your sex life stays off of your resume, and other Valentine’s Day lessons

Never let it be said that you cannot learn important lessons about romance at Ask a Manager!  Here are several of them:

1. Do not ask your wife to accept a job offer on your behalf.

2. Do not ask an unknown IT department (or any IT department, really) to solve your marriage problems.

3. It’s not ideal to have your boss be your boyfriend.

4. You don’t want to even work in the same department, for that matter.

5. Do not assume your wife’s boss is coming on to her just because he asks her to lunch.

6. Your coworkers might have an affair, and it will gross you out.

7. Do not date silly people who might continue to work with you after you break up.

8. Your ex is not a job reference.

9. If you ask a coworker out on a date and she turns you down, do not then sulk around the office.

10. Your sex life stays off of your resume.

{ 25 comments… read them below }

  1. KellyK*

    I’m still curious about whether there’s any way to sanitize #10 and remove the squick factor. Admittedly, it’s only worth even attempting if you have volunteer experience there that’s a major selling point for the job you’re applying for, that you don’t have other equally good experience for. Like if you’ve been the webmaster for both your knitter’s club and your “things AAM doesn’t need to know about” club, just mention the knitting one.

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

    1. Aaron*

      I’d say no. Non-work activities go on a resume either (1) because the skills are job-related, e.g. “treasurer for local charity,” or (2) to make a personal connection with the interviewer/humanize yourself, e.g. “enjoy 19th-century English literature” (which I have on my resume, and is the reason I have an amazing job lined up in May).

      The problem is that a “squicky” listing helps for #1 but hurts for #2, and the only way to sanitize it is to leave out so much that it’s no longer helpful for #1–people who are good at reading resumes are already suspicious of vague descriptions.

      I could see using it further along in the process. For example, if you apply for a job involving money but in the interview they tell you they’re very worried that you’ve never handled money, you might be able to bring up your experience as treasurer for “Squicky Org.” At this point you know it’s very helpful for factor (1) and you’re sitting there, hopefully projecting that you are a nice and regular person, so you may be able to mitigate the damage done to factor (2). Still very risky, but a calculated risk.

      1. JfC*

        I put some volunteer work I did as a sex educator, which I think is borderline squicky, but still useful. I use the term ‘health educator’ euphemistically when applying to more conservative organizations, and I still get interviews. I also changed the word “Queer” in the organization’s title to “LGBT.” I don’t think you can euphemise away the squick of a BDSM organization, even in an interview. Kinda sucks.

        1. KellyK*

          Not unless you were really generic, and again, you’re taking the risk that the vagueness will look shady.

        2. Anonymous*

          I have a similar problem, in that I write for a Pagan blog (a popular one, locally, and a branch of a national Pagan news network.) I’m ROCKING that (volunteer) job and picking up skills in a way that is just not happening at my day job.

          I feel my experience there could REALLY help with my job search, but there’s the issue that it’s a religious blog, and a Pagan one at that, which is a problem for a lot of people, sadly.

          It can’t just be easy, can it? I feel your pain (pun NOT intended!)

          1. KellyK*

            That does suck. I think it might be easier to hedge about a religious blog because religion is a protected class and employers don’t necessarily *want* that info when they interview you, because they don’t want any implication that it was a factor in their decision.

            So just describing it as a religious blog and not saying which religion would seem far less shady, right? Or would they just think “cult”?

            1. Anonymous*

              I responded to AAM’s comment. The name of the blog says it all. It has a very straightforward name.

              I feel that personal bias would kill me in the process right there.

          2. Jenett*

            Anonymous – another Pagan here who has some similar issues with wanting to reference community projects. In my case, helped start a conference and was on our Pagan Pride (public education about Pagan religions, for everyone else) board for a number of years before I moved out of the area. I’m also a librarian, so being able to demonstrate things like community outreach events is highly relevant for some jobs.

            What I’ve gone with is something like “Planned community events for 300-1200 people as part of a non-profit interfaith religious organization. Duties have included [whatever is relevant: programming, being hotel chair, being the org’s VP while we went through the 501(c)3 process, etc.]. [And then a sentence about specific measurable outcomes.]

            It’s in a section on my resume labelled “Additional Skills and Experience” where I include things like software I’m comfortable using/web design information/etc. that isn’t linked to a particular job.

            I’ve had people ask me about the item, but the wording makes it clear they’d be asking about religion, and everyone who’s asked has been fine with my just talking about the duties. The couple of times I’ve wanted to have a reference related to it, I’ve basically said “The name of the org reveals my religious affiliation, and I normally prefer to keep that separate from work.” and once or twice worked out a “Here’s the reference, I’ll tell them you might call, but ask them not to mention the specific name or religion” deal. Most of the time, I’ve had plenty of other references, and they can figure out I know my stuff in the duties by asking me practical “how did you do this” questions.

            (I’m an occasional commenter around here under the name I use for professional stuff – I use a different one for Pagan community stuff because of the possible impact on job/etc. options – but in this case, if you’d like to get in touch, have a link to my Pagan stuff website and its contact form.)

  2. Kelly O*

    This post could be subtitled – Things I Really Wish We Did Not Have to Say Out Loud.

    Here is another tidbit of romantic advice – when someone sends you a gift, for Valentine’s Day or whatever, at the office, it is normally polite to say “thank you” and not call them to complain because the bear is small, the candy is chocolate and you don’t like chocolate and where are my damn flowers.

    1. It’s rude.
    2. Those of us with significant others who think sticks of memory, chains for your bike, or a coffee grinder are completely romantic gifts are sometimes sort of quietly wishing our partner had a love language that did not involve electronics. (True story – I love my husband and the earrings for our anniversary were a total shocker, because when he gets me something shiny, it usually goes inside that big black computer case.)

    1. KellyK*

      Oh, my. That is incredibly rude. I think I would’ve looked at them and said “Wow, I wish my husband would get me flowers.”

      (My husband is awesome in many ways, but romantic gestures, especially those associated with holidays, are nto among them.)

    2. The gold digger*

      Kelly, your posts always make me laugh! Yes, it is rude to complain about gifts to the giver. That’s what anonymous blogs are for.

      My husband is an engineer, but speaks both romance and electronics. He gave me jewelry for our first Christmas together, but then I asked for a fancy garbage can when we got engaged instead of a ring. I don’t like wearing rings.

      PS We also took a nice trip to Paris with what would have been the ring money. I am not completely unromantic.

    3. Jamie*

      Can I add to Kelly’s excellent advice?

      If someone in your office gets flowers, and you know they’re married don’t ask, “Oh, are those from your husband?”

      First time in freaking forever he sent me flowers at work and I was asked that four times without a trace of irony.

      I just told everyone no, they were actually from someone else’s husband…now I just have to find out who.

      Seriously people.

      (and Kelly – shiny computer stuff is super romantic, it is a good man who knows his way around a computer store!)

  3. Aaron*

    I hate you for posting this–great way to distract me for a good long while :)

    The interesting questions, the well-written answers, the comments that give me an urge to respond to questions from 2009…

    This is really a great blog! Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

  4. The Right Side*

    Oh my goodness – the whole writing in “for” the spouse or “about” the spouse just scream of insecurity and jealousy issues. I know that I’m not the majority here but they are incredibly entertaining – and I can’t help but think they are spam, too. :-P

    And the coworkers concerned about the possibility of an affair between other coworkers! Grow up, people!! For the love of that is Holy! This is not high school! You could destory marriages, careers, families and livelihoods based on an assumption… you know what happens when we ASSuME things… it makes an ASS out of U and ME. Just sayin’.

    And as far as sexual orientation in a resume… I guess it is relative. You obviously want to list volunteer work and more specifically leadership volunteer work – so if you were the president of Bondaged Transexuals of America – I can see how that could be difficult to put on a resume but I could also see why you’d want to… ;-)

  5. Lee*

    I couldn’t believe that post and some of the comments about the male boss/female employee going to lunch. One in particular about that not being a “normal” relationship. This is the 21st century….right?

  6. Anonymous*

    Too bad you couldn’t somehow sneak in the story about the coworker who moonlights in the office bathroom during the afternoon hours!

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