Job searching in general can be difficult. Having to answer questions such as, "Am I qualified for this position?" "What type of salary should I focus on?" and others can be more difficult than it seems. But when you're job searching as a single parent, many other factors come into play that can make the job search even trickier. Of course, not all of these are obstacles, either: As single parent expert Dr. Leah Klungness says, despite the challenges, single parents are often some of the most committed employees because they aren't just the major breadwinners in the house, but the only breadwinners.1
Here are four tips and topics to keep in mind when you are job searching as a single parent:
There's a time and place for kid talk: As a single parent, our children are a central part of our lives, and though we naturally incorporate them into our daily conversation, when speaking with employers its best to focus on you and your professional self. As a job seeker, you have to constantly put yourself in the employers' shoes. Many hiring managers may see you bringing up family life, in an interview or on a resume, as unprofessional. Though federal and state law prohibits this, some employers may opt to not hire you if you divulge such personal information because they can assume your family life may interfere with your commitment to their company. Typically it's recommended to mention your family life after an offer is presented.
Do your research first: Many times, single parents are tempted to mention their children in interviews because they want to get a good sense if the company has a good work-life balance. Researching a company before going into an interview can possibly provide you with the answers you are looking for. Those companies that provide such helpful benefits to working parents usually like to mention it, whether this is listed in job descriptions or on their company site. Research can also take place during the interview. Prepare questions to ask a hiring manager during an interview that gets them talking about themselves. Ask an interviewer what they like most about their company, how long they have worked there, what they love most about their department or team. Such questions can get them to reveal the company culture a bit more, along with their specific management style, without you having to come out and ask.
Figure out how to find the time to job search: Filling out applications, going to interviews and networking on top of daycare, homework, runny noses, etc. can be a huge struggle. Time management is key to ensure you find the right position. Try creating small, more obtainable goals for yourself throughout the weeks that focus on your job search, whether it's applying to five to 10 positions a week, attending one job fair every two weeks, or scheduling one or two hours a week to conduct company research. Being able to hit these goals will build up your motivation. Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, notes, "Researchers discovered that one third of all job-hunters never find a job because they give up too soon."2 So motivation is key!
Remember - you rock! As parents, we forget to put ourselves first. Staying on track with your career goals and putting some focus on your professional life may seems selfish at times, but know that in the end, this is all for them. Whether it is to better provide for your family or to prove to them how hard work pays off, our kids are definitely in the forefront of our minds. Amidst all the hard work, don't forget to congratulate yourself! Take time to reflect and know that you did it!
Interested in more posts on job search-related topics? Check out our Career Development blog.
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1Ball, Patrick, "5 Ways HR Can Help Single Parents," on the Internet at http://workplace.care.com/5-ways-hr-can-help-single-parents (visited 5/11/2015)
2Bolles, Richard, "The 14 Ways to Look for a Job," on the Internet at http://www.jobdig.com/article/571/The_14_Ways_to_Look_for_a_Job_.html/ (visited 5/11/2015)