From January, 2017

Why Are Women Leaving the Workforce?

The labor force participation rate for women grew greatly between 1975 and 2000 to a point where 59.9% of women 16 and older were participating.  During the ten years that followed, the rate fell by 1.3% to 58.6% in 2010.  Not a substantial drop but in the five years that followed, the rate had dropped an additional 1.9% to 56.7% in 2015.  Why are U.S. women leaving the workforce?

One obvious reason participation rates are declining is the increasing amount of baby boomers leaving the workforce.  Their departure however does not explain the whole decline.  Many women are leaving due to an inability to balance their work life with their home life.  A 2014 poll of nonworking adults showed that 61% of women aged 25 to 54 were not working due to family responsibilities while only 37% of men provided the same answer.  For many women in the U.S., 12 weeks of maternity leave is not long enough and the rising costs of child care increase the attractiveness of quitting work life and transitioning to home life. 

While numbers continue to decline in the U.S., they continue to increase in most European countries including Japan and Canada.  One reason is that  family policies in the U.S. are not as friendly as in some European countries.  Yes, twelve weeks of maternity leave may sound lengthy but England, for example, provides maternity leave for up to one year and in many cases it is fully paid.  They also offer protection for part-time workers.  According to a study by Francine Blau and Lawrence Kuhn of Cornell, if the United States had the same policies in place for mothers provided by European countries, the labor force participation rate would have been seven percentage points higher by 2010.  Though the European policies have their pros they have their cons as well.  These policies which support working mothers also burden their economies.  Between 20 to 40 percent of jobs in the Eurozone held by women are part time and a study by Blau and Kuhn found that women in Europe were half as likely as men to be managers while in the U.S. men and women were equally likely.

Many women who wish to return to the workforce are willing provided that their family life is not too disrupted in the form of relocation, long commutes or working irregular hours.  This applies only to women with families.  Women without children, like men, are more inclined to accept these inconveniences. 

Many women are taking time off of work to raise their children but seek to return to the workforce once their children enter school.  Their primary concern is of course how hirable they are after spending significant time away from the workforce.  A woman with multiple children could conceivably be a non-working parent for seven years or more.  Studies have shown that biases are indeed exercised towards individuals who have been unemployed for lengthy periods of time.  So in this instance moms may be ultimately punished for having a family.

And yet one poll found that non-working women are not nearly as desperate to return to work as non-working men.  In many instances, their lives improve in key categories whereas a man’s lifestyle tends to suffer during periods of unemployment.

Women want to succeed and be viewed as equals to men in the workplace and yet for mothers the best way to achieve this equality is to perhaps not pursue the path of motherhood at all.  They have a choice; a career or being the world’s greatest mom, and the statistics above might suggest praise from their child is more valuable than praise from their boss.

Four Fears of Video Interviewing.

As the client relationship manager for a video interviewing provider, I have spoken with many candidates over the years prior to their interviews.  Most candidates are un-fazed they have been asked by one of our customers to complete a video interview, however a few cannot hide their anxiety and some openly state how nervous they are.  Candidates who are camera shy or technologically unsophisticated prefer phone screens or face-to-face interviews versus logging into a website or conducting an interview using a mobile app on their phone.  Many, unfamiliar with video interviewing technology, question the point of it.

Quickly I will explain for job candidates reading this why video interviews have gained in popularity.  Recruiters and HR personnel are pressed for time.  Scheduling a phone screen takes much longer than inviting a candidate to complete a video interview.  Conducting a phone screen obviously takes longer as well.  If a recruiter has five phone screens scheduled in a day and commits twenty minutes of their time per screen, they have invested more than an hour and a half.  This time is not consumed when candidates complete a virtual interview.  At the completion of the phone screens the recruiter must adequately present to a hiring manager the notes taken during your phone screen and sufficiently compare them with the responses given by other candidates.  This task is more easily accomplished with recorded video interviews.  Overall, video interviewing saves a tremendous amount of time and effort but also provides you, the candidate, an opportunity to show off your personality and charisma.

Saving time for recruiters also means that they can screen more candidates.  Your chances of being seen are higher if the recruiter is using video interviews to screen candidates.

Despite the benefits to you and employers, concerns still pop up here and there.  Here are a few of the common fears.

Video interviewing is difficult:  Those who would rather pick up a phone than turn on a computer may worry they are not tech savvy enough to even start the interview.  Not to worry.  Most providers have a simple process in place that will test your camera and microphone to ensure they are working backed up by technical support teams that can walk you through it if you get stuck. Beyond the setup process, your video interview is simple.  Your questions will appear on the screen, you will read them and then provide your responses into the camera.  Upon completion the recruiter or hiring manager will be notified.  Also, you can complete the interview day or night at a time convenient to you.

Your interview will be shared on social networks:  Most providers store your interview on a secure server.  Downloads to a local machine by the hiring company are not permitted.  Therefore your interview will not appear on YouTube.

Your phone or tablet is a poor device to use:  Many candidates who own perfectly good smart devices are hesitant to use them for a video interview.  Truth be told, candidates who use the mobile app often run into less technical problems with their cameras and microphones than those using a pc or laptop.  Additionally, the camera built into a phone or tablet provides greater quality than a webcam and the touch screen interface with the app is often easier to navigate for less savvy users.

You worry you look terrible: If you have been invited to take a video interview, you have time to prepare yourself and your background.  You are conducting this interview on your turf in your comfort zone.  Take advantage of that!  Relax, smile and provide the interviewer with the enthusiasm you can’t show over the phone.

Remember, video interviews are not trying to take anything from you, they are trying to give something to you; time, convenience and an opportunity to put your best foot forward.