Navigating the Challenges of Gaining Employment as a Single Parent
Despite what we might say when Monday morning rolls around, most people would rather have a job than not. For a single parent, it is less a matter of preference and more an issue of necessity. In life, it sometimes seems like the more you need something, the harder it becomes to get it.
As a single parent, you are in the unique position of needing your job to fit around your life, instead of the other way around. Whether you are just starting out or trying to return to the workforce, constraints on your time can be difficult to leverage during your application process.
If you’re looking for a more traditional full-time job, you do have options. Of course, you’ll need to find something with a lot of flexibility. Some positions may even have daycare included as a bonus. A teaching job could be a great fit if you’re qualified. You’d have similar hours to your child. But first, you must get the job.
How you apply for a new job greatly depends on where you are in your life. If you stepped away from a career to raise a child, or if you’re taking your first steps into the working world your approach is going to need to be very different.
For a Single Parent with Little to No Experience
Experience is like gold to a hiring manager. The more you have, the more they will want you. This can come as disheartening news to a single parent who chose family over career. Don’t let it! First of all, you have nothing to be ashamed of, you did something special in raising a child, particularly on your own. Next, these do’s and don’ts of resume building should help your chances.
Don’t: Leave the ‘Previous Work Experience’ Section Blank
This is very possibly the worst thing you can do. You are a single parent! Being a parent is a job unto itself, being a single parent is all the more impressive. You mean to tell me you don’t have any experiences?
Do: Be Creative
If you can’t directly show traditional work experience, talk about situations where you used the relevant skills in your life as a parent. Have you learned to delegate, can you multitask, are you good at crisis management. These are the things that work experience shows. That is what the hiring manager is really looking for.
Don’t: Get Hung-Up on the Word ‘Work’ When it comes to Work Experience
This goes hand in hand with being creative. Experience doesn’t need to be limited to jobs you worked 9-5 Monday through Friday. Have you ever volunteered? That’s experience! Have you ever done a quick freelance job? That’s experience! I’m sure you’ve learned new skills. That’s experience too! Just because you can’t put the name of a business on the line doesn’t mean you don’t have the skills to be a well rounded professional.
Do: Make Your Situation Clear
This is probably applies more to your cover letter, but you want to make sure your prospective employer knows where your priorities lie. It can be tempting to try to hide aspects of your life that may make you seem like a less attractive applicant. While many times that’s not a bad idea, in this instance it is. You don’t want to spring it on them later largely because you don’t know how they will react. More than that though, you want to find a place that will be as accommodating as possible. Letting your employer know your needs upfront is the best way to make sure everyone’s expectations are realistic.
For a Single Parent with A Lot of Experience
If you already have a lot of experience, resume writing won’t be quite as nuanced for you. Aside from tailoring your experience to the opportunity at hand, all you have to do is address the gap in your employment. This shouldn’t be too difficult considering you have a fairly good reason!
Starting something new can be a scary prospect. Never forget that you have all the tools necessary to be successful at home and at work. Best of luck in your employment endeavors. Let us know how you do!