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Qualifications: Relevant experience, Positive attitude, Reliable transportation

January 11, 2011

It's a hairy, hairy job market.

I’m job-hunting, and as I scan the postings, I keep coming across these words:

Must have clean driving record, reliable transportation, and proof of insurance.

When I see the words “reliable transportation”—as when I see the words “exotic bird experience,” “passion for plumbing,” “ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound”—I usually move onto the next posting without much thought.

But the other day I got to thinking about this “reliable transportation” qualification, and I’ll be honest: I got a little worked up about it.

Is it fair to require job applicants to own a car?

Owning a car requires owning quite a bit of money.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. consumers spent an average of $8,220 each on their vehicles in 2007.

What if employers listed $8,220 in cash as a job qualification?

The ACLU would certainly raise a ruckus then, wouldn’t they?

The BLS estimates that car ownership costs in the U.S.—making up 17 percent of our annual household  spending—are the second largest household expense, ahead of food, healthcare, and education.

I don’t think I should be expected to devote 17 percent of my annual expenditures to a possession I don’t want to possess.

I understand that some jobs involve going to several different sites during the course of the work day, but not everyone can afford a car, and not everyone wants a car. If my employer requires me to go some place other than the designated work space, shouldn’t they provide the means to get there?

You want a clean driving record? I haven’t been in an accident in 14 years, and I’ve never been cited for a single traffic violation. I even wear my glasses when I drive, even though, according to my last DMV eye exam, I’m not required to.

Give me a company car or a bus pass, and I’ll go wherever needed to get the job done.

I’ve also got a whole lot of other skills, experiences, and qualities that make me well-suited to the position.

Sometimes, I’m tempted to apply to the jobs anyway, and when they ask about “reliable transportation,” to respond, “My bike has never broken down on me once.”

Think I’d get the job?


7 Comments leave one →
  1. Alexandra Harker permalink
    January 11, 2011 3:47 pm

    I’ve had this same frustration many times.

  2. January 12, 2011 12:11 am

    oww its very unfair if job applicants have to own a car… not every body can buy it…

  3. avaerewyck permalink
    January 12, 2011 11:01 am

    Have you ever applied for the job anyway, Alex?

    Thanks for the comment from the Exotic Car Gallery. Nice to know even true car-lovers can appreciate the unfairness of the situation.

  4. February 6, 2011 12:31 pm

    I have had jobs in the past where a car was not required, but they did ask if I had one…yes…but I didn’t bother to tell them that it was disassembled and non functioning. 😉

    Unfortunately it seems the lower paying jobs in the US quite often require you to own a car, due to our carcentric society. I used to work as a clerk for a major drugstore chain, we would quite often be expected to do fill in shifts at other stores miles away from our home stores, so a car was necessary if you wanted a job.

    Hopefully this will change in the future.


    • avaerewyck permalink
      February 9, 2011 12:41 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experiences, Aaron! I like your omission-of-information tactic. 🙂 Did it ever land you in hot water with your employer?

      • February 11, 2011 6:49 pm

        Nope…I actually got a certificate for not missing any days of work for 2 years, I wasn’t the only car free person there either. IIRC there were a couple of people that used the bus and several more that lived near enough to walk.


  5. April 24, 2011 4:09 pm

    I know this is an old post (just found your blog!), and I have to chime in that this has been a MAJOR stumbling block for me when it comes to trying to find a job, especially now that I live in the suburbs (gross). Sometimes people don’t even bother listing the “must have a car/license” qualifier in the job notice, so I’ve had interviews where the person looked extremely peeved at me for daring to seek employment without reliable transportation, because legs and bikes don’t count. I do understand that employers (particularly retail stores) will sometimes need people to fill in at other sites on very short notice, but at least give me a chance to do that without a car! And it is extra frustrating in my case because my reasons for not driving are somewhat disability-related, so it’s hurtful when potential employers think I’m just being eccentric or stubborn by not owning a car or having a license. Maybe/probably I would hate cars and driving anyway, but it really sucks when people have all sorts of pre-conceived notions about what kind of person you are based on your driving status. And of course, I don’t want to spill out all my myriad reasons for not driving in a job interview… but sometimes I think that’s all they want to talk about. (FTR, this never happened when I lived in a city.)

    P.S. Great blog!

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