Married with Kids?

Job Application Guidance

The June 2009 issue of ‘health and safety at work’ magazine included an article written in the form of a round-table discussion about how aspiring employees can improve their chances of being selected.

One of the contributors was Shirley Parsons, MD of Shirley Parsons Associates, a high-level talent broker in the field of industrial recruitment. During the section on CV preparation, Ms Parsons tells us that she always suggests that candidates list their hobbies. She then goes on to say:

“On the other hand I think it is quite useful to put ‘married with two children’ because then that gives the interviewer some information to ask about. If they don’t put anything at all it’s difficult to broach the subject.” [p.52]

I was under the impression that marital status, age and nationality are not considered appropriate criteria for selecting job applicants; employers are not allowed to ask about these things during interview, and we (jobhunters) are not allowed to provide the information beforehand, in case it colours their judgement.

One can understand an employer feeling that it makes sense to offer jobs to family men; having mouths to feed and a mortgage to pay makes a worker far more likely to stay put in a job. A single man, finding that the promised career avenues don’t exist, can easily uproot and find work elsewhere.

And it may be possible that single workers are seen as potentially destabilising…a married man is most unlikely to become emotionally entangled with a work colleague (stop giggling, it’s not funny) and will therefore contribute to a smooth, harmonious work environment.

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