This is the cover letter that I would attach to my CV in a parallel world in which I could speak my mind. The following lines embrace a bit of who I am, the dilemma of my existence and the insane voice inside my head that I have decided to stop asking to shut up. The following lines are my real CV.
You would certainly wish that a photo had been added to my application as you normally request; and I would certainly opt to disappoint your corporate a**! I do not attach photos to my applications. I have never had a photo on my CV and I have never understood how employers legally get away with asking applicants to provide something to use solely for the purpose of discrimination! What would the photo tell you about me? Whether I am veiled or not for instance, which is a key question of course because some extremely talented women out there get disqualified merely for wearing a head cover. Because that makes them less “presentable”, less “chic”… It is sad that women are pushed to provide photos accompanying their applications and it is even more heart-breaking that women just accept this because they need that job!
How about asking about religion and marital status in my employment application? Two fields that I always skip. I know what you need these two for and I will not give them to you. I was once told by a hiring manager that he was reluctant to hire a highly talented woman because she was divorced, something uncommon within the company! Long story short: she was eventually hired and a couple of years later, he was fired for falsification of numbers and shameful acts. Oh yes, so uncommon he is! Religion is another interesting aspect to integrate. Do you know how many times throughout my life I have been stereotyped as a certain religion because of my name having a foreign feel? And do you know how many times I have accepted going for interviews on the basis of that stereotype? Zero!
How about asking for a statement of the number of dependents I have? Because of course this is directly relevant to what I would bring to the table as a certified professional! Recently, I was conducting an interview for a lovely married lady whilst working from home and she heard my daughter playing in the background…
I said: “I am so sorry for the noise in the background, shuffling a job with a child is so much fun!”
She said: “you needn’t worry about this concerning my application; I have no plans of having kids soon!”
I said: “I am anything but worried about your PRIVATE FUTURE CHILDBEARING PLANS!”
She said: “It is okay, I have been asked about this in many interviews. I totally understand that you would not be interested in pursuing my employment if I was planning on having a child soon. It would be a hassle if I take a maternity leave and expect a new employer to support me during pregnancy!”
I honestly wanted to cry! Women have been victimised by employers for childbirth and dependency reasons for so long that it became only normal for women seeking jobs to reveal their family planning with complete strangers!
If there is one thing that I was told since I got married and had my daughter, it was: your career will never be the same again. And by that people meant that I would have to settle for a less hectic job, a smaller scope, an average salary and a career path that does not exist. Because these are the sacrifices that would come with finding a job that has child-friendly working hours. And if there are no decent working hours I might as well just shoot myself because the neat nurseries open from 8 to 5, assuming we work 8:30 to 4:30 in a place that only takes 30 mins to get to from the nursery!
You see, I didn’t and I won’t settle. I get beaten up and fired and I find a way to rise up again and look for another job and sometimes that job finds me on its own! I will not accept being stereotyped, I will not tell you about my marital status or number of children on an employment application and I certainly will not add a photo of myself on the CV. You know why? Because I like to believe, even for a split second, that you are hiring me because of my potential, because believe it or not: I have so much of it!