Are You All Set with Transportation?

By Joe Stein

It is something that many of us take for granted, but for some the topic of how to get to work is always on their mind. It can also be on the mind of Hiring Managers, especially for those in retail, service, or light industrial industries. This is probably due to having been burned in the past by hiring employees who later had difficulty arriving to work.
As a Job Seeker, you are really not allowed to be asked if you have your own car (unless driving your own personal vehicle is an actual part of the position). This is because the courts have traditionally viewed this question as potentially discriminatory, believing that diversity candidates are more likely to use public transportation, or car pool. You may, however, be asked if you are going to be able to get to work each shift. It is then up to you how this question will be answered, so that the Hiring Manager will not be concerned about your reliability.
The topic of transportation really does come down to reliability. Even the best worker is of little value to an employer if they can’t get to work. Reliability is not some or even most of the time, but rather ALL of the time. For example, an employee who struggles to arrive in time for the lunch time rush impacts customer service. Likewise, someone who comes late to operate a piece of machinery creates costly downtime and perhaps causes missed shipping times.
You will determine how much information you want to share with the Hiring Manager. As noted above, the Hiring Manager is limited in what they can (legally) specifically ask you on this topic. 
Let’s look at some transportation options and how it can be applied to your job search:
·         Your Own Car – If you do have your own car, and it is reliable, you may want to state this to the Hiring Manager. If your car has some issues (and you have the money), you may want to have any needed repairs done prior to starting the new job. This way you can get them taken care of and not have to worry about it as you are learning your new job.
·         Get a Ride – This is always dicey as now you have to rely on someone else, such as a friend or family member. If this is the situation you find yourself in, of course, try to select someone who is going to be reliable and not just want to drive you when it is convenient for them. You may need to offer this person some type of incentive (such as gas money, etc.) to offset providing you the ride. A challenge is if the person is someone who currently works for the company already. It is a challenge in that you will want to be on a similar or identical schedule, but you don’t want to set off any alarms that you are a packaged deal with the other person. The concern for the employer is if one of you can’t make it or quits, then they may lose both of you. I suggest not discussing with the Interviewer that you are going to ride with a fellow employee for this reason. It is also very risky to assume that once you are hired and start, that you will find someone to provide you a ride. If it happens to work that way and everyone’s happy - then great, but it should not be your plan. Similarly, don’t expect your prospective employer to match you up with someone for a car pool. Some companies actually do sponsor a car pool program, but this type of assistance is not something you should expect.
·         Public Transportation – This can be a very economical option for someone who does not own a car, or just does not want to run it every day to work. A couple of challenges with public transportation: 1) synching the schedule with your start and stop times and 2) what to do if it’s running late…or not at all. Examine the public transportation schedule prior to applying, to have a feel for when the pick-up/drop off times are and also for where the nearest stop is located. Make sure the stop is at a reasonable location for you to walk and only accept a schedule that works with the public transportation schedule. Some companies will work with you on your schedule, but many will not. It will also be good to have some type of back-up if the weather causes delays or cancellations, or you just miss your pick-up.
·         “Other” – In this category, I would place options such as walking or bike riding to work. This can easily work if you live close enough to the job. This is especially true during the spring, summer, and fall but, as we all know, the winters in Western New York can be harsh towards outdoor travelers. A couple of things to note would be to always make sure you build enough time into your schedule for this travel, and also to be sensitive to your personal hygiene, especially during the summer, as you may work up a sweat on the way. There are many companies that have bike racks outside their building for just this type of commuter. You may want to check this out as you are walking to the front of the building to apply.
Making sure you can arrive to work and on time is an important part of a person’s employment. It is important to make sure you have worked out your transportation plan prior to applying for a position. This way you can inform the Hiring Manager that you coming to work will not be an issue and you will have peace of mind knowing that transportation will not impact your ability to be successful.
As always, best of luck in your job search!