Why I Second Guess Hiring Moms

288 Comments
baby-reaching-for-mom Image via Shutterstock

You’re a stay-at-home mom, whose children are growing more independent, and you want to reenter the workplace.

You don’t want to return to your former profession as a teacher, bank executives or lawyer because you left that life long ago. You just want a fun, little job that will provide some extra cash. But you want more than that.

You want a job to give you a sense of connection, of contributing, while actually getting a paycheck.

You want a job because you want to be reminded that you have half a brain, and are capable of using it.

You want a job because – and there’s no shame here – you’re bored, and tired of sharing everything with your family. At least you know, when you hang your coat in one of my employee lockers, you will not have to share it. Or clean it.

We sit down to chat and you immediately tell me, “I want a schedule that works for my family.”

I hear you. That’s my goal, too. I’m working 10- to 12-hour days now, until I can bring someone else on board.

You continue.

“I want to work only when my kids are in school. No evenings, no weekends. I’ll need a week off in the spring and another two weeks in the summer for family vacations. I cannot work Thursdays; I help in my kids’ classrooms. Every other Friday afternoon, I volunteer for the food pantry. But other than that, I’m totally free.”

You sit back, smile, and breathe in the aroma of freshly-baked bread.

As we talk, your voice becomes distant, fuzzy, and a new picture emerges in my mind. I’m getting home past 7 p.m. again.  My teenagers are sprawled out in front of the television, with chips and bean dip for dinner again. They are older than your kids, but they still need me. At times, I think more than when they were little.

Oh, how I would love to hire you! And here’s why:

Moms are pros at customer service. My business is customer-driven. Moms have been on the other side of the counter enough to know how customers want and should be treated.

Moms are team players; you have each other’s backs. Just like you do on the playground. Or in your neighborhoods. Or in your community groups.

Moms are fierce. You have an amazing tolerance for pain, for dealing with less-than-ideal people and circumstances, and for pushing through tough situations. You are, after all, like me, a mom.

Moms can sell my product. Who better to sell a loaf of wholesome, preservative- and additive-free, whole grain bread to my target audience – other moms – than a mom?!

Moms, you’re phenomenal. I’d love to hire you.

If only you’d work with me  – be willing to inconvenience your husband, your children, your in-laws, neighbors, and friends, not a lot, just sometimes – I’d hire you in a heartbeat.

Maybe then, we’d BOTH get what we want and need.

Comments

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  1. 1

    Jennifer says

    This is exactly why I don’t mention anything about being a mom or having kids until after I landed a job.

    Also, I don’t think you’re interviewing the right candidates.

    Most women/moms looking for a job understand that they need to pull 10 hour days. That’s just the way it is nad has been ever since I got my first full time job 20+ years ago. I would NEVER expect an employer to bow to my schedule. Yes, I would like some understanding…maybe I need to attend a teacher conference during my lunch break…but I would either make up the extra time by staying late or coming in early.

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    • 2

      Suzi says

      Jennifer – exactly my thoughts as I read this article. Obviously the wrong candidates for the job! Doesn’t mean you should write off every SAHM out there.

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      • 3

        Nicole H says

        I think it all depends on what job you are applying for. If you are applying for a professional job working in an office or working for someone in their home office, it should be understood that it is a full-time job and that you will have to pull some longer shifts once in a while. That is the nature of the professional workplace. But if you are applying for a part time job or a job as a counter person at a bakery, then – um = yeah… you can certainly say there are times you cannot work. Those places often operated 7 days a week and past 5pm, so it is not unreasonable that a person would say they cannot work Thursday afternoon of something like that.

        I also find it really offensive that a person would not hire ANY person who is a mom. It is offensive, unrealistic, hypocritical and making suppositions. I believe each individual should be considered INDIVIDUALLY. You cannot lump all moms in one category. When I decide to go back to work I will be looking for appropriate work – if I only want to work part time then I will only be applying for that type of job. And if I decide to work full-time, I know that means extra hours sometimes, as is the nature of any job. I do not expect to be disqualified from a job simply because I have children. That is a ridiculous standpoint to take as an employer. And you will lose out on very qualified, smart, hard working employees because of it. Not to mention how very discriminatory it is. Is it not possible that a man would need to take time of to stay home with sick kids or go to a school function? Because my husband sure does. And when I go back to work we will be splitting that responsibility as we have no other family nearby to help take care of sick kids. I am honestly appalled that another mother would thing and write such a thing. Shame.

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    • 4

      Issa says

      Actually, from an HR standpoint, one should never be asked about one’s family or marital status. And it’s not a smart idea to share it openly. If there are scheduling restrictions, lay those out, but be prepared to be hired or not hired based on them–end of story.

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    • 7

      says

      :) I’m a freelance writer.
      I should add, it took me a solid two years to build up to a point where I’m making enough to support us. (I’m a single mom raising teens).

      I mainly use oDesk.com. It’s a listing of freelance jobs available. It takes a lot of work to go through the listings and find jobs worth taking among all the “500 words for $1″ type postings. I took a lot of crap jobs- for example, wrote a 40 page book on “how to make better cheese at home” for $200, before I landed regular clients and started making any kind of money.

      It’s not an easy way to make a living, but I’ve always been a writer, so I love it. If you have additional skills, like graphic design and HTML, you’ll find other jobs as well. They list quite a variety, including personal assistant and customer service, doing sales calls and so on. I just stick to the writing jobs because that’s where my skill set and interests are.

      Good luck!

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    • 8

      says

      I work at home too. Medical writing and editing. I am salaried through my company but I only go to the office for meetings, and I travel occasionally. I work with lots of consultants who have many kids, and they freelance too, also doing medical editing. They have their offices and kids’ hours set up, and they work doing their planned hours, and they take their kids to and from school and email me that they will be gone certain evenings for someone’s birthday. It works out really well, and we keep using the consultants we can count on. I’ve also worked with people who “leave” (log off early) because they have a sick kid, which would be fine except they don’t log back on when the kid is sleeping, and I’m left taking on their work and mine, even if I have a sick kid too. That’s no fun. :)

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    • 9

      says

      I know that U-Haul has work-from-home jobs, because I knew a guy who did that. Also Hilton was hiring a year or so back for reservations. People do medical billing and appointment setting from home too. Just other ideas for stuff to do from home. :)

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  2. 10

    says

    Judy, thank you for this article. It’s largely “me” (except for the bad parts, LOL). I’m a mom who was quite accomplished in the workforce, had kids, and decided I wanted to work from home. I’ve been blessed to be doing so since 2007. BUT. I would never dream that I’m in the position of making time-off and schedule demands. I work for my clients around the clock, weekends and holidays – whatever it takes to get the job done at or before deadline. Yes, I miss some events and am too busy to volunteer in classrooms but I interact with my kids and husband all day, every day. I’m with you – moms are awesome to work with! But we need to realize how lucky we are to continue earning a paycheck while working a somewhat flexible schedule from home. Thank you for explaining that so well and from a potential employer’s point of view.

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  3. 12

    Kelly says

    I stated I was coming back into the workforce after taking two years off to be a mom. I wasn’t stupid enough to state I wanted a schedule that worked for my family. I asked what schedules they offered and said Yes! Agreed, the wrong candidates are being interviewed. I didn’t mention time off or any inconvenience my job would cause. I said my husband gets off early, has a great job and is absolutely is involved.

    That just sounds like a horrible interview.

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  4. 14

    says

    I never bring up my private life in an interview. That’s inappropriate. O don’t think an employer should move around my schedule unless it’s severely part time work or something. Work means sacrifice, it sucks but it’s true.

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    • 17

      says

      Samantha, you don’t have to disclose that you have children. The employer does have the right to ask if there is anything that would prevent you from meeting the expectations of the job, including the schedule, but they can’t ask about what that might be. So if you say, I can only work until 3pm, they can’t ask you why. If they do (some small business owners just don’t know the law), you can politely respond that you have other daily obligations.

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    • 18

      Julie says

      It is legal to ask about personal life in interviews – it’s just not legal to make hiring decisions based off that information. Therefore, most (smart) employers will shy away from asking anything at all, because if they ask and you say you have 12 kids and then down the road they don’t hire you for any reason, it’s really hard for them to prove in court that it wasn’t related to your 12 kids.

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      • 19

        Nicole H says

        That is not correct. It is not legal for them to ask about your personal life. That is not anything related to the job and has nothing to do with your qualifications to perform the job. And once they know personal things about you, it can very easily influence them based on their personal beliefs. That is why it is NOT allowed… they could definitely use it against you in deciding whether to hire you. They cannot ask if you are gay, what religion you are, if a woman is pregnant, etc – for a good reason. They also cannot ask if you are married or have children. The CANNOT. There are many employers out there, however, that do not know the law – and many candidates as well, like yourself, that should maybe become aware of what your rights are in an interview. My profession before being a SAHM was a career counselor, so I am pretty familiar with what is and is not acceptable in an interview as we advised students all the time as to how they should answer specific questions if they arise.

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    • 20

      says

      It is illegal to ask if you have kids, are married, anything personal, not pertaining to your work experience. I was a hiring manager for many years and it is amazing how many people DO think they are flexible with their hours and disclose all the things they have to do for their kids, and honestly, it does bear on whether or not you get hired. I did not hire people who sounded like they would call off/not show up because little Johnny needs you to read to his class every Tuesday. Never disclose info like this! I am a mom too, but sometimes you just have to keep your mouth shut.

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  5. 21

    says

    That attitude is so non-prevalent that I am not sure what the point of the article is… Most moms I know work harder and more efficiently than most employees. Yes, moms may need a little more flexibility sometimes. but they are willing to give so much in return for that little consideration… I don’t know ANY working moms with such ridiculous demands

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    • 22

      says

      I’m lucky I have a present and involved husband. When my daughter was 8 months old I needed to go back to work. Not back to the office job I had, but something more flexible so we wouldn’t have to get childcare. It’s not glamorous, but thanks to it being unionized, I work at the grocery store part-time and make a decent wage for it. I told them in the interview that I had a baby and toddler at home and that I wanted to just work nights and weekends. I was told that was exactly what they were looking for and hired on the spot. 6.5 years later and I’m still there.

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    • 23

      says

      As a sahm and some one who use to do the hiring, I never liked hiring any one who came out of the gate with all the “I cants”. It’s all in the delivery. A tip for moms trying to get back in the work force, work out your schedule before hand, tell the interviewer what you can do, where your flexible. The question will be asked if there are any days/time you are completely unavailable. Be honest but don’t go on and on about your families need for you. That’s a given. A positive “I can ” attitude is much more desirable than the “I can’t” or the “I can only if you…”

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    • 24

      says

      I have never been a SAHM, mostly because as a single mom it was never an option, and I work in hi-tech. My solution has always been to put in a 8-9 hour day at the office (so long as my son was in day care), then spend the afternoons with him and continue working from home into the night after he slept, but this is the advantage of having a job that is not location/hour sensitive… So long as you can get the projects in on time, and in high quality. It’s made me extra-efficient though… I think it really depends on the position and what is needed. Obviously, if I worked as a receptionist, or at a store, specific hours would be critical. The main issue should be reasons are irrelevant. A job has demands – if you can meet them – great. If not, simply say “thank you” and move on…

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    • 25

      says

      I am one of those moms. Well, will be when my kids go to school. I do hope to find a part time job that works with my husbands time-off schedule. Cause how can we plan family vacations if I can’t get the same time off as him? And sue me if I have to be off in time to pick my kids up from school. I am blessed with a husband who works hard and makes an income to support his whole family. So me working is not a priority, my family is. So if I can’t find a job that fits my needs, then so be it. I’d much rather be here for my family than have to get after school care for my kids because you need me to clean up after you or tend to ungrateful customers needs. I’ll leave that for the moms who actually need to put up with that.

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    • 27

      says

      Ahhhh… This is fitting for me right now. As a SAHM for 13 years, I started subbing last year for special Ed aides at our school district. The pay is low, but it got me out of the house a little. Being on call was the worst part. Summers, nights, weekends and holidays are off when my kids are off was the big plus! Now my kids are almost 13 and 14…. Old enough to be home alone for an hour or two, but not all day. The questions run through my head all the time… Should I get a job that I have a schedule with more hours? My husband is a principal engineer, and I have been fortunate to stay home w/o money problems… But cars and college are creeping up on us, and I keep thinking… You can never have too much money. But then, what about summers? Nights? Weekends? Holidays? It scares me to give that all up knowing how fast my babies are growing up, but paid for college educations are also really important. Hhmmmm… I wish I knew the right answers!

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    • 28

      says

      If you don’t NEED the job for survival, it’s a non-issue in my opinion… Spend as much time with your kids that you can… My comment only referred to moms who MUST work to support the household, otherwise the family cannot make ends meet

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  6. 29

    says

    Excellent points. I have heard this many times in my hiring days. As a mom myself who sometimes works weird and long hours to support my family, while I understand the desire to have a schedule that works around your life, businesses cannot be run that way.

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  7. 30

    says

    So accurate. I worked til 1:am regularly while my children cooked their own dinner. I’m a mom too and I refused to hire one. They all said those exact words. My kids need me too. I wanted to scream at them, you aren’t the only mom in the world you know! My kids need me just as much as yours need you, maybe more since there’s no dad at my house to help take up the slack. I really feel both sides of that article. Thanks.

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