How Far is Too Far (Or Too Long) To Commute?


Robert Samuels – JS3 Recruitment

I was speaking to a candidate yesterday and a situation arose that reminded me of something I learned early in recruitment career. In my opinion the candidate was ideal for a role that we are working on. He had all of the skills and experience that our client is looking for. There was seemingly no reason not to submit him for review. Except for one… He doesn’t drive. Although the candidate was in favour of being submitted and only lives a few miles from where the role is based I realised that there was a potential issue. Having done a little research a journey that would be 15-20 minutes by car was well over an hour each way on public transport.

So, having thought about it I went back to the candidate and had another conversation. If I was to submit him for this role and he was offered the position it would have added an additional two hours of travel time to his working day. Although the salary would have been significantly better, his work / life balance would definitely have suffered and frankly I’m not just in this business to make a quick fee and move on.

As a Recruiter I believe it is important to take all factors into account before sending someone for a role, no matter how good the individual is. Placing a candidate in a role where the commute is not manageable will most likely end in disaster. Neither they nor the client will be happy and as a Recruiter you look like you are just chasing a fee.

Let’s be honest, it might work in the short term but medium to long term it will effect their performance at work. Factors might be:

  • Pressure at home due to being out for extended periods of time
  • General exhaustion from long commute
  • Late arrival at work due to issues with public transport or heavy traffic

Chances are that this will all culminate in a short period of employment where one party or the other decide that it’s time to call it quits.

From a Recruiters perspective it doesn’t look great. The candidate might feel that you convinced them to take the job. The client will question why you didn’t explore this as a potential issues with the candidate. Either way it looks pretty poor and there is a potential break down of trust on all sides so not only do you lose this fee but future opportunities too.

So, what’s the solution? Don’t think about miles, think about minutes. Most people are more concerned with how long the journey will take and not how far it is. I would rather drive 15 miles in 20 minutes than have a 5 mile commute that takes an hour each way.

Frankly, it’s all about trust. Think beyond the quick fee and instead think about the credibility you gain with both the client and candidate just by being honest. Thinking about the well being of your candidate and placing them in a role where they will perform at their very best and not turn up exhausted every morning will in turn build your reputation with your client and lead to more work, lead to potential referrals and who knows, might even make you feel good about yourself and the job that you have done for all concerned.