Feature: What to Leave Out When Leaving the Nest

Feature: What to Leave Out When Leaving the Nest

Feature: What to Leave Out When Leaving the Nest

Stay-at-home professionals are a new kind of worker. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 105,000 men and 5.2 million women who had opted out of their profession, craft or trade to serve as their family’s primary care-giver in 2002. Whether it was a matter of choice or was dictated by circumstances in the labor market, they went from working in their career field to working on the soccer field. Experience shows, however, that many of these stay-at-home professionals will eventually decide to reenter the traditional world of work. When they do, it’s important to provide the right description of their home front stint on their resume.

Some career counselors believe that breaks in traditional employment should be camouflaged on a resume. The thinking here, of course, is that employers will consider such “interruptions” in your career to be a disqualifying factor for employment. They will assume that you are not up-to-date in your profession, craft or trade and that you have lost touch with the key issues in your industry. To prevent such conclusions, therefore, these counselors suggest that you omit dates of employment altogether from your resume or use broad enough time bands to conceal your absence from the workforce.

The truth, however, is that hiding a break in employment on a resume does not keep an employer from discovering it. In most organizations today, the interviewing process is going to probe your background in detail and will almost certainly uncover the time you spent at home. Then, you will be in the position of having to explain why that information was not on your resume. Recruiters and hiring managers will begin to wonder if you have something to hide. Was your absence from the workforce based on a personal or professional decision or was it caused by a jail sentence, an illness or something else even worse?

My advice, therefore, is that you include the period at home on your resume and that describe it just as you would every other employment situation. You were working, after all, just not in the office. Indeed, the vast majority of recruiters and hiring managers relate just as well to the work that’s done in the family as they do to work performed in the office. They know something about the challenges that are faced and the effort that is required to care for children and manage a household. Therefore, it’s not only appropriate that you should acknowledge your time in the home, but that you should also provide an appropriate description of the work you performed there.

What is an appropriate description? I don’t think you should itemize the daily chores on your resume. On the other hand, I do think you should list anything that might demonstrate skills, knowledge and attributes that would stand you in good stead when working for an employer. For example:

  • Any time spent reflecting on your career and reaffirming your commitment to your profession, craft or trade,
  • Any study programs in which you were involved or reading that you did to keep abreast of your field and industry,
  • Situations or events where you were able to demonstrate leadership and other work-related skills (e.g., managing the budget for a youth group, organizing a fund raiser for a local charity),
  • Steps you took to stay connected with your colleagues and others in the workforce (e.g., attendance at local chapter meetings of your trade association, networking you did at professional listservs online).
  • The goal is not to make your time spent at home sound as if you were in the office, but rather, to demonstrate that, on top of all of the other responsibilities you had as a primary care-giver, you also kept yourself “office ready.” Now, there are two points that should be made here:

  • First, you must, of course, tell the truth; don’t say it unless you did it. Embellishing your record in the home is just as dishonest as embellishing your record in the office.
  • Second, if you haven’t done anything to keep yourself “office ready,” now is the time to get started. Doing so won’t make up for the time you didn’t spend, but it will at least demonstrate your commitment to catching up.
  • “Interruptions” in your career are only truly interruptions if you did nothing during them. Working at home is just as much a job as working in the office (and a large and growing number of our associates in the world of work recognize that). Indeed, I believe it is a noble and worthwhile occupation that should be proudly displayed on your resume. Admittedly, it does not keep you at the cutting edge in your profession, craft or trade, but you can take steps to address that situation. And, if you describe those steps with candor and confidence, you are likely to distinguish yourself as a candidate and put yourself ahead in the race for a great job.

    Thanks for reading,


    A Final Note I hope you’re finding your WEDDLE’s newsletter to be thought-provoking, helpful and informative. If that’s the case, please tell a colleague about it and encourage them to subscribe, as well. I’d be very grateful for your support.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    CareerJournal.com, announced average starting salaries for recent college graduates in select disciplines. The highest offers went to chemical engineers, averaging $52,038 per year; computer science grads weren’t far behind at an average of $50,007 per year. Other occupations/fields stacked up as follows: consulting-$48,247; manufacturing-$47,861; actuarial-$46,991; engineering-$44,500; accounting-$42,155; economics/finance-$40,718; retail/wholesale trade-$33,536; journalism-$27,646; and customer service-$25,000.

    Calling All Engineers! Dice, a 2004 WEDDLE’s User’s Choice Award Winner, is giving engineers a chance to sound off. The site has recently launched a new area for engineering employment and wants to know what content and features would be most helpful to its visitors. To express your opinion, click here.

    HealthandFitnessPros.com launched its job board for lifeguards, pilates and yoga instructors, acupuncturists, weight loss specialists, estheticians, massage therapists, coaches, personal trainers, instructors and other professionals and managers in the health and fitness industry.

    TheLadders.com, an executive-level job board, released the results of a survey probing how executives felt about their resumes. Better than six-out-of-ten (61%) of the respondents said they liked their resume, but knew it could be better. Fewer than a quarter thought the document was perfect, and 11% said their resume definitely needed some work. How can you improve your resume? Use the following two-step process. Step 1: make sure your resume is 100% accurate. In another survey conducted by TheLadders.com, a sobering 10% of 437 executives admitted to having lied on their resume.

    Step 2: improve the clarity and persuasiveness of the information on your resume. Ask your spouse or a friend to read your resume and then tell you its two or three most important points. If they aren’t the points you most want to make, revise your resume and try again.

    Partnership for 21st Century Skills released a survey identifying the skills that business leaders, teachers and parents believe are now critical for success. The most important were (1) communication, (2) ability to adapt to a changing world, (3) using technology effectively, (4) critical thinking and decision-making, and (5) problem solving. How can this information help you? First, make sure that you have these skills. If you don’t, enroll in the training programs that will give them to you. Second, once you’ve acquired the skills, make sure you use them on-the-job, even if that means you have to redefine what it means to “do your job.” And third, make sure you describe your use of the skills and the results you achieved with them on your resume. Your success on-the-job today is the best foundation for your success in the future.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. You’re a seasoned programmer looking for an opening with an IT Department that has a strong techie culture. Which of the following sites would connect you with companies where you would fit right in?

  • GeeksonCall.com
  • Slashdot.org
  • GeekGirls.org
  • GeekFinder.com
  • 2. If you’re a grade school teacher looking for a position with a local elementary school, which of the following sites would help you ace your search?

  • TeacherJobs.com
  • RecruitingTeachers.org
  • K12jobs.com
  • Reap.net
  • 3. You’re an experienced physician assistant seeking a position with a urban medical center. Which of the following sites would be a prescription for disappointment in your job search?

  • MedicalWorkers.com
  • AdvancedPracticeJobs.com
  • PApeople.com
  • AAPA.org
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2004 Guides and Directories



    A WEDDLE’s 2004 User’s Choice Award Winner

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – All

    Distribution of jobs: International – USA, Canada

    Number of jobs: 150

    Salary levels of jobs: $20-30K, $76-100K

    Offer a job agent: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: 90 days

    Restrictions on who can post: Must register with the site

    Other services for job seekers: Career and job search information, Links to other sites, Confidentiality feature in the resume database

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. Only GeekFinder.com; the others do not post job openings.

    2. All of them would help your search.

    3. PApeople.com, the site of a professional audio services company in Australia.