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I'm looking for work. A recruiter contacted me about a specific position. He needs to know if I have a car. I don't currently, but if the job's a good fit I have no issue buying one. Also the job is 100% onsite so I'm a bit surprised. And I would be relocating anyway and would hope to live close to the work. Should I just tell him that I don't currently own one but can buy one? How should this be phrased?

As an aside, this recruiter has contacted me before over LinkedIn. However it does not show up messaging history. Do some recruiters delete their accounts and recreate them periodically?

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    "Do some recruiters delete their accounts and recreate them periodically?" - Legitimate recruiters absolutely do not delete their accounts. The interaction you describe sounds like a scam.
    – Donald
    Apr 22 at 20:31
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    @MichaelMcFarlane third party Apr 22 at 20:38
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    I assume that question was asked about a country with rather bad public transportation infrastructure? Or are your required to transport bulky things in your personal vehicle for the company? "Do you have a car" is such an odd question to ask for some parts of the world. A driving license, yes, but an actual car? Maybe you should add a country tag to get better, more specific answers.
    – nvoigt
    Apr 23 at 5:54
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    Does LinkedIn delete messaging history after a while? Some sites do.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 23 at 19:24
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    @FreeMan - I hire contractors to help with construction projects - for up to 6 months. I will ask people if they have a car. If they don't I don't hire them. If they say "I can borrow one", I don't hire them. If they says "I will buy one if I get job", I do not hire them. It is a very real question because I am not going to train someone for a week or have them start a project then all of a sudden they can't make it because of transportation. I get that for 80% of the jobs or in some locations it doesn't matter. But if it is asked I am sure it matters.
    – blankip
    Apr 25 at 18:17

12 Answers 12

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"Also the job is 100% onsite"

That job might still require you to visit multiple sites.

The question are:

  • how many days a week will it be needed?
  • How many miles a day?
  • If all the sites are all local, where are they specifically?
  • what is the reimbursement rate?

This might be legitimate, depending on the position. I have know people that had to provide support to multiple sites in a few mile radius. Others put hundreds of miles a week. Some people had to drop of a package of documents at headquarters every few weeks.

The office you will be supporting might not be a place you can take public transportation. For example the military base is 10 miles from the main highway, and the office is another 5 miles from the front gate.

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    Location tag required. In the UK, most insurances explicitly do not cover you for work related use other than for commuting. Specific work-related tasks such as visiting sites will not be covered.
    – fdomn-m
    Apr 24 at 9:13
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    @fdomn-m and you need to check UK policies even for commuting. Young/high risk drivers may not have it included by default; those who only have unusual vehicles often don't (my only vehicle is a campervan because I commute by train, and policies for those usually exclude commuting, but I need to be legal to drive to work on a Friday when going away for the weekend). Any other work use isn't even available on my policy, so calling in at the other site to pick something up would be uninsured - and driving without insurance is illegal
    – Chris H
    Apr 24 at 15:10
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    @fdomm-m that is so weird... And here in the USA I thought our insurance was excessively exclusive.
    – Questor
    Apr 24 at 21:07
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    @fdomn-m While that is true, you can usually get business travel added very cheaply, or even at no extra cost. Last time I had it added it didn't cost me anything.
    – Dave Smith
    Apr 25 at 8:22
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    @DaveSmith I've had anything from £10/year to "not available on that policy, a policy offering it would be more than double what you're paying".
    – Chris H
    Apr 25 at 14:06
47

How to answer pre screening question "do you have a car" if I currently don't but could get one?

He's needs to know if I have a car. I don't currently, but if the jobs a good fit I have no issue buying one.

The truth is your friend.

Something like "I don't currently own a car. But I'd be happy to purchase one if required." would work.

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"I have access to a vehicle"

Which is not a lie - you do, you can buy one.

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    @StuartF You say, "I can get a car whenever my job requires one." Apr 23 at 21:38
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    This answer does not avoid a direct answer. It is a direct answer to the question that should have been asked. Someone who does not drive, but can arrange to be driven wherever necessary, should not be rejected for that reason.
    – Rosie F
    Apr 24 at 6:28
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    Jeez, I might as well start touting that I have access to California next time a recruiter asks me if I am local to San Francisco. Hint, I live in New York and this answer is dishonest at best.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Apr 24 at 18:22
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    @MonkeyZeus - if you have the means to rapidly relocate to San Fran, then it's not a lie. Apr 24 at 19:43
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    @MonkeyZeus It's not dishonest, it's just obvious weaseling. Depending on why the employer is asking it could make them drop the resume or it might not. Apr 26 at 12:37
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Do some recruiters delete their accounts and recreate them periodically?

The scam ones do.

And this whole thing sounds like a scam, you've said yourself that this doesn't add up. I would double check in triplicate that who you are speaking with is the person you are speaking with, and that it's all above board.

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  • If it makes a difference I have had a Zoom call with the recruiter already. A bit of an aside but when is something a scam, if you do work and don't get paid? My last employer was very shady but I always did get paid. Apr 22 at 20:29
  • @costlyshopping it makes a difference because they don't let anyone schedule zoom meetings? And I rather not dig into "shady" of random 3rd parties.
    – Aida Paul
    Apr 22 at 20:30
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    @costlyshopping the most common scam would happen when they say you are a perfect fit, but they need you to pay some money to cover some kind of fee or to handle some kind of complication.
    – Anketam
    Apr 23 at 19:49
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In the US, 'do you have a car/do you have reliable transportation' is often a gatekeeping question - if you don't actually need a car for the job, then this question is just weeding out people who might not be able to afford a car.

An appropriate response to this could be 'Will driving my own vehicle be a part of my responsibilities?" If the answer is yes, then you can have an interesting discussion about car ownership.

If they answer is no, you can say that you don't have any concerns at the moment about the commute, and you have a strong track record for showing up to work on time, and have never called out due to transportation issues.

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    That doesn't make sense. You take a job so that you can afford a car (and food and clothes and rent).
    – gnasher729
    Apr 24 at 0:48
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    "sorry, you're too poor for this job" Sounds like a pretty shitty employment / recruitment practice, tbh. Mind you, you mention "in the US", so I shouldn't be surprised.
    – SiHa
    Apr 24 at 9:09
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    @gnasher729 welcome to the land of the free (except freedom from owning a car, that's not included)
    – Hobbamok
    Apr 24 at 10:42
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    @gnasher729 From the employer's perspective, in the US (outside of a tiny number of specific urban areas) a person without a car is very likely to have sporadic attendance issues (with a million excuses), and is also likely to have fragile support structures overall - and their daily headaches will rapidly become your headaches.
    – tbrookside
    Apr 24 at 10:49
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    @tbrookside while a person with a car will never be stuck in traffic, have their car break down, loose their licence, ... /s
    – njzk2
    Apr 24 at 17:11
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You answer it "I currently don't but would be willing to get one (and insurance, of course) if needed for the job, or rent a car occasionally. I do have a driver's license. What does the company pay employees for business use of personal vehicles, and would you reimburse rentals?"

When the correct answer is a nontrivial one, don't try to simplify it to yes/no. If the form only permits yes/no, send a separate clarification.

If they can't deal with that minor complication, you really don't want to work for them.

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"I have transport to and from work".

I work from home myself. My transport to and from work involves a pair of slippers....

If they do require you to use a car for work, check the insurance implications on that, and whether they will pay for business use.

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    Good call on insurance. Transportation to and from work is generally "personal use", but using your personal vehicle to go from work site to work site, potentially transporting colleagues or packages, or stuff... that's a whole other ball. Apr 23 at 15:27
  • If they require you to have a vehicle so you can frequently visit other locations, transport only "to/from work" may be taken as an effective "no".
    – Corrodias
    Apr 24 at 13:59
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Just say yes and move on to another question (or followup why that is relevant)

In all aspects relevant for the job, your current status is equal to literally owning a car. So while you would be technically lying, the moral implications are inexistant. Especially to a shady LinkedIn recruiter.

Don't get caught up in some dodgy-sounding half-answers that are just weird ways of saying no. The recruiter asks a bs question so they get a corresponding answer.

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A decent answer would be: "I do have a driving license. I don't have any need for a car right now, so I'd like to know why the job would require a car".

For example, if you were to work from home generally, but once a month you need to go to a place that cannot be reached by public transport, then renting a car would be much cheaper for me than buying a car just for that. Or public transport plus 20 miles in an Uber.

Many jobs don't require driving a car at all, so you'd definitely want to know why they think it is required.

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In some parts of the US, public transportation is sufficiently unreliable or inflexible that many employers prefer not to hire people who will be using it to commute. (This once-common question is now illegal to ask, but poorly-trained interviewers may continue ask it anyway.). (Source, in part, the California-specific https://haelaw.com/unlawful-drivers-license-discrimination/ , and in part my personal past experience of a time when "must have car" was common in job ads in other states.)

This question may also be a proxy for constraints like "are you available to work overtime on short notice", though of course there are many reasons someone might not be able to work extra hours.

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We are not allowed to ask whether somebody has a car or not.

The better question is, "Can you arrive on time to the work site?"

Some jobs that recruiters have may need you to visit different company sites. In Southern California, USA, public transportation sucks, so you need a car to get to most places. If you don't have your own transportation, the recruiter will restrict the jobs for you to those that can be accessed via public transportation or are close enough to use public transportation.

Doesn't sound like a scam. Sounds like a recruiter compiling job search attributes about you.

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  • I'm in Southern California, U.S.A. with interesting H.R. rules. Apr 28 at 18:06
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Just say yes. If you get the job and they actually expect a car to be available, tell them it broke down and you're looking for a replacement.

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  • Downvote's not mine. I guess its because this isn't really a new answer. Maybe you need to do a refresher on the help pages Apr 26 at 10:05

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