Effective in the Workplace

You are a single parent and more than likely you hold down a job or two in order to provide for your children.  Sometimes you have a really great employer who recognizes your situation and works with your scheduling needs.  Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves in work situations that are inflexible to the needs in a single parent home.  In fact, if you reveal yourself as a single parent in the interview process chances are that you could be passed up for the position simply because you have a situation that needs flexibility.  It's harder to travel, work long hours and show up to the last minute client dinners.  I've even heard people say that hiring single parents is less than ideal.

I, for one can understand that side of employers who feel that way and are firstly concerned with efficiency, availability and dedication.  Being a single parent does not mean that you are unreliable or flaky.  In fact, most single parents that I know are very strong individuals who are out to prove something to themselves and society that we can handle the same situations as others.  Our past and present situations do not define us but they make us stronger.

I did a little research on this topic online and found some really great resources of how single parents can remain good solid employees in the eyes of an employer.  Sure we need flexibility but doesn't everyone at some point? The key is how we ask for that flexibility and that we do not abuse it.

1) Even though it may be detrimental during an interview, it is important to be upfront about your situation and the needs you may have with a potential employer.  If we remain faithful to be truthful the right doors will open up for us and enable provision for your family.

2) Remain honest with your boss and about the situations and trials that come up.  Trust is a huge factor in your employer knowing when you really need their help.  A lying tongue will get no sympathy or flexibility.

3) Give your best all the time.  Your employer will be able to tell when things come up yet you are giving it everything you have.  Likewise they will be able to tell if you are allowing your situations to overtake your workplace commitment.

4) Have an outlet for stress.  Being a single parent can be stressful and overwhelming.  Avoid relieving your personal stress at work through complaining and venting sessions.  Other employees have stress too and hearing about how hard your life is, day in and day out might be just too much for them to want to be around. 

5) Try your best to ensure you have a track record that has more giving rather than taking.  Constantly asking for time off or flex time will show an employer that you are unreliable and that they may need to look elsewhere. If possible schedule things outside work hours, but if not make sure you save the most important reasons for asking for time off.  Having a bad day is not a reason to go home early.

It is difficult to maintain a steady household as well as work full time outside the home but it is possible and doable.  Just be honest with what you can handle and what you need. 

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