Married Couples Face Slow Employment Recovery, but Experience and Preparation Minimize Barriers, Says Career Coach Hallie Crawford

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For married couples, the recession has been a blow, says Certified Career Coach Hallie Crawford, and the impact may be far more significant than most people realized, considering that a recent CNN Money article reported that only 22% of the jobs lost during the recession have been recovered by married couples. At issue are misperceptions about married couples, Crawford notes, which are causing the media to underreport their re-employment situation—and potentially encouraging employers to exhibit discriminatory behavior.

“A recent, widely publicized CNN Money article revealed that married couples have recovered only 1,298,000 out of 6,000,000 lost, whereas singles have recovered 90% of lost jobs,” says Crawford.

For married couples, the recession has been a blow, says Certified Career Coach Hallie Crawford, and the impact may be far more significant than most people realize, considering that a recent CNN Money article reported that only 22% of the jobs lost during the recession have been recovered by married couples . At issue are misperceptions about married couples, Crawford notes, which are causing the media to underreport their re-employment situation—and potentially encouraging employers to exhibit discriminatory behavior.

“A recent, widely publicized CNN Money article revealed that married couples have recovered only 1,298,000 out of 6,000,000 lost, whereas singles have recovered 90% of lost jobs,” says Crawford. “However, rather than express surprise at the disparity, experts postulated that single workers regain their jobs faster because they are more desperate and/or flexible, and that couples are better positioned to take a hit from losing an employed member.”

“I believe this is a fallacy. Married couples are more likely to be locked into a mortgage and have children with expenses, such as schooling, that the couple feels are non- negotiable,” Crawford continues. “Families are at least as vulnerable as singles, and the damage being wrought by their ongoing inability to find jobs is taking a toll.”

Crawford says she frequently hears from married jobseekers—especially individuals with school-age children—who are concerned they are being subjected to “marriage bias”—the employer might think they are less deserving or will be less committed to the job because they have a spouse and children. Fortunately, she says, there are steps these jobseekers can take to position themselves as the most valuable candidates.

Dedication: Married, experienced workers with children generally have more to lose—both monetarily and through loss of professional standing due to long periods of unemployment. They should frame this as a benefit to prospective employers by pointing out their commitment to long-term success in the position.

Life Experience: Being married and having children provides long-term life experience that singles sometimes lack. The required skills, such as appreciation for importance of teamwork, ability to multi-task and respect for efficient use of time, translate very well to the work environment and should be shared during the interview.

Stage of Life: Married couples, especially those that have completed their child-bearing cycle, offer a real advantage in terms of availability. Discrimination rules prevent employers from asking singles about marriage or child-rearing plans, but settled, married jobseekers can certainly volunteer where they are in the process to underscore their availability.

Support System: Married couples—especially those with older children—have a built in support network they can lean on when work and family obligations conflict.

“Nearly 65% of couples go into marriage expecting two incomes,” says Crawford. “Yet, between 2008 and 2011, the percentage of couples with at least one unemployed spouse rocketed from 7.8% to 12.4%, then dropped only slightly, to 11.5%. By any calculation, it’s obvious that there are many, many married people actively seeking jobs, and that they need them as much as anyone else.”

The key to finding those jobs, Crawford reminds married jobseekers, is to know your worth and make sure your prospective employer knows it, too.

About Create Your Career Path
Since 2002, Create Your Career Path and its team of certified career coaches have helped job searchers nationwide identify their ideal career path, navigate their career transition and achieve their career goals. New college grads through mid-career professionals have used our career coaches to find their dream job. Create Your Career Path was founded by certified career coach, speaker and author Hallie Crawford. Crawford has served on the Board of the Georgia Coach Association, and is regularly featured as a career expert on CNN, Fox Business News, the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo HotJobs and Entrepreneur Magazine.

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Jennifer Koon
Michael Mackenzie Communications
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