“Maximum 28 years old”
“Minimum height 160cm”
These are just some of the lines in job ads that always make me sick to my stomach in my journey to find a new job in this city.
To be brutally honest, I might be experiencing a tiny bit of regret for quitting my old job. Maybe I should’ve put up with being underpaid and overworked, with no chance to become a permanent employee, rather than plunging myself in to the job hunting pool again.
Now I understand why some of my old friends stick with their underpaid jobs, some even only make minimum wage, because it’s a highly competitive world out here.
The last job I received was as a Personal Assistant, which lasted for 3 days. The boss said some pretty hurtful things and didn’t show any tolerance for me missing a day of work because I had to care for my mother who was in ICU at the time. So what’s an emotional, Pisces single mom to do? I quit and told the guy that I could never work with someone who doesn’t have a heart! Maybe I should’ve just dealt with the curses, the yelling and kept my job.
But it’s too late now…
You see, in my field here, the age window is vastly closing down on me. Most companies would rather hire secretaries under the age of 28 while I’m 33.
Although my resume and references look great on paper, even the last interview I had with a prominent big company in town – the Managing Director said “Your English is better than all the employees I ever had!” – still they passed up on me. Maybe because they would rather save on wages, a 20 something secretary will definitely make less money than what I would’ve required.
Discourage is an understatement. I have a bad headache for every minute I spent online looking for a job. Nothing makes you feel so washed up, old and bitter as seeing the local job ads for my field. I wish I had some fancy, swanky degree to load up my resume. I’m just a single mom, who left her career after she got married, in far away land then, after divorce had no other choice but to find her way back to the corporate world.
Being a single mom also makes it more challenging, as most companies will actually ask your marital status and if you have kids or not. They worry that having kids will decrease your productivity. You know the “My kid is sick – I’m sorry I can’t come in to work.” This practice is considered illegal and against the equal employment opportunity laws in some countries, but sadly, not here. On my last job interview, I was asked if I’m seeing anyone after I told them I am divorced. The questions asked were some of the most uncomfortable ones I have endured in my entire professional career as a secretary.
So, I keep marching on in my search. I have a boy who needs his Mama to make money. Will it be in the secretarial field? I’m not sure but I sure know that in my country, they don’t even want to hire me to wait tables if I’m over 25 years old! The searching continues…it ‘only’ took me 8 months to get my first job, after my separation from the ex husband, so I know this time around it will be hard too.
How are job interviews conducted in your country? Do they use these discriminating tactics or has your country fully adopted the equal opportunity law?
This has been an original post to World Moms Blog by Tatter Scoops of Indonesia.
Photo credit to Victor1558 http://www.flickr.com/photos/76029035@N02/6829512393/. This photo has a creative commons attribute license.
Someone in Indonesia, hire this wonderful woman!!!!
So interesting about being asked about your personal information. That’s uncomfortable for anyone– it’s none of their business! They’re not allowed to do that, here, in the US.
I hope you find something soon. We’re rooting for you!
Jen, thank you for being very supportive! 🙂
It is exactly none of their business as it got nothing to do with my skills and my ability to meet the job requirements but sadly here, that’s how most companies still practice their hiring process.
Hope you find something quickly and keep your spirits up in the mean time. Finding a job is very difficult regardless of the country you live in. But as Jen inferred, we have equal opportunity laws in place. Although I do believe it is hard for the many boomers who were displaced during the recession to find new jobs.
Best of luck to you!
Yes, Angela, I understand times are hard everywhere with the economy as it is today. Sadly the laws here failed to ensure that equal employment opportunity is being put in placed and most importantly being practice in day to day recruitment process. Thank you for your kind words 🙂
Ugh, how frustrating. To me this screams discrimination all over the place, but that’s according to American employment policies. Discrimination happens here, too, despite the law, and unfortunately we all share a world where youth and beauty are often celebrated more than intellect or experience.
Yes, I’m with you on the youth and beauty.
It became more obvious in my field.
I once went to a job interview for a local company. There were 3 other much younger women there in the room. 2 of them wore mini skirts, I was wearing a black pants. The company did their presentations, etc…allowing us to ask questions in English. I thought I did pretty well overall but got sent home with the other girl – who was also wearing pants at the end of the sessions. That other girl pulled me aside and asked “How much did you put on the paper when we were asked how much is our minimum salary should be?” I just smiled and said “Based on my nearly a decade of experience and skills but sorry I can’t tell you the exact number.” She sighed and said she put approximately $400 USD – this is monthly salary mind you. So, it was obvious, that company picked the much younger girls with mini skirts because they probably asked for minimum payment which runs around $150 – $250 USD.
Since that day, I became more careful which company that I applied for. 🙂
Yahoo Business just covered illegal interview questions in the US today, and I thought you might be interested!
Thanks for the link, Jen! 🙂
I am horrified! There is hidden discrimination here, but legally this kind of thing – even running an ad like that – is a big no. While I’m sure eventually you’ll find something suitable – how about another plan…start your own business and make your own rules?
I love this idea, Karyn!
I am sitting here with my mouth wide open and picturing sleezy men in suits asking you these questions while you interview. This makes me sick to my stomach too! I’m so sorry you have to go through this 🙁
Best of luck in the job hunt! I hope you find something where you are valued for your skills and experience and aren’t belittled or made to feel uncomfortable.
Thank you Evafannon.
Sadly, after facing too much of these uncomfortable interviews type, I had decided since the last one to be very blunt. Next time I am faced with these too personal questions, I’d smile and say “I’m sorry but I will not answer your questions as they are too personal and unrelated.” I know it will put a risk of me not getting the job but I’m just so fed up being probed for things that has nothing to do with my skills. Fortunately, the interviews I got since then has been really well and no too personal questions asked. 🙂
I hate how this discrimination is still allowed to take place. Unfortunately in South Africa it’s just as bad – if not worse! We’ve had “Affirmative Action” in place since 1994 which basically means that most Corporates have to hire a “quota” of “previously disadvantaged” people. Don’t get me wrong – if the law was applied FAIRLY (i.e. both applicants are EQUALLY qualified and suited to the position, by all means hire the “previously disadvantaged” one) unfortunately it is not. You therefore stand ZERO chance of being hired if you are the “wrong” sex or skin color or both!
My brother, husband and son are fortunate as they are good at computer programming. The 3 of them are working together from my brother’s house as none of them could get a job in the “new” South Africa! Another “caucasian” man I know has to make fudge at home to sell at the side of the street because he is “unemployable”.
I’m in the same boat as you – no degree and quit my first job when I fell pregnant. I’m now 43 years old and have done everything from selling things door-to-door to running a Day Care from my house, just to earn some money. I now do admin work for my Aunt. If not for her, I wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting hired!
That said, I HAVE managed to earn money when I have needed to. I might not have a degree, but I DO have a lot of experience in many different fields. They say that “luck” is preparation meeting opportunity. 🙂
You write very well and your English is excellent. Maybe you can get a job translating documents (I did that for a while too cos I’m actually Italian). I got paid per page or per hour (depending on the client) and the documents were emailed to my home PC (which gave me the added benefit of earning foreign currency)!
Maybe look into Tour Guiding (another “career” I had for a couple of years). I had to do a short course to be qualified and registered with the Tourist Bureau, but that’s actually a fun way of earning money (as long as you have a lot of patience)! 😛
I also enjoyed being a “Day Mother” – taking in a few kids of the same age as my son, to look after from 7am to 6pm. That had the double advantage of allowing me to care for my own baby and earning some money too. 🙂 My son had the advantage of having playmates every day from when he was 3 months old, and this helped him to transition easily to Preschool.
I have faith that you will find the right thing for you to do. Don’t hesitate to email me directly if you need more ideas – I basically never stayed in the same job for longer than a maximum of 3 years, so there are a lot more I haven’t mentioned! Good luck!
Mamma_Sim, truly I am so touched with your reply and ideas. Those are all very brilliant and I strongly am considering other options. I do some translating jobs on the side and I’ve been doing that since some years ago.
It’s so eye opening to learn about how it works in other countries too and how it ‘force’ people to really thinks outside the box. Very inspiring! 😀
So sorry you have had to deal with an unfair and frustrating situation! Not so long ago it was exactly like this in the US. I noticed recently that the ILO was taking on workplace discrimination and sexual harassment in Indonesia. http://www.ilo.org/jakarta/info/public/pr/WCMS_175093/lang–en/index.htm I agree – your English is excellent and a huge asset. Maybe you should try for an international organization job? Writing and editing? ESL teaching? Wishing you the best! Jennifer
Thank you for the link, Jennifer. I will be checking it out.
I’m noticing that foreign (and usually big) companies here really are more focus on the skills instead of the usual ‘aesthetic’ aspects. Local companies are the ones who will fire me up with those very annoying questions.
I’ve been applying to several NGOs here too but it is a tough circles to break into but it is something that I would love to join. Writing and editing is what I’m doing part time for now but sadly it’s not enough to pay the bills so I still need something else but thank you so very much for the inspirations 🙂
I just shared this article with everyone I know! As someone in the US who worked in recrutiing/HR for 6 years before coming a stay at home mom, this article hit me on so many levels, professionally and personally. I am just blown away on what is legal and ok for potential employers to ask you about. Please keep hope and keep at it! You are a bright, articulate woman with alot to offer. Keep us posted.
Thank you Tara B, very kind of you!
I had even consulted a friend who is a recruiter and she said those questions are totally irrelevant. She said if they asked me how many children I have for the purpose of health insurance coverage then it is normal but other than that I shouldn’t answer them. Once, I even get asked “So, how did you go to America?” and I sat there with my jaws on the floor.