"Make sure you don't mention you want kids to recruiters and in interviews!" is a piece of advice I have gotten from many different people. After reflecting on this, I would like to take a minute to discuss what this "piece of advice" means to us and why it is harmful.
If you question why organizations like Hera exist and why there is a push in advocating for a more positive connotation to being a primary caregiver, this is why. If this piece of advice is being given, it's for a reason. It's kind of like the bizarre rules you see posted in public places/events or even weird laws; they got created because, sure enough, something happened at one point in time to make the rule. But the disheartening difference between this piece of advice and a bizarre practice is that this advice, or "rule," so to say, is not limited to one setting. It's widely posted.
Two, this piece of advice allows for the issue to be swept under the rug.
Having a child and a family is typical, so why should it be such a "taboo" topic? What we are doing when we don't talk about it allows for this topic to continue to stay taboo.
People aren't sharing about this prevalent and natural expression of family. When we remain silent, employers do not realize that their organization is due for some reform and more progressive thinking.
Third, this statement shorts the individual on the receiving end. This can also be translated to other pieces of advice that encourage masking your personality in interviews. Yes, there needs to be reform in the industry to allow for different individuals to be empowered. But even when this does happen, there is still the reality that other companies have different cultures.
When you start masking yourself and your wants in an interview and get hired, your job offer is based on a false narrative of yourself. And, if you must continue being someone you aren’t, once you have the job, that's not going to allow yourself to thrive necessarily. Yes, it’s heartbreaking not to get that dream job you desperately wanted. But, if you get turned down ahead of time simply because you were who you are and if, God forbid, you want a family, then most likely that job isn't for you.
Do I sound like your mother telling you that if the people you want to be friends with/want to date don’t like you for you, you don't want to be friends/dating them? If I didn’t, now I do - remember, when one door closes, another door opens. And behind that new door opening is a company that empowers you to be who you are and express your wants.
Lastly, telling someone that they aren't hirable if they express themselves is disheartening to an individual and hinders diversification within the industry. As I said in my previous blog, “inclusiveness comes from having and welcoming all types of personalities.” That original piece of “advice,” though, is the opposite of welcoming to aspiring caregivers. And it’s false because there are spots in the industry for aspiring caregivers, just like there are spots for people who do not wish to be caregivers.
So, all this to say is that instead of giving advice that encourages masking who you are, we should promote personality in interviews. When we do this, we are giving employers a realistic insight into what we can offer. Expressing our personalities and being honest with our employer about what we are looking for in a job can help organizations gain insight into how they can attract top talent. Take the cliché mom advice about unapologetically being yourself and apply it to all aspects of life, including your career. Our personalities, experiences, and perspectives make this the best industry to be a part of. Striving for individuality is going to be the key to making our industry diverse.
Mattie is a CFII at Auburn University, where she recently graduated with a degree in Professional Flight. She enjoys drinking her morning coffee, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. Mattie is looking forward to a successful and fulfilling career as a professional pilot whether it be in the business aviation industry or the airline industry.