Have the goal posts moved a lot?

Discussion in 'Railway Jobs & Careers' started by elementalpat, 16 Nov 2011.

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  1. elementalpat

    elementalpat Member

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    Hi there everyone.

    Back in 2005, I applied for the role of Trainee Train Driver for Southern and got to the assessment centre stage, but I messed up on the stage of the dreaded dots (now thanks to the power of the net, I know that test is a toughie!)

    I was a fresh faced graduate back then so I was kinda applying for anything.

    Now in 2011, after some years teaching English abroad, I got some decent work experience behind me. Two applications for trainee drivers at First Capital Connect and Southern, both turned down before even seeing my face!

    Seriously! What is the thinking behind that!? I've even got work experience now, so I simply can't understand these decisions not to even give me a chance!
     
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  3. pendolino

    pendolino Member

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    Hundreds of people apply for trainee driver posts, there's no way everyone can be interviewed. You may have work experience now, but they may have felt it doesn't seem particularly relevant to the role. There will likely be plenty of other candidates who meet the job criteria to a greater degree. That's just the way it is when you apply for any job for which there is a lot of competition.
     
  4. Dave A

    Dave A Established Member

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    It's a very crowded market now days. Back even 3 years ago, only people who were interested in railways, or already in a career, would apply for the position. Now, lots of people look at the £££ and think that's for them.

    I think, as someone who has done 4 years in the railways and got no-where yet, that it's an unfair way to determine who should be a Train Driver. So many undeserved people get that postion every day, just because they fluke the assessment and can speak to managers the in the language they want to hear.

    Now with unemployment being so high, company's are taking on the highest amount of applications ever, even from people who are just trying their luck. Meaning that there will be people better than you, with the relevant experience, usually applying for no more than 4-5 postions at a time.

    My advice is that, if you really want to get into Train Driving, take up a role that involves dealing with trains on a daily basis just to get some understanding. This could be a dispatcher, train guard/manager, even gate-line assistant. It will look better when you apply again, and may also make think about whether you really want to do it. :)
     
  5. elementalpat

    elementalpat Member

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    Thanks for the quick replies.

    Similar story in all the jobs that I go for really, either something to do with my degree or something different (like train stuff).

    Just get the same old spiel, 'your application was good and addressed all the points, but other candidates had more experience in X, Y or Z.'

    Just think there's too many people jumping pay grades, even from higher ones, and the youngsters (like me) lose out. 1 million spring chickens out in the doldroms now today!
     
  6. Dave A

    Dave A Established Member

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    That's very true. Many people at the moment are moving into railways because of the high pay and job security. So the people who have been sitting in offices for 20 odd years who have been made redundant, are gaining the positions that would have usually gone to those who are just starting out.

    I started working when I was 17, and was very lucky to gain the experience, and now can fit into any customer based role quite easily. Adding being in the railways for 4 years (and counting), natural progression is train driver. I do feel sorry for people who've gone into Uni and are just coming out because they've got no chance. Many places want to take someone who they can train with little effort and no cost...

    But, as I say to my brother who is in the same position, keep trying & take anything that comes along even if you don't like it. The experience all counts! :)
     
  7. cookiescrumble

    cookiescrumble Member

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    I'm at the stage of trying to start a career on the railways, and it is something I am genuinely interested in.

    I've applied for everything from ticket clerk vacancies to trainee driver positions. Hopefully something will come up trumps for me.
     
  8. 142094

    142094 Established Member

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    I mean this in the kindest possible way, but a few years teaching English abroad isn't normally a pre-requisite for a driver job (unless you have some other experience that you haven't said) and that maybe why you didn't get an interview. Remember you'll probably be competing with a lot of other people who may have previously worked in the railway industry and who have more direct knowledge and experience than yourself.
     
  9. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    Don't think it's anything to do with age. I'm 20 and was offered a job on the railway with a basic of almost 30k not so long ago. You just have to know what you're doing when it comes to applying and be able to whizz through the assessments.

     
  10. elementalpat

    elementalpat Member

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    Well, applied for a Conductor role for Southern now. Not exactly the most glamourous role around, but I should learn a lot about the industry if I get in. Maybe even bump into Dave A at the Vic!
     
  11. Beveridges

    Beveridges Established Member

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    The goalposts have moved on immeasurably.
    5 years ago I passed an Interview for a Drivers position and the only experience I had was about 4 months working on a Station. I would have had the job if I did not fail the Psychometric Assessments which was my own mess-up, nothing to do with the TOCs.

    Now, I've got 5 years railway experience, a psychometric test pass, loads of experience as a Depot Driver/Shunter, and fail to secure a mainline Drivers positon every time, the TOC's either failing me at one of their own stages or putting me on waiting lists with no jobs at the end of them.
     
  12. E&W Lucas

    E&W Lucas Established Member

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    I think you're over estimating the value of your work experience. I can't see you having built up the transferable skills that they will have been looking for. What you've been doing won't really have put you under pressure, required total adherence to procedures, etc, etc, etc. (please see other posts that detail what the job actually entails - as always, pay attention to those of us who are actually doing it, not those that think they ought to be).

    You need to show some responsibility, so that means management in your situation. If the obvious graduate schemes are opening up for you, then it is quite possible to work up fast from the shop floor in most of the major service sector companies. Supermarkets, fast food, hotels, etc. Plenty of drivers have come from that sort of background. Otherwise, you could try working up within the railway, but it is by no means a guaranteed path, as the jobs do not really provide you with the skills a driver needs.

    I do sympathise - I've been there!
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    "I can't get the job, so I resent those that can"
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Errrr - No. There's a bit more required than that.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---

    For the umpteenth time, this is total B******t.

    There was a thread a couple of weeks ago, asking drivers what they had done previously. I suggest you read it.
     
    Last edited: 23 Nov 2011
  13. Dave A

    Dave A Established Member

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    Alright mate, calm down. There's no need to be rude. As this is a forum, I'm entitled to give my opinion and unless stated otherwise, that's what it should be taken as... :)

    Yes, I do have a bit of resentment to those who have undeservedly got the role. I've seen many people who haven't prepared, and are only interested in the role for the money, put forward because they "brown-nosed", then passed by fluke. I made it known from the day I entered the railways that I wanted to be a train driver. I did all the preparation & hard work, then waited (because I was too young), only to have many others be put ahead of me.

    I've also seen many people go into the role and absolutely hate it. Deciding to be a train driver is not a decision that should be taken lightly. elementalpat was saying that they had two applications turned down straight away. To me that means something isn't right. My advice which followed was to get into a railway role so they could get bit more understanding about how everything works. With so many applicants now days, it wouldn't hurt to be in the company already gaining knowledge and maybe some contacts.

    And as for what driver's have done previously; now days, driving is no longer a natural progression for many customer facing TOC staff. Sadly because a) it's more expensive than taking external's, and b) because the standard of some staff who get those roles, isn't what it used to be, and driving will never be for them. There are plenty of jobs where the skills and knowledge picked up will transfer over to the role of train driving, so I'm not surprised many drivers have had varied previous jobs. However, for someone like elementalpat, who has the chance to get into the railways through other roles, they might as well do it as it wouldn't make sense not to.

    And finally, I feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity to get so far in the application. I was unlucky enough to fail at the interview stage on my first attempt. Of course it's heartbreaking, but I now have the assessment certificate to take to other TOC's, as well the experience & even more knowledge, which will only make me a stronger candidate in the future. And while I may have to keep the platform role, albeit at a different company, I will take everything I gain from it and put it towards my next chance at train driving, which will hopefully come through.
     
  14. E&W Lucas

    E&W Lucas Established Member

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    On the contrary, you might be better served by listening to those with rather more railway and life experience than you have.

    You have a colossal chip on your shoulder. If it is coming across on here, I am sure it does in your work. That will have been noticed. Don't you think that it is enormously offensive to accuse successful driver candidates of "brown nosing" or "passing by fluke"?
    Might they not just have displayed greater maturity and judgment than yourself?

    Despite the "experience" that you place such value on, you have clearly failed to recognise the key qualities required of a driver. The job is an exercise in decision making, You have no experience of that, therefore you are not equipped to do the job. Aptitude tests are just that. You could pass them at 16 or 70. To actually get the job, you need a few personal qualities as well.

    Now go and read some of the posts by myself, and other experienced drivers, that describe the job, and the skills and experience required. Then devote some thought to how you go about obtaining them. When I look around my messroom, I do not see people off the platform. There may be a couple who were once, but they worked their way into other, more responsible roles. Take the hint. Train driving jobs are not a lottery win; they go to those adjudged to have the best chance of performing.
     
  15. Dave A

    Dave A Established Member

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    Although I wouldn't use the word "colossal", if you have read what I posted above, you will see that I agree that I have some resentment. As I've said, this was a big chance for me, and for whatever reason (which I will find out from manager feedback), I failed. It's a natural reaction, but I'm moving on.

    It would be offensive if I was talking about someone specific, or generalising, but I'm talking about a select few people I used to work with. You have not seen these people and have no right to comment on whether it's offensive or not.

    Yes, they probably did, hence why they were considered before me. And although it is of no concern to you, I'm pleased to say this is one of the areas I've worked on (one reason I believe I was considered for the role by FGW this year, after numerous tries with various TOCs).

    You seem to determine this by a reading a couple of posts over a rail forum. You don't know who I am, what experiences I've had and what I am like as a person. How you get that from what I've said is beyond me!? :?

    Do you believe I am suggesting that all train driver's should start out on the platforms, because I'm not?! I like working in the railway industry, and even though there are many other moves I could make, they're not for me. So my experience comes from what I know best (as will everyone else's). We all have to start somewhere, and due to being strung along at my last TOC, I never got to take the opportunities to move into the "more responsible roles".

    Again, I agree. But as with everything, a few slip through the net every now & then. Some people are very good at sitting in interviews keeping calm & telling the interviewers what they want to hear. And although they may look good on paper, when it comes to the hard work, their true colours are shown!

    As you have read, I have spent a good 4 years doing just that, although I was lucky enough to be able to speak to them in person, watching & understanding how they work, and learning plenty about the role. I even had a good relationship with some driver manager's and director's in my last TOC, as well has hands on work. And while this is a lot, it doesn't mean I can't learn more (everyone can learn something new), and I appreciate the knowledge and feedback this forum & it's member base hold.

    Finally, while I appreciate you taking time to respond, I'd like you to show a slightly more courteous manner. I am taking my time to reply in exactly this way, while being mindful and appreciative of your comments, but I seem to be getting a response aimed at a child. I can manage to ignore these menial comments every now & then, but for the purpose of constructive conversation, could you please refrain from doing this? Thanks. :)
     
  16. francisoldfield

    francisoldfield Member

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    oi! What's wrong with being a conductor at Southern? Doesn't get more glamorous!
     
  17. notadriver

    notadriver Established Member

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    It's a great job and I think it can help you or be advantageous along the way to becoming a driver as you will require some rules, route and traction knowledge.
     
  18. mac

    mac Member

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    Dave A most of what you put is so true,I dont want to be a driver although i no i could do it,25 years ago i would have been given the job just because of who i knew.The TOC's now want people from uni who apply just for the money and are given the jobs by people from uni who have no idea about the job you only have to look how they decribe some jobs.Most driving jobs are a lottery and only one can win it will be intresting to see how many stay when the job market picks up and they can do a 9-5 job for the same money.
     
  19. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    I don't know where to start with that one. I think your post speaks volumes about something - but not about what it's like getting a driving job.
     
  20. notadriver

    notadriver Established Member

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    I'm not sure I agree with all of that. I know many people with degrees who fail the assessments. And surely when applying for any job it's a lottery. There are so many applicants for all jobs these days? Definitely agree that 25 years ago you could much more easily get the job - as to whether you could do it - surely that's speculation. Anyone can say they can do anything? :o
     
  21. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    Of course you could get the job easier 25 years ago! There were fewer applicants. Drivers were paid less and there was less training (and therefore expense) required.

    Today, everybody knows drivers are generally well paid. What they do not know is that:

    Driving is a lonely and sometimes boring job.

    Driving requires a high amount of technical awareness. You'll need to be able to quickly locate and find fixes to faults.

    Driving is about safety and making decisions quickly and efficiently.

    You may need to manage the public in an emergency (I.e. detraining passengers)

    Driving requires specific aptitudes in mental and physical ability. Most of these you are born with.



    My father was a driver and he is a very unique person. Ideally suited to driving - a very sharp, intelligent bloke who doesn't know the meaning of indecision or panic.

    There are so many people who want to drive trains - and why not? If you're cut out for it, it's a marvellous career. But there are actually rather few people comparatively who are cut out for it.

    I couldn't drive a train. I just don't have the required skills, or the level of concentration required.

    My advice to anyone who wants to do any kind of job, and is struggling to get in, is to listen hard to people who are already doing it!

    There are quite a few noticeable chips on shoulders in this thread which only highlights possible immaturity. I note that the negative comments come from people who actually do not drive trains for a living.

    Hmm!
     
  22. Minilad

    Minilad Established Member

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    I would say nothing could be further from the truth
     
  23. TDK

    TDK Established Member

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    Totally untrue, TOC's will always try to employ qualified drivers first, then most likely current employess then they will look outside. As for uni, I do not know of any TOC that employed someone out of uni just for their qualifications. Sorry Mac but you are out of touch on the recruitment of drivers.
     
  24. mac

    mac Member

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    25 years ago you could get the job because of who you knew not because there was less applicants,like you my dad was a driver and if i had wanted the job i would of got it,i no of 2 famlies who went driving because there mother worked in the inspecters office.
    The things you say about driving are true but same thing applys for truck drivers only they work double the hours so they must be well suited to train driving.
    How did drivers manage years ago when you started at the bottom and over 20 years or more worked your way up to driving.
    I don't have a chip on my shoulder as i said don't want to be a driver cannot think of anything more boring than driving along the same short bit of track all day
     
  25. E&W Lucas

    E&W Lucas Established Member

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    Your initial posts earned that response. What you have posted subsequently is somewhat better, and credit where it is due, articulate (which is important for a driver).

    Lose the resentment, and work hard to earn a role with more responsibility, where you will be better able to show that you can handle pressure, working unsupervised and that you can be relied upon to take correct decisions.

    Driving is essentially an operational management job. You earn your money when things go wrong, and you are the person on the ground that has to take decisions to keep the job moving. How you act, can make a real difference to the extent of delay, etc.

    You're in your early 20's - that is young for a driver candidate.
     
  26. notadriver

    notadriver Established Member

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    There is no comparison between truck driving and train driving apart from that they are both called drivers. I'm a coach driver myself. Also I can't see how you can call Paddington to Exeter short (as an example of a route a driver might sign).
     
  27. mac

    mac Member

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    Everything he said you need to be a train driver you need to be a truck driver or coach driver.Also drivers might sign for long routes but they could spend days going nowhere,i live next to hull doncaster line so 70 mile round trip all day how can that be hard unlike you having to drive though citys where you have never been
     
  28. Minilad

    Minilad Established Member

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    So do you think the drivers that drive Hull - Doncaster only ever do that route. It seems you don't really have much of an idea about train driving, what it takes to be one, and what a driver does
     
  29. mac

    mac Member

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    No i don't think that,they may go to york or bridlington on a line thats there for them to stations they no unlike the coach or truck drivers who could go anywhere in the uk or europe.Like i put may dad drove trains so i do no a little bit.
     
  30. Dave A

    Dave A Established Member

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    I apologise if it did, I had no intention of that. :)

    Thanks. Great advice. I will take it all on board. :)

    Agreed. I've got plenty of time left to obtain the role, and am sure as I get older it will prove less difficult, in part thanks to life experiences. :)
     
  31. notadriver

    notadriver Established Member

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    The reason it's hard is because a truck or coach can stop within around 200 metres at top speed - which will only be 56 or 62 mph respectively and those speeds are only allowed on motorways. A train - even one that 'only' does 90 mph will take a mile to stop, so a driver must have superb concentration skills and route knowledge. Miss a junction on the M1 go to the next one and come back. Easy.
     
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