I write a lot about work, resumes, interviewing and jobs so people tend to reach out to me when there is a conversation that hits on this topic. And so it was last night on Facebook when a good friend asked me to comment on a resume entry she had come across in her travels.
The resume, a woman’s, listed a multi-year period where “at home with my children” was the work she described. My friend wanted my thoughts on this as a resume inclusion. I answered her last night and then this morning, I went looking for an older resume where I had listed something similar.
From 2008, I found a resume that I actively used which listed on the last page (I had a 4-page resume at that time): “All gaps in employment were specific to time off for family (child rearing) or completion of studies”
I have a distinct memory of interviewing at a local hospital, many years ago – before that statement appeared on my resume – and it went something like this:
I was meeting with the HR Employee, a young woman in an expensive suit wearing ridiculously pointed-toe high heels and who possessed an air of snootiness that I didn’t appreciate. She read over my resume, wiggling one of those pointy shoes under her desk.
HR Employee: “So, can you explain these gaps in employment?”
Me: “Well, the first gap listed there is when I had my children, and at that time, I stayed home with them; I didn’t work outside the home.”
HR Employee (wrinkling her nose): “So,…there’s no one who can vouch for where you were at that time?”
Me: (momentary silence – how do you answer stupid?) “Uhh, well I guess my children could.” (and I laugh, thinking she will too but I guess those pointy-toed shoes didn’t leave her with much of a sense of humor)
HR Employee (still wiggling her foot, and not a smile to be found): “So I can put down that you have no documentation for those years?”
Me (I shrugged): “I don’t know what to tell you …I could bring in their birth certificates if that would help.”
By now, she must have realized that this would have made her look bad since there was probably something approaching HR-illegal about her line of questioning. At that time, I did not have the string of college degrees on my resume that are there now, and no doubt, Miss Prissy Pants thought she was hot stuff and that her rural state sheepskin gave her some sort of superiority over me – a lowly US Navy veteran and high school graduate, with…(gasp!) CHILDREN!
I saw her not long ago when I interviewed at that same place. She still had the sad little rural state sheepskin on her desk, and while she didn’t remember me – I got an evil thrill when she read my graduate degree credentials and said, “Oh, that’s impressive!”
It’s now been long enough from my years at home that I no longer need to list the gaps since I’d been a single Mom and gainfully-employed (outside the home) for the years listed on my resume, but the recency of my revisit to that HR department, and my friend’s question about the topic inspired me to write about the stupidity that seems to pervade HR offices, and perhaps the HR profession as a whole at times.
In today’s digital-footprint world, if I leave 2 or 4 years off of my resume and it was for a baaaaad reason (e.g. jail time), I’m not going to be able to hide that. In fact, I’m going to have to check a box and sign my name to a statement that I’ve never been convicted of a crime, so why the unnecessary drama in the interview? Call my references, lurk me on social media, call a friend on the down-low who works at one of the places I have listed (we all know this happens, so don’t be giving me that shocked face) and give me a probationary period so you can throw me out if I’m an incompetent moron, but PLEASE – stop with the B.S. around “what were you doing for those years where no employment is listed?”, especially when I’m a woman whose age makes it highly likely that I was having babies during that time.
Now, in the 21st century we even have Dads that take active roles in the lives of their young children and to that I say HOORAY! So enough with the HR-baloney. Let’s ALL start listing the time we took off to stay home with our kids, or to care for our elderly family members and stop kow-towing to a long-outdated process that “requires” us to document “valid work” for all periods of time in our adult lives.
I don’t know about you, but judging from all the corporate and academic dances I have learned, there’s NOTHING that I have ever done at any job that even approaches the importance and value of the time I spent at home with my kids.
Parents UNITE! It’s time we thumb our noses to the HR-dictators and the employment elites – we stayed HOME with our kids; we wore sweatpants and slippers to drop them at pre-school and we ate PB & J sandwiches before the designated “lunch hour” and we even sometimes took midday naps.