your children are not your professional accomplishments

You do not want something like this on your resume:

Mother of three children: William (born 1992), Kara (born 1994), and Lee (born 1997)

Why is it there?!?!  Why?! Why?!  Get it off, immediately.

I do not need to know the names and ages of your children, your pets, or your parents. I need to know about your skills and accomplishments. In the professional realm, not the domestic one.

Obligatory disclaimer that we’re talking about the U.S. here and, yes, other countries share all kinds of personal info on their resumes, like spouses, children, health status, religion, and bra size. The U.S. does not, and people whose resumes make it clear that they’ve spent their entire career in the U.S. have no excuse for this sort of thing.

{ 130 comments… read them below }

  1. Suz

    You mean attaching pics of my malamutes to my resume isn’t a good idea? The cuteness factor alone should land me an interview. lol

    1. Kelly L.

      It would probably work for me. ;) But I’m a sucker for puppy dogs. LOL. But I’m also not a manager!

  2. Julie

    That’s just odd. Was the woman trying to explain why she was out of the workforce for a long time, raising her kids? It still wouldn’t be the right way to go about it, but at least would give a rationale.

  3. Anonymous

    Interesting. I am currently in my final semester of a nursing program and many of my classmates are returning to school/the workforce after taking time of to raise their families. They were concerned with the large time gap on their resumes and our instructor told them to include being a stay at home parent to show what they had been doing during those years and to focus on the skills and volunteering they had performed during those years. For example detailed oriented in balancing the family budget or organizational skills used to manage family schedules or participation in chaperoning field trips, etc. Interested to hear your feedback on this and if domestic matters are not appropriate on resumes should they in same way acknowledge the long gap between jobs or wait to discuss it at an interview?

    1. Lemon Meringue

      AAM has done some posts on this in the past (for example, Skills acquired from volunteer gigs, etc should certainly make it on to the resume. But things like balancing the family budget don’t seem right to me. I mean, even as a recent college grad with little experience, I still wouldn’t put “always pay my rent on time” on my resume.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I agree with Lemon Meringue. Volunteer or leadership roles that you had during that time would be great to include, but I’m not impressed by the household-management-type stuff. Not to denigrate it — but I don’t think there’s a strong correlation between it and how well someone does on the job.

        1. Anonymous

          I’m not sure about this altogether…

          Some employers demand a credit check and that is to review personal responsibility – which is in essence “paying my rent on time”. Kind of just a different way of figuring out the same information.

          1. fposte

            And those employers that want that information get it via the credit check. Don’t waste your time in the cover letter–either the employer doesn’t care or wants to find out from an objective source.

        2. Anon in the UK

          Apart from the fact that people who are not married and/or don’t have kids also manage to pay their bills on time, keep themselves in clean clothes etc, claiming that household management is equivalent to a paid, outside-the-home job can then bring about the question of how, if they think they already have a job, they are going to do another too.

  4. Anonymous

    I was recruiting at a college job fair today, and was handed a resume with birthday, marital status, and health status on it. It was very odd.

    1. Anonymous

      I saw a resume once that included a guy’s age, race, height, and social security number. It was nine pages long in total.

    2. $.02

      foreigners normally have to include all that on their resume; age, sex, and grades from college and high school. I come from a Common Wealth country and it is pretty normal .

      1. Long Time Admin

        In the olden days, this information was always included on resumes, and for those of us who didn’t have resumes (office workers, mostly), they were questions on the job applications. And at the interviews, young women would be asked if they were planning to get married and have children in the next few years.

        Different times.

  5. Anonymous

    This is one topic I have encountered once and suggested that the individual save explaining a work gap for an interview. How do you suggest a stay-at-home mom explain a work gap on the resume, if at all?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Saving it for the interview is great if you have the option, but they may pass you up before you ever get to that stage. So I’d put it in the cover letter.

  6. Jessica

    When I was in high school (not THAT long ago- graduated in 2002!), they taught us how to do a basic resume. We were encouraged to include information about age, marital status, and overall health. I really, really hope they aren’t still teaching high schoolers to do resumes that way…

    1. Julie

      Overall health? What sort of things were they telling you to put in? “Generally healthy with occasional hay fever”? “Can bench press 100 pounds but can only run 1/2 km before getting winded”? “Really bad menstrual cramps will require me to take time off every month”? (I think I’m only mostly being sarcastic. The mind boggles.)

      1. Jessica

        The funniest part was that this information was tacked onto the end of the resume as if these were mandatory questions that we were required to answer or something! It would look like this:

        Age: 28
        Marital status: married
        Overall health: excellent


    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      What?! This is horrifying. Can we contact your high school and find out if this is still going on, and if so, complain to someone? #@*!*$@!

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        JT, I’d actually be totally okay with the Ironman thing on a resume — just like I’m fine with listing rowing or restoring old cars or whatever in a hobbies section. I’d never put a hobbies section on my own resume, personally, but I don’t mind it when people do and it’s certainly more accepted than the family stuff.

    3. I'llDoItTomorrow

      In my high school, we were told that it was the formatting of cover letters that mattered as opposed to the content. They literally said it was fine to limit the letter to, “I am interested in the position you recently advertised. My resume is attached.

      I literally went two years out of school doing this, until I found AAM.

  7. ChristineH

    Alison – I just wanted to say how much I love your rants about job applicants! Granted those out of the workforce a long time might not be fully aware of what is and isn’t appropriate nowadays, but some of what people do include in an application is quite entertaining!

  8. Jamie

    I had kids right out of college and was a SAHM for 15 years. I actually got my first real job by selling professional skills I earned by being a mom.

    The guy who hired me said the store proved I was smart and ballsy which is what he wanted. He also said he would not have even hired me without my little speech.

    I still hate that expression, but appreciate the sentiment.

    I do agree that this example is ridiculous though – unless you’re Michelle Duggar or Kelly Bates having kids isn’t really a professional accomplishment.

    1. Jamie

      *edited to add I do know the difference between “store” and “story,” even if my fingers don’t.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Do you remember what you said? Generally I’m fairly skeptical of the “parenthood prepared me for this job” argument, but if anyone can change my mind, it is probably you.

      1. Anonymous

        I do – its the only time I ever used it because it was my first job. Ever after I just stick to work experience, but at that time it was all I had.

        Background: My eldest son has an uncommon disability that in some ways mimics autism – (severe CAPD and significant learning disabilities) but needed different interventions. I dealt with this the way I deal with anything which is to immerse myself I research and learn everything possible and then throw technology at it.

        In the interview I mentioned super briefly and not in detail that my son had issues and the outlined how when I found a software that was helpful for kids with this condition I contacted the software company and hooked them up with the head of special Ed in our district and was involved in brokering a deal for free software for the early intervention program.

        And that I had been asked by three different school districts to work with other parents on advocacy and due process – helping them understand how to best representative of their child and not being intimidated in a room full of PhDs. My approach that as a parent my seat at the table was as valuable as those with special Ed degrees …I was the only one who specialized in my son.

        I had been asked to give talks to early childhood groups through the schools over the years about the use of technology in teaching language.

        This was back in the day when not even 10% of households had internet access, so a lot of people were new to computers. I would go to the homes of other parents who had purchased intervention software and walk them through specing out what they needed for hardware, to setting up their systems, and basic computer training so they could use the software. Then, as now, it always included tech support. This I did for free, but it lead to other opportunities to do it for others – which was okay money and began my career in IT – albeit freelance.

        I was a business major, so I had gantt charts for his progress for speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapym you name it. it helps to have empirical data when dealing with doctors, etc. Some therapists adopted it and shared my templates with other parents.

        And some soft skill stuff about preparing for Iep meetings, preparing presentations to explain the specifics of his learning issues to teachers who were unfamiliar, my reliance on collecting data and compiling metrics and using them time and again to make the case to get him what he needed – and won every time. How I learned to always make sure Im speaking to the right people in the right way to get what I need.

        I glanced briefly on the issue, no elaboration and no my poor kid – just enough to set the table to showcase what I’ve done and how it can translate to business. They needed someone who could stats and business plans, and light on site IT in addition to office manager duties – he thought my examples showed I knew how to collect and use data to get things done.

        I had never had a full time job. Went from college to marriage and babies…and focused my energy raising my kids. Having a special needs child forced me to gain some applicable skills and I used them – because it’s all I had.

        1. Jamie

          That was me, duh, I don’t know why my iPad keeps defaulting to anonymous – or why I didn’t check. Or why that post looks like it was typed by a team of rabid monkeys.

          I promise, I do know how to formulate actual sentences in English.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          I can see why that would be hugely convincing! I’m going to argue that this wasn’t you talking about “household/parenting” skills, though; this was you talking about a leadership role that you took on in your local schools/community! Definitely persuasive.

          1. Jamie

            Yes, it wasnt about my awesome ability to fold socks, but i never really seperated it from regular parenting. Most of it was just pushing for my kid and panicking about how to get my foot in the door in my late thirties with zero work experience.

            But even though I didn’t think of it that way, I did deliberately focus on achievements involving other adults in ways that I thought would translate.

            I think that’s the key to making the case of using experience relating to parenting or family, it’s to make it crystal clear how the skills are transferable. Make the connections for them – and don’t dwell on the personal – just the activity.

            1. Anonymous_J

              Yeah. That really is above and beyond what I think most people think of when one says, “I was home raising kids.” You were really more of a working mom.

              Go you!

        3. Charles

          Jamie; That is terrific.

          The fact that you used your business knowledge to work through this personal issue is great. (Do most folks even know what Gantt charts are?) And, I agree with AAM, that was a leadership role that you performed, along with advocacy, IT specialization, SME, research, etc. Seeing that experience I would think that you could handle just about any project thrown your way!

          Thank you for sharing. Hope that your son is doing well.

          1. Jamie

            Thanks so much – he’s doing great. Sometimes I think about the doctor who gave us our first misdiagnosis when he was 18 months old. He said he was certain he would never speak and I would be lucky if he was potty trained before puberty. I resolved at the time to make sure he would reach his potential, whatever that would be. The goal wasn’t for “normal.”. The goal was for happy, healthy, challenged, and safe every day of his life…same goal for my other kids.

            At the time that was said to me I was 24 with no experience with special needs kids – a mom of a toddler, preganant with number two and providing hospice care for my mom who was dying of cancer. If I had a time machine with the confidence I have now I’d lay into the doctor for making lifelong pronouncements about a little baby – projecting bleak futures isn’t helpful – the hell?

            One of life’s major lessons – doctors arent always right.

            He’s doing great – he’s 21 now and in college majoring in art when he’s not borrowing my car or working on his anime graphic novel. He does worry sometimes that not working while in college will hurt him when he goes to get a job, but with the severity of his learning disabilities college is a full time job and then some. I know the lack of experience will be a hurdle he’ll have to clear – but hopefully when the time comes Alison will have some awesome advice on how to address it!

            Lds are tough, because due to processing speed issues he needs a little more time to acquire new skills, but once he has it he’s just fine – learning disabilities are not reflective of intellect…not everyone gets that, though. For example he took longer to learn chess when he joined the chess team freshman year in highschool. By the end of the semester he was winning tournaments and was president senior year.

            Didn’t mean to ramble, but there are a lot of hiring managers who read here and I wanted to put in a good word for the kids like him who may have very good reasons for not having a bank of work experience while in school. Sometimes it necessary and not due to being lazy or spoiled.

            1. Charles

              “The goal wasn’t for “normal.”.”

              Meh, take it from someone often called “quirky” (by friends, no less!), “normal” is over rated.

              As a trainer (with an education background) I totally get what you’re saying about his learning curve; so, let me add as a self-promotion – hey! hiring folks, this is why you need to hire professional trainers instead of thinking that SMEs can train! I’ve worked with SMEs and managers who would not have seen your son’s potential; but, rarely, have I worked with professional trainer’s who would have missed it.

        4. Kimberlee

          This is a really great example of how much you really CAN do on your own… if you need to learn how to do something, and want to make a difference, there are plenty of resources out there you can use to make it happen. There’s definitely things you need to learn on the job, but there’s so much we can learn and do for ourselves even in a bad economy!

  9. Elizabeth

    If you have been out of the workforce for a while because of caring for children, an aging parent, etc, it is probably best to explain this in your cover letter and say how you have kept up-to-date in your field or what you are doing to now to catch up. And some places with applications will ask you “reason for leaving” where you can list again that you left to take care of family. You still wouldn’t need to list their names or put it on your resume under experience. It does make sense to list any volunteer experience or if you make a list of skills, yes, maybe there are some things you know from your at home experience that you can include.

  10. Anonymous

    I was peeping the linkedin profile of a guy I used to date and he included his paternity leave on his profile, which was set up like a resume. He said it was the hardest job he ever had. It actually made me think a little more positively about him since he was a selfish jerk when we dated, but I can’t see it being a positive for employers.

  11. Lemon Meringue

    Wait, it’s common to include this type of information on resumes in other countries? Which countries (or geographic regions)? Interesting!

    1. Anonymous

      It’s not common to do it in the UK. It’s definitely not alright. But people still do it. I mean, really, I don’t need to know you left your job due to a stressful divorce. Genuinely, I don’t. I understand that people might want to try to explain gaps, or leaving a job for no clear reason, and of course it’s harder to get sacked here, and usually reflects badly, so that factors in as well. But please, just don’t explain in a way that runs headlong over the boundaries of politeness and falls nose-first into oversharing! As a recruiter, it raises real concerns about judgement.

      1. Guest

        Many moons ago, when I was growing up in India, we had to state father/husband’s name and religion on job applications; had to also include date of birth and a recent passport photo.

      2. Anonymous

        When I conducted interviews with candidates in India I learned very quickly that if I said “tell me about your background” or any other variation that didn’t specify that I wanted to hear about work, I was going to get a detailed family history, personal history, and other things totally unrelated to work history. I was also surprised to see a candidate screening interview form done by an employee in India that included information the candidate’s spouse (including their work history), and if they were female and had a dangerous commute etc.

      3. Charles

        Not trying to bash anyone or any country.

        To our North American/Western culture it is strange to include things such as this; But, to some other cultures it is a big deal.

        Again, not trying to bash another culture; In India, although, the caste system is outlawed it is very much alive and well and matters to almost everyone there – you can pretty much tell what caste some is by their name. And while marriage to someone outside your own caste is rare (not surprising, given that over 90 percent of marriages are arranged – another strange idea to us Westerners) it would be equally important to know what caste one is married into.

        Tha same is somewhat true for other parts of Asia; especially the Far East. There family trumps all else; family even comes BEFORE nation. Culturally speaking, Americans (or even most Westerners) will define ourselves by WHAT we do; in the Far East, folks define themselves by their family relationships; what you do doesn’t come into play at all.

        Here, in the US, we often talk about networking to get a job. In Asia, and especially, the Far East, there is no need to talk about “networking” as it is something so basic to getting anything, whether it be a job, a business deal, or sometimes to even just rent an apartment – you have to “know” someone.

        All of this is one thing that puts Americans at a disadvantge when dealing with folks in Asia – we, Americans, come across as too cold and business-like. Surely, most of us have seen the news stories about Allied troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, if they want to win over the hearts and minds of a village they must first sit down with the tribal leaders and share a cup of tea before doing anything else. In many cultures in Asia, to not do so would seem as rude as not saying “hello” or “how do you do?” (hmm? wasn’t there a discussion about that the other day?) to someone in the US.

        You want to buy a rug in the US – go to the store, choose the one that you like, buy it, and take it home. You want to buy a rug in Asia – you go to the store, sit down and have a cup of tea or coffee with the rug merchant, talk about each other’s family, each other’s likes, the weather, yada, yada, yada. Do this for a couple of days so that you become friends with the rug merchant THEN you are ready to buy a rug (wait, let me rephrase that then you are ready to start LOOKING at rugs! it might be a while yet before you are ready to buy) And this isn’t silly to them. The rug merchant is being friendly because he wants to make a sale, the customer is being friendly because he wants to get a “friend’s discount.” And it would be even better if you found a connection with each other during your “talks,” such as maybe your third cousin lives in the same village as his second cousin – great we have a connection! Silly and a waste of time to us; but considered a necessity to them.

        So, it really isn’t surprising that this part of their culture carries over into a resume – an idea adopted from the West; but customized to their culture.

        Again, not trying to say one culture’s norm is better than the other. And yea, we can laugh at those who do stuff like this in OUR culture; but, when dealing with folks in THEIR culture we do better when prepared. The same is true for us, we had better learn our own culture too!

        (sorry to go off topic; but I thought a little cultural-differences lesson might be of interest)

        P.S., this is even further off topic; but some might find interesting. American and Western women – don’t get too offended by this; but, in the Far East, in traditional restaurants it would not be unusal for a woman to be served a smaller helping of rice than a man even though you are paying the same price. To a woman in the Far East, she would be offended if she was given a helping of rice the same size as a man’s – such an equal-sized serving of rice would be an indication that the servers consider her to be a glutton!!

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          This stuff is so interesting! And it only seems silly to us because our own cultural socialization that tells us what’s normal and what isn’t has a strong hold over us too.

        2. JT

          Such huge generalizations about Asia, especially in the rug anecdote. Asia is a massive place with a dozen or so major cultures and hundreds of smaller ones. “Them” about such a huge and diverse place is not a great term to use either. “Far East” is pretty dated too.

          PS – I lived in one place Asia for almost two years and never had that experience. I didn’t even see it among people from where I was living. Not even close. Shopping was in and out. Not saying it doesn’t happen someplaces (Asia is huge, remember) but just saying.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Charles did say “other parts of Asia” when he first introduced the topic; I think it’s reasonable not to keep specifying that as he continued into more detail.

            1. JT

              While family is undoubtedly important where I lived (Southeast China), this statement is a bit over-the-top: “in the Far East, folks define themselves by their family relationships;”

              And this is just wrong: “what you do doesn’t come into play at all.”

          2. JT

            One other thing – while it’s good to be aware of other cultures and not just laugh at things as silly because they are different, the emphasis on family origin isn’t silly in my view, it’s just bad. It’s part of cultures that’s evolved to keep the powerful in power and less powerful groups out of power. There’s a reason the caste system is under attack – it’s not only immoral, it also wastes human talent where smart people born to the wrong family are kept from advancing in society.

        3. Listmonkey

          Erm, I was born and raised in what you called the “Far East,” and many of these are simply outdated stereotypes. East Asia is a big place with diverse cultures. You’re volunteering to talk about something you have no idea about.

        4. Charles

          wow, did I ruffle some feathers here? Sorry, that wasn’t my intention. I was simply trying to respond to some comments that saw something as odd and trying to explain why, perhaps, it wasn’t really so odd afterall.

          Yes, in fact, these are “generalizations.” They are generalizations because this is a blog comment, should I really have wasted so much space putting in all the obligatory disclaimers? (especially, since I am going way off topic now)

          Far East might be a dated term in academia (and other liberal circles who prefer “East Asia”); but, depending upon where you are the term Far East is stilled used by folks in the Far East (see “The Far East Book Company” for just one example). How about the terms “The Middle East” and “The West” – do you consider those terms to be dated as well? Granted “Near East” and “Occidental” are dated ( don’t tell the folks at Occidential College that I said that!); but, I would say the other terms are not.

          And I certainly hope that you didn’t misunderstand my comment as defending the caste system!

          As AAM states below, ” . . . own cultural socialization that tells us what’s normal and what isn’t has a strong hold over us too.” The same is true with one’s own life experiences.

  12. The Other Dawn

    I think I should list all of my cats (I don’t have kids). Herding cats is an impressive skill.

    1. Anonymous_J

      Interestingly, depending on the organization, I DO touch on my work as an animal rescue-type. (Mostly for animal advocacy organizations.)

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        One bit of advice there, since I used to work in that world: Make sure that you’re not saying something that will be philosophically at odds with their approach. For instance, one thing I saw a lot in that world was people talking in their cover letters about how they worked against euthanasia in animal shelters when the org they were applying to was a supporter of it (due to the inability of shelters to care for the millions of animals they took in each year). Definitely do not want to debate that issue here, just making a point of making sure whatever you’re saying is philosophically aligned :)

        1. Anonymous_J

          Oh, yes. I already made that mistake once. I mixed up the names of two organizations, whose names are VERY SIMILAR, and ended up going on and on in my cover letter about how adamantly I lean one way (agreed–not going into that here) I leaned.

          Realized my mistake a few days later, facepalmed, and was not surprised when they did not contact me.

          I will say though, that despite my philosophy being at odds with theirs, I still respect the heck out of the work they do. They are MILES ahead of my own local organization!

  13. Riki

    We just got a resume like this. He had an “Accomplishments” section and, in addition to his professional milestones, he included “A great dad!” I mean, that’s wonderful and all, but this has nothing to do with the job and I have no way of verifying it. What am I going to do? Call his kids? He could be a crap dad, for all I know!

    What’s more, the position we are trying to fill requires a lot of travel. Like 2-3 weeks each month, every month. This made very clear in the job post. I know plenty of parents who devote crazy hours to work because they must, but I cannot imagine why “great dad!” would choose to look for something that would require him to spend so much time away from home (he is already employed at a much fancier company than ours).

    1. fposte

      This presumably opens up these accomplishments as lines of questioning in the interview. “So William’s twenty now–how many years has he been living on his own? What are Kara’s SAT scores? What chair is Lee in the orchestra?”

      1. fposte

        Sorry, wrong place–this was supposed to go at the end.

        But I do think that all your applicant has to do, Riki, is show you that “World’s Greatest Dad” mug. I mean, if it’s on a mug, it’s got to be true, right?

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        These questions are even funnier (to me) when you know that I purposely used Battlestar Galactica names there (having changed the real names in order to not out this woman).

  14. Kit M.

    My mom now manages a small staff after 25 years of not having a job outside the home. Whenever I ask her about how she deals with the challenges (she has some rather idiosyncratic employees), she says it’s just like raising kids.

    That being said, she would not list us on a resume. I can just imagine her look disgust if anyone suggested she do so.

  15. Shares the office

    I insist you know my dog’s names. All of them, including the ones at the Rainbow Bridge. I might include a rainbow graphic just to make it clear which ones are not still around.

    1. Anonymous

      But I want pictures of the dogs too! And let’s not forget any other furry creatures and feathered friends!

  16. Nethwen

    I remember Mom telling me that there was a time when it was a bonus for a man to bring his wife to a job interview, sometimes it was even expected. From my understanding, this showed that he was grounded in the community, mature, responsible, and that his wife supported his career.

  17. Julie

    Having read this and a number of other “outrageous things candidates do” posts, I have to ask… how many people actually seem to be this clueless? If you get, say, 100 applications, how many of them have these sorts of immediate “what the heck were you thinking?!” markers, how many seem like run-of-the-mill job seekers (standard resume, no cover letter or generic cover letter, etc.), and how many are actually stand-out candidates (tailored cover letter and CV, clearly shows thoughtfulness, etc.)?

    I’ve never done any hiring, but this has been a question at the back of my mind for a while.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      It’s pretty hard to quantify, but if I had to guess, in the average group of 100 applications, I’d say 4-5 really stand out, 8-10 have “what were you thinking” errors (could be more, depending on the job), and the rest are pretty run-of-the mill. That’s why I push the cover letter stuff so hard — it will rocket you to the top of the pack.

        1. Jamie

          Is that across the board, irrespective of the position?

          I’m curious if some fields tend to turn out better cover letters/resumes than others. I would assume (based on no research) that those in communication or marketing might be a little better at that than some of us tech types.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            For the jobs I hire for, it’s been pretty consistent, with the exception of IT, where it’s even rarer to get a good cover letter (and I’ve just had to resign myself to there being an IT exception). You would think that you might see differences with, say, really senior level jobs — but no.

            1. Jamie

              Interesting, so your excellent cover letter advice is even more helpful for those of us in IT. I’m going to stop referring my fellow keyboard monkeys to this site – I could lose my advantage!

  18. Sarah

    I work as an archivist and I’ve seen a lot of U.S. resumes from the 1960s. From what I’ve seen it was common for men and women here to include age, marital status, height, weight and health categories.

  19. Anonymous

    Back when I was a librarian I once had a woman that kept coming into the computer lab, applying for jobs. I got to chatting with her and in the course of the conversation she showed me her resume. Her contact email, I kid you not, read ” frazzledmotheroffive”
    I made her change the email and she got the very next job she applied for…when she came in to tell me I didn’t get a word of thanks (grrrrrr)….she just smiled and said ” I knew G*d would provide.” It was all I could do to keep saying “Yeah, G*d provided ME!”

    1. Anonymous

      I completely understand your frustration, but if you keep going into these situations thinking people are going to be thanking you up and down, especially these days, you are only going to be disappointed. But I honestly do understand. I have helped others in various situations and I’m still waiting for the thank you. And plus, we really shouldn’t be going into these situations expecting a thank you.

    2. Anonymous

      Wait wait, I once got a resume with the email *redacted_software_name*-JediMaster. Everyone was laughing at it. But I knew the guy, and he truly is a Master. We would have been beyond lucky to get him. We were not quick enough to hire him, sadly.

      Sometimes, standing out, even in a silly way, is very effective advertising.

  20. Kathryn T.

    I think I’ve told this story here before, but it is so relevant I can’t not share! I have a friend who worked for HR for a Very Large Software Company, and she got a resume for a paralegal position which included, under Other Experience/Accomplishments, “Birthed five children vaginally with no anaesthetic.” Of all the words you never want to include on your resume, I think VAGINALLY has to be in the top five. (Unless you’re a doula, midwife, or OB/GYN.)

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      You have NOT told that story here before — I would have remembered that, as I will now remember it for ever after. This might be one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard.

      1. Kathryn T.

        My friend said “I couldn’t even read the resume. No matter what I tried to look at, my eyes just kept getting sucked back to that word. VAGINAL VAGINAL VAGINAL VAGINAL VAGINAL.”

        Needless to say, they did not invite her to an interview.

  21. mh_76

    Someone mentioned the inclusion/exclusion of hobbies a while back in the comments. I’ve been in a debate with a couple of well-meaning relatives and they insist that I should include the extracurricular music groups I play in on my resume. I say that I shouldn’t because I’ve never been paid for music (and didn’t Major in college) and because they’re not relevant to my professional interests. If, in my researching of any names I learn, I find that whichever person I’m supposed to talk to/meet with is musical, I might mention them but that hasn’t yet come to pass. Or if I apply to a no-music job at a company that is musical in nature (like the local instrument manufacturing co.), I would definitely include them because doing so would speak to why I would want to work for that company…should a job be listed, that is. What say you?

    1. Jamie

      If the job involves math skills I would mention it. There is a strong correlation between musical ability and more highly developed math skills.

      It’s not a universal truth (I’m good at math and have no musical ability whatsoever unless you count downloading songs on iTunes) but its common enough to be relevant.

      1. Anonymous

        I’ve heard that before but my mum is the opposite of you – she’s a violin teacher with no math skills!

    2. fposte

      It might also be worth thinking about what this participation can say about your character. Have you been playing in these for a comparatively long time, indicating commitment and persistence? Has the group performed for school, hospital, special needs audiences, indicating a community spirit? Has it traveled, indicating your flexibility? Then an annotated entry with a description of the group’s specific achievements can indeed help fill out a picture of you in a way that can be useful. Not all prospective employers will see it that way, but some will.

      If it’s “We play in a garage once a month or so as an excuse to drink beer,” then I’d leave it off :-).

      1. mh_76

        Jamie – I’m looking outside the hard math world but there is a research-proven correlation between music and intelligence.

        fposte – 6 years for the longest one since I finished college…but since you mention “comparatively long time”, could I (hypothetically, of course) include an almost-continuous history going 25+ years back to 4th grade band? I say hypothetically because that would be silly but the question is still worth posing.

        One group performs mainly in nursing homes; one group buys time slots at the local venue, sells tickets, performs a few formal concerts per year, & plays occasionally at a Historical venue; the summer group plays at a major venue 1x/year; one (monthly-meeting) group plays when asked for small-ticket events (I haven’t perf’d with them yet); one group (also monthly-meeting) plays at an annual private party. The first group travels about every 10 years & I’ve been away once. But since you mention travel, should I (hypothetically again) include my HS band’s trip to Paris?

        I do enjoy the occasional glass of a good-tasting beer…or wine…or… but I’m not a big Drinker and I won’t drink anything I don’t like. The groups are concert bands (think HS…except that we’re grown-ups), chamber groups, and I think I’m still on an orchestra sub-list or 2. All are night/weekend things.

        The other (though minor) reason that I’m hesitant to add them is that I try to keep my resume to 2 pages. There is some debate about the “ideal” length (I’m ~13 yrs out of college) but I think that 2 pages is enough.

        1. mh_76

          It’s not “serious musician” stuff but I do continue on even when I’m not in-between jobs.

        2. fposte

          Think of your resume as drawing a picture of you, not simply listing all your credentials. I’d definitely recommend this credit if it says something useful about your contribution to a workplace that your job history doesn’t; if you’ve had a solid work history for the thirteen years since college, it’s less important, and it’s certainly not worth moving to a third page for.

          Time in a particular group could be telling, but not time overall–the point being made is that you stay with a group for a while, and most people are going to assume you started in grade or high school anyway. Nor is it worth including any musical activity you had before graduating college or any activity at all you had before graduating high school, unless the building you designed still houses your town council or that’s when you got your Nobel Prize.

          I’m meaning something like: “Played euphonium with local groups including Old Scratch’s Chamber Marching Band and Ye Olde Wind-Afflicted Players, performing at local nursing homes and schools and in the community swimming pool summer series, for over six years.” I’d find that an interesting credit that tells me something about you. I don’t know that everybody would–hence the “not worth going to three pages” thing–but I think it speaks to certain skills and characteristics that aren’t just musical. Basically, it falls under the “extensive volunteer experience” category.

          1. mh_76

            I agree completely. The vol. experience category is covered – I have a fair amount of other volunteering on my resume already because I’m at a supervisor+ level in those activities (more than 10 total vol. years at one of them) and would eventually like to reach that level (or higher) in the paid world, even though the volunteer things themselves aren’t prof. interests. And the vol. things fill in a few gaps (the years-only approach helps too).

        3. Camellia

          As a long time reader of AAM, when I found myself on the IT job market after 28 years with the same company I created the perfect two page resume and posted it.

          Not much happened. Then an IT recruiter with whom I spoke said it was “too thin”, that I needed “a lot more detail”. So I created a nine page very detailed resume and re-posted. I was flooded with calls, had one phone interview and landed the contract.

          Now I notice that most IT resumes that I see are long and detailed. I guess it’s just a different market from the average “business” market.

          1. Jamie

            That’s interesting, and not just because it makes me feel less weird about my resume being longer than most.

            I wonder if it’s because we’re so used to automatically kicking stuff back when we don’t have enough information – as well as spending our careers wading through detailed specs to pull out the information we need. Maybe this has bleed into hiring practices in the field?

    3. Anonymous_J

      I’m not paid for the journalistic work I do on the side, and I am not personally making money (yet) from the business I own; however, you can BET I’m including those on my resume!

      It’s not about what you are being paid to do. It is about what you are accomplishing. If volunteering is valid, why not other sorts of non-paying work, as long as you are very serious about it and apply yourself wholeheartedly?

  22. Staci Witten

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Our job search coaches review resumes and assist job hunters daily. For a stay-at-home parent returning to work outside the home, this mistake is very common. We highly recommend deleting family information and focus on the leadership and management accomplishments as well as developed skills. Examples of successes may include managing a staff of volunteers, project management, membership recruitment, communications, and budgets! Have you seen a PTA or Booster Club budget? Again, thanks for posting this tip!!!

  23. ThatHRGirl

    The worst I tend to see are irrelevant high school accomplishments like “Prom Queen”, “Junior Varsity Tennis” or “Yearbook club”. I will have to keep an eye out for anything more entertaining :)

  24. HDL

    I saw this kind of thing on a (very long) CV of an established researcher/clinician. She wasn’t searching for a job, though, she was just coming to give a seminar at my institution and her credentials came along with the emailed invitation for the talk. Her field is oncology and reproduction so maybe listing her own family on her CV looked good to her patients? But why would her patients see her CV anyway?

    1. Heather B

      I just shared this post with a bunch of family members hanging out in the kitchen with me, and my mother (a career academic) said that she added her children to her CV when she went up for tenure. Apparently children are relevant in academia because when you’re under consideration for tenure, they’re supposed to take into account legitimate extra activities/commitments, such as having children, that may have affected your ability to produce a certain quantity of research/results in a short time.

  25. Anonymous

    i can tell you that the skills you learn raising four children ARE relevant to the workplace and having done both, the workplace is a doddle in comparison!

  26. Grandmama

    Maybe the person was attempting to show how she had children and still kept up with a career? Just a thought. I think your comments are not only anti-mother but just plain rude. If you can’t be proud of your children, then heaven help us all.

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