How Far IS a Reasonable Commute?

How Far IS a Reasonable Commute? or Why Couldn’t Joe Just Check The Map?

How Far IS a Reasonable Commute

How far you commute to work can often depend on a number of factors. The short answer is it’s how far YOU deem to be a reasonable daily commute.

Where are the jobs? How much do they pay? Can you afford to get there? Above all it’s up to you but sometimes an experienced Recruitment Consultant can have a role to play.

This is how I started taking more interest in asking just that question (develops quizzical look, stares up at the ceiling and thinks back to a specific point in time).

I had a client in the town of Poole in Dorset that were leaders in the design and manufacture of specialist industrial machinery.

These machines were used in the manufacturing process of sectors like automotive, petrochemical, and food and were actually an impressive part of the production method.

The company had asked me to find a contract engineer to carry out a professional role in the offices, from memory it was something like a production engineer or production-planning engineer, I can’t remember now.

I duly searched and found someone (we’ll call him Joe) that met all of the criteria given to me by the client and “Joe” at the time was very keen on the role.

Being out of work he was looking for an opportunity that would ensure continued employment and this was something that he wanted to, in his words, “go and have a look at”.

I didn’t focus on the fact, or even bother about, how he would get there, or even how long it would take.

In retrospect, and when I thought about it, I suppose I should have been a bit concerned that this particular candidate as he lived in Andover.

Note: Just to set the scene this was BEFORE Sat Navs, Google Maps, and Mobile Phones, but AFTER Road Atlases.

I told Joe about the role, I told him where the work was; the company, the rates etc. and he said he was interested. Who was I to judge? (I now have a very firm opinion on who I am to judge.)

On the day of the interview I was busy resourcing for a large contract we had but I’d checked the night before and Joe said “everything was OK” he knew where and when his interview was scheduled for and, “he’d be fine”.

I called the client later on that afternoon to get feedback on Joes meeting with him.

Things hadn’t gone well.

It seems that Joe had experienced a particularly difficult journey. He’d had some trouble finding the place. It’d taken a lot longer than he’d expected. And he was more than flustered when he arrived in reception.

Joe was pretty fed up. Joe was so fed up that he announced (loudly) to anyone who cared to listen and was in earshot that there was “no way I’m going to do that F****ng Journey every day”. I’m told that this was followed by some kind of look for acceptance on that statement by anyone who he could make eye contact with.

Sadly, my client at the time happened to be showing out some potential customers. He was right at the handshake, “goodbye”, and “thanks for coming” stage of a very successful visit.

Understandably he was not impressed.

As a client I’d dealt with him for a long time.

He prided himself on his “straight talking approach” and was always very efficient to get to the point, albeit in an often brutal manner.

Paul (as that was his name) carried out a brief interview in reception, and suggested that if this was how Joe felt then it would be a waste of both their times to carry on the discussion any further, or words to that effect.

Afterwards we spoke, and Paul proudly used some more of his straight talking approach to explain his dissatisfaction.

Asking questions about the distance a potential candidate would consider to be a reasonable daily commute, or historically how far they’ve travelled to work, are often now a regular feature of my interviewing process.

My Advice

If you’re trying to work out what a reasonable daily commute is, have a look at something like Google Maps to establish your route and the traffic you’re likely to encounter (if you use Google’s Street View you could practically drive the route from the comfort of your own home). If it’s practical make a trial run at the times you would need to travel to arrive in good time.

If you’re going to use public transport, research your options and take into account any walking to or from train stations or bus stops, as well as the fares you’ll need to pay.

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1 thought on “How Far IS a Reasonable Commute?

  1. Melissa

    I think it’s so important to do your research before applying to jobs. Checking in to commute time, as you’ve mentioned could save a lot of hassle and potential disappointment. Great advice!


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