Why Are You Scared to Mention Your Kids at Interview?
Just because it isn’t a legal requirement to mention your family circumstances to a potential employer at interview (and it is certainly questionable if they even hint to ask), it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a great deal of value in the conversation.
I am a Dad of two super kids, and after ten years of corporate life, I decided to plough my own furrow working for myself. Seven years of writing at home later, I haven’t looked back, and I can’t conceive of any parent not wanting to make sure that their family life was a consideration in talks with a potential employer.
Yet, so many job seekers just pretend that it “isn’t an issue” or try not to mention it.
Sorry, what was that? Not an issue? Who really thinks that about their family? Of course, it is an issue! It is the biggest thing in all of our lives, yet in an interview situation, we brush it under the carpet like it was an unwelcome piece of random fluff.
Many employers are happy to talk about how flexible their working practices are, but for it to become a normal conversation (and so employers can genuinely understand its importance), job seekers have to have the courage to put their family on their list of priorities. Right at the top, if they are anything like me.
It sounds like wishful thinking, but things are changing, they really are.
If an employer thinks that an employee should dedicate 100% of their life to them and only to them, then they will be all the poorer for it. Their working parents will be living a meaningless half-life - missing school plays, sports matches and parents’ evenings. Those without kids might barely see their partners, like ships that pass in the night.
I knew that I wanted to put my family first and work from home, but just because you work in an office doesn’t mean that you can ensure that you prioritise them in certain circumstances too.
If your application is strong enough, asking about flexible working won’t put an employer off. Demonstrating certain personality traits by talking about your family won’t make them think twice. They are probably parents too, and it is good to know that you have something deeper to work for.
I suppose it comes down to the insecurity of the job search process and the fact that many job seekers are not suitably advised by recruiters who want them to get the job so that they can bank their commissions. Far from all recruiters are like this, but if a had a penny for every time a recruiter said “don’t mention your kids,” I would be a very rich man.
Mention your kids, or your partner, or a parent that you need to be there for. If you don’t, you will miss the opportunity to lay down some ground rules for what your future employer is going to get when they hire you.
They will hire someone who is 100% present and engaged at work because they have the opportunity to be 100% present and engaged outside work (when they need to be).
This is therefore a blog both for candidates and recruiters.
The arguments for candidates are obvious, but if a recruiter is interested in finding people who will stay with their employers for the longer term (and therefore enhance a recruiter’s reputation), maybe helping candidates to bring up their family circumstances could be an advantageous move? Most recruiters will feel better about making the “match” if they know that someone’s home life is going to be accommodated too.
As with everything, there is always a balance to be found, but your family is nothing to be ashamed of. Fail to mention them at interview and I believe that you are missing out.