Illegal employment questions & breaking the news about pregnancy

Elizabeth - posted on 01/02/2013 ( 26 moms have responded )

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Ok moms. I have a bit of a pickle. And I can't find any professional women with any advice off the internet.

I want to go back to work. Staying at home is OK, but I really feel that I miss having a job, doing well, excelling and being on track to have a career. Our baby is now 14 months old and I have been itching to go back, especially with finances only getting harder with our financial situation, my husband lost his businesses right before we had baby and things being overly complex with only one income and only one car.

I got a degree, worked hard, volunteered, took difficult positions, built my achievements and have been told to have an overly impressive resume and am still only 25, but now since I haven't been working in a year (lost my full time employment while pregnant with baby 1, long story), it makes it more difficult to find employment.

A few days ago, hubby and I found out that we are expecting baby #2. We wanted to have a second child so our kids would be within 2 years apart and didn't expect to get pregnant right away. We're not upset over it and he's expecting a promotion in a few weeks which balances out our ongoing financial struggles (though finances will still be tight with an additional child, I'm sure), but it leaves me wondering: I got an interview for later this week (scheduled it the day before we found out about pregnancy) and the employer leaves me feeling that I will be discriminated against in a few months when I announce I will need maternity leave. I say this from experience. While we all know that it's "illegal" to discriminate against pregnant women, moms, etc, we all know it happens every day.

When I lost my full time job and I was only 3 months away from giving birth, I needed part time employment because we NEEDED the income. I actually had part time employers tell me things like "we want someone who isn't going to be leaving in a few months", "we want someone permanent", "we're not looking to hire someone in your 'condition'". These were $10 or less an hour jobs. Seriously. I have been infuriated. I was flat out told they didn't want to hire pregnant women. I could understand IF it were a career or something and I understand from an HR perspective they might not want to "waste" resources hiring women, but they could at least just not say it out loud. At least discriminate behind my back, not to my face.

On the phone with yet another male interviewer earlier this week (who happens to be a partner in this business), he was EXTREMELY impressed with my resume, etc. He asked me questions on the phone like "Are you married?" "Are you a mother?" "You're not planning on having more soon, are you?" "What does your husband do?" Needless to say, I know the law and it pisses me off to no end that women are STILL being asked these questions. I admit- I guess I did flat out lie without knowing when I responded "I have only one child and nothing that would prevent me from performing my job well." He then followed up with "Do you have child care? We have hired single parents in the past, so I know that family comes first....but just need to make sure."

Anyway, my first impression of this company is the guy is asking personal questions about kids, focusing on the FACT that I'm female. I'm sure he isn't asking men if they are dads. I know in a couple of months when it's obvious and I have to give 2 months notice or whatever for maternity, there may be problems since my relationship with this company started off this way.

After he asked me all the questions about being a woman, he FINALLY got around to the compensation and hours part. That was the FIRST question I asked him at the BEGINNING of the phone interview and then he proceeded to tell me about the company and ask me all the women questions before he said "oh and you wanted to know about compensation...well this is a new position and it's still being worked out, etc it's 8:30am to 5:30 pm....but would $12-15 (plus some commission potentially totaling $1000 extra a month max) an hour be doable for you?" Now, don't get me wrong. I know people are working below what they're worth. And my last employment for LESS work started at $16.50 an hour. But he was trying to impress me in the beginning telling me his employees (this is a head hunting company for major pharmaceuticals that needs social media marketing, research etc, what I specialize in), are all male (referring to them all by "him"), and make between $140,000 -$500,000 a year. Every time they hire a person for a major company, they get awarded $2000. I'd be making $500 per person hired, and they only anticipate me closing 2 deals a month. I'd be the one doing the very technical research to allow them to do their job as a way to avoid spending money to train them to do their job themselves. Not for nothing, but I have a proven track record for increasing a business' revenues from $240k a year to over $650k in a year directly due to my marketing know-how. I can't help but feel that he is low-balling me by asking me "mom" questions before disclosing the salary to offer me less. (sorry I guess this was a lot of venting)

So....am I angry for wrong reasons? Am I just mad because I, like everyone else in this economy isn't getting what they're worth or am I justified with treatment of women in the workplace? And what on earth should I do if I have a gut feeling that I'll just have a problem in a few months anyway? Won't it look even worse with employment gaps trying to get employment after baby #2 if I lose this job because they discriminate against women?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

[deleted account]

Whenever you are asked "mom" questions, always reply with "That information is not relevant to my ability to perform effectively with your company. I would not have applied for this position if I were not able to fulfill it."

If he persists, you can go with a straight "Are you asking your male prospective employees this question?" In the style of Hillary Clinton on that talk show. He may be offended and hang up, but he might just be impressed with your forwardness.

That said, from an employer's standpoint, mothers are more likely to take time off for sick children than fathers. Also, it is VERY expensive for an employer to manage a long-term absence like maternity leave, so I can see why employers have trepidation about hiring mothers. If you are pregnant and know that you will be taking two months off to give birth, be upfront in the interview. Tell them that you are expecting, but have a plan ready for your prospective employer outlining how you will handle the situation without costing them extra dollars. You could suggest a work from home arrangement or offer to train a temp to take over while you are out. Also, keep in mind that you will not have been there for a full year yet by the time you give birth, so they will not be required to give you maternity leave or hold your job for you while you are out.

If I were you, I would find volunteer work to do over the next 9 months that is relevant to your career to fill the employment gap on your resume and keep your skills current, then find a paying job after baby is born. Prospective employers will be impressed that you cared enough about their position to wait until you could devote yourself fully to your career.

Honestly, if I were you, I would just wait until after baby is born

[deleted account]

oops, I got off on a tangent and forgot to mention the business ideas.

Have you considered consulting on a contract basis? That way you can set your hours and employers will come to you for a service. You could also do head hunting on a contract basis. You find the prospective employees, then contact companies who may want to hire them on your own.

[deleted account]

Also, this guy seems to be low balling you anyway--when I owned a brick & mortar, my receptionist made $15/hour and all she had to do was answer phones, keep the coffee pot filled and the office neat, and do a VERY little bit of data entry. Furthermore, a position in headhunting requires a lot of networking and "off the clock" time--I would demand a salary plus commission, not hourly.

Sofia - posted on 01/16/2013

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I agree with everyones comment about the type of questions you were asked during your interview. You have to learn what is and isnt allowed and how to handle yourself when a "not allowed" question is asked. And many states dont have laws protecting employees rights. Employers can fire with no explanation.

Besides that, I just wanted to tell you that with 2 small children, daycare expense and the level of stress of being a working mom, might leave you wondering whether it's even worth going to work.Unless you have family watching the children or you are in serious financial need, I would reconsider staying home a little longer.

I personally had to go back to work a year after my child was born because otherwise the rent wasnt going to be paid. But if there was anyway to stay home, raise my own child and watch them grow, I would have opt for that.

[deleted account]

Btw, if you decide you must take out a small business loan, the chamber of commerce can help you draw up a business plan to show your bank as well. Also, being a woman and a mom, there are TONS of resources out there for you. It will take a few months to sort through it all, but if you take your time, you can avoid some costly mistakes.

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Haydee - posted on 03/04/2013

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Are their any jobs in your field that offer maternity leave and or where you can work from home or maybe part time from home? You seem like an extremely savie person so have you ever thought of opening your own headhunting business where you would provide maternity leave and have on site child care. You would attract people like you and make a very happy and fruitful work environment. Happy employees means better productivity. It is critical that their if flexibility in the work place and not so much rigidness. Don't even bother with those interviewers who give you even one hint of discrimination. You deserve better and when you get what you want you and your whole family will be the better for it. Good luck!

Kizzy - posted on 02/21/2013

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Apply for the job and answer the questions. The contact a branch of aclu and ask for your options. Hold of on maternity announcement until you have too7 months. Dont ask for maternity leave. Apply for a FML. That invokes your federal protections. As a labour rep who has two children. Document and make noise. Research illegal questions and if you are asked report them. Its is a lot of work. That its why we need unions to keep employers in line

Leanne - posted on 02/21/2013

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I agree with Kelly, plus, do you really want to work for a company and have this guy as a boss if he treats you like that? Doesnt sound like it will be fun working for them. As a mom you have learned valuable skills - multitasking, time management, etc. Market your skills and go somewhere you will be appreciated! Stand firm and ask for what you are worth.

Elizabeth - posted on 02/11/2013

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Yes, Chels. That was all of big concern with FMLA. Definitely passed on the job. The guy is a jerk! And, as a partner in the company, there is no "HR" department. He is HR. Complained to EEOC, but they told me it sucks, but companies get away with it all the time because the rules are in THEIR favor, despite the laws.

Anyway, glad I'm not taking a job like that. I found other things to do in the mean time and I have been diagnosed with severe hyperemesis which keeps me sick 24 hours a day and I was hospitalized. So, going out to work on a daily basis isn't the best idea.

Decided on doing website and video game testing (not an easy or fun field, btw) and have made about $130 this month so far for about 8 hours worth of work, at most. On average, because I have experience and was "promoted" I make like $20-40 an hour, but each job is only an hour long, maybe a few times a week. Also picked up modeling again, but that's going to end as I am 16 weeks and barely starting to show...maybe I can get a maternity modeling gig.

Still don't have a solution to money but I can tell you from my experience- the world is still grossly unfair to women, despite all these "equality" movements.

Chels - posted on 02/01/2013

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PASS PASS PASS ON THAT JOB! What a jerk. Secondly, I would suggest contacting the HR Generalist at that company to inform them of his behavior. That's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

For future interviews, if you are asked those questions, I suggest a broken record approach of "My personal life has not interfered with my job performance in the past and I anticipate that will not change." or "I would be happy to answer personal questions after I am hired." You do not have to reveal your pregnancy and they should not ask.

Also, you should realize that FMLA laws apply to an employee that has been with a company above a certain number of employees for 12 months. Starting at a new place with a pregnancy, they don't have to hold your job or anything.

Elizabeth - posted on 01/23/2013

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Thanks, everyone. Now that I have been diagnosed with Hyperemesis in addition and have been hospitalized and may be hospitalized again as this looks like a complicated pregnancy full of rare conditions, it is best that I don't go out to work. Daycare costs outweigh the money I'd bring in in just about every scenario and being outrageously sick and completely incapable of caring for myself on some days makes it impossible. Likewise, working from home is also proving to be difficult because my vision is distorted at times as well. But I'm sure I'll figure something out. Just worried about all these pending medical bills that will be a surprise based on what the insurance feels like when they do decide to send the bill out. Guess I'll try consulting or something or just taking it easy until I get a bit better.

Skipper - posted on 01/15/2013

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I've also seen this behavior in Corporate America. I would not want to work for anyone who asked me those questions, as it is unprofessional. Move on. There's something better out there, despite your "condition". AND CONGRATULATIONS!!

[deleted account]

Consulting is a good start because the upfront investment is pretty small. I don't know much about consulting though. My husband has some pretty successful friends who do IT and expansion consulting, and there are a couple of mom's in my neighborhood who do marketing and brand consulting.

Your other idea, with the customized product won't work without a business loan unless you are willing to do the assembly & shipping yourself, and even then, you have to have room in your house (or whatever you live in) to work. It is less expensive to order in bulk, but with such a specialized product, you should still be able to charge enough to profit & pay for your assembly time even if you only order smaller amounts--demand will be high because they can't get it anywhere else. All of my businesses have started very small, with me doing everything, then grown into businesses with brick and mortar locations and employees. I've only used business loans to expand, I've never used one to start a business. I know most people do, I've just never been confident enough in my idea to risk that kind of debt until I've proven I can grow the business.

Elizabeth - posted on 01/09/2013

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Hey Kelly: basically the products I would want to sell are products that cater to somewhat of a niche, but growing demographic, dealing with customized products there is already a demand for. Some products include skateboard apparel and clothing that is very popular among many different demographics, but not currently available all in one place when it comes to a very key demographic ( I know the industry very well and have tracked trends for several years and it's growing EXACTLY as I predicted back a few years ago).

But, currently, the specific product I want to use as my bread and butter doesn't exist- it's something people are always on forums asking how they could make themselves because they all want it, but nothing that is available mass produced. I found a company that would produce said product to my specific dimensions, but the problem is that the parents who would be buying the product wouldn't necessarily want the burden of putting together the whole thing (different pieces are completely customize-able) so I would want to either hire employees to put it together or try to spend HOURS every day doing it myself (which would drive me nuts) or find another way. The cost at first would be a bit high because I really do have to order in bulk to get better discounts. So, as time went on, assuming sales were decent, I could re-invest money in larger orders with the manufacturer to make my product, make sure it's patented (if possible) and eventually get a warehouse or something.

I think this project is way too big for now and should possibly pursue something else in the meantime. I have been using fiverr.com to do stupid cheap jobs for people because I know social media marketing, content writing, advertising and website development, but I don't program websites anymore. I have had several people asking me to work on their projects outside fiverr, but I can't do them so I was thinking of just outsourcing the work and still being a consultant. The problem is I don't know what, outside social media and today's marketing, I could realistically consult people on. I don't find myself particularly amazing, but I'm told all the time how people want what I offer. So maybe consulting is the way to go?

GERRILYN - posted on 01/06/2013

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In my opinion I would say if your that good take the job for now. Save some of the money for your time off for child two's first few month's then get a PT job when you can. Childcare it's self can run you easily $1000 per month and that's just three days per week.

Then try to start your own thing working in your field of choice. If it infuriaties you now then take matters into your own hands and be your own boss. Not only will you be less angry but also be more valuable later if you sell the business and go back to work for someone else.

[deleted account]

Can you give me more information about the kinds of products you want to sell? You don't have to tell me your whole idea if you are not comfortable with that--I totally understand the need to protect an idea, but knowing a little more about their physical qualities and availability will allow me to give you more specific help. It may be possible for you to start by using a spare room in your home as your warehouse. Or you could offer products on your site and order them from the manufacturer directly after you receive the order. This is basically what my photographers had to do because obviously they could not keep all of these products onsite. Also, keep in mind that your original inventory for an online store should be kept small. You don't want to order a ton of product only to find that there is only a small demand.

Sorry, I have no idea how to help you out with the loan. I know there are some types of business loans that do not take into account student loans, but I know nothing about them. You may have to establish your company as something other than a sole proprietorship, which can be tricky too.

Elizabeth - posted on 01/06/2013

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The main problem with the small business loan is that I absolutely cannot get one because my student loans were FORCED into default. I have a long story, as many people like us who can relate to each other, but I know what it's like to not have a place to call home for years.

When I agreed to take out my loans, it was like when it was right before the housing market burst: Loans to everyone no questions asked, as much money as you want. I was even encouraged to take out "extra money, just in case" because everyone would be drinking starbucks and I shouldn't "not be comfortable." I was thrifty, worked 2-3 jobs and lived where I could and never owned anything fancy. During my last semester, I had to sign a new form from Sallie Mae that said "surprise! We're changing ALL the terms of your loan! If you want your last semester of money so you can graduate you HAVE to agree. If you don't agree, then all your money is due IMMEDIATELY with no payment plan available and we'll RAPE YOUR CREDIT!!!" (more or less). So I agreed to a variable rate. After I graduated, the monthly payments went from $119/mo to $232 a month. Then it went to $437, then over $800 a month and they tacked on fees and nonsense making my $42,000 loan I needed to survive college for 5 years into a $120,000+ loan I can NEVER pay back ever. And it's totally legal too. They won't accept LESS money than their outrageous demands a month. So if I can't hand them $800 a month, they don't want it.

Needless to say, my credit is completely non-existent and I'm in a hole as far as options go. That's why I would either need the miracle of a grant for women or some other miracle. I need to know how I can ship the product to the customer without having a warehouse. I literally still have no idea how to get started because of that even though everything you said makes sense.

[deleted account]

OMG! Your business idea sound very similar to my first "real" business! There are some differences, of course, but I might be able to help.

I was 17 when I got started. I was living in my little 1974 VW Beetle, which was parked in the hospital garage where I was receiving my chemo treatments--this is important because my monthly rent was only $33! I spent $1000 on a laptop computer (earned this $ taking trash out for a string of restaurants on Main St). I was able to charge it in the lobby, and one of my doctors gave me the password for the hospital wi-fi (don't worry--I couldn't get at any records or anything, just get online for research). If you have a computer and internet access, you've already tackled what were the hardest steps for me! Starting a business takes a lot of money, and like you, I couldn't take out a loan, so I had to be very careful with what I spent on.

Now, my business didn't actually sell any products, instead, I matched up professional photographers with vendors who sold different print products. The vendors would sign a contract and pay a fee to be on my website. Photographers would sign up for an account, costing $40/year and they had access to all of these products in one place--and a guarentee that the products wouldn't be discontinued.

So, First things first, I needed an education. I took myself to the local Chamber of Commerce and spoke with a consultant--it's free! They will help you understand laws and tax codes in your city, and help with your business license if you need one. Next, I scoured the internet for any and all information on web-design, SEO, and marketing. I didn't have any money, so I had to design my own site and get my own traffic. Read everything you can related to the kind of business you want to build.

Next, building my actual business. I chose a name and found an unregistered web domain (that's the name of your website, like: www.MYBUSINESS.com.) You can buy them if they are registered, but it's expensive, so if you can think of something no one has thought of yet, you are better off. Then you just have to find a "host". Try Godaddy.com. This will cost you about $40/year. What they will do is give you space on their server where you can build your website. If your website is large, it will be more expensive. Most of these host sites have free software to help you build. If you need a shopping cart, you may have to pay a bit more. I just used a basic pay-pal account because i didn't have products. If you have products, you will need a cart. I don't really know much about carts because by the time I got to a point where I used them, I had employees handling that for me.

Now, you've got your site built and online, but you need traffic. Write a blog, post EVERY DAY. Try to write about things relevant to your target clients, or write about your new products. Research SEO as well. Also, ANYTIME you post a comment online, post a link to your website along with it. Go to other blogs that are relevant to your business and post comments there, including your link. Use word of mouth as well--tell your friends, family, anyone who will listen. Always keep business cards in your purse and hand them out everywhere you go--leave them on tables when you eat out, hand them to cashiers, give them out to the moms at storytime, even at the park. I targeted photographers, so I also attended a lot of workshops, seminars, and shows for photographers, like WPPI, or those Bridal Planning things where photographers would set up booths and try to get brides to hire them. Anywhere you think you'll find clients. Become friends with other bloggers who have a similar target audience to you. Offer to "Feature" them on your blog in exchange for them featuring you on theirs --you'll do an interview and sort of promote her shop, and she'll do the same for you. You'll reach twice as many viewers, just be careful not to pick competitors--they shouldn't sell the same products you do, they should sell products that complement yours. Like if you sell baby clothes, team up with someone who sells maternity clothes, educational toys, etc.

That's all I've got for now. I will admit, it was easier for me because I didn't have a child, but I was sick and could only work between chemo rounds, and I could only work in places where I could plug in my laptop and access wi-fi because I was still homeless, so it was slow going. Starting your own business does take an investment--I think all together my first year I spent about $3000, and over the next 4 years I would spend much, much more, BUT, by the time I was 23 years old, I had 7 figures in my bank account, and for the first time since I was 4 years old, I had a HOME! So in the end, it was WELL worth the time and effort I put into it. If I can do it, I feel sure you can do it too.

Elizabeth - posted on 01/05/2013

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Kelly you are full of tons of information and great ideas!

To finish up the Illegal Question Outcome: I only got more and more angry thinking about what had happened. I spoke with my husband and father in law. My husband was much more supportive than my FIL but still wasn't as supportive as I wanted him to be (likely because he was taught by my FIL). They were both like "Well, you should take the job, even if it's only $12 an hour for that many hours because "that's just the way it is." Men rule the business world and you should get used to it. That's how it is out there." I was like WTF?! It's like they don't get AT ALL what it's like to have NO OPTIONS, be discriminated against and be treated unfairly and just what it feels like. THEY have all the options and time in the world to pursue whatever the heck they want without interruption, but everything I do has to be centered around baby, personal care, pregnancy, taking care of absolutely everything while all they do is go to work, come home and expect to relax. Heck, I can't even PEE in private! Hubby has privacy, ability to eat with other people, socialize and get out of the house while I can't even get that. I FORCE my husband to not be his father because he asked me before we ever got married to tell him if he's acting like my FIL because he DOESN'T want to be him. He will do dishes, begrudgingly, but still does more than his father who believed women belong in the house and making up the lack of money with crappy part time jobs. (end rant)

Anyway, I got back in touch with the male chauvinist and told him I was going to have to cancel the interview considering the terms of employment he offered me. Suddenly, he was singing a different tune. "How much do you want for the position? I really want YOU. YOUR skill set and proven record for increasing revenues is what we NEED and we want to specifically work with YOU." So I told him what I wanted- a position worth about $50,000 a year is what my particular skill set and track record is worth. I understand the economy and would be willing to go slightly lower but not $24,000 low.He said we could work it out and the position was mine. I then told him I was actually more put off with our conversation than anything else and I wanted to be frank with him because I wanted no surprises and to be on the same page with him before agreeing on any business relationship. He agreed. I explained EXACTLY what you guys said : I wouldn't have applied for this position if I wasn't able to make myself fully available and provide excellent results for the company. I have demonstrated my abilities in the past and have even been headhunted- my career is important to me, which he understood. Then I got balsy and said to him COMPLETELY PROFESSIONALLY "So, Bob, frankly the questions you asked to determine pay were irrelevant and should not, in my opinion have been asked. I understand you were trying to put the best interest of your business first, but they were professionally inappropriate and I did not appreciate them. And, though I don't have to, I will answer your question that I had originally not answered. My husband and I are planning on one day having an additional child, but since you told me this is a family friendly company, that shouldn't be a problem, should it?"

Well his reaction was anything but professional. He neither apologized "in case" he offended me nor did he even try to leave on a good note. He stated things that were irrelevant in a straw man argument fashion and then told me that "in light of information I provided, never mind, the offer is no longer there and I wouldn't be a "good fit" for the company.""

I thankfully got a good amount in writing through e-mail and spent the next morning on the phone with the Employment Commission. They confirmed it's not only discrimination due to what he asked, but how he reacted to my claim that he did it. It's also retaliation and subject to major fines so I will be filing a report. The EEOC pointed out other things he said that I didn't really even focus on as illegal as well. Unfortunately, it does nothing for me personally to file, but at least it's what he deserves. I even spoke with a lawyer. They said it is really unfortunate, but they have seen a TON of the exact treatment increase since the economy got worse in about 2009. It's absolutely illegal, but it's like there is no real punishment for businesses. The EEOC said the same thing. They've had a 40% increase in reports and guilty businesses. But businesses still don't "get it."

As for starting my own business, I have come up with several things over the past 2 years as I've heard this argument before about how it's the only real way to make money. I have come up with what I think to be a great opportunity, but I have absolutely no idea how to even start or make it happen. I know exactly what I would want to do- an online store that sells specific niche merchandise people currently have to go to many different sites to find. I want a one-stop online shop and offer a custom one of a kind product I think would absolutely sell even in this economy as the main bread and butter. But how the heck do I do that juggling everything while pregnant, extremely sick all the time, with no real business experience or knowledge on even the first thing, help or anything? How on earth do I get to sell things on my website when I would need drop shipping and would have no warehouse or ability to acquire a small business loan? With absolutely no money? These are the biggest things that have stopped me. Just not even knowing where the "start button" is.

[deleted account]

You don't have to be in your field at 25 in order to find proper employment--You CAN take a break and still survive in your field when you are ready to go back. Don't feel too pressured.

Unfortunately, if you need the money, then yes, a part time job is better than a volunteer position in terms of keeping your current finances in tact. If you can afford to, try to take a part time job and volunteer in your field--even if it's only 2 hours a month, it will dramatically improve your resume. It will make an employer want you so much they will be willing to give you just about anything you ask for.

I know all about getting out of a hole--it's hard, and it takes A LOT of time an perseverance. When I was a kid, my family was homeless--literally! We lived in a scrap yard, in a shack we built out of old car parts for 9 years, then as a tween I moved into an ally (where I was afforded the glamorous luxury of living literally INSIDE of a dumpster, yay me.) I worked my ass off for scholarships then was diagnosed with cancer (lymph node) when I was 17, so bye bye college, hello medical debt! Obviously, with no college education and a debt born of 4 YEARS fighting cancer, I was never going to dig myself out working for someone else, so I started my own businesses--it was my only option, and it might be a viable option for you. I won't say it's easy--it is demanding, risky, and time consuming, but if you succeed, you are in control of your entire life. You decide how much you make, you decide how much you work, you even get to decide when and where you work. Don't get me wrong, you can't just say "Oh, I'm going to work from 9 to 1 every day and make $100k annually" it doesn't work that way. You give up pay for flexibility, you give up flexibility for pay, and you give up social time for networking, sleep for planning, etc. Once you get on your feet, it gets easier, but just like getting out of a hole, that takes time too.

Elizabeth - posted on 01/03/2013

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That's a good point. My MIL is in a bit of denial about how bad things are. Everyone I know who graduated either had to go back to school, live with their parents or took a job they didn't need a degree for. She believes that kids today "just aren't looking hard enough" or we're "willing to accept too little pay and that's why it's being offered" etc. I see both sides of the coin from an employer's perspective and my perspective.

Every bit of money helps and when my husband lost his businesses and I lost my jobs, money had been excruciatingly tight, to the point of going without essentials.I had a high risk pregnancy with complications and my husband developed a medical condition that requires treatment, doctors, etc. when the baby was a few months old. We have just started really pulling ourselves out of our difficult situation, but I feel like it's taking forever to really get out which is also a drive for me to work and at least make some money and not be so stressed out with finances. How many people really think that taking a part time job can hurt employment chances in the future because it "looks like I'm settling" instead of working for free for however long I might need to staying at home with now 2 kids? Will I NEVER be able to find proper employment for an educated person if I'm not working a "career" at 25?

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I don't know how most employed mom's do it. When I worked full time, outside the home, we had an in-home nanny. She lived with us and was available all hours (except her days off), which was expensive, but it was the only option that would work with our demanding work schedules. In the long run, given the increased productivity, decreased transportation expenses, and evening flexibility it turned out cheaper for us.

Your mil does have a small point--the economy does suck right now, but in the technical fields, employers are experiencing a lack of qualified applicants. You can demand more if you make them want you bad enough. Once you reach the compensation part of an interview, you know the employer wants you, so never take their first offer. Once an offer has been extended, tell them what you want, and why you think you deserve it. You have to be careful here though, you can't just say "I deserve this much because it's the industry average" or "I deserve this much because I have a family and live 40 miles away so I need to cover my transportation costs", You have to sell your skills. "I deserve this much because I increased revenue at my last company by nearly 50% in less than a year. I developed the action plan that lead to a breakthrough in the way we handle data." and so on.

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TONS! Especially in Fundraising areas. Check with your local charities--they need people to design and maintain their websites, design marketing for email campaigns, invitations and visual marketing for events (like holiday galas, walk-a-thons, family fund days, etc.), update social media and networking sites, even managing their financial software will look better than just taking a part-time clerical position because it shows that you will work with passion, not just to earn a paycheque.

Also, since your field is related to sales and headhunting, you can show your worth by partnering up corporations to sponsor local charities. This is a HUGE asset the charitable organizations, and looks really wonderful on a resume for just about any position out there. It shows that you have initiative, are a self starter, and are willing to put yourself out there for something you care about. You will also establish valuable relationships that will help you excel in your career once you get hired.

You could also establish yourself in public relations areas by writing press releases, grant proposals, and organizing public appearances to publicize your charity and garner support--this would look fabulous to any employer because it transfers to good customer service, good business to business and inter-professional relationships, and sales.

Furthermore, you could teach tech skills to those seeking help at homeless shelters. The shelters I help run offer programs to help people develop basic skills for the job market--you'll be teaching basic stuff, like Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access, SQL, maybe a little HTML, etc. with might not seem impressive to the well learned, but your employer will see that you are passionate about what you do--that you would put your self out there on the basics to share with others and to stay involved in your field even when you didn't have a paying job.

Right now, the workforce is clogged with people who have no passion and tend to do the bare minimum required to stay employed, and they will not do ANYTHING unless they think someone else will pay them for it. Employers (rightfully) HATE these people, so you you want to prove that you are not one of them. Taking a part time job just to get a paycheque doesn't help you do that--in fact it almost proves you are willing to take any job as long as the compensation is good enough, and people working in fields they are not passionate about are not productive workers. A part-time job completely out of your field, which give you no new transferable skills, looks a lot worse than a volunteer position that is just barely related to your field.

Elizabeth - posted on 01/03/2013

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My mother in law (who is extremely opinionated and in denial of the recession and thinks "there is money everywhere but my husband and I just are accepting too low and not 'demanding' fair wages from all these people who are hiring" (when there are literally NO jobs available)) doesn't yet know we just found out we're expecting, but seems to think I should go into the interview and DEMAND more money and tell them I'll work from home for that rate but I need at least $35k a year to work in person. After gas and childcare is taken into consideration, having to drive my husband to work at 6am, having to pick him up from elsewhere at 6pm so I can bring the baby to daycare all while balancing being sick and pregnant to make barely $15 an hour even at 35k driving 45 minutes every day between work and home and another hour for child care seems impossible or terribly unfair when my husband is only expected to go to work, hang out, eat etc until I pick him up only to continue to do this to have a c-section and somehow magically manage keeping employment etc. after birth. How the heck do employed moms do it?

Elizabeth - posted on 01/03/2013

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What kind of volunteer work exists for computer, IT or social media marketing? I'm not trying to argue, I'm genuinely asking. I've volunteered with kids and animals and was consistently recognized for what I accomplished, but I can't think of a single thing that would impress employers with technology related positions.

Would it be better to just take any old part time employment, just to have history of working and an income stream as opposed to staying at home all day long not making any money?

Amy - posted on 01/03/2013

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I'm not sure why you would even consider the position based on the questions you're being asked. I never mention my children during the interview and if a perspective employer blatantly asked such illegal questions I would call them in it immediately.

As far as bring pregnant Kelly is right if you haven't been employed for a year they have no legal obligation to hold your position. Most employers also have the right to terminate for any reason, so although they may not come right out and say it you'll probably be terminated because of the pregnancy. I also don't think it's fair that you wouldn't tell your perspective employer you're pregnant. Yeah it means you probably won't get the job but no matter how anyone spins it, it will cost money to fill your position even if its only temporary. I would either get a job completely out of your field to just earn a little extra money or just do volunteer work like Kelly suggested.

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