Returning to work after mat leave was much different than I expected. I took a little over a year off and, although I was worried about how my daughter would cope at daycare, I was excited about being making a contribution again through my job. When I left for maternity leave, I had a great boss that I was getting to know well, very competent coworkers, and I enjoyed the social life there as well. My skills were up to date so I thought that I could just pick up where I left off.
Much to my surprise, the replacement that I helped to hire to fill my position was fitting in a little too well. So much so, that they wanted to keep him on full time and offer him what was my dream job title. I had been waiting for this opportunity to come up for a long time, and I was very surprised at how quickly I had lost my place in the company. Granted, my skills were not super up to date after being away for a year, but it would be very easy to pick up any changes and update my skills quickly. Or so I thought.
Being part of a union, I thought that when this perfect job was posted, my many years of seniority, updated education which the company paid $13,000 for my training, as well as reputation within the team would mean that I would be a solid competitor for the job. After all, this guy I was up against was just a temp. I barely knew him, but the major thing that stood in my way from successfully acquiring this position was that my new manager knew him very well and liked him.
I guess I couldn’t really expect to come back to everything being the same. The new manager was determined to find a loophole it seemed to hire him for this role. I still persevered and when it came time for the interview for the role, I studied hard on behavioral interview questions as well as ones that would show I had the skills for the job. I thought the interview went well and after, I sent a carefully worded thank you letter – something very few people do these days but it gives you an edge.
I remember it so vividly. My birthday was the following Monday and I had built up an ample amount of holidays, so I asked to take that Monday off. I didn’t tell him it was my birthday that day, and I was denied the day off because he wanted to book a 30 minute meeting with me Monday. I thought it would be good news, but sadly, it was to tell me that I didn’t get the job. Not at all the wonderful birthday news I was expecting. He went on to tell me the reasons of how my replacement while I was on leave had “lots and lots and lots” of experience. He also told me that – through no fault of my own since I was on maternity leave – I didn’t finish the project I was on before giving birth. That was a strike against me. Ouch!
I considered fighting it with the union, but decided to give it up, even though I knew that I would stand a very decent chance of winning. Why? Because the key thing I missed out on being away was the close relations that formed while I was gone with him and my fellow coworkers that used to be my strong allies. Now he was the one they were routing for. I was out of sight, out of mind and felt I would not be missed leaving again.
I was so distraught about not getting the job
I was about to visit the IVF specialist for a second time a few days later to see if it was possible to have another child. He told me it was a long shot and not to get my hopes up because I didn’t respond well to treatment the first time and was much older now. However, 6 days later, I discovered I was pregnant with my second child. It was the kind of news that overshadowed being overlooked for a job promotion after mat leave.
Fate works in funny ways sometimes and being a parent is better than any other job out there in my opinion.