When Work And Parenting Meet
Karen Adamedes, author of Hot Tips for Career Chicks, says that Equal Opportunity legislation has done us all a solid by making it illegal for interviewers and recruiters to ask any details of your personal life.
“They can’t ask your age, marital status or whether you have or are planning to have children,” she confirms.
In saying that, Adamedes says the “very real challenges of work-life balance and managing family responsibilities” need to be addressed – both from your perspective as an employee, and from your boss’s perspective in regards to their expectations of your availability and commitment.
“Lurking at the back of many interviewers’ minds are the questions, ‘Is she going to get pregnant and leave me with a vacancy?’ or, ‘Does she have children? And if so, how does she manage being a mother and working?’”
You can bet your last dollar that recruiters rarely consider these questions when interviewing male candidates, but the reality for women in the workplace today is that these types of issues are present.
If you are planning a family…
The mere fact that you’re a women of child-bearing age will prompt some managers to immediately consider the vacancy issues you could cause through maternity leave. There’s no getting around this, so Adamedes suggests that the best way to tackle this situation is to face it head on.
“You don’t even need to raise the issue directly, but you can still address it,” she explains.
“For instance, if you talk positively about your three-to-five year plan, an interviewer will be impressed that you are committed to your career. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be taking a career break in the next three years, and if you do, at least you’ll have a chance to establish your credibility and value first.”
If you already have children…
Prospective employers can’t come right out and ask you about your family situation during your job interview, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to know.
Minimise their potential concerns by alleviating them upfront.
“You could say something like, ‘I’m very skilled at time management. I have two children and a lot of support – you could talk about a partner, parents or children if you want to embellish – so I am quite experienced about managing all parts of my life.”
Of course, how much you choose to disclose is ultimately up to you. You may feel that the best course of action is to stay silent and let your resume speak for itself, which Adamedes says is perfectly fine, too. “Whether you address these issues is a very personal decision, and yours alone,” she adds.