Previous experience before applying

Status
Not open for further replies.

kayul

Member
Joined
22 Feb 2021
Messages
14
Location
Leeds, West Yorkshire
Hi,

Just been reading through these threads and noticed that quite a few people got their job on the first attempt. Wondering if anyone wants to shed some light on what sort of careers experience (if any!) you had before getting your job, whether it's an apprentice, driver, customer service, signaller, engineer. Anything in the railway.

Cheers
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

sw1ller

Established Member
Joined
4 Jan 2013
Messages
1,480
To me, and I mean this nicely, but this is a bad idea for a thread.
IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT YOUR BACKGROUND IS.

Genuinely, I have a near perfect background for train driving and it took me many attempts to get in. Many many attempts. All in all it took me 8 years, granted my first set of applications were just speculative. I know others that passed first time and are terrible drivers/guards. Some are almost dangerous. I’m now an instructor driver, so don’t think the ones getting in first time are on track to be the best...... it takes effort. You get out what you put in.
 

4F89

Member
Joined
17 Aug 2018
Messages
718
So having 8 years of failure makes you a better driver... huh


By that reasoning I'm a supreme lover.
 

dctraindriver

Member
Joined
9 Jan 2017
Messages
418
To me, and I mean this nicely, but this is a bad idea for a thread.
IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT YOUR BACKGROUND IS.

Genuinely, I have a near perfect background for train driving and it took me many attempts to get in. Many many attempts. All in all it took me 8 years, granted my first set of applications were just speculative. I know others that passed first time and are terrible drivers/guards. Some are almost dangerous. I’m now an instructor driver, so don’t think the ones getting in first time are on track to be the best...... it takes effort. You get out what you put in.
How long have you been driving now? It certainly took me a long time to get in however I managed to get in first time but the process was incredibly drawn out.
 

hiredgun

Member
Joined
17 Jun 2019
Messages
46
To me, and I mean this nicely, but this is a bad idea for a thread.
IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT YOUR BACKGROUND IS.

Genuinely, I have a near perfect background for train driving and it took me many attempts to get in. Many many attempts. All in all it took me 8 years, granted my first set of applications were just speculative. I know others that passed first time and are terrible drivers/guards. Some are almost dangerous. I’m now an instructor driver, so don’t think the ones getting in first time are on track to be the best...... it takes effort. You get out what you put in.
Sw1ller... I couldn’t agree more with your first paragraph.

But feel the second to be fairly odd!!

The railway have been trying to stop SPAD’s for years, maybe the answer is to make all drivers apply more than 3 times??
 

Stigy

Established Member
Joined
6 Nov 2009
Messages
4,481
Talking more specifically about getting a Trainee Driver job (It’s not specified in the first post as to whether this is about any railway job), I think (maybe controversially?) that it’s largely down to the luck of the draw. With so many (often thousands) of applicants, to get a driving job at all, let alone first time is extremely luck dependent, with many applicants of similar backgrounds and impressive applications.

I should make clear I’m talking about getting through the initial papersift here. It becomes more likely once you get through the assessment centre and eventually on to interview, naturally. I know some people have got through on their first attempt, but when a lot of the time applications aren’t even reviewed by humans initially, that’s where the luck element comes in to it.
 

route101

Established Member
Joined
16 May 2010
Messages
8,603
I've always thought its better going through the ranks. Guard to driver and build up experience. That said its hard enough to get an entry level position on the railway.
 

PudseyBearHST

Member
Joined
28 Sep 2015
Messages
833
Location
South West
You’re thinking about this too hard. It doesn’t really matter what your previous background because most of the process is standardised- initial sift, online assessments, proper assessments. Where previous background/experience comes in is during the interview particularly the MMI. But even then, the MMI is not so much what you say but how you say it. So you could have the “perfect“ background yet you could fail the interview because you didn’t put your points across well. Similarly, you could have not very much experience yet pass the interview because you spoke well.

How do you consider what a “perfect background“ is? Saying becoming a guard first makes better drivers is not always true. I can think of a few ex-guards who have tried to become drivers but failed training. And there’s no way you can conclude internals work harder or appreciate the job more than externals. In fact, to some degree you can argue the opposite because I’ve seen some internals who go into training overconfident which has been to their detriment.
The good thing about being a train driver is that you have people from all walks of life that come into the job. In my opinion, the only “perfect” background for a mainline driver where I could understand a sense of entitlement would be Shunter driver/Depot Driver.

For balance, I just want to say there have been numerous guards or other internal who have transitioned to driver and are superb drivers. But I think to assume that they are always better for the job or appreciate the job more than externals is unfair.
 
Last edited:

DriverEight

Member
Joined
18 Feb 2021
Messages
191
Location
Sunderland
I've always thought its better going through the ranks. Guard to driver and build up experience. That said its hard enough to get an entry level position on the railway.
This always puzzles me. Given how good a job train driving is considered to be, l would have expected just about everyone that works for a TOC would apply for any trainee drivers job that came along internally, especially those with experience of working on trains. Are these roles usually advertised internally? Do many current employees apply?
 

sw1ller

Established Member
Joined
4 Jan 2013
Messages
1,480
How long have you been driving now? It certainly took me a long time to get in however I managed to get in first time but the process was incredibly drawn out.
I’m just pointing out that getting the job first time means nothing. Doesn’t make you a better or worse driver. Nor does getting the job after a long period of time. The application process and having the ability to do the job don’t always coincide. For instance, my biggest issue was my spelling and grammar. Once I sorted that it only took me two attempts to get past the manager interview and I was in. But grammar has nothing to do with driving a train safely. It’s just something than CAN help people decide if you CAN withstand a lengthy trainee course. Pretty sure that’s why our place love ex coppers but even that’s bitten them on the arse recently.
Basically, my point is, don’t fixate on how long it takes to get the job, just keep trying, adapting and persevering.
 

Rylievie

Member
Joined
3 Nov 2019
Messages
39
Location
London
I think it could be a combination of everything said. Initially I managed to get past the 1st sift on a big recruitment drive by freightliner, where as possibly overlooked in others. I did well on those tests which enabled me to apply for a different TOC whilst sitting in a talent pool. I feel like you as a person and how you approach it helps you get this job. I feel like what I did previously only helped me in my process during the MMI, drawing from experiences and tailoring that to what I thought they were looking for. Even then as mentioned that was partly down to luck. If you really want this job, persevere and give it everything you have
 

Stigy

Established Member
Joined
6 Nov 2009
Messages
4,481
I’m just pointing out that getting the job first time means nothing. Doesn’t make you a better or worse driver. Nor does getting the job after a long period of time. The application process and having the ability to do the job don’t always coincide. For instance, my biggest issue was my spelling and grammar. Once I sorted that it only took me two attempts to get past the manager interview and I was in. But grammar has nothing to do with driving a train safely. It’s just something than CAN help people decide if you CAN withstand a lengthy trainee course. Pretty sure that’s why our place love ex coppers but even that’s bitten them on the arse recently.
Basically, my point is, don’t fixate on how long it takes to get the job, just keep trying, adapting and persevering.
They probably “love” ex-coppers because the skill set is largely transferable. Whether they’re right or wrong to favour them is debatable I guess, but it’s still a clear a fact that their skills (likewise with all emergency service workers really) transfer well. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are some former police officers who almost think it’s their right to be offered a Trainee Driver position, and are miffed when it doesn’t happen. The applicant’s arrogance can often be a their downfall.

Taking the above in to account, I think previous experience naturally makes it easier to get a job once you’ve negotiated the initial sifts and assessments (especially if a hiring manager doesn’t have sight on these applications initially).

For other jobs, it often works the other way. For example, in my last job, I was responsible for recruiting staff to my grade, which was a small grade within the TOC. I personally steered clear of former police officers because from experience, they come in with a “been there, done that” attitude, and the role wasn’t a million miles from that of what they had come from in the first place. I personally would have preferred someone completely new to the railway. And also someone who didn’t want to join just to be trained, then jump ship to become a driver (I once interviewed a member of station staff who openly admitted he wanted to do the job I was recruiting for because he wanted to be a driver eventually....
 
Last edited:

Comfy

Member
Joined
23 Dec 2018
Messages
124
In my limited experience the people I trained with and other colleagues I've met often have a military or emergency service background. Others who don't have that background seemed to have trades or jobs that are important to do correctly for safety reasons or they were in jobs that had a lot of responsibility for people.
 

sw1ller

Established Member
Joined
4 Jan 2013
Messages
1,480
They probably “love” ex-coppers because the skill set is largely transferable. Whether they’re right or wrong to favour them is debatable I guess, but it’s still a clear a fact that their skills (likewise with all emergency service workers really) transfer well. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are some former police officers who almost think it’s their right to be offered a Trainee Driver position, and are miffed when it doesn’t happen. The applicant’s arrogance can often be a their downfall.

Taking the above in to account, I think previous experience naturally makes it easier to get a job once you’ve negotiated the initial sifts and assessments (especially if a hiring manager doesn’t have sight on these applications initially).

For other jobs, it often works the other way. For example, in my last job, I was responsible for recruiting staff to my grade, which was a small grade within the TOC. I personally steered clear of former police officers because from experience, they come in with a “been there, done that” attitude, and the role wasn’t a million miles from that of what they had come from in the first place. I personally would have preferred someone completely new to the railway. And also someone who didn’t want to join just to be trained, then jump ship to become a driver (I once interviewed a member of station staff who openly admitted he wanted to do the job I was recruiting for because he wanted to be a driver eventually....
I understand what you mean here. When I was trying to get onto the petrol tankers, the recruitment didn’t want to hire experienced milk tanker drivers because of the bad habits they pick up and the “been there....” attitude too. It’s tarring people with the same brush and leaves very capable people at a huge disadvantage. That is life though. Recruiters will hire from experience and that’s not wrong. But it can be.
 

Annetts key

Member
Joined
13 Feb 2021
Messages
675
Location
West is best
So far train crew, specifically drivers has been talked about. But there are many other jobs on the railway. Such as maintenance of the rolling stock and the infrastructure. On the infrastructure side, as well as signallers, there are all the maintenance staff.

Depending on where you are in the country and the current number of vacant posts that the relevant company are recruiting for, plus how well you as an individual do in the process along with luck will determine how likely you are to get a job.

Two weeks ago, while waiting for a meeting to resume, there was talk about the number of external applications for the advertised jobs. It was about 60 applications per advertised job.

If you do want a railway job, some things to think about:

Don’t tell them you play sport at weekends, the company often want people who will be happy to work weekend turns. One manager when faced with a pile of applications put every sing one that mentioned sport into the bin without reading any further...

Most of the important jobs involve a lot of shift work.

Anything that is railway specific and specialist, the company will train you.

Those that are new to the railway often go in at the bottom and then work their way up. So for example, unless you already have the experience and skills, you can’t get a job as a mid or higher graded signaller. You may have to go for a crossing keepers job, or for the lowest of the signaller grades.

If you are prepared to travel to different depots, you are more likely to get a job, and will be able to go up through the grades more quickly.
 

Rockhopper

Member
Joined
29 Apr 2019
Messages
630
Thats not quite true, many people have gone into Grade Nine signaler positions straight from the street.

And regarding travelling - most TOC's (and now NR for signaler jobs) require you to live within one hour of the depot/box you are applying for (and they are not interested in allowing you to relocate either).
 

AgentGemini

Member
Joined
8 Jun 2019
Messages
46
Mixed thoughts.

RE Drivers - depends on the toc and the malice of the TOC in question. Two TOCs that run side by side have almost mirror mirror attitudes: the first TOC is almost dead set against allowing guards to proceed (it allows a token handful to act as a dangling carrot) but otherwise most guards get instascrubbed. Doesnt help said TOC has loathed its guards grade since it took over. The second TOC on the other hand is more open minded and considers a lot more guards for the promotion and so ends up often recruiting for guards because they get through to driver.

RE time taken to get in and skills - irrelevant. I have known drivers who should never have gotten in but brag about getting in first time. On the other hand, there are drivers who worked their way up who swagger in withna "know the railway, I know it all" and it bites them on the ass. Time taken to apply etc is irrelevant - it's overthinking.

As for travel time, usually within 1 hr of depot or box - this can vary wildly. The 1hr situation is there for a solid reason, fatigue management. But when applying, stating a willingness to relocate is like luck of the draw. One TOC I applied to took me all the way to final manager interview when the location was 2 and a half hours away from my position. On the other hand it instantly scrubbed my app for another depot which was only 45mins drive away from my the position. Strange world we live in.
 

Annetts key

Member
Joined
13 Feb 2021
Messages
675
Location
West is best
Thats not quite true, many people have gone into Grade Nine signaler positions straight from the street.

And regarding travelling - most TOC's (and now NR for signaler jobs) require you to live within one hour of the depot/box you are applying for (and they are not interested in allowing you to relocate either).

But such a lot of this depends on the requirements of the area. With less crossing boxes and less ‘traditional’ signal boxes, yes, they do sometimes recruit into the the larger signalling centres. Often though, it’s the lower positions that they are advertising externally for, as existing staff work their way up through the grades. It very much depends on the area, as there are large differences across the country.

By travelling, I mean the person moves house/home themselves. Not longer commuting time. And no, the company won’t normally want to help you with the costs. But they should not prevent you moving if that’s what you want. You do obviously have to be successful in your application for your new job though.
 

Gallius

Member
Joined
10 Nov 2019
Messages
91
Location
Uk
Thats not quite true, many people have gone into Grade Nine signaler positions straight from the street.

And regarding travelling - most TOC's (and now NR for signaler jobs) require you to live within one hour of the depot/box you are applying for (and they are not interested in allowing you to relocate either).
I relocated to take up a Signaller job last year, and I know of at least two others who did too so it's not a barrier. I stated on my application form I would be required to relocate and I confirmed again in my interview my willingness to relocate and it was not an issue at all. I think they're more interested in the person than anything else
 

Rockhopper

Member
Joined
29 Apr 2019
Messages
630
But such a lot of this depends on the requirements of the area. With less crossing boxes and less ‘traditional’ signal boxes, yes, they do sometimes recruit into the the larger signalling centres. Often though, it’s the lower positions that they are advertising externally for, as existing staff work their way up through the grades. It very much depends on the area, as there are large differences across the country.

By travelling, I mean the person moves house/home themselves. Not longer commuting time. And no, the company won’t normally want to help you with the costs. But they should not prevent you moving if that’s what you want. You do obviously have to be successful in your application for your new job though.

I'm not suggesting they will help you - Train operating companies especially will look at your post code when you submit you application and if you are outside 60 minutes travel then thats it, your application won't go any further. And despite whats been posted above about signalers, NR seem to be going the same way in recent months.
 

oz220

Member
Joined
29 Oct 2017
Messages
64
Hi,

Just been reading through these threads and noticed that quite a few people got their job on the first attempt. Wondering if anyone wants to shed some light on what sort of careers experience (if any!) you had before getting your job, whether it's an apprentice, driver, customer service, signaller, engineer. Anything in the railway.

Cheers

for me a lot of it comes down to luck, preparation and ability to get through the tests.

you’ll need luck/constant searching to see the advert in the first place and get your application in before it closes.

you’ll need luck to get through the paper sift. A good, clear c.v may help. Don’t forget you’ll likely be up against more than 1000 others for each job so luck has to play a part IMO.

once you’ve cleared these parts then preparation will come into things. You’ll get invited to the tests and obviously ability and being prepared will determine the outcome.

interview/MMI/DMI - for me this is all about preparation. It really doesn’t matter what you do in you current career. for sure some careers will be easier to detail transferable skills into becoming a driver. But this is where you’ll need to prepare for all the eventual questions. Think about your life, your career, your past experiences. See what skills you used during these times and how certain skills could transfer over to driving trains.

I was extremely lucky to get through on my first application. I really wasn’t expecting too. But I did prepare very hard for each stage. i probably put in more than 20 hours revising/preparing for my DMI.

I like taking the attitude of what will be, will be. Apply for jobs that you want. But try not to get too invested into being successful. Even if you are successful it’s likely to take 12+ months before you start anyway.

don’t give up and keep working hard.
 

Bean756

New Member
Joined
29 Nov 2019
Messages
1
Location
Norwich
To me, and I mean this nicely, but this is a bad idea for a thread.
IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT YOUR BACKGROUND IS.

Genuinely, I have a near perfect background for train driving and it took me many attempts to get in. Many many attempts. All in all it took me 8 years, granted my first set of applications were just speculative. I know others that passed first time and are terrible drivers/guards. Some are almost dangerous. I’m now an instructor driver, so don’t think the ones getting in first time are on track to be the best...... it takes effort. You get out what you put in.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top