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How and When to Bring Up Personal Issues When Applying for Jobs

applying for jobs
Written by Peter Jones

So you’re applying for jobs, but you have some serious needs based on personal considerations: you’re pregnant, or have kids, or require a particular kind of flexibility in order to maintain your work/life balance. Or perhaps you’re moving across the country, or you need to have a position somewhere close to your partner. You name it, you’re probably struggling with finding the right time to bring it up.

Here are three stages in the job process and an outline of how and when to bring up personal issues when applying for jobs. Happy hunting!

In Your Resume & Cover Letter

Say the company has boasted about their super-casual work culture and flexible hours. You’re allowed to work at a beanbag and take three-hour lunches as long as you get your projects done. Or they have a fantastic family leave package and you’re planning to have a kid soon. You’re secretly doing a happy dance, but you really shouldn’t show it. At least not yet.

Saying how important flexibility and leave and casual scheduling might be to you could be interpreted by a hiring manager as a red flag in a cover letter. “Ahoy! This guy is lazy and doesn’t really want to do the job!” Save it for much later in the process. Or just be glad you found this opportunity and keep the celebration to yourself.

During an Interview

The good news is they’re already interested. The bad is that you could easily blow it by asking about any of the above with too much eagerness or glee. It’s still not the time to say, “Hang on… how many personal days do I get?” Or: “So I get how many weeks off for maternity leave?”

Stick with convincing them that you’re the most qualified candidate for the position and an asset to the company. Render yourself indispensable and then take advantage of the sweet perks this company can offer. When you get to the point in the interview when you’re invited to ask questions, you can casually inquire about the work atmosphere or culture, but that’s about it.

During Negotiation

You got the offer! Yes! Now is the time. If you’re, say, pregnant, or moving in a year, or in need of Friday mornings off to watch your kids, this is the ideal stage to broach the subject. There’s no right time, really, and you’ll probably be dreading it. But take a deep breath and say how delighted you are about the offer, then say you just have one small complication you wanted to make sure you addressed up front.

If you get to such an advanced stage, however, you should make sure you’ve got the right read on the company. You won’t make any friends by asking for things the company just can’t or won’t provide. Pick your marks and shoot straight and steadily for them.

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