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Old 04.04.2012, 15:56
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Female, early 30s, recently married: threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

Dear forum members..

I have been looking for a job since October 2011, have gotten a few phone, some face-to-face interviews, twice went as far as the apparent decision maker.. The latter gave me reasons for not being hired: over-qualified in one instance and affiliation with a previous employer in another.

I hold a law-degree (International Law) from a Russian University, worked in CH for nearly 3 years (family office), later took a sabbatical (permit issues were sorted) during which I met my SO (Swiss) -- we got married early this year.

Experience has shown that the minuses of my cv are:
- lack of financial training / never worked in a bank (though plenty with lenders, insurers, equipment manufacturers, mostly in the aviation industry);
- my German (B1-B2) is not good enough for business communication;
- getting to the point of this thread: being almost 31 and recently married.

A former colleague (male) has openly told me that he wold never hire someone like me! we WERE talking age and marital status... I have later spoken to my former HR manager (who also happens to be a good friend) -- she (Swiss) in vague terms confirmed the suspicion that Swiss companies are reluctant to hire married women in their 30s which have not had their first child yet. Does that make sense? Would I be looking for a job right now if we planned to have a child? The maternity leave is extremely limited in this country. What is the best thing to say at the interview if any? I know they are not allowed to ask you if you are / intend to get pregnant.

Would someone share similar experience if any? Just trying to wrap my head around this..

Thanks a million in advance.

Aleydis
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Old 04.04.2012, 16:06
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

makes perfect sense, I worked for several companies who got burnt like this, new employee is there just long enough to be entitled to maternity leave then bang, leaves everyone in the s**t

I know one woman who joined a company the same day as me, and in 4 years spent more time off work then at it, now is that fair???
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Old 04.04.2012, 16:25
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

Don't get too worried. It is possible these positions were just not a good fit for whatever reason.
However, they are not allowed to ask you if you are married, so why mention it in the interview if you feel that it will hurt your chances? Take off rings, etc and don't make statements like "we moved here" (say 'I moved here'). You can be perfectly honest without offering up your marital status.
Good luck!
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Old 04.04.2012, 16:41
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

You know that you do not have to answer the are you pregnant/do you want babies question?

As long as the job you're applying for does not require you to do things which could endanger you, and you're not applying for modeling jobs or as a ballerina or something similar where your (current) physique is very important, you are not required to answer this question.
If you're hired and decide to have babies, you cannot be fired on grounds of your answer to the pregnancy/baby question.

http://www.travailsuisse.ch/de/node/1525 (German and French, very informative)
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Old 04.04.2012, 16:50
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

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You know that you do not have to answer the are you pregnant/do you want babies question?

As long as the job you're applying for does not require you to do things which could endanger you, and you're not applying for modeling jobs or as a ballerina or something similar where your (current) physique is very important, you are not required to answer this question.
If you're hired and decide to have babies, you cannot be fired on grounds of your answer to the pregnancy/baby question.

http://www.travailsuisse.ch/de/node/1525 (German and French, very informative)
And it is just this sort of attitude to this that causes the effect. Because you do not have to answer the pregnancy / baby question then become pregnant as soon as you have had enough time to get maternity leave it leaves HR in the Company naturally suspicious towards any future prospective females who also give the same answer.

If everyone told the truth in the first place, the suspicion wouldnt be there.
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Old 04.04.2012, 16:50
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

Well i can see the companies side as well. Our company hired a secretary, who got pregnant in her probational period. once passed, she admitted she was pregnant which in our company is grounds for instant dismissal... The company decided not to be the bad wolf and let her stay on till mat leave. Now she's gone, company still pays her wages and we're all left to do all the admin crap ourselves...

Anyway, If you really believe that the child thing is a barrier, and you don't plan on having children, then why not get a permanent contraception like Tubal Ligation, and mention it to them... Then they have nothing!
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Old 04.04.2012, 16:59
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

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And it is just this sort of attitude to this that causes the effect. Because you do not have to answer the pregnancy / baby question then become pregnant as soon as you have had enough time to get maternity leave it leaves HR in the Company naturally suspicious towards any future prospective females who also give the same answer.

If everyone told the truth in the first place, the suspicion wouldnt be there.
And women wouldn't be hired. There is a reason why this was implemented.
Just think: Man + woman, both are equally qualified, both are invited to the job interview for the same job: Who would get the job, the man with another x years of work before retirement age ahead of him, or the woman with another x minus 1-2 years of work before retirement age?

This is a real problem, as not every woman here has the possibility to live on her husband's income, and some women want to be financially independent.

If asked the question, you don't have to just sit there staring into space, you can still be polite and not piss of HR.
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Old 04.04.2012, 17:00
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

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You know that you do not have to answer the are you pregnant/do you want babies question?
glowjupiter, what I said was: HR are not allowed to ask if the applicant is / intends to get pregnant.

to quote from the page your link leads to (thank you!):

Beim Vorstellungsgespräch - Recht auf Lüge
Eine Arbeitnehmerin ist nicht verpflichtet, von sich aus eine Schwangerschaft zu melden. Falls der Arbeitgeber beim Vorstellungsgespräch Fragen stellt wie: «Sind Sie schwanger?» «Beabsichtigen Sie, in absehbarer Zeit Kinder zu haben?» und die Schwangerschaft nicht unmittelbare Auswirkungen auf die Arbeitsleistung hat, sind diese Fragen rechtswidrig ... and so on
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Old 04.04.2012, 17:05
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

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And it is just this sort of attitude to this that causes the effect. Because you do not have to answer the pregnancy / baby question then become pregnant as soon as you have had enough time to get maternity leave it leaves HR in the Company naturally suspicious towards any future prospective females who also give the same answer.

If everyone told the truth in the first place, the suspicion wouldnt be there.

Yes, but she said:

Quote:
Would I be looking for a job right now if we planned to have a child?
She technically wouldn't be lying then if she answers with- ''no, right now, we are not planning to have a child''. Or if she doesn't say anything about it because she isn't required to. If she gets pregnant later in the future how can they fault her and the rest of the females in this age range for that?

What should she say otherwise then, just out of curiosity, so she doesn't make all other married, 30+ women look bad? Should she give them some kind of written notice before planning on trying to have a baby?
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Old 04.04.2012, 17:06
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

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And women wouldn't be hired. There is a reason why this was implemented.
Just think: Man + woman, both are equally qualified, both are invited to the job interview for the same job: Who would get the job, the man with another x years of work before retirement age ahead of him, or the woman with another x minus 1-2 years of work before retirement age?

If asked the question, you don't have to just sit there staring into space, you can still be polite and not piss of HR.
Well it seems like a step back to me. If your not allowed to ask that question then it means all potential female employees will have the air of suspicion over them potentially, which could lead to them being unfairly rejected. If you are allowed to ask the question then at least if someone for someone definitely does want to have children then its known at that stage and assuming they are still the better candidate (because its talent and not number of years workable that should get the job) it can be discussed. And if they dont, or have no plans to currently, then thats out in the open too.

By saying "nope, you can't ask that" it leaves potentially 100% of female candidates with this disadvantage at the interview stage.

There's a lot of ageism in swiss employment. Doesnt mean you can't ask the prospective employee how old they are.
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Old 04.04.2012, 17:08
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

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glowjupiter, what I said was: HR are not allowed to ask if the applicant is / intends to get pregnant.

to quote from the page your link leads to (thank you!):

Beim Vorstellungsgespräch - Recht auf Lüge
Eine Arbeitnehmerin ist nicht verpflichtet, von sich aus eine Schwangerschaft zu melden. Falls der Arbeitgeber beim Vorstellungsgespräch Fragen stellt wie: «Sind Sie schwanger?» «Beabsichtigen Sie, in absehbarer Zeit Kinder zu haben?» und die Schwangerschaft nicht unmittelbare Auswirkungen auf die Arbeitsleistung hat, sind diese Fragen rechtswidrig ... and so on
I know they're not allowed to ask, but if they do, you don't have to answer - that's what I wanted to emphasize. Skating around the "not allowed to ask" questions happens all the time.

Saying "nope, you can't ask that" wouldn't be too clever, but as I said, there are many ways to politely handle the situation. You are not required to answer questions pertaining to your private life just because you're employed somewhere.
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Old 04.04.2012, 17:09
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

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Yes, but she said:



She technically wouldn't be lying then if she answers with- ''no, right now, we are not planning to have a child''. Or if she doesn't say anything about it because she isn't required to. If she gets pregnant later in the future how can they fault her and the rest of the females in this age range for that?

What should she say otherwise then, just out of curiosity, so she doesn't make all other married, 30+ women look bad? Should she give them some kind of written notice before planning on trying to have a baby?
you just tell the truth, as you should for all questions at an interview regardless of topic. The earlier point was in response to advice to actively avoid answering the question, which is not the correct way to approach any interview questions I believe.
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Old 04.04.2012, 17:10
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

it is definitely hard! I went through this same thing back when I was your age in Germany thinking that companies weren't hiring me because I was in my late 20s, recently married and childless. Of course, they just could have not liked me or my resume, but that is hard to imagine .

I am always totally honest during interviews, etc. When I was going back to work for a company that had laid me off the year before, I told them I would be happy to come back but that I wanted them to know we were planning on starting a family soon. Happened to be I got pregnant 3 months later and quit when the baby was born, so I worked for just 1 year. I felt I had to tell them this, and they still hired me despite knowing this info. Of course, it helps that they contacted me out of the blue to hire me!

Now, here I am 8 years later, just turned 40 (ouch ) and am trying to get back into work and am having other hurdles. It is really hard as a woman to have a family and a career as I feel somewhere along the way something will suffer, imho. If you decide you want a family. I don't think the OP has mentioned either way if she is planning on having one or not.
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Old 04.04.2012, 17:11
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

nikstick, thank you, but.. I am Russian and my last name is blatantly Swiss-German I even have my permit with my former last name on it next to my mugshot and new last name in small letters on the back of the card..
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Old 04.04.2012, 17:16
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

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you just tell the truth, as you should for all questions at an interview regardless of topic. The earlier point was in response to advice to actively avoid answering the question, which is not the correct way to approach any interview questions I believe.

Yes I agree, I think avoiding the question does make it look a bit suspicious, but on the other hand, most women (when being honest) would probably say something like, ''I am not planning to have kids right now, but ya, maybe in the future...''.

Would the companies also see that as, ''oh, she's going to get pregnant as soon as she can get maternity leave'' ?

It just kind of seems like it's a lose - lose situation, so maybe since they aren't allowed to ask her about it in the first place, not answering the question is a better way to handle it?
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Old 04.04.2012, 17:21
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

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Would someone share similar experience if any? Just trying to wrap my head around this..

Thanks a million in advance.

Aleydis
Fundamentally, there are things in life that you can change, and there are things in life that you cant.

You are female (i assume), recently married, early thirties. Right now you could change 2 of these things, through operations and divorce, but I assume you wouldn't want to. For the third, you can wait and stew for a few years, and then try and get a job again when you are "late" 30's. Though that isn't really an option either, is it?

IF some people do not wish to hire you for what you are,
1) Deal with it, get over it, next job application.
2) would you really want to work for them anyway?

We all have "some sort of ugly" to show an employer, (age, sex, children, one leg, too tall so need special furniture, achondroplasia also needing special furniture.. etc) it's how you deal with it that makes you the person that you are. Don't let it get in your way.

My opinion? Yeah, go on- i heard you ask for it
If they ask you in for an interview, they believe that you can do the job- your CV says so, they just want to get to know you, to see if they can work with you.
Don't be someone that you are not during the interview. But be aware that this is what they are looking at.
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Old 04.04.2012, 17:23
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

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Saying "nope, you can't ask that" wouldn't be too clever, but as I said, there are many ways to politely handle the situation. You are not required to answer questions pertaining to your private life just because you're employed somewhere.
No, it would not be too clever. I am trying to find a formula which would be human, yet firm without being rude, first impressions do count for a lot after all. Also, I wonder if it is worth it to volunteer information. I.e. something like we do not plan to have children in the next 3-4 years (which is true).
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Old 04.04.2012, 17:29
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

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Yes I agree, I think avoiding the question does make it look a bit suspicious, but on the other hand, most women (when being honest) would probably say something like, ''I am not planning to have kids right now, but ya, maybe in the future...''.

Would the companies see that as, ''oh, she's going to get pregnant as soon as she can get maternity leave'' ?

It just kind of seems like it's a lose - lose situation, so maybe since they aren't allowed to ask her about it, not answering the question is a better way to handle it?
The underlying problem is discrimination and as with most forms there isn't really a simply answer. You can look at it from the business angle and see their side and the baby angle and see the other side.

In an ideal world of course everyone would be treated equally by HR and not a moments thought would be given to such topics, but I think trying to implement workarounds such as not being allowed to ask the question can only exscaserbate the situation.

As much as its sad to admit it there are people who abuse the system for financial gain and its their activities which help to sustain the impression of suspicion.

In terms of advice on what to do ? well there isnt any really, is there. You can't impose neutrality on other people, you just have to rely on them having it.
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Old 04.04.2012, 18:00
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

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No, it would not be too clever. I am trying to find a formula which would be human, yet firm without being rude, first impressions do count for a lot after all. Also, I wonder if it is worth it to volunteer information. I.e. something like we do not plan to have children in the next 3-4 years (which is true).
If asked, I would volunteer the info - give them the truth. But I wouldn't bring it up if they didn't ask.
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Old 04.04.2012, 18:07
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Re: Female, early 30s, recenltly married - threat of babies in the eyes of HR people?

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If asked, I would volunteer the info - give them the truth. But I wouldn't bring it up if they didn't ask.
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