My question is about going-back-to-work etiquette.
Going back to work after a mean divorce and raising three wonderful children — mostly on my own, because my ex distanced himself emotionally after he lost his job and his career took a nose dive. We dated in high school and through college before getting married. I’m fine, and ready, willing, and able to get back to work.
My problem is that I have a gap in my résumé a mile long. At least that’s what it looks like to me, and I’ve worked in human resources. What is the best etiquette for dealing with this decade breach in my career?
–AJ, Boston, MA
- Even though research shows evidence of unfair hiring practices toward stay-at-home parents re-entering the workforce, forget about the "don't ask, don't tell" approach.
- On the contrary, not bringing up the subject of your interval could actually lower your chances of being hired. You could find that because of the existence of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that established a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity (amongst other purposes), the interviewer may not want to broach the subject.
- Title VII provides that an individual can bring a private lawsuit against a company that employees 15 or more employees, for 20 or more weeks a year, within 180 days of learning of the discrimination.
- There is no need to apologize or explain because you took time off to raise your children and now you're eager to get back to work.
- A single mother should be prepared for one legitimate objection. If she has young children and the job requires travel, early mornings or late nights, the interviewer might think that her family could intrude on the quality of her work, and she is not a good fit.
- Have a good answer worked out ahead of time.
- Even the interviewer herself, could be doing pro bono work on the side: for instance, teaching Sunday school or volunteering at a soup kitchen.
- About 4-in 10 Americans say women are held to a higher standard than men when it comes to getting top jobs.
- 60% of highly educated women at the end of their childbearing years have had two children or more, up from 51% in 1994.
- In 46% of two-parent families, both mom and dad work full-time.
- Among mothers and fathers who have taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for a family member, women are much more likely than men to say it hurt their career overall. Even so, about nine out of ten mothers and fathers say they are glad they did it.