Getting divorced is often cited as one of the most traumatic events an individual can go through, but it could also end up having a few unexpected benefits.
A recent survey conducted by the family law experts Wiselaw sought to discover the key attributes that 1026 employers and managers looked for in new hires. Surprisingly, ‘Divorced’ was the most preferred relationship status in new recruits favoured by 35% of employers, followed by ‘Married’ and ‘Widowed’. The least preferred was for staff to be going through a relationship split, with only 25% of employers preferring staff to be ‘in a relationship but separated’. This all points to employers appreciating new hires who have the kind of life experience that comes with divorce but preferring not to take on staff who are still in the midst of a relationship breakdown.
The specific reasons given for employers preferring divorcees differed from respondent to respondent, but among the most common were that post-divorce, new hires would be more focused and less likely to be distracted, more likely to be resilient and more likely to bring life experiences and maturity to their working life. In addition, employers considered divorcees more likely to be career-oriented and more driven to increase their responsibilities and earnings.
Though the surveyed employers were allowed to remain anonymous, the survey highlighted that employers were happy to state their preferences despite the stringent constrictions of employment law, which stands against discrimination on the basis of personal circumstances. By making it known they favour divorced employees, companies confirmed their own biases – news which could have a dramatic effect on the way jobseekers present themselves in applications. Not least for divorcees, who can feel more comfortable being open about their personal circumstances which could be seen as a strength, not a weakness.
The most likely to benefit could be divorced women. While traditionally men go on to boost their earning power post-divorce, much of this has to do with the role of children and childcare, which still continues to affect women’s careers. Yet divorced women can also see significant gains when reaching out to employers.
For newly-divorced women, the findings provide a glimmer of hope amidst a difficult time. Once a taboo, divorce is now seen as mainstream, not only among everyday workers but high-profile female celebrities who have gone on to achieve grand success after the end of their marriages. Key examples of post-divorce career success include the likes of Kim Kardashian, Tina Turner and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
“These findings show that not only is there is life after divorce, but also the great potential for a successful career, with independence, resilience and multi-tasking seen as some of the major assets among employers,” says William James, Client Director at Wiselaw. “The news will come as both a surprise and a reassurance, particularly for women going through divorce who are typically on shakier ground regarding their their earnings potential afterwards, but they shouldn’t worry with over a third of employers showing a clear preference for divorcees”.