upon for being a bike commuter by potential employers?? Aside from Portland, I can't think of any other town in the nation that has more of a financial stake in the cycling community...
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Old 04-27-12, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by naisme View Post
Has commuting by bike hampered your job search?
No. I have a pretty steady job. Other than wanting to move of NYC I have no reasons to quit it, nor am I afraid of getting laid off. However, if I was looking now for work, I would definitely look first for a place I could ride to. But in the end, I'd take the job that pays most and has the best working environment.

But. We're looking into moving outside of the city, but close enough so I can keep the job, and having 5 bikes kinds of limits our choices.
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Old 04-27-12, 08:57 PM
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Youre looking at the situation the wrong way:
"Has commuting by bike hampered your job search?"
should be
"Has your job search hampered your bike commuting?"

If the place isn't bike friendly, I don't want to work there anyway.
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Old 04-27-12, 10:15 PM
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if you keep getting passed because you cant stop volunteering all this info that has no bearing on hiring (they stay silent after your answer, 4 seconds seems like eternity so you decide to fill the void with more info and it leads into your passion - cycling) or that they see a gap in employment and you spill your guts about how great it was to leave your job in the lurch and go "play on your bicyle" for a while then you need some self control in what you volunteer and you also need to rework that resume!
Not every resume needs chronological order as its basis. Try a skills based resume that highlights skill-set instead of "i worked here then here then here"

Good luck and if you get hired be sure you are early every day during probationary period and show them that you are not going to use cycling as an excuse for being late.
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Old 04-28-12, 04:21 AM
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Originally Posted by thenomad View Post
Good luck and if you get hired be sure you are early every day during probationary period and show them that you are not going to use cycling as an excuse for being late.
Most of my workmates are always at least 10-15 minutes late because of "bus problems" and "train delays". I'm always early, because my ride is nearly 100% predictable and never takes more than 45 minutes, even if I get a flat, which happens like once a year, if even. I'm also healthier and have more energy in the morning, I get up early because most of the time I look forward to the ride and because I sleep well (despite some anxiety issues, but cycling helps with that too). I don't need caffeine. When I get to work, usually before 8:30, I'm 100% functional. By 9:00 I'm relaxed, rested and ready while everybody is else is pretty much a zombie until 10AM.

Oh, and those who drive? Forget it...
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Old 04-28-12, 07:51 AM
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Absolutely, same here. And if I do get a flat I've got such an adrenaline rush as I hammer in to work with the TDF music playing in my head! Usually turns into a great day.

Just try to convince Joe Public of that!
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Old 04-28-12, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Wolfwerx View Post
Change your resume. You didn't "quit", you went on sabbatical to work on personal goals.
This, a hundred times this. Interviewing is all about presentation. Also, just tell them you have reliable transportation.
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Old 04-28-12, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Zrane View Post
This, a hundred times this. Interviewing is all about presentation. Also, just tell them you have reliable transportation.
Eh, well, no. If I'm interviewing someone and they told me that, my first ( internal ) reaction would be "You return to the same job after you take a sabbatical. If you didn't, you either quit or got fired. What's this guy trying to hide?"

If you're sitting in front of someone, be honest. There's absolutely nothing wrong with quitting, for any number of reasons, professional or personal. But if you sound like you're equivocating or being disingenuous, you're putting up a huge red flag that makes the interviewer wonder what else you're trying to hide.
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Old 04-28-12, 09:56 AM
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I'll second the comment that the employers' real problem is not the bicycle commuting, it's quitting to go on vacation.

For jobs over a certain level, prospective employers will ask why you left previous jobs, and about gaps in employment. As noted, if you did not return to your previous employer after your tour, you need an explanation of why you quit that convinces a new employer you won't leave them soon. (Even if you were about to be let go anyways, you'd want some public reason for changing jobs).

How you get to work shouldn't be an issue at all, unless the company expects you to use your own vehicle for work (delivery, etc.). Given the other workers taking trains and buses, this doesn't sound like the case.

Since most employers (at least outside MN) only know bicycling is weird and dangerous, they won't believe the bicycle is more reliable and leaves you energetic until you show them (i.e. after you've been hired). Just stick to work related issues - you're reliable, on time, and show them you're energetic without trying to educate people that don't know you about issues they don't need to care about.
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Old 04-28-12, 01:25 PM
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Well, if we had a decent chunk of vacation then the chances of quitting would be lower. It's employers own problem because they're too cheap to give their employees at least 4 weeks off the bat.
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Old 04-28-12, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by slcbob View Post
Well said doc0c.

naisme, the time to begin to influence and inspire your coworkers is after you get the job.

And don't cross-thread your bike commuting and your bike not-commuting-because-I-buggered-off. As a potential employer, unless I'm just looking for a seasonal or term employee, I want to know there's a chance you're going to be around for a while. So if I get the sense that you are a snowbird or prone to go off on walk-about, it will increase other reservations I may have about you. I can't think of any reason why your choice to commute by bike needs to come up (unless you're such a hot shot with multiple offers that you're seeking info on their support for your life choices so you can assess your decision as to where to work). But if your bike trip is a significant part of your back story, then have an answer to the question they're really thinking, which is how long are you going to be around.
+1

If I were a prospective employer, I'd be a lot more concerned about an employee that I would have to go to the expense of training, but that might just walk out one day to go bike touring or something. I might just be more vague about something like that, and mumble something about the economy or something as the reason I'm no longer at that old job.

As far as reliable transportation is concerned, I'm not sure I've ever heard that come up - most employers just assume everybody drives, and everybody has access to a car. Are you volunteering the information? As other posters have said, if an employer asks if you have reliable transportation, just say yes and be done with it.
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Old 04-28-12, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
Well, if we had a decent chunk of vacation then the chances of quitting would be lower. It's employers own problem because they're too cheap to give their employees at least 4 weeks off the bat.
+1. My wife actually had to 'pre-pay' her vacation/PTO out of her own pocket for the first year, and then the company kicks in starting the second year. I damned near blew a gasket when I found out.
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Old 04-28-12, 06:11 PM
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I biked in to the interview for my current job. If anything they were impressed, and I mentioned that I rode more than the commute every day anyway, and that it was an easy trip. It was not an issue after that. In general, unless they have a personal problem of some sort all they really care is that you'll be there on time, every day.
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