should you put stay-at-home parenting on your resume, I don’t want to train my new manager, and more


It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Should you put stay-at-home parenting on your resume?

I was scrolling through LinkedIn today for work and saw this listed in someone’s experience:

Stay-at-Home Mom
Feb 2005 – May 2015
Volunteer position requiring training in child development and behavior. Job required strong skills in time management, dispute resolution, communication, accounting, procurement, and cost reduction. I was required to work with no supervision or coaching while making fast decisions regarding the family organization.

I don’t know if it is on her resume but I thought it was a cheeky yet truthful way of filling the stay-at-home-mom job gap. Does it belong on a resume or LinkedIn?

No. It would be different if it were just a brief mention to explain why the person was out of the workforce for X years. But the issue here is that it’s written in a way that frames caring for one’s own kids as a professional job rather than a personal one.

It’s not that parenting isn’t hard or valuable work; it is. But as a general rule, work that you do for your family or household doesn’t belong on a resume. Largely that’s because you’re not accountable in the same way you would be at a paid job. An employer also has no way of knowing if you did terribly at it (and they can’t find out since it’s not an area that would be appropriate for them to probe into in an interview or with references). Additionally, if something is a common life activity, it’s generally not going to be resume-worthy (and indeed, you don’t see working parents listing their own child-rearing work).

Related: can I put running my household on my resume?

2. I don’t want to train my new manager

About six months ago, my direct supervisor (Phyllis) retired, leaving no one in her position (we normally have two people at her level doing complementary jobs). I work in government, so it’s taken a while to hire even one person to replace them both, and the person they hired (Pam) doesn’t yet have a start date. We’ve had people filling in, but for the past few months I’ve been handling most of the responsibilities for my program. I’m fully capable of doing this higher-level work (I’ve done it before in a different location), but it’s been a lot to take on, especially because I get no bump in pay or title.

I was interviewed for Phyllis’ position, but didn’t get it. I understand they went with Pam because she has significantly more experience than I do, but from what I know Pam has never worked in my agency before. I have worked in this type of department in both this agency and the private sector, and I know that the procedures, software, etc. in this agency are often drastically different and present a significant learning curve. I entered the agency about three years ago and had to learn all of the processes and quirks with very little help because I had an ineffective supervisor (not Phyllis). It was difficult (lots of tears), but I’m now pretty proficient and some people in other locations even come to me for help with some of our processes.

Since Phyllis left, I’ve been reporting to her boss (Michael) who, because of how our larger department works, knows very little about our program. I am one of only two people at our location with the institutional knowledge to train Pam, and the other person now has a different job entirely. I know if I let it happen, I will be the one guiding Pam through the convoluted maze of our specific program. How do I tell Michael preemptively that I don’t think it would be fair for them to ask me to train my new supervisor? I’m wondering if my bitterness over not getting the job is clouding my judgment, but having to train someone who is supposed to be the one training me feels like a slap in the face, especially because of the drastic raise in pay and benefits that I am not receiving.

You can’t really say that. It’s very, very normal to be expected to show your new manager how your team does things. You’re not training her in the substance of how to do her job — you’re training her on your department-specific procedures. For example, if she were hired to manage fundraising, I’d expect that you might need to train her on how to use the internal donor database, common processes your team uses for mailings, how to use the finicky calendaring system, and so forth. I wouldn’t expect you to train her in how to develop fundraising strategy, set the team’s goals, or manage your performance; those are skills she’s presumably bringing with her, and the reason she’s been hired. But the stuff that’s specific to how you do things internally is normal to train her on.

It does sound like you have a legitimate beef about the significant increase in your workload and responsibility, and it’s reasonable to ask for that to be recognized (whether with a one-time bonus or a raise or so forth). But you can’t really say “I’m not going to show our new manager how we do things” without it reflecting very badly on you.

3. Strange recruiter interaction

I just had a strange interaction with a recruiter from a big name recruiting firm. She messaged me on LinkedIn claiming a former colleague from Company X had “spoke[n] highly” of me and described an attractive job without listing an employer name. When we finally got on a call, she refused to tell me who the former colleague was. Also, rather than telling me about the job opening or identifying the employer, she asked me in an open-ended way to describe what I was looking for. I gave a quick summary of the two kinds of opportunities that could entice me to leave my current job. She declared the original job wasn’t a good fit because I prefer to be remote, didn’t mention any other roles, and wrapped up by wishing me luck on another job I mentioned I’m currently interviewing for.

I would just write this off as a recruiter with a very strange approach, but I’ve worked in recruiting and my spidey sense is tingling. Could my current employer have put her up to this? I wouldn’t put it past my grandboss! No recruiter would agree to do this, right?? Please tell me I’m just being paranoid.

It’s unlikely that she was on a fact-finding mission for your boss. It’s more likely that she was engaging in that common recruiter behavior of not disclosing the client/employer name without first establishing that you’re interested, either because she doesn’t want you applying on your own (since she works on commission) or because the employer wants discretion at this stage. It’s also possible that the colleague who spoke highly of you was fictitious — that she uses that as bait to get potential candidates on the phone — because otherwise it’s weird that she wouldn’t tell you who they were (although it’s also possible that that person asked not to be named so their own search remains secret).

4. Should I delete a short stint from my LinkedIn profile?

I started a new job, and I updated my LinkedIn profile that same week. Unfortunately, three weeks later, the company downsized, and I was laid off. I was nervous about being visibly unemployed on LinkedIn while applying to new jobs, so I left the company on my profile as “2022 – Present.” Now, I’ve successfully found a new role, and I’m wondering if I should delete the other one from my profile entirely (leaving a five-month gap in employment), or if I should amend it to show my actual start/end dates (one month apart) with a note about the layoffs. It was not a big enough company to make headlines for layoffs, but it is respected in the industry.

Remove it. Three weeks isn’t enough time to strengthen your profile, and the short stint will just raise questions that will detract from the stronger points you want to highlight. (I’d keep it off your resume for the same reason.)

5. How can we make our department appear more occupied?

My team had some success with a “Bartleby the Scrivener” tactic of simply ignoring orders to work in the office. However, the boom has been lowered — we’ve been told we need to keep up appearances because other teams have complained that we’re not coming in.

Our bosses don’t really care and have said if people have a specific need to stay home on a given day, that’s fine. The key metric is that our desk area look generally occupied when office busybodies walk by.

One team member suggested we decorate for holidays to increase the “lived-in” look of our cubicle pod. I’d love to hear suggestions (both serious and wacky) from the readers on how to maximize the appearance of attendance, using less than 100% of our team on any given day!

(Ridiculous side note: the building was painstakingly crafted to maximize hip collaboration spaces, outdoor seating with strong wifi, etc. Plus a lot of us will be in conference rooms attending meetings most of the day. So we could all be in the office 40 hours a week and still not be seen in our cubicle area!)

Scarecrows? Holograms?

I’m happy to throw it out to the readers, but it sucks that your bosses are going with “your desk area needs to look occupied” as their key metric rather than pushing back against the office busybodies. I realize they might have higher priorities for where to spend their capital right now, or might have correctly judged that pushing back won’t get them anywhere and risks drawing more attention to your team’s quiet rebellion — and your team might prefer this plan to the alternative — but it still sucks.

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