This article originally appeared in The Globe and Mail’s Nine to Five on May 23, 2023
I’m desperate for work and am in the final interview stages for a one-year maternity leave contract. But I know that I won’t be able to stay for the full year because I’m going back to school in eight months. There’s no way I can lie about it being a last-minute thing, but I really need the work. What should I do?
THE SECOND ANSWER
Julie Labrie, president, BlueSky Personnel Solutions, Toronto
Unequivocally, my advice is: tell this employer now about your plans. If you take the contract and then quit unexpectedly, the employer will likely feel burned from you breaking your word and breaking their trust. Reputations matter and you don’t want to burn bridges. It’s a small world in today’s socially connected online environment.
Moreover, don’t assume this employer will be averse to exploring other arrangements with you for when you return to school. Could you recommend moving to a part-time capacity at that time or working around your class schedules to fulfil your obligation?
The key point here is to propose a solution to the employer when sharing your schooling plans. This will demonstrate how proactive you are and how you embrace integrity in your actions. Don’t say “no” to yourself in finding a win-win solution before a prospective employer has had a chance to even consider it.
I’ve seen clients make compromises for job candidates they want. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility. Ultimately, if they can’t hire you for this role for eight months, being honest now will keep the doors open for you to re-apply for a role with them in the future.
When you need to find work urgently, it’s understandable that the fear of losing an opportunity may have you second-guessing how to approach this situation. But being candid with every employer you apply to now is the right thing to do, for your own short-term and long-term benefit.
To read the first answer by Neha Khurram, founder and talent director, the Hiring Community, Toronto, published by the Globe and Mail, please click here (accessible to subscribers).
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