toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

September 17, 2012

jobseeking mom stigmatized

Tracey is 29 and although she enjoys spending time with her kids she is ready to get off welfare and get back into mainstream life. Unfortunately, her efforts to become self-supporting are being hampered by judgmental interviewers who stigmatize her for being a divorced single mom on welfare.

"I had no idea that single moms getting back to work would be treated so badly," says Tracey. "It's as though I'd been in prison or something!"

"So far, I've been very successful passing preliminary job interviews," confides Tracey, "but I have yet to succeed at a final interview and actually get a job."

She feels that her divorced status - and welfare mom status - has something to do with her being rejected, and she's just waiting for an employer to turn up who doesn't take a moral high ground on these sort of things.

"The final interview is all about morals and if you're divorced, gay, 'living in sin' with a lover or a welfare mom like me then I feel that you'll be rejected as a bad risk," says Tracey.

"Nobody is going to come right out and tell you that this is the reason for your rejection and nobody is going to ask you outright what your morals are - it would be illegal for them to do such things - but they do have their ways of finding these things out and believe it or not but this sort of primitive discrimination is still very much a part of the job selection process."

Tracey can't do much about her divorced status, or welfare mom status, but she is well aware that lots of people - men, too - deliberately get married as a means of avoiding welfare or improving their chances of getting top jobs.

"I know single moms who've married some jerk or taken abominable jobs rather than be saddled with the stigma of being a welfare mom," says Tracey, "but I'd rather accept welfare than ruin my life - and to hell with the stigma. I deserve a good job and I'm going to hang on in there until I get it!"

"I know that there are employers out there who don't care about the private lives of their employees," says Tracey, "so I'm not becoming depressed by constant job rejection."

"I have kids to look after," says Tracey, "and I can't afford to become depressed or unhappy about silly things like stigmas and morals."

"I'm happy with my divorced status, I have every right to be on welfare, and I see no reason why anybody should lie, feel ashamed or change his or her marital status in order to get a good job."

"I wouldn't want to work for an organization that probes into the private lives of its staff and makes stupid moral judgments," says Tracey. "Think about it, would you?"

If this final interview rejection continues for much longer, though, Tracey is realistic about considering her alternatives.

She could change career direction and enter a field where her private life doesn't come under scrutiny, or she could consider contract work or becoming self-employed.

Tracey has top security clearance so there is nothing in her past that is going to be a barrier at the final interview stage, and she has no bad habits that might bar her from a top job either.

"I quit smoking a long time ago," confides Tracey, "and I don't do drugs or drink excessively. I'm squeaky clean and that's more than can be said for most people!"
"The only other factor that's considered at final interviews," says Tracey, "is the level of ambition of candidates."

"I can't say with certainty that I've been rejected at final interviews because I'm either too ambitious, or lacked the drive the particular company wanted," says Tracey, "but it's always a possibility that my level of ambition didn't match that of the employers I've dealt with so far."

"Maybe they think that because I accepted welfare rather than grabbing a man to keep me, going for a menial job or begging on the streets, I am lacking in drive or something," laughs Tracey. "Who knows?"

Tracey prefers to take the philosophical approach and just accepts the possibility that another candidate was far better suited for the job than she was.

"All other things being equal," laughs Tracey, "the employer might have just tossed a coin and I lost out. It must happen like this sometimes!"

As far as Tracey is concerned, she has done exceptionally well to reach the final interview stage and when she considers the enormous barriers that other candidates have to overcome, her future looks very bright indeed.

Tracey says that it's just a matter of waiting until the right job turns up and she takes heart in the fact that every job that goes to someone else means that she will have one less exceptionally good candidate in competition with her in future.

She has a very positive attitude - one that she is very careful to instill into her children, too - and she knows that there is a job out there that is just right for her.

"When I think along these lines I actually become thankful for the rejections I have already received because each one is moving me closer towards my perfect job," says Tracey.

"Also, being on welfare means that nothing changes in my life when I get rejected," explains Tracey. "I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying for the type of job I want, and in the meantime my kids are enjoying more of me than they would if I had already got a job."

"I look at welfare as a definite right for single moms," explains Tracey, "and there should be no stigma attached to it. Nobody sneers at disability welfare or old aged welfare, so why should single mom welfare be any different?"

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