5 of the Best Strategies for a Working Parent to Avoid Hiring Bias
Have you ever suspected that as a parent, employers might be biased against you during the job search?
Unfortunately, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that indeed, both working mothers and fathers face discrimination in the hiring process.
A study in the Journal of Sociology as quoted in the New York Times found if female job applicants give away any indications they have children, they are not only 37% less likely to get a job, but also would earn a salary $11,000 less than other workers. It’s nerve-wracking for women to admit to themselves, “I want to be a stay at home mom for a few years before returning to work,” when they know the job market will be stacked against them.
Another study in American Sociology Review compared how likely employed parents, with no gaps in their work experience, would be to get a call back for a job interview compared to unemployed parents with a break in their resume or stay-at-home mom or dads. This study found “stay-at-home parents were about half as likely to get a callback for a job interview as unemployed parents, and just one-third as likely as employed parents.”
What’s more, stay-at-home fathers were actually viewed more unfavourably than stay-at-home moms, perhaps due to the perception that men should be providing for their families.
As a parent seeking a job, how can you overcome the tendencies of employers towards hiring bias?
Make sure to mention volunteer positions on your resume
If you’re a parent and have not been working for some time, describe what else you have been doing. Even if you can’t work full-time while caring for children, think about taking on a part-time job for a stay-at-home mom or dad, or finding volunteer work that complements your current skill set. The World Economic Forum notes, “Adding to your CV through volunteering, particularly if you have held leadership positions, will help. This shows you have the right mindset and can provide valuable references.”
Change how you describe your parental responsibilities
During the job application process, including sending the cover letter and giving an interview, select your words carefully. For example, instead of simply saying you were not working for five years because you were a stay-at-home mom or dad, say you took a temporary hiatus from work to focus on family while developing your professional knowledge through informal classes or courses.
One University of California professor extends this advice even to the workplace, telling working moms they could call family-related appointments “out of office meetings.”
Apply for jobs at organizations that promote inclusivity for working parents
Research jobs you are applying for as much as possible. During your job search, look for jobs that clearly include people with a variety of family situations and offer paid parental leave. The Riveter explains, “Accommodating employers give all employees a chance to handle family obligations more easily.”
Stay up-to-date with workplace changes
Whether you are a temporarily unemployed parent or a stay-at-home mom or dad, remember to learn about current industry information by staying in touch with past colleagues, as well networking and conducting research online.
You can also take classes to stay up-to-date with technology skills. Monster advises, “By preparing yourself to reenter the workforce, you will avoid the situations like that of one woman who went back to work after 12 years and telephoned her husband during her lunch break and said, "Why didn’t you tell me there aren’t any secretaries anymore?" While you probably won’t be blindsided by the absence of secretaries from the office, it’s certainly a good idea to stay current as much as possible to avoid smaller surprises when you return to work.
Try a new hiring platform
GeekBidz is a new direct-to-hire job platform that invites job seekers to participate in an online skills ranking system. It uses AI to rank job seekers’ skills, then pairs employers with the candidate most qualified for their job posting. An employer can invite a candidate who matches with their job opening to an on-the-job evaluation.
By eliminating both resumes and interviews from the job search, GeekBidz allows employers to hone in on your skills without being distracted by your status as a parent. It can also free you from anxiety over gaps in your resume or an interviewer scrutinizing you about your family life.
Conclusion: Keep everything up-to-date, from oneself to hiring platform
Finding a new job for a working parent is challenging and may be met with more employer bias than you might expect. Nevertheless, with some of these tools in your arsenal, you’ll be better prepared to tackle the challenges of the job search. From adjusting how you present yourself to employers in your resume and interview, to trying a promising brand-new hiring platform that can eliminate some major sources of bias, our strategies should set you well on the way to landing that job you’re looking for.