mentioning marriage and kids on a resume, interviewing in a foreign language, and more

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

1. Mentioning marriage and kids on a resume

I currently include on my resume (at the very bottom) personal information — church membership, hobbies, and info about my family. I know that in an interview, it would be illegal to ask about marriage, family, etc. However, I don’t mind including this info on my resume because I would only consider roles that would allow me some flexibility as a young mom (like the ability to leave early if a child is sick, etc.).

Bottom line, I’m very satisfied with my current position and not job hunting, but for future reference, is including this personal information unprofessional?

Here’s the copy and past from my resume:

Personal Background
Married for 9 years to John Doe; and mother of two children, Joe and Jenny
Member of Anytown Presbyterian Church for 10 years; currently serving as an active elder, supporting the work of the Fellowship Committee.
Interests: Reading; cooking; gardening; hiking; canoeing; sport fishing; domestic and overseas church mission work; and supporting local animal rescue and pet adoption organizations.

Nooooo, don’t do that! You absolutely, positively, 100% must take off any reference to your marriage or your kids. You should also remove the mention of church, unless you’re including it to mention a leadership role you hold there. In the U.S. at least, including things like that is so very much not the convention that when a candidate includes that kind of thing, it ends up looking really out of touch with professional norms. You just cannot. It’s going to get you rejected — not because hiring managers don’t want to hire moms, but because you’ll look like you don’t know or don’t care about professional boundaries.

You can leave the interests part of it if you really want to (most hiring managers won’t find it relevant but it’s not going to hurt you), but it’s unlikely to strengthen your candidacy and thus is taking up space that could instead be used for something that would.

2. Part of my interview was in a foreign language

I recently went through the worst interview of my life. At the very end of the interview, I was extremely taken aback as I was asked to sell something in a foreign language — one that I said I had fluency on my resume. I flunked it, terribly. Afterwards, my interviewers started talking about how they were worried about my nonexistent sales skills (for a customer rep position), my “unavailability,” even though they knew I was a full-time student (i.e., when I said I was good for weekends and I could make myself available on weekdays if needed to…to which they replied I was taking “too many courses” and should ask to fix my school schedule ASAP, even without knowing if I’d get the job).

My friends have told me to take it as a lesson – but of what? Even though I have “fluency” (i.e., completely understand listening – but have hard time speaking) should I not have put it on my resume? I feel that if I’m not, I’m short selling myself, and in all my jobs that I’ve had, my language level hasn’t deterred my performance at all. I live in a city where have this foreign language is an extreme asset as well.

What should I do now? Do I even other doing a follow-up thank-you…? I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life!

Well, I think the problem is that your resume is saying you’re fluent but you’re not actually fluent! (Fluency means that you’re able to speak the language well, not just understand it). So you’ve got to change that on your resume to more accurately represent your actual skill level with the language.

As for this job, it sounds like they were telling you it isn’t the strongest fit. If you remain interested in it regardless, send a thank-you note, reiterate your interest, and perhaps address the language issue. That may or may not help, but it certainly won’t hurt.

3. Freelancer who turned in subpar work won’t give me info to pay her

I have a weird situation. I’m fairly new to my organization and i had to pay a freelancer to translate a report. When I received the report (five minutes before the deadline) and it was full of grammar mistakes and mistranslations, I was quite annoyed and decided not to hire her again. I was planning not to tell her, but she specifically asked for feedback, so I told her that we really appreciated it but the work wasn’t up to standard.

She replied with a really sad email saying that she’s sorry, thanked me for the opportunity, and then refused to accept payment for the work because it was subpar. I replied immediately saying that of course we want to pay her and asked again for her bank details, but she hasn’t replied. She hasn’t given us any details that would allow me to send a check — no address, no bank details, nothing.

Do I chase her up on this, or let it go? I work for a charity, so I’m not exactly keen on shelling out a lot of money for bad work, but we had an agreement and I think we should honor it.

Yes, make one more attempt. Say this to her: “We feel strongly about paying you for the work we contracted with you for. Not paying you isn’t an option, so can you please provide me with (whatever info you need)?” If she doesn’t respond to that, you’ve done all you reasonably can.

4. Contacting the person who currently has the job I’m applying for

I applied for a position about four days ago and, after doing research, have decided it’s probably best just to sit back and wait to hear from the organization. However, would it at any point be a good idea to contact someone who is currently in the same position and ask to have a conversation about what their day-to-day work is like? It’s a pretty niche position, so it’s not like I can find a lot of people to ask. Is this too aggressive or could it help me get an interview/help get the job if I contacted the employee after an interview was requested?

Don’t do that at this stage. If you haven’t even been interviewed yet, it’s premature to ask to take up someone’s time like that. The reality is that, statistically speaking, you’re likely not to be interviewed (that’s just the math on number of applicants versus number who are interviewed), so you don’t want to ask for a favor that is likely to end up not being useful to you. IF YOU’re interviewed and IF you make it to the finalist stage, you could certainly ask your interviewer if they can put you in touch with the person currently in the position (but I’d go through them rather than reaching out directly, so that you don’t appear to be circumventing their hiring process), but wait to get to that stage first.

(Also, definitely don’t do this only as a way to look impressive; you should only do this if you genuinely have questions for that person. It’s usually obvious when people are doing the former, and it’s generally pretty irritating.)

5. My daughter’s employer didn’t pay her for her last two days of work

My daughter was employed at a local chain eatery from age 15 until 18. Throughout her time there, she either worked a 3:30-10 or 10-4 shift. She never received a lunch or dinner break or any break at all, even when requested. She was”picked on” by her boss for the better part of her last year with the company. She has since quit after her boss called her a “f-ing idiot.” They did not pay her for her last two days of work.

I would like some legal or professional leverage prior to speaking with their human resources this week.

First, you should not be making that call at all. Your daughter is an adult and she should handle this on her own; in fact, most reasonable employers won’t speak to someone other than the employee about personnel issues (assuming she’s not a minor, which she’s not). So don’t call for her. Instead, coach her on how to make the call herself. Not only does that avoid the unprofessionalism of an employee’s mother calling on her behalf, but you’ll also be teaching her how to handle this kind of thing on her own, which will help her in the future.

When she calls, she should point out that federal and state laws require employees to be paid for all time worked. She should also google the name of your state plus “last paycheck law” and she’ll find out how long employers in your state have before they must pay final wages (as well as whether your stage tacks on penalties if that payment is late). She can then cite that in her conversation with the employer, saying something like, “As you know, Virginia law requires that departing employees receive their full wages no later than the next scheduled payday, and fines employers a $1,000 penalty per violation for not complying with this law. I’m still awaiting payment for X hours on DATES, totaling $X. I’d like to pick up that check on Wednesday — will that work?”

{ 589 comments… read them below }

    1. Jen RO

      I don’t know if this is common in the US (or whatever country OP #1) is in, but in my country most candidates divide their language skills in three categories: speaking, writing and reading. So you would get something like:

      English
      ======
      Speaking – Intermediate
      Reading – Advanced
      Writing – Intermediate

      (Or using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages to indicate the level, but I’m guessing the OP is in the US and this won’t apply.)

        1. Jen RO

          Alison, do you ever sleep?! I’m always surprised when I comment in (my) morning and my links get approved.

      1. Myrin

        This is how it’s often done in my country as well, although I think it’s less common regarding jobs where language skills can come in handy, meaning it’s good to know about them as an employer, but aren’t really essential to the work itself. Alternatively, I’ve seen many people list their general skills in a language as the lowest denominator of the speaking/reading/writing ability – so, to take Jen RO’s example above, they’d write “English: intermediate”. Because “advanced” wouldn’t be true for speaking and writing and could get them in a situation like the OP’s, and the better reading ability can be cleared up later if it is at all necessary. Again, I’ve only ever seen that used when language skills are considered a nice thing to have but not necessary to do the job – if languages are a key component of a job it’s of course of advantage to be as precise as possible and the divide is a great and common way to show it.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          I don’t know if I would consider a “hard time speaking” intermediate, but I am biased after having to hire for people with language skills.

          We had a lot of people who said they were intermediate or fluent in XX, when they could not carry on a conversation or write.

          I think what you wrote is crucial. If language skills are part of the job, then you need to be precise about your skills.

          1. M-C

            Think of ‘fluent’ as ‘comparable to a native speaker’. You may have a bit of an accent, you may not be totally up to date on slang, but you should be able to handle any conversation easily, including interviewing and whatever your job functions might be. Even halting speech disqualifies you from that claim. Comprehension is by far the easiest of all language skills, so it’s not much to brag about.

            Description of language skills is much more important in Europe, where work indeed can involve use of several languages on a daily basis at a high level (and some countries, like France, lag behind horribly). For one major language in the US, if I were the OP I’d use something like “Spanish: good oral comprehension” and leave it at that.

        2. KH

          Check out LinkedIn. They use some fairly straightforward categories that I think most recruiters/interviewers would understand:

          “Elementary proficiency”
          “Limited working proficiency”
          “Professional working proficiency”
          “Full professional proficiency”
          “Native or bilingual proficiency”

          “Fluent” would be at least “full professional” or higher on this scale, so the interviewer was right to be surprised that the product was not as advertised.

      2. the gold digger

        I note that I am fluent in spoken and written Spanish on my resume and that I can get by in French, which really just means I can be dropped in Paris and not starve.

        I have had interviews in Spanish. If the job requires it and you say you can speak it, you should be able to interview in it. (I got both jobs.)

        1. LJL

          I have had the same experience. In fact, I was concerned when I applied for a job with Spanish as a requirement and my language ability was not tested. (I also got both of my jobs.)

        2. Beezus

          I had a supplier rep in China once who begged me not to tell his employers how terrible his English skills were, because he would lose his job. Evidently, no one at the company was fluent enough in English to check him. (I could not understand him on the phone, but his reading/writing skills were good enough that we could communicate effectively, and that’s all I really cared about, anyway.)

      3. Chinook

        Dividing your language skills into 3 works here in Canada as well. For example, in some jobs it is a bonus if someone can read French but there is little opportunity to have to speak and listen. But, if you said you were fluent in it, then it is assumed you can hold an intelligent conversation as well as read and write (the French language test for federal employees I believe requires a 9th grade education level of fluency).

        As well, assumptions may be made based on your surname. When I worked with a national organization, I kept having to point out to my boss that a French first and last name didn’t equal French fluency while those of us with anglo or other cultural name combinations are perfectly capable of having graduated with a French language high school diploma outside of Quebec and New Brunswick.

        1. OP

          I live on the west coast in Canada. I guess assumptions WERE made based on my ethnicity and last name…

          1. Chinook

            OP, hearing that you are doing this in Canada, I could almost guarantee they based your language proficiency partially on your last name (though, to their credit, a Mulroney is just as likely to be a francophone as a Trudeau) as well as on the fact that you said you were fluent. If you hadn’t mentioned the fluency aspect, they may not have made the same assumption. Definitely, going forward, divide your skills up between reading and spoken comprehension as it will save you some headaches.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      I always say I’m “proficient” in French. I can converse in French and I can read it, but I would be lost in a business situation. I also need a bit of a push to get comfortable again. It’s a handy descriptor because most people ask what it means instead of assuming I can just start chatting in French.

      1. Hellanon

        And see, I can just start chatting in Italian and I’m comfortable reading in Italian and French, but because my grammar is haphazard in both I use the term “conversational” on my resume. It rarely comes up – Italian is not really useful in Southern California!

        1. MegEB

          As someone who is pretty useless in any other language than English, I was wondering – has knowing how to speak Italian been helpful in understanding Spanish? I’ve heard that the two languages are similar enough that if you know one, you can learn the other fairly easily, but I’d like to hear firsthand whether that’s true. I would imagine that Spanish comes in handy in Southern California!

          1. Charlotte Collins

            As someone who’s taken Latin and some Italian and French, knowing one romance language can make it easier to learn another. It’s especially useful for reading. If I know the basic differences in spelling/writing standards, I can read simple statements across the languages.

            Several years of German really helped me in learning Anglo-Saxon, and I can read Old English pretty easily. (I like watching movies in Germanic languages to see what I can “catch.”)

            1. MegEB

              I took Latin in high school for three years, but our Latin program was pretty terrible, so I haven’t retained much except for some random vocabulary words, and a deep abiding hatred for the Aeneid. My Spanish classes in college were significantly better, but I wish I was better at languages. Reading Old English must be so interesting.

                1. fposte

                  Now I’m reminded of Helene Hanff’s story of a friend who was tasked with writing a 10,000 word essay in Old English and who said bitterly that the only Old English subject you could write 10,000 words on was “How to Slaughter 100 Men in a Mead Hall.”

          2. Myrin

            I’m German and learned English, Latin, French, and Italian (in that order) in school and they all helped make the other one easier (especially French and Italian – there’s a lot of grammar that’s basically the same on a structure level, so once you got it in French, you didn’t really have to learn it a second time in Italian). And even having forgotten a lot of Latin, knowing English on the level I do helps me tremendously whenever I encounter Latin phrases.

          3. mirror

            I grew up in San Diego and took 3 years of Spanish in high school and took an intensive language course in Italy through college (equivalent of 3 years of Italian in 3 months). They are extremely similar. Knowing Spanish made learning Italian easier, but often it also really messed me up when writing papers! I was always mixing them up and writing in Span-talian.

          4. Jen RO

            I’m a native speaker of a Romance language (Romanian) and I learned French in school, then I took Spanish classes, then French classes again to remember what I learned in school. Romanian helped me with general grammar/vocabulary, French helped me with Spanish, then Spanish helped me remember my French faster… I think Italian and Spanish are pretty similar, especially if you learn what the major grammatical differences/similarities are.

          5. Cath in Canada

            My friend and I got by for a week in Italy with basic French (me) and some Latin (her). We couldn’t understand spoken Italian very well at all, but we could read signs and menus and such. We made the cute boys who were trying to flirt with us write everything down so we could respond, heh! (we were 19!)

          6. aebhel

            In reading, mostly. I read Spanish fairly well, and I can read simple statements in Italian and French without too much trouble even though I don’t understand either of those languages out loud. The grammar is pretty similar, especially with Italian.

      2. KH

        Your level of French ability is about where I am, but I wouldn’t call myself proficient, I would call that “conversational” or “elementary” proficiency.

    3. J.

      Yep, agree with this. As someone who grew up bilingual and knows multiple languages, I always make sure I honestly specify my level for each. In a job where language is actually part of the requirements (or a huge bonus), I would get into the specific breakdown other commenters have mentioned–but usually jobs like that also actually ask you more specifically (e.g., the UN). I understand not wanting the language skills section to take up too much space if that’s not what the job posting originally called for, but I usually put my language skills into three categories: highly proficient, proficient, and somewhat proficient. The highly proficient ones are the ones where, without much difficulty, I could use it in a full professional capacity (reading, speaking, and writing). Proficient are ones where I could still function at a high level but might feel less comfortable. Somewhat proficient are the ones I’d probably have to brush up on before using.

      Good luck, OP!

    4. OP

      Hey, thanks! I was always able to speak one of the languages fluently, and understand the second one (the one they tested me on) completely. And because of how similar the first language is to the second one, I can usually compensate. I’m definitely going to change my resume…the interview made me feel like I was lying about my abilities, when I guess I was just overconfident. Thank you!

      1. LJL

        Agreed! I put “conversational” in the language that i’m capable of carrying on a conversation with a patient person. That may help. I think it was just a lack of alignment on what it means. And confidence, which is not a bad thing in a foreign language!

      2. Green

        There are some jobs where just a reading (or comprehension) skill would still be a benefit, so it is smart to break the language up by skill whenever your skills are not consistent. (And I never use the word “fluent” — intermediate or advanced are typically closer if you’re uniformly skilled in the language.) Also, breaking it up into written/oral/reading/comprehension is especially important for non-western languages. It is entirely possible to be able to speak and comprehend Japanese but not read or write it, and it could still be very useful to an employer.

    5. Anonathon

      Personally, I would err on the side of caution, re: language ability on a resume. I was the equivalent of a foreign languages major in college, so I could communicate easily and churn out long, boring papers in my 2nd language … but I’d trip up on unusual idioms and slang. I generally use “proficient” for my 2nd language and “conversational” for my 3rd, even though I’ve been speaking the former since I was pretty young. To me, “fluent” means that you can have an accent and maybe not be 100% current on slang, but are otherwise a native speaker equivalent.

  1. Jeanne

    OP #1 would be perfect for the job at the dog-friendly company last week! No question, she likes dogs.

    I would question that info if I saw it, too. Wasn’t that more common years ago? Maybe the 70s? You don’t want to start by making your future boss feel uncomfortable. What is she supposed to do with this info? It most likely doesn’t have any relevance to the job. Kill the extraneous info and make the resume direct and to the point.

    1. NJ anon

      Agree 100%. I never put personal information on a resume ( not hobbies, or anything). As a hiring manager it comes across weird and frankly makes me think “who cares?”

      1. Liane

        I will put my costuming hobby on some resumes in the context of a volunteer position with a particular club, since I am an officer and my work includes being a liaison between my club and related clubs as well as groups who want an appearance; I also supervise other costumers when I am in charge of an event.

        1. hermit crab

          Right, but in that case it’s actually leadership role, which is a normal thing to put on a resume. You’re including it specifically because it shows a certain type of experience, not just a personal preference.

          1. Emily

            I agree; it’s valuable there, provided it’s not taking up space where one could have included professional experience. I’m not totally opposed to non-professional experiences or affiliations on a resume, as long as they’re not just there to make the candidate stand out. I see it go both ways on probably 85% of the resumes we get for our seasonal internship. If you’re the treasurer or webmaster for your fraternity or sorority or you’ve been volunteering for the Boys and Girls club for five years, okay, that rounds out my picture of you, especially since you don’t have much of a work history yet. I don’t care so much if you’re a part of a fraternity or a sorority (I’ve even seen this included as though it’s an honorific!) or if you’ve run a marathon or you juggle in your spare time. When I see that kind of stuff on a resume, it looks like the applicant’s strategy is “and if you don’t think I’m qualified, maybe you’ll consider me because I’m interesting/wacky!”

        2. Nom d' Pixel

          I think that if your volunteer position is relevant to the job or demonstrates a leadership role, such as being on the board of directors, it belongs on the resume. Otherwise, it really doesn’t. I sometimes find listed hobbies to be interesting, but my boss considers them to be unprofessional and will reject resumes because of it.

      2. Florida

        I think “who cares?” but I also think the person doesn’t know how to edit. I don’t mean edit in the strictly writing sense. I mean that if I ask them for a report on something, I will get 10-pages (when half a page would do). When I ask what’s going on with the Smith account, it will take then five minutes to explain (instead of 30 seconds). Basically, the person doesn’t know what’s important and what’s not, so they include everything. I would delete the personal and the hobbies.

        If she is applying for a job at a Presbyterian church (or related organization), then she could say in her cover letter that she is particular interested in this job because the Presbyterian faith is so important to her. She’s a member of XYZ church and a member of the committee, etc. I would include all of that in the cover letter, though, and not the resume. And I would only include it if it was the same faith. Often those types of jobs will even say in the job description that a requirement is that you are familiar with and respect the faith. Doesn’t mean you have to be of the faith, but you have to be familiar with their customs.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Not always. I applied for a job at a large Baptist church that actually wanted to hire a non-member who was not of that faith. Their rationale was that if didn’t work out, they could let you go without any problems or awkwardness with you showing up for worship on Sunday. I was fine with that, but I ended up not getting the job for other reasons (not enough experience with the audio-visual stuff).

          1. louise

            My church has a written rule that the administrative staff cannot be members. Makes a lot of sense, really. It’s too awkward when your priests are also your bosses.

        2. Anonathon

          Mmm, I disagree a little. If she’s active in her church, sits on committees, holds a leadership position, etc., there’s no reason that can’t go in a volunteering section — regardless of the job to which she’s applying.

          1. LucyVP

            Yes, but she is saying “Member of Anytown Presbyterian Church for 10 years”
            Not listing her leadership role in a volunteer section with a description of her achievements or successes in that role.

            Being a church member is what is stressed in her wording, not the leadership qualities.

      3. Green

        If thoughtfully done, putting hobbies can be very important in the context of law school students applying for summer associate positions in firms. Those are done cattle-call style, so distinctive things that help others remember you or make connections can be a big help. But you wouldn’t put “reading, art, sports, horses” — you would put “reading science fiction, abstract art and folk art, former volunteer with equine therapy program, avid bowler and stand up paddler.” If you’re going to put something that’s not distinctive, you’re better off not putting anything at all.

        Also, it’s worth noting that the hobbies and interests line (a one-or-two line section) is part of the interview culture for these specific jobs (and not for subsequent attorney jobs in your career) and you definitely do not put family or marital status on there.

        1. LawLady

          Ah, so you’re doing on-campus interviews right now as well? Cattle-call is an excellent term for it.

        2. Broke Law Student

          We just had a discussion about putting interests on the resume! I don’t list any hobbies as I don’t feel like I have space on my resume, but my previous work and law school experience indicate my personality pretty strongly, and I include that I won a fiction writing award in undergrad if someone really wants something personal to talk about. One of my friends includes “scotch” as an interest. I bet she’ll get a lot of interest from some of the lawyers!

    2. KT

      This would come vastly out of touch if this resume came into any company I worked for. I know it’s important to you, but I do not care if you’re married, how old your kids are, or what church you attend. I care if you can do the job. Stressing this kind of information–and event he hobbies stuff–would come across as extremely dated and weird.

      1. Charlotte Collins

        I always thought hobbies should be noted if either your resume’s kind of “light” and you need a little bit of filler to show that you can, say complete a project, or if they have a direct bearing on the work that you are applying for.

        Volunteer work should be listed, because that shows some of the skills that you’d want in an employee (teamwork, sticking to schedule, etc.).

        1. Coffee Ninja

          Hobby task completion doesn’t necessarily translate to work task completion, though. Just because you’re ace at completing your sewing project or home improvement project on time, doesn’t mean you can/will do the same with the TPS reports.

          1. Charlotte Collins

            Definitely. I would only list them for someone just entering the workforce (like #5), since it shows an ability to do something other than the typical team “McJob.” Otherwise, I wouldn’t list them unless they have a direct bearing on the position.

            1. NJ Anon

              I wouldn’t list them then either. When my kids were applying for jobs, they put volunteer jobs but never hobbies. Frankly, hobbies are useless. I’m an accountant, does anyone care if my hobbies are shell collecting and attending Rob Zombie concerts?

              1. Charlotte Collins

                I think it depends upon 1) the nature of the hobby (some are honestly more impressive and educational than others), and 2) whether there were true volunteer opportunities for the kid. (It seems like kids are expected to be a lot more “involved” than they used to: more clubs, more volunteering, and more opportunities to do both.) But in all honesty, I’d avoid them altogether in most cases.

          2. Simonthegrey

            I list my hobby in jewelry making only because we actually created a small business (an LLC and we pay taxes) and so it displays entrepreneurial skills. When it was just a hobby, it wasn’t on there.

      2. Retail Lifer

        Hobbies MAYBE, if they were applicable. But it’s illegal for me to ask if you’re married, if you have kids, and what religion you are in an interview, so why would you share that with me anyway? I DON’T CARE as long as you show up and do your job. I won’t hold any of that against you or give you any special treatment because of it, but it will make you seem really out of touch.

    3. Blue Anne

      When we were hiring my replacement at my old admin job, we kept getting resumes from late teens/early 20s women who had included a dolled-up picture of themselves, as though they were applying to be the sexy secretary. All of them were immediately binned for being out of touch with business norms. This would come under the same category for me.

        1. Blue Anne

          I think it was a function of the job being a great entry to office work. Lots of people who wanted to get into an office job but had definitely never had one before. Fine in and of itself (it was my first office job too) but…. yeah.

        2. INTP

          I’ve heard of it for service jobs – bartenders, servers, etc. I also dealt with a lot of clients who wanted only attractive young women as receptionists and admins, so I wouldn’t say it’s insanely out there for someone to think a picture might help, but it’s definitely not “done” in that setting. They bring you in for an interview and write a note in your file about your appearance. (For my staffing agency, “polished appearance” was the code for pretty.)

      1. Nom d' Pixel

        I have seen an astonishing number of resumes for research scientist positions that have photos. They are always white men. I have had to repeatedly tell HR to just not forward resumes with pictures to me.

    4. Stranger than fiction

      Yes, the personal stuff and the religious stuff should not be on your resume. You want them to focus on your skills and experience and go into any interview with them having a totally unbiased opinion on you in any other regard. We all know it’s illegal to discriminate based on these things, but why make it easy for that to happen. Plus, sometimes humans subconsciously form opinions.

      1. Anna

        I think it would be pretty obvious too that if you put it on there, it could potentially put the hiring manager in an awkward position. “Will they think I didn’t put them through for an interview because I discriminated based on X?”

    5. INTP

      It’s also common in other countries so it can give the impression that you don’t yet understand American business norms, which is something that many employers don’t want to deal with teaching their employees. Even if the resume makes it clear that you aren’t a recent immigrant, it still comes across as very out of touch and like you might not know how to behave appropriately in a professional setting – i.e., someone that puts religious information on their resume might also proselytize at work.

      Bottom line, it doesn’t belong on a resume, and even if it did, it won’t accomplish what the OP is trying to accomplish. Employers who know you have kids don’t necessarily know how you expect to be accommodated in that sense – for all they know, you have a stay at home spouse or full time nanny. You should just be up front about what you need in the interview. (With regards to work accommodations, it still isn’t the place for sharing your religion.)

    6. RFan

      I am extremely sensitive to any candidate who openly places church or religion on their resume, because we are a public entity with a highly diverse clientele, that includes non religious public also.
      A recent cover letter signed Blessings immediate hit the do not consider pile.
      Same with the children- while of course family first – in whatever form that is- but since she goes right on to hook it to time off for kids that would be my fear in committing to job demands.

  2. Seal

    #1 – I agree 100% with Alison – TMI. The resumes I receive that include random personal information such as number of kids, hobbies, religious preference, or even height and weight generally go straight to the reject pile.

    #2 – As a librarian, I have seen many job descriptions and resumes that list reading knowledge of a language (as opposed to fluency) as a requirement or skill, particularly for catalogers and cataloging positions. It indicates that you know enough of a language to work with it to an extent without necessarily speaking it with ease.

    1. Artemesia

      Yes. It is great that the OP has this language skill but she is not fluent; a person who is fluent would be able to do a sales pitch in that language on the spot. I like your idea of listing reading knowledge of the language rather than overselling the skill level. The danger of overrating skill in one thing is that it undermines credibility over all.

      1. MK

        Yes, it’s important to be as precise as possible about language skills, because you can come off looking like a liar. My uncle, an electrical engineer, is fluent in technical English (relating to his job), but his skill in conversational English is less advanced; he always made the distinction clear to perspective employers. And while I think I could call myself fluent in English in a general sense, if I was looking for a job in an english-speaking country in my field (law), I would be upfront about the fact that I am nowhere near fluent in “legal” English.

      2. matcha123

        I am a native speaker of English and I couldn’t execute a sales pitch in an interview (in English) to save my life.

          1. Stranger than fiction

            Yes, regarding the sales pitch part of that interview, it should not have been all that surprising to Op. Customer Service positions are often either part sales, or you’re at least required to do some sort of Up-selling when taking orders. They often receive a small amount of commission or bonuses on this type of activity, as well.

            1. OP

              Hey, I knew that the interview would involve selling something, but based on the interview experiences online, everyone had been asked in english. I guess due to the location, I was asked in a foreign language.

        1. MK

          I don’t think that’s relevant. You might not be able deliver a good sales pitch, or even deliver something that would be recognizable as a sales pitch, but what you said, whatever that was, would be in correct English.

          The OP misrepresented herself when she wrote that she is fluent in her resume (apparently because of not unbderstaninf exactly what “fluent” means). It’s possible that the company misrepresented the job, if they didn’t make it clear that sales skills were a requirement, but that’s another issue.

      3. Marvel

        “a person who is fluent would be able to do a sales pitch in that language on the spot”

        This is not necessarily true. Japanese, for instance, has a whole set of ultra-polite verb tenses and conjugations that are used in the context of a sales person speaking to a customer. While anyone who is fluent would be able to understand said verb forms, even some native Japanese speakers require basic training in order to use them properly in a sales context.

        Overall, though, I think your point still stands: OP is not fluent.

    2. Sandy

      Next time the OP uses it in her resume, she might want to refer back to the language scale that the State Department uses. I’ll a link in my reply.

      It helps to standardize some of the mystery around what “fluent” really looks like. In my experience., the more experience a person has with a language, the LESS comfortable they are saying that they are “fluent”- you just have a better idea of how much you don’t know.

      For example, my husband does paid translation from German to English for highly technical documents. Tell someone he’s fluent inGerman, and. He’ll blush and then claim “no, no really”.

        1. blackcat

          These are the terms I use on my resume (US person here). It’s something like,

          Languages
          French, Speaking: Limited Working Proficiency; French, Reading: Minimum Professional Proficiency
          Spanish, Speaking: Elementary Proficiency; Spanish, Reading: Limited Working Proficiency

          I read both languages reasonably well, able to read things like news articles in Spanish and novels in French. That might put me in the next higher category, but I’d rather low ball the skill.

          In speaking French, I can hold my old socially in conversations, and I do quite well at informal translation (eg, I have stepped in and translated for people in airports, and translate for my husband when we travel). But that takes a lot of focus and I get tired pretty quickly. I can actually speak Spanish with a great deal of fluency, but the world’s worst grammar. I learned to speak exclusively through immersion which has some major benefits and some major drawbacks. I have a huge vocabulary, and do not conjugate verbs… While I get around well in both languages, I’m well aware of how far from “fluent.” Fluent would mean not decoding 5-10% of words through context and not asking people to slow down all the time! I also grew up around tons of bilingual people, and so I tend to think of “fluent” as very close to “native speaker” level proficiency, just minus a higher level of vocabulary and knowledge of idioms.

          1. Hellanon

            That would explain my Italian grammar. I’m totally comfortable in conversation, watching TV & reading magazine articles if not novels, but I never really mastered the subjunctive tenses and my pronouns get garbled. So I tell people I can’t really write in Italian – which to me makes my mastery of it
            “conversational.” As the other commenters are saying, the more you know a language, the less likely you are to call yourself fluent…

          2. Chinook

            “But that takes a lot of focus and I get tired pretty quickly.”

            It is my experience that this has nothing to do with proficiency and everything to do with how much you use it. I see language skills like muscles – if you don’t use it often, then they feel weak when they do get used. But, if you are using it all the time, even though you have a limited range, then it won’t exhaust you. I spent the first few months in Japan exhausted because of the constant translating in my head. But, after that, it became second nature and less tiring even though my vocabulary didn’t really increase much at that point. Ditto for Quebec – grocery shopping the first month was exhausting but once I got used to it, I didn’t notice any difference in my energy levels between working all day in English or spending the day switching between it and low level French (I would answer calls bilingually and then either answer the simple French ones (like when the test was) or pass on the more complicated ones (like requirements for the test – something I would also have had to do if they were speaking English).

            1. Lore

              Yes! I realized this when, after being in Ecuador for about two weeks and struggling to keep up at conversational speed, I was in a taxi with two non-Spanish speakers and the driver. The driver was giving sort of a quick tour of the areas we were passing through and I was chattering away with him, not even realizing I had switched to Spanish. I only figured it out when we got out and the other two asked me what he was saying and if I understood it.

              1. blackcat

                I actually have found that Ecuadorian Spanish is pretty easy to follow :)

                I grew up where Spanish was a common language (and had native Spanish speakers as friends as a child), so I always had a low level of comprehension. I then spent a summer living with a family in Peru, which is where my Spanish fluency (without any grammar!) took off.

                Just last week, there was a woman in my neighborhood who asked me and my husband where to pick up a certain bus. I answered and told her when it would come. Only after that conversation happened did my husband ask “What was that about?” He had understood 0% of what happened, and I hadn’t processed that a) she asked in Spanish and b) I responded in Spanish. He even pointed out that while he understands some Spanish, her accent made it impossible for him to even know she was speaking Spanish (after thinking for a moment, I placed it: Guatemalan. My husband has very little experience beyond school Spanish in an area with few native speakers).

                But my day-to-day ability with Spanish is so poor these days, I wouldn’t want to advertise it as a job skill. Yes, I can travel around Spanish speaking countries with ease. My directions Spanish is excellent! I know how to ask if water is potable for gringos, and I will always be able to find a toilet. But do not ask me what I did yesterday, because I cannot use any form of past tense.

                (In school, I took French for 8 years. That’s why my French fluency is so much higher. My French grammar is just as good as, if not better than, my English grammar. But I’m not used to speaking it and it gets used much less often than my Spanish, so I don’t want to oversell that skill either).

                1. Lore

                  I agree, Ecuadorean Spanish *is* easy to follow–Costa Rican, too, at least if you studied Castilian Spanish (and my first immersion experience was in Spain). El Salvador was a whole different ball game. I never really got my ear around the accent/dialect (granted, I was only there ten days–but I was doing better on day 3 in Ecuador).

          3. bearing

            My second language is French, and I like to tell people I “fluently make a lot of mistakes.” I don’t do a lot of “um” and “ah” and the words come right out of my mouth, but I can *hear* myself making all manner of seriously obvious grammatical mistakes that I wouldn’t make if I was writing, and I do a lot of “the thing that you use for X” when a vocabulary word doesn’t land right on the tip of my tongue. Also I am prone to embarrassing (to me) malapropisms.

            I probably look like a bumbling character in a French farce. But! I get my point across. I think.

      1. Julia

        Same here. German writing this in English, while at work for the Japanese government. I would love to be an interpreter, but don’t actually feel fluent enough and get so annoyed when people, especially fellow Germans who tend to really, REALLY overestimate their language abilities (apparently, all Germans are ‘fluent’ in English) suggest I stop being so stubborn and negative and just be an interpreter. My favourite was a recent conversation with a girl who not only accused me of the aforementioned stubbornness and negativity, but also suggested that I ‘just add another language’ when I voiced concern over my language pairs not being in high demand. Homegirl can’t even speak English without sounding like she’s replacing German words with English ones while keeping the overall sentence structure, and one time, when I called someone a ‘royal b*tch’, she asked which royal family they were from.

        But that kind of honesty doesn’t get you very far when competing against all the overconfident people out there…

        1. eemmzz

          “when I called someone a ‘royal b*tch’, she asked which royal family they were from.”

          Brilliant. This made me chuckle quite a bit!

          Though to be fair I cannot speak a second language (use to be pretty good at French as I did it at college but not used the skill since)

        2. Knitting Cat Lady

          Fellow German here. I work for a French company.

          I’m fluent in English. My proficiency level is C2 by the European scale. I even have a Certificate of Proficiency in English by the Cambridge institute to prove it! I did it a few years ago to see if I could get it.

          My French is of intermediate level. I’m probably either high B1 or low B2.

          And yes to Germans who think they can speak English!

          My dad plays the bassoon. Which is called Fagott in German. He also plays in a symphony orchestra.
          A friend of my parents introducing my dad to an English friend of hers: ‘This is J****, he plays the fagot.’
          My mum jumped in at that pointing out that he plays the bassoon. English friends face was great. At first she was confused, then horrified before being relieved at the explanation.
          Friend was rather embarrassed when my mum told her what exactly she just inadvertently said.

          1. Elkay

            In the UK/England faggot is a dumpling/meatball. The US slang version is acknowledged here but I’ve rarely heard anyone use it.

              1. thelazyb

                A *fag* is a cigarette. A *faggot* is most certainly not. Yes it can be a meatball but it can also be horrendously offensive.
                At least in the north (I’ve lived in both north west and north east).

                1. Elkay

                  Not so much in the southeast (admittedly I’m influenced by London family who no longer live in London). Interested to know where Urban_Adventurer is from…

              2. UKAnon

                No, that’s a fag. A faggot is a small piece of wood, useful for indoor fires.

                Vagaries of English!

                1. danr

                  Early in my careers I was a school librarian. I was reading a children’s story about loading a bunch of faggots on an ass…. there was a collective, shocked intake of breath from the class. We had a great language lesson.

                2. UKAnon

                  @the gold digger – that one really threw me the first couple of times I heard it. It also took me several attempts to understand the scene in The West Wing where they’re asking Donna if she wore the same pants two days in a row… the mental contortions that the natural image I jumped to brought up were immense.

                3. Chinook

                  “asking Donna if she wore the same pants two days in a row… the mental contortions that the natural image I jumped to brought up were immense.”

                  Then you can only imagine the looks on a British coworker’s face when he was told that my Japanese employer only just allowed its female employees to wear pants (and then only in winter). ;)

                4. LJL

                  @golddigger I had the same experience years ago when I was working at camp with English folks. Ah, English!!

            1. thelazyb

              It is, but it’s also horribly offensive. Context makes it clear (you’re not going to get them confused!). It’s rare that you hear it used for the foodstuff these days because of the overlap – maybe except in certain places – I want to say Liverpool might use it for the foodstuff more often.

          2. Christy

            Must we continue with this discussion? Like really, must we keep debating the international meaning of this slur? I’d appreciate it if we could drop it.

            1. the lazy b

              But it’s not only a slur. It’s a genuine dialect word that has myriad meanings. The slur’s meaning hasn’t even been alluded to.

              Having said that, though, i will stop.

            2. MegEB

              But the point of the discussion is that it’s not always a slur. There are genuinely different meanings depending on the culture, and a significant part of this comment section has been discussing differences in languages, so it IS relevant. I understand being sensitive to certain words, though, especially if they have seriously negative connotations in your culture, so I’m sorry for that.

              1. M-C

                Not to mention that most gay people out of the closet could care less what you say/think of their proclivities.. A slur only works if you can make people ashamed of what you’re referring to.

                1. Judy

                  OK, so you might be able to say it is not a slur. “an insinuation or allegation about someone that is likely to insult them or damage their reputation.” But it is a derogatory term to use.

                2. ImprovForCats

                  I don’t think that’s true at all. I’m not the least bit ashamed of being a woman, but that doesn’t mean I’m okay with being called c–t. It’s really ugly to imply that people who are being called horrible names must only be bothered if they are “ashamed’ of being gay, or black, or disabled, or anything like that. it puts all the blame on the personn being insulted instead of the person being offensive.

                3. Tara

                  Um, as a gay person out of the closet, I really do care what people say to me. Because it’s hurtful and rude and makes me feel unsafe. This is a huge generalization.

                4. MegEB

                  I … that was not the point I was trying to make, nor do I agree with that. Slurs aren’t only used to shame people, they’re used to intimidate them as well. Just because someone is confident with their identity doesn’t make it okay to shout derogatory terms at them. I generally dislike this line of thinking, because it puts the onus on the person being degraded to overcome their feelings, rather than on the person using the slur to be more tolerant.

                5. Today's anon

                  I don’t agree. I’ve had the word hurled at me aggressively and in my face and I did not feel shame at all but I felt intense fear. This was in the middle of the day too, in NYC. Making someone feel unsafe is a good way to try and control them and that is not ok, and such words work to do that. And also, I don’t identify as a gay man, so slurs really hurt everyone. I doubt the guy who threw it at me would stop and ask me “oh are you gay?” and “oh sorry, my mistake.” As the saying go we are only safe when all of us are safe.

          3. Knit Pixie

            One of my nice college flatmates was from Austria, fortunately it was her, myself, and our other flatmate alone in the car when she announced she couldn’t wait to get home to have a refreshing ‘douche’.

            After almost running off the road (good thing other flatmate was driving), we figured out what she meant to say. We explained that while ‘douche’ IS a word used in English, it was not the one to describe what she intended to do when she got home.

            Explaining that the word she wanted was ‘shower’ was easy… explaining ‘douche’ without absolutely feeling like one, I didn’t quite succeed.

                1. Myrin

                  Seeing how the friend was from Austria, I’d actually say the point is that “Dusche”, which sounds like “douche” only with an added schwa sound (ə) at the end, is German for shower.

              1. Chinook

                “‘douche’ is French for shower”

                But not in every French dialect. Which is why my Alberta francophone grandmother thought her downstairs neighbor in Quebec was being quite forward to offer to let my grandfather use of her douche.

                1. Knit Pixie

                  Oh my dear Lord… I just reread this and days later I am still choking over your story Chinook.

                  For the record, I did figure out that Dusche (with a schwa) was German for shower, but at that time my first thought was that someone had cruelly tricked her, and that it just never come up in conversation until then.

                  Of course seeing the looks on our faces she wanted to know what was up (and why we were almost in the ditch), and I on the spot, bungled it of course. I mean really. How DOES one explain that?

            1. Anon Accountant

              This one made me almost drop my coffee from laughing. If I heard that while driving I’m afraid I’d have steered us off the road!

        3. thelazyb

          Hehe to what you say about sentence structure. My sister is British but has lived in Germany for a decade and when she was visiting a couple of weeks ago (she’d been in the UK a month at this point) I pointed out one particular sentence that she said that in which all the words were English but the structure was totally German. I’ve also spotted her spelling ‘yoghurt’ in German without her noticing before.

          OT but makes me chuckle :)

        4. Nashira

          Oh man. That really describes a German friend I used to have. Never did figure out how the English comma worked, would use German grammar constantly without realizing it… He tried, and did improve some, but you could definitely tell he was German, even in text alone.

          1. Myrin

            To be fair, I’ll probably never figure out how to use commas in English, either. We have way, way more in German and I tend to over-comma every other language because I’m like “WHEN DO YOU TAKE A BREATHER?!”.

              1. Myrin

                Oh really? I wouldn’t have expected that at all! Well, maybe he, like me, had to rein in the urge to put commas everywhere so he just didn’t use any?

            1. Jen RO

              I very seriously told my German teacher that he was using too many commas and he was wrong. He let me finish and then told me those “extra” commas are mandatory in German…

              (It still looks sooooo weird to me!)

        5. MK

          Quite apart from that, interpreting (and translating any complex text) is a skill on its own. It’s more than just being fluent in the language.

        6. Bwmn

          I think that when making the choices in language resumes, there will always exist the reality that there will be people fluffing their language skills on their resume. Unless it’s a job truly like translation or ones where stringent certification is tested, you are likely going to be up against padded resumes and just have to hope that those doing the hiring are smart enough to tease that out.

          A few years ago I applied to a job that had native English listed as the only language requirement, but on the second interview it was asked whether or not I had Arabic proficiency. Given the nature of this aspect of the job (reporting on highly technical projects), whatever taxi chit chat I did have I knew was in no way close to what they wanted and no quickie evening class would get me close. Given the employment context and the rate of pay for the job, I could have told the woman hiring (native English speaker new to the area, no Arabic) that her chances of finding such a resume was very slim. However, the chance of finding a resume where someone said they had Arabic and just enough to win over an interview was very likely.

          I didn’t get the job and I later learned they had to hire someone to do all Arabic translation as they had hired a candidate who was less experienced than me overall but had sold her three years of university Arabic very impressively. The reality is that in the foreign language space, some places will test very stringently and pretenders will be caught out. But just as often hiring processes won’t catch those cases and a few minutes of being charming in X language will be enough. And in lots of cases, particularly where truly high levels of fluency aren’t required – people don’t get fired either.

          So…..I think this is just a case of knowing how this often works and making a choice that works for you. Not only will there be resumes that exaggerate, there are also loads of jobs that exaggerate the actual language needs – meaning that those who do fluff their resumes may ultimately be hired and succeed in those jobs without ever having those skills.

          1. Chinook

            “there are also loads of jobs that exaggerate the actual language needs”

            I ran into this with one job when they wanted to hire me from a temp position. My French is elementary spoken but proficient written and I knew more practice would help. The position they wanted to hire me for required fluent French despite the 3 other people in the department being francophone and working with clients across Canada. My known skills were strong enough to convince them to interview me and I was able to point out that I was fluent enough to handle answering phones and reading incoming mail and that anything more complex would have to be passed on to someone else anyway (I was to be just the admin. assistant). They never regretted downgrading it from a requirement to a “nice to have” and I still proctor their exams out west once a year (and am able to handle the odd bilingual and francophone test taker that crops up here).

            1. Bwmn

              Exactly – and I think smart employers are able to tease out the difference between nice to have and super important. I’ve also had a job as a fundraiser where it definitely would have been “nicer” for my employer if I had had greater skills in one of the country’s native languages – however, the nature of the job, the organization and the salary – they were savvy enough to figure out that “nicer” and “necessary” were not the same thing.

              And to highlight this point, when I did leave that position – I ended up consulting for 6 months as they couldn’t find someone to replace me. And the person who did eventually replace me (and had those “nicer” language skills) was fired after 3 months of not being able to figure out the organization’s environment and English needs.

              In fields and positions were salaries are high, true fluency can be paid for. But there are loads of jobs were various levels of “understanding” are all that’s necessarily, and the actual job tasks are far more critical. Now, if you choose to list your language classes in undergrad or that summer you worked in a youth hostel abroad as having fluency (or comprehension or whatever exaggeration) in another language – you may very well end up in an interview where you get caught out and embarrassed. But if you know the field, know your job, and at least make sure in the interview that you won’t be set with tasks you truly can’t do…..it’s unfortunately a resume exaggeration that’s hugely widespread.

          2. Julia

            I was once declined a position with a German language school in Japan because the hiring manager didn’t think my Japanese was good enough as I only had a bachelor’s degree. Ironically, they hired my friend who has a master’s, but was a level below me in the Japanese study programme in Tokyo where we met.
            They then offered me a job at their Tokyo office – surely I would have needed more language skills for that than as a German teacher who is only supposed to speak German in class?

          3. Jen RO

            The main requirement for my job is fluency in English – you have to sound like a native in (technical) writing. I can’t tell you how many resumes with “advanced” English I got and how few of those people could actually use the language…

      2. BananaPants

        That’s a great scale to use. Apparently I’m OK claiming elementary proficiency in speaking and writing French, so that’s good to know!

        I would never dream of claiming that my 4 years of high school French qualify me as being able to do much more than ask where the bathroom is and to understand a menu and order food in a restaurant (although in the past I was asked a few times to roughly translate emails from French colleagues – now with Google Translate there’s little need).

      3. Tau

        In my experience., the more experience a person has with a language, the LESS comfortable they are saying that they are “fluent”- you just have a better idea of how much you don’t know.

        I – native speaker of German, did German as an advanced subject in high school and got good marks throughout – had a moment where I wasn’t sure I could claim I was fluent in written German on my CV, seeing as my written skills have atrophied quite a bit while living in the UK and in particular I have trouble not having all my written German come out incredibly colloquial. I decided I was being silly, but it went through my head.

        1. Chinook

          “I – native speaker of German, did German as an advanced subject in high school and got good marks throughout – had a moment where I wasn’t sure I could claim I was fluent in written German on my CV”

          That’s why I am grateful I can claim I am a native English speaker. After my time in Japan teaching ESL, it took about a year to fluently hold an English conversation again. But, by being called a native speaker, it signals that we have the potential to be fluent once again with practice (though only in our native dialect – there are Newfoundlanders I know who would have trouble passing a standard ESL exam).

          1. Tau

            Yep, it’s really amazing how even your native language(s) can atrophy if you don’t use them. I’m effectively bilingual as I learned English when I was five, and it feels like my life has been this linguistic juggling act as I move between countries and try to keep both languages at a reasonable standard. And that’s *with* always using both to some level – English online and, pre-internet, reading books, German with my family.

            Your point does still stand – I don’t doubt that if I start needing to use it regularly again, I’ll be able to pull my written German back up to standard, *and* nobody will demand to test me on it beforehand since “native speaker” is the gold standard stamp of approval.

      4. Blue_eyes

        Totally agree about more experienced speakers being less likely to call themselves fluent. I majored in a foreign language in college and I always hated it when people asked me if I was “fluent” because it’s such a hard term to define. I have a BA in Spanish and a master’s degree in bilingual (English/Spanish) education, but I would still hesitate to call myself a “native-like” Spanish speaker because I’ll never be as comfortable in Spanish as I am in English and I’m super aware of every time I make an error or don’t know a word.

    3. Kat

      Well, If she were applying to be a stripper height and weight plus measurements might be relevant.

      Do strippers even fill out applications?
      True story- back in 96/97ish, when I was 20/21 and working as a manager at a local mom & pop fast food place, the owner of the only strip club in town offered me a job as a stripper. I was handing him his food at drive thru. He was in an old convertible and had 4 of the um…..(this seriously is the nicest word) skankiest ladies with him in their costumes. I declined. He was a very interesting character. He started out hosting a scary movie show on the public access channel when I was 5 or 6. My mom took me to his house once back then. There were gargoyles everywhere. It was creepy. They lost touch and no, he didnt recognize adult me.

      Ok, sorry for the OT.

      1. KT

        …yes, strippers apply for jobs and fill out paperwork. They are contractors, so they do a 1099 and self-report income as they are not paid by the clubs.

        1. Jubilance

          Actually this depends on location – some locations have them listed as employees and they are given full employee protections, including worker’s comp.

          1. KT

            Definitely depends on location :) I was a house mom at several clubs when I was young in college and was astonished when I started that the workers weren’t employees–they actually had to pay the club a buy-in to work

            1. Charlotte Collins

              Kind of like hairdressers at a lot of salons? (No idea why that’s where my mind went, but it shows how different of a world I live in…)

      2. Lily in NYC

        Some perv asked me to come strip at his club’s “amateur hour” which was Monday afternoon or something. I wasn’t sure if I was flattered or offended that I was only good-looking enough for the Monday afternoon shift.

    4. Jen RO

      I’m in a country where putting your marital status and your age on your resume is common (the job sites even include these fields by default)… and then a few days ago I got a resume that was too much even for here: it included the candidate’s marital status, number of children, and birth date of said child. Everyone who saw it WTF’ed… (But at least it didn’t include the kid’s name, I guess?)

      There are two hypotheses going around:
      1. She expects special treatment because she’s a mom/she wants to screen out mom-unfriendly workplaces.
      2. She wants to point out that her child is already 5 years old and is in kindergarten, so she will be unlikely to have kid-related emergencies.

      Sadly, we won’t get to learn the real reason, because she is a candidate for a position that is not in my department…

        1. Jen RO

          I can imagine some vaguely logical reasons for the candidate in my story… but I can’t find any for the woman in Kathryn’s. Wow…

        2. UKAnon

          I’m afraid I laughed very loudly. Could the AAM community club together and pay for a billboard which simply reads “DO NOT APPLY FOR A JOB LIKE THIS”? Apparently it needs to be said.

        3. Lizzie

          I have been laughing at this for – no joke – almost five entire minutes now.

          What a time to be alive.

        4. Lionness

          Whhhhhhhyyyyy? Noooooo! Why would you ever write that?

          I could never, ever take that resume seriously.

          1. Charlotte Collins

            I know a woman who had a root canal without anesthetic (she was pregnant at the time and couldn’t use it due to health concerns). How would she rate in this scale? (She was a coworker at the time – we were all very impressed with the root canal, but she was impressive in other ways that made it onto her resume, too!)

            1. fposte

              I had that too–it used to be pretty standard. However, I wish I’d pushed harder at the time because there were decent alternatives by then.

              I wouldn’t recommend it.

                1. Charlotte Collins

                  Not when a tooth has actually cracked… And I’ve had a root canal (with anesthesia!) – you feel a lot better once it’s all over. It’s very hard to chew on one side of your mouth…

                2. fposte

                  To be clear, for mine it wasn’t because of pregnancy; it was just because that’s how the endodontist did his work.

        5. Katie the Fed

          Wow. Not only is that terribly unprofessional to include, it reeks of the mommy wars – a hint of judgement to those who DIDN’T birth their children that way.

        6. Artemesia

          Having birthed two without anesthesia I feel it is a major life accomplishment. And while I would never put it on a resume of course, if I did, I think I could describe this heroic achievement without using the word vaginally. Wow.

          1. Chinook

            “I think I could describe this heroic achievement without using the word vaginally”

            My first thought was “how else do you birth a child naturally?” Is there another orifice they can come out of?

            1. Former Museum Professional

              Yeah, talk to me when you have a c-section without anesthesia! Now THAT’s a skill!*

              *obviously sarcasm

                1. The Strand

                  That’s terrible… none at all? How did that happen? (As opposed to one with localized anesthesia – one of my friends had that).

                2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

                  @The Strand — the local didn’t take, they didn’t realise until they’d started cutting, and she refused a general because she has a serious phobia of them. =|

            2. MegEB

              As opposed to C-section, most likely. There’s an ongoing debate in parenting circles about vaginal birth versus C-section, and I know multiple women who look down on c-section births as being somehow inferior. It’s kind of ridiculous, actually.

              1. Chinook

                ” I know multiple women who look down on c-section births as being somehow inferior”

                Do these women not realize that often the alternative e to C-section is not vaginal birth but the death of the child, the mother or both?

                1. MegEB

                  Probably not. I think this attitude grew out of a backlash against a growing trend of doctors who recommend or order C-sections for women simply because it’s convenient/cheaper, not for any specific health reason. THAT is certainly a problem, as is the general state of maternity care in the US. But it’s grown into this whole “vaginal birth is always better, all the time, and if you cared about your child you would go that route” ideology that’s completely perverted the original point. C-sections can be life-saving, and women shouldn’t be shamed for having one.

                  I have very strong opinions on this, in case it wasn’t obvious.

          1. Katieinthemountains

            Yeaaaaaahhhh, and it’s a little chicken/egg, but homebirthing (please note I am in the U.S., where midwifery is NOT at all like it is in the UK, and midwives cannot legally deliver solo in my state) is one way these folks avoid C-sections. The overall C-section rate is relatively low, but midwives here lack a lot of monitoring equipment to even tell if a baby is in distress, are willing to let all manner of high-risk moms try to deliver vaginally, and they for sure cannot perform a C-section, episiotomy, vaginal repair, or newborn resuscitation. Two out of three babies who die during home births most likely would have lived in hospitals.
            I had the world’s easiest pregnancy and a short labor, and the last 15 minutes were terrifying – multiple doctors and someone from NICU for a full term baby. He is now a healthy toddler and I got stitched up under general anesthesia and didn’t need a transfusion after all, but one or both of us would have died/been seriously brain damaged in a homebirth. And as for the natural part? If I’d had an epidural instead of just IV pain meds, I would have been sober enough to make medical decisions, and the doctor would have stitched me up right there. It was great that I got a nap, but my poor kid screamed for two hours until I could nurse him. An epidural would have been better for both of us, especially if we hadn’t narrowly avoided a C-section.
            Pregnancy is frequently routine until it isn’t, and the reason not many women die in childbirth in this country is because of obstetrics. I don’t understand why the homebirthers can’t see that the choice they’re making isn’t whether to deliver in comfortable surroundings but whether they want the best possible chance of survival and brain function for their precious newborns.
            Sorry, we can go back to talking about work. Labor and delivery is hard work, but it sure ain’t work work and doesn’t go on a resume.

            1. Honeybee

              There are two types of midwives in the U.S. – certified nurse-midwives (CNMs), who are trained nurse practitioners, and non-certified, non-licensed midwives, who are only legal in a few U.S. states. Trained CNMs operate within hospitals, birthing centers and clinics. They don’t assist home births in states where it’s not legal because they can lose their license, and most CNMs won’t assist a home birth at all. And they do have all the same monitoring equipment that physicians have, and can indeed perform an episiotomy and newborn resuscitation (not the C-section, but most regular obs don’t do that I think.

              There are other kinds of certified midwives who are not trained health professionals, and non-certified midwives who learn through friends or family or passed-down traditions, and those are the ones who (sometimes) do home births and such without equipment.

        7. knitchic79

          Oh my goodness! That, hands down, beats the woman I interviewed who after showing up 20 minutes late gave the reason of…she couldn’t find her teeth. All I could think to reply was “Well they’re always in the last place you look.” My poor boss who was sitting in almost had to walk away.

      1. UKAnon

        I think OP is trying to do the latter half of point 1 (“I would only consider roles that would allow me some flexibility as a young mom”) and so I think a better approach for them would be to leave off the section and instead ask about it in interviews. It’s possible to ask about flexibility, work schedules etc and done right she may even be able to ask about how the company works with other parents if the right opportunity comes/she can phrase it correctly. It isn’t some huge mortal job searching sin to look for an environment that’s conducive to being a parent, but there are times and places.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          Well, yes, but a quibble: in any decent workplace, the reason you’re looking for flexibility won’t matter. Everyone (who has proven themselves responsible enough, and whose tasks allow it) should be allowed to telework for the same number of days a week, regardless of their family status. The same goes for flex hours and all the rest.

          But you’ve definitely hit the nail on the head about the place to be asking about work-life balance is in the interview.

          1. Allison

            Agreed. I’m not married and I don’t have kids, but I still have flexible hours and the ability to work from home. If I had a boss that only allowed parents that kind of flexibility, I’d be mad.

          2. UKAnon

            Oh I completely agree that reasons shouldn’t matter – I think it *is* slightly different in that children seem to be a lot more unpredictable to plan flexibility needs around (like needing sick time for three people not one) and so if the answer is “we allow working from home but only if you give a week’s notice” that may not be the sort of flexibility the OP wants, which is why I brought up how it works with other parents as a potential question, but I think that would have to be very carefully phrased. I was thinking more that the OP would find getting info specifically about parents more useful for her situation, even though I would expect all benefits to be the same across the board.

          3. Turanga Leela

            Agreeing with UKAnon here—I have friends who will specifically mention their childcare responsibilities when they interview, because kids’ needs are non-negotiable. My friend Zoidberg is a single parent without other family in the area, and he cannot stay late after work without notice, ever, because he needs to pick up his daughter at 5:15. It’s qualitatively different than wanting work-life balance to, say, go to a community softball league. If a work emergency occurs at 4:30, Zoidberg cannot cancel or get coverage; he still needs to leave at 5.

  3. Panda Bandit

    #2 – I don’t think you’d want to work there. The part where they said you’re taking too many courses and wanted you to change your schedule? While that could be a gentle way to say you’re not a good fit, it also comes across as a workplace that expects you to rearrange your life to their benefit.

    1. MK

      Or they were trying to let the OP down politely: “Oh, your fluency level is nowhere near enough for our needs, but you don’t want this job anyway, it conflicts with your school schedule”, and the OP just took it to mean they should change their life a.s.a.p.

  4. So Very Anonymous

    Yep, “reading knowledge” is how I list my language abilities. Definitely not fluent, but I know enough about the language/sentence structure/conjugation patterns etc. to be able to make my way with a dictionary for the vocabulary.

    1. Elizabeth West

      I have just enough leftover college French so that when we had to speak with customers/vendors in French-speaking areas of Canada at Exjob, I would get into trouble if I greeted them with “Bonjour, comment allez-vous?” They would start talking rapidly in French and I would have to say, “Whoa, wait a minute, Anglais, s’il vous plait! Ma Francais et tres, tres mal!” Or I’d start in French and finish in Spanish. >_<

      If I had three wishes, one of them would be that I could speak, read, and write every single language on earth fluently. Since genies are scarce these days, I'll have to go back to language courses. I would like to relearn French and also learn to speak Spanish well. The latter is a better choice for the US because of the large Hispanic population. There are plenty of places I shop where I can practice. :)

  5. "Computer Science"

    The behaviour described by the contractor in #3 sounds like it’s driven by embarrassment, and I can understand how that can be a barrier to accepting payment. It’s not a rational thing, but as someone with anxiety, it’s all too familiar. I’m trying to train myself to not avoid the existence of something I’ve failed at, and that’s tough.

    That might not be the situation here, but the end result is the same. They performed work, and they don’t get to override labour law. It’s a lingering liability- let’s say OP 3 moves on from their position, and the contractor decides they actually do want their money. That’ll cause a headache for everybody. OP 3, are you able to send a certified letter containing their payment?

    1. Jessa

      Exactly. Also I would keep the copies of the emails and information (in fact if you are not 100% sure your system will keep them pretty much forever, print them out and file them,) in case someone tells this freelancer a year from now that you legally had to pay them and they then decide to say they asked for money and you said no. This way you can then cut a cheque but probably avoid any penalties as you made a very good faith effort to pay the person in a timely manner.

      1. Chinook

        ” in case someone tells this freelancer a year from now that you legally had to pay them and they then decide to say they asked for money and you said no. This way you can then cut a cheque but probably avoid any penalties as you made a very good faith effort to pay the person in a timely manner.”

        I am trying to think how this would work in my world where we are withholding payment from a contractor who didn’t fulfill their contractual obligations (as in they gave us unusable data based on completely wrong assumptions and destroyed the original material they were testing, not simply made a few errors). If the freelancer never sent in an invoice, then they can’t claim penalties for late payment as we can only pay an invoice. I would also point out that they gave us something we could use even if it required a little work, which is not the same thing as giving us nothing. Basically, I would approach them like I do our co-op students because they are obviously new to this freelance thing and point out that their time is valuable and that only way to gain a positive professional reputation is to learn from their mistakes but still take credit for what they have accomplished (which, for a freelance, is done by invoicing your time).

        Then again, I work with a lot of first time independent contractors and have had to walk some of them through the process of not feeling guilty for charging so much for their time, the guilt for charging us for their expenses or the guilt of asking where their cheque is. It really is hard moving to the mind set of seeing yourself as a product worthy of being paid for (but once you do, there is no turning back).

    2. Jessa

      The other issue is you cannot send a certified letter if you don’t have address information, going forward, require all this information up front before hiring anyone. Are contractors subject to I-9 investigation before hiring? I just don’t see how you can hire someone and not have basic information about them.

        1. NJ anon

          What about a w-9? We require a contract and w-9 one of which needs to include their address. Also, could you not “Google” them?

          1. MsChanandlerBong

            It’s really nice that OP #3 wants to pay the freelancer for her time. I’ve been on the opposite end of the spectrum. I had a client order copy for several sell sheets to be used at a trade show. Each sheet was supposed to be on a certain athletic fabric offered by this guy’s client. He gave me some brochures and such, but he didn’t provide information on one of the products. The product wasn’t on the market yet, so there were no reviews or product listings online I could use for reference. When I told him I needed information on the fabric so I could write copy to sell it, he told me to “use my powers of literary persuasion” to make up something.

            Are you surprised to hear that he didn’t pay me the $1,310 he owed me? Later, he offered to settle for $300 because “that’s all it was worth,” even though he’s the reason I couldn’t do a good job.

            1. MsChanandlerBong

              I have no idea how that ended up there. I’ll repost a new thread; Alison, you can delete this if you want.

          2. Chinook

            “What about a w-9?”

            We don’t need any type of form like a W-9 in Canada except when they work for our US entity, so I could see this happening here (but then I would get to lecture the person who hired them about not having some type of contract or work directive in place to help protect everyone and the people on my floor have learned to not like my lectures and avoid them by actually following our procedures. Sometimes being a nag works).

            The W-9 says it is only required if the person paying the contractor files and information return with the IRS and if the contractor is a US person or a resident alien. Maybe there is a small category of freelancers that don’t fall into this category or she is so new at free-lancing that she hasn’t heard about this form? I suspect the latter since she was willing not to be paid.

          3. Ask a Manager Post author

            A W9 yes, but only if the payment is more than … $600, I think? And some companies don’t ask for it until they’re getting ready to pay you, which could have happened here.

            1. Katie M.

              Yeah, I’m a freelancer and I can’t recall ever getting a W9 before sending in my invoice and check mailing information, so I think it’s likely she didn’t fill one out.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      While the OP is admirable for insisting on paying, this is just a case of a vendor not charging for a service you’re unhappy with. If it’s a freelancer, it’s about invoicing, not labor laws.

      I wouldn’t pay the bill if I didn’t get an invoice and there’s probably an accounting rule somewhere that says you can’t pay the a bill if they don’t invoice. (I couldn’t process payment in my org without the documentation to go with it.)

      1. Chinook

        “I wouldn’t pay the bill if I didn’t get an invoice and there’s probably an accounting rule somewhere that says you can’t pay the a bill if they don’t invoice. ”

        I think it is a SOX requirement. We just got a reminder this week that A/P isn’t allowed to pay invoices that have been altered by us (which sometimes happens when the invoice has the wrong year or calculates the taxes wrong). Instead, we have to go back to the vendor and get a new invoice from them.

    4. John

      I see valor in the contractor’s refusal to accept payment. The reality is, she didn’t deliver what she was assigned, at least not at an acceptable quality level. Therefore, the assignment was incomplete.

      When I started a job a while back, my boss had already hired a freelancer to write a brochure (she received a resume over the transom — no writing samples, even!!!). I told the boss I could just do it myself but she had already contracted with Writer so wanted to proceed with that plan with me managing Writer. I met with Writer to give her samples of our brochures and all the info she’d need to bang it out…in fact, I was basically telling her how to structure it and exactly what it say…totally spoon-feeding her, because it was clear she didn’t get it and was not a skilled business writer.

      Let’s just say, her work was a disaster. We are selling financial services products, and she adopted a theater theme. “On the global financial stage, Bank Company’s products are all the script, stage direction and makeup you need for a strong performance.” It was atrocious. Embarrassing. Totally out of line with the examples we’re given her. I tried to explain how to fix it. She fought me on it. “But mine is creative!”). Eventually, my boss decided to just pay her the full rate they’d agreed upon to have her walk away from the project. I thought that was criminal. She failed and wasted my time.

      1. the gold digger

        I was hired by a temp agency to set up a database for a customer. I got to the customer, found out what they wanted, realized I did not have the knowledge to do the project, and told the customer and the agency that I could not do it and please, not to pay me for the two days I had been there figuring out I did not know what to do. I should never have accepted the assignment in the first place.

        Kelly Services sent me a check anyhow. I did not cash it. But several months later, they sent me a W2 (W4?) and I realized I would have to pay taxes on the earnings, so then I had to get them to re-cut a check and it was a big pain in the neck.

        Moral of the story: Take the pay.

        Moral #2 of the story: If you want a complex database created, you need to pay about $70 an hour for a database manager.

        1. John

          You took the honorable path, though.

          The person we paid got $5,000 for a few hours of writing tripe. There is no way she should have accepted it. And when we took the assignment away from her, she started phoning and emailing my boss to blame her failure on me…that I was trying to make myself look good by making her look bad. ??? She definitely should not have been rewarded. A terrible writer who refused help and direction then tried to make trouble.

          1. Observer

            Your boss was right though. She didn’t deserve it, but the cost of fighting her (even if she didn’t go to court) would have been too high. Sometimes it’s just sensible to cut your losses.

            Think about it – if she’s giving you all this flack when you already paid her, how do you think she would react if you didn’t? As it is, her calls can go straight to voicemail and her emails can be auto-deleted.

        2. Chinook

          “told the customer and the agency that I could not do it and please, not to pay me for the two days I had been there figuring out I did not know what to do. I should never have accepted the assignment in the first place.”

          I know exactly why they paid you (beyond the fact that you were an employee of Kelly Services and not a contractor to them) – your two days of work showed them that they needed someone with higher qualifications. If you had not done the work, they wouldn’t have had that knowledge which they can now build on.

          Ditto for poor writing quality. If all it needs is (major) editing but the bones are still useable, then their is an end product you can use. But, if even the bones are bad (see my earlier example of unusable data based on incorrect assumptions and no more material left for examination), then you can justify not compensating them for their time because you have nothing that is usable.

          Plus, there is something for upholding a company’s reputation for always paying for time spent on something if you want to ensure that the best and brightest are willing to work for you.

      2. Artemesia

        The rank sign of a total amateur is someone who gets creative AND resists feedback that this isn’t the professional look. Decades ago I hired someone to do brochure type work for an engineering conference and got art deco daisies in a field of olive green and turquoise. Very pretty but so not professional for the setting. She did revamp it so it wasn’t quite so cutesy poo when we gave her the feedback.

        1. John

          Yeah, that is why employers would rather go with someone tried-and-true in their industry than take a flier on an outsider, which is a shame for those trying to break through.

          Resisting feedback is not going to get anyone anywhere in this world, it really isn’t. What it told me was she wasn’t capable of doing things any way but her own.

  6. Pete

    #1 – I found there to be a little disconnect between the question and answer. Q: Is it unprofessional? A: Nooooo!

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      It’s pretty clear the advice is against leaving the section on the resume.

      “Nooooo! You absolutely, positively, 100% must take off any reference to your marriage or your kids.”

  7. Chocolate Teapot

    1. What is the best way of bringing up religion when it includes what might be a useful experience?

    For example, being a member of the church council would mean you have a role similar to that of a Director, responsible for the effective running of the church, checking the budget and accounts etc. I can imagine this would be helpful in some positions, however it is still religious in nature.

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      You can list it on your resume as volunteer expireance and adress it your cover letter. Mentioning religion isn’t the problem it’s doing it when it adds nothing to the application that’s problematic.

      1. FD

        Yeah, exactly. It’s the difference between saying something like:

        Attended St. Crispin’s Church (2000 – present)

        and

        Church Council, St. Crispin’s Church, 2014-present
        – Oversaw administrative aspects of church function, including developing and maintaining budget, ensuring invoices were paid promptly, and auditing accounts for internal controls

        1. BenAdminGeek

          This is very helpful, thanks. I’ve been financial officer of my church for years, but never found a good way to say it on a resume that highlights the skills.

    2. snuck

      I would list it as experience as I might any other voluntary / community roles. Remove the religion from it…

      June 2009 to present Elder, St Joseph’s Church
      Financial and book keeping duties, administrative management of the church, overseeing contractors and employees

      (Similar to the question about how to list a medical mari jua na question that came up.)

      In some roles it might be helpful/ necessary (in Christian schools in Australia you generally need to show you have a ‘Christian ethos’ etc to be employed by them), but you’d cover this in your cover letter as it’s a key requirement and asked for.

      1. Louise

        Or else perhaps – if they had an application form – they’d ask about church membership there. I’ve applied to a few positions at faith-based organizations and have had to provide the name of my church, dates of membership, and contact information for a leader there on application forms for about half of those positions.

        1. Elizabeth West

          There is a college here run by a very large conservative church that “strongly prefers” you to be a member before you apply there. The qualifications include details such as you can’t dance, swear, smoke, drink, or indulge in fornication or be gay, which basically lets out anyone who isn’t a member. A university classmate who belonged to it told me you had to wear a dress to work in their headquarters if you were a woman, and I imagine it was true at the college as well. (That alone would have killed it for me–I don’t wear dresses much.) The church also owns other business ventures around town, so when I was job hunting, I googled the hell out of everything so I didn’t inadvertently waste their time or mine.

          1. Louise

            Wow. My hometown is also home to a fairly conservative religious college, which does unfortunately have a lot of those same behavior codes in place. (The college doesn’t actually prohibit dancing, but definitely isn’t a huge fan of it.) Most of the religiously-affiliated employers in town (which tend to be associated with specific denominations – the college is inter-denominational) are much more relaxed, though. More, “Hey, don’t curse in the workplace because that’s common sense,” as opposed to “Cursing is sinful and you’re going to get fired AND have to answer to the Big Guy Upstairs if you do it.”

          2. ThursdaysGeek

            I don’t ‘dance, swear, smoke, drink, or indulge in fornication or be gay,’ but I’m not willing to wear a dress to work (or church). I guess I’m not a member of that church!

    3. INTP

      I agree with the examples below, describing the work the same way you would any other volunteer experience. You also want to make sure that you’re only including it if it adds something to your resume that is relevant to the posting and that your professional experience doesn’t provide. If you’ve been a CFO or VP of Finance for a few years and you do some accounting for your church on weekends, the volunteer experience adds little to your resume. If you are applying for office jobs and you help with childcare or construction work at church, same thing. If you just graduated with your accounting degree and you’ve been doing some accounting for your church, with little other hands-on accounting experience, then it is definitely worth including. I think the key is to not assume that they will be impressed by you being a member of a church or helping out the church in general – it can come across as presumptuous if you do. Include only what is relevant to the position at hand and not already covered by your other professional experience.

  8. Uyulala

    #1 – It’s not illegal for employers to ask those questions. It is only illegal for them to base their hiring decision on that information if it is part of a protective class in your state.

      1. Sydney Bristow

        If I remember correctly, in the very first episode of Mary Tyler Moore, Mary is interviewing for the job and Lou Grant asks her all those types of questions. Mary responds to each one trying to explain that it is illegal for him to ask that. Perhaps that is where the misconception entered into public consciousness.

      2. AW

        It’s hard to believe that an interviewer would ask about someone’s race, religion, etc. if they weren’t going to use that information in making their hiring decision. I can see marital status and/or kids coming up more organically if things like benefits and scheduling get discussed but generally I would assume that if an interviewer asks about it then it’s going to affect whether or not you get hired.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Well, think about how many clueless people ask about those things outside of a hiring context. Clueless interviewers can do the same thing, and it’s about their cluelessness, not using it in hiring..

      3. INTP

        I was actually taught that it is illegal as an HR Assistant. I think my boss went to a conference where they basically said “Never, ever do this” and interpreted that it is illegal. (For anyone wondering, it is not illegal, but is very strongly discouraged because it will almost certainly work against you if there is a discrimination claim related to the class you happened to be asking about in interviews.)

        1. Nom d' Pixel

          I agree. Asking the questions opens the door to a discrimination case if the person isn’t hired. In order to avoid the appearance of wrong doing, they have become forbidden. Because they have become forbidden, they are interpreted as illegal. If someone I am interviewing brings up their religion that is one thing (and it can come up in the context of dietary restrictions for lunch), but I would never ask it.

    1. Noah

      I got a death glare from HR when I said the same thing during management training at my company. We were handed a list of “illegal interview questions”. I pointed out that the questions themselves were not illegal, just basing hiring decisions on the answers. I was told not to ask them anyways.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        I was recently asked in an interview if I was married and had children. I think I said no, instead of “It’s none of your business.” Also, I have been asked whether I am in my current city because I moved with my husband.

        1. Chinook

          “I have been asked whether I am in my current city because I moved with my husband.”

          Unfortunately, I have to bring up DH’s career to explain my work history because we move at the whim of his career, not mine. Luckily, I don’t believe it has hurt me and it does give a reasonable explanation for my job jumping history. I do have to be prepared for the follow up question, though, of “how long do you expect to be here” (the answer is always – “we hope this will be our final posting as we truly like it and want to settle down.”)

        2. Elizabeth West

          I’ve answered them sometimes just to see what the interviewer will say next. I’ve only done it when I know I’m not going to take the job anyway. Usually, it’s a smaller employer and I’m rarely disappointed in terms of entertainment!

          Answers included:
          –I might have kids if I were married.
          –The business believed their work came from God (it was a title company) and had prayer meetings every Wednesday but they would probably exempt me from those, because “another Catholic lady works here and she’s nice.”

          1. Charlotte Collins

            Years ago, I had an interviewer keep asking me “What’s important in your life?” None of my answers fit what he seemed to want. I realized about a day later that the correct answer was probably “God” or “Jesus.”

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        I’ll give HR people everywhere a pass on this one. I tell people things can’t be done all the time, not because they can’t be done, but because I don’t want them to do them.

        If I were an HR person, I wouldn’t trust hiring managers to catch the subtlety of “you shouldn’t ask this because basing hiring decisions on it is illegal” and I’d write an ILLEGAL QUESTIONS list. :-)

        1. AVP

          I frequently have to do this with my boss (he owns the company and my job involves a lot of the minutia that he wouldn’t be bothered with). Often an explanation like “well, we can’t hire 100 unpaid interns to replace all of our full-time jobs because first of all, they won’t be very good and we’ll have to train them, which is not as cheap as it sounds, plus there are all these rules from the Labor Department on what you can and can’t do with unpaid interns, and also there is just no way I’m dealing with this,” is just too subtle and unwieldy to make an impact. “That is illegal!!” is what gets the job done, whether the actions are technically legal or not.

        2. Turanga Leela

          I think this is exactly it. I once bombed a quiz at an HR training because we were supposed to classify questions as legal or illegal, and many of the “illegal” questions were not illegal by any means—things like “How long is your commute?” and “Are you at least 21 years old?”

          The point was that we were only supposed to ask questions about the candidate’s abilities and experiences; everything else was suspect. I grumbled but answered the questions the way the HR rep wanted.

      3. BananaPants

        I got the same “Illegal Questions” list but I refrained from pointing out to HR that the questions themselves are not illegal, it would be potentially illegal to base hiring decisions on the answers (depending on whether the attribute put a person in a protected class).

        Practically speaking – while I know that the questions themselves are not illegal to ask, I would be somewhat stunned to actually have them asked of me. That sort of thing is just not done in my field. They may wonder but won’t ask. It would open up too much opportunity for me to complain of discrimination if not hired (I’m female in a predominantly male field).

      4. BRR

        I said this somewhere and my boss or her boss gave me the death glare. Like I was going to go about asking what gender and race the candidates were because I could.

        1. MK

          Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who would do just that; who believe that as long as something isn’t illegal, it’s automatically ok, so they would go on and ask.

          1. Sunshine Brite

            Yes, as a person of ambiguous race, you’d be surprised what people consider small talk or part of their business.

      5. HRChick

        I got this a lot when my husband was in the army. I think hiring managers wanted to know if they were going to hire someone at the risk of PCSing, so they’d just ask “Why did you move to this city?” to ascertain of my husband was in the army.

        When he got out of the army, I made the point of saying, “We were PCSed here, but my husband has recently gotten out of the army and we’re looking to put down roots.” and they seemed much happier lol

      6. Artemesia

        There is no way that people who don’t get the job are not going to think people asking those questions is not using the information. It is poor practice to ask them and I would argue unwise to quibble with one’s boss about whether they are ‘illegal’ or it is merely ‘illegal to use the information.’ If you are not going to penalize people for being mothers, or Jewish, or being diabetic, then why are you asking questions about this?

      7. Lily in NYC

        I made the mistake of denoting the difference in the comments section of a gawker post and got about 50 angry replies back from people who completely missed the point.

    2. HRChick

      It’s really really difficult to prove you did NOT base your hiring decisions on this type of information when you went out of your way to specifically ask about it in interviews.

      As HR offices, we get in the (some would say “bad”) habit of simplifying the “it’s a really really really bad idea to ask these things” to “it’s illegal.” People tend to blow us off if we say the first, but if it’s illegal they will be more careful.

      1. HRChick

        Although in our office we release the question recommendations as “Dos” and “Don’ts” now

      2. fposte

        Though, as Uyulala points out, the feds would allow you to make hiring decisions based on people’s marital status and children. They only care if it has a disparate impact that makes it another kind of discrimination.

        (There are, I believe, states and municipalities where you can’t use those in decision-making, but it’s not illegal in federal law.)

    3. nyc anon

      Yeah, I had 2 jobs I was looking at last year & in both cases the subject of my kids came up organically in the interview and it wasn’t particularly weird & didn’t feel wrong to me. I basically was stipulating that I would only consider the job if I could have 2 days a week at home, and in both cases, after chatting amicably about the job for some time, the interviewers asked if the request for flexibility was because I had kids. I said yes, and we talked about our respective kids, families etc. I was offered both jobs, so I don’t think it hurt me! (I ended up having to stay at my current employer, but that’s another story.) In both cases, it actually made the interview feel more like an actual conversation between 2 human beings and not a very artificial set up, as many interviews are. I think if #1 wants flexibility she can simply ask for it and see what happens. It’s not a big secret that people often ask for that when they have young children. I echo Alison’s response about putting that stuff on the resume–yikes!

    4. Vancouver Reader

      I have a slightly different question om this. Someone I know was hired for her position because the owner of the company allegedly said to hire her because he felt people of that religious affiliation were good, trustworthy workers. I heard this secondhand,so it may not be what was actually said, but is that still against labour laws?

      1. KarenT

        Seems a bit sketchy. In Canada it’s definitely illegal to make a hiring decision based on religion, so perhaps the rejected candidates may have some sort of case, since they were denied employment based on their religion? I’d still feel icky about it if I were hired _because_ of my relgion, but I’m not sure there would be a legal case (NB: there very well might be, IANAL)

          1. Vancouver Reader

            Thanks Karen. Like you, I wouldn’t want to be hired based on my religious affiliation, but since the person I know doesn’t have a lot of work experience (can’t even boast about having had a vaginal birthing!) I think she was happy to be hired for any reason.

            I’m not sure if it was a posted job or the person she knew just happened to mention to the owner that this person was looking for a job, so there might not have been other applicants.

  9. Stephanie

    #3: Oh. I’ve been the freelancer in this case. I did some freelance work that wasn’t up to par.(I was in over my head, but was in the midst of a really long job search and was just like “Yes! I can do this!” Work wasn’t up to par (and my client wasn’t super specific with what he wanted and got really angry about what I submitted). I was totally embarrassed and forwent payment.

    1. John

      I do believe that is the right thing to do. Good for you, Stephanie. Others can disagree but to me it shows professional integrity. You hold yourself to certain standards.

    2. Erin

      (Also a freelancer.)

      I hear you. I would probably do the exact same thing. But if I was on the other end, I’d insist on paying. Just one of those things!

  10. Julia

    About 1: How do you deal with a request for an English CV from a country that usually asks for information like dependents, age etc.? I applied for a job with the Japanese government (and got it, but maybe despite the resume?), and the Japanese CVs are usually standards forms filled out by Hand (you can buy blank CVs even) that list Age, dependents, hobbies… I just did a standard English CV and then listed those extra information at the end, but now I wonder about it.

    1. Monodon monoceros

      When I applied for my job in Europe (Norway), I just used my normal US CV. I vaguely knew that European CVs usually include personal data, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I assume that they were fine with it mostly because it’s an international organisation, and they were getting applications from all over the world, so they knew there were different conventions in different countries. I never asked my boss who hired me if she thought it was weird.

      But, they did ask me about my marital status and pets in the interview…even though I knew the rules were different here, it still shocked me a bit. They were paying to move me + dependents (including pets), so they framed it in that context. I also think they wanted to gauge how I would do adjusting to an international move, and whether that would include a spouse + kids adjusting, too. Still felt strange to me, but oh well. My dog and cat adjusted fine. I think my dog understands more Norwegian than I do :)

      1. Dutch Thunder

        Just a quick note to point out that conventions across Europe vary greatly ((not) including pictures, birth dates, marital status etc.), so I wouldn’t extrapolate an experience in one country to cover the whole of Europe.

        1. Jen RO

          And even where it’s common to include that information, it’s often fine if you don’t. I don’t have my marital status or my photo in my resume and no one has ever cared. (I do have my birth date and I find it weird when it is missing, but I would definitely not reject a resume for not including it.)

    2. matcha123

      I live in Japan, and if they ask for an English resume, I write it in an American style. That means I don’t include my birthdate, photo or “self-introduction.”

      If they ask for a Japanese resume, then I include the picture/graduation dates/etc. The resumes I’ve used haven’t asked for information about dependents, but there are so many different resume forms available. The ones at the 100 yen shop or 7-11 are just a small portion and often ask for info you might not really need to include.

      1. Julia

        That makes sense, thanks! In that case, they asked for English OR Japanese, and when I interviewed, they actually read off the Japanese CV I had sent it for the first open job I was rejected for, although I had applied with an English one for the second. Weird.

  11. hbc

    #1: Sorry, but unless you’re the only close-to-qualified candidate, your resume goes in the “no” pile. I can overlook the church entry since it’s indicating a (kinda) leadership role. But the family part down to the years married? This either indicates that you think family will play a large role in your work, or that you think that staying married and reproducing is an accomplishment. (I’ve done both, so I’m not knocking them, btw.)

    The missionary work part is, to me, the biggest problem. The foreign work makes me worry that you might be asking for long periods of leave that can’t really be moved around a work schedule, and the domestic work has me *very* worried that you’ll be proselytizing at the office.

    That might all be unfair, but I’ve got 100 resumes with limited information–I’ve got to go with what you’ve given me.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      I might round file for similar reasons. If the OP is only interested in religious orgs or companies where the hiring manager and other people are of her same religion, maybe?

      More than the religious part, though, the rest of that section sounds like the applicant has time traveled from 1964 (husband’s name on the resume?), and I’d think she’d be asking for a steno pad and where do we keep the carbon paper.

      So just, no. (We’re very family friendly, btw, just ask in the interview! :) )

      1. puddin

        /sigh…I miss carbon paper. It contains magical properties, and much like anything magic its use has faded over time.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I’ve posted this before, but I had one of those toner scam callers once at Exjob, and I told her we don’t use a copier; we used carbon paper. She was like, “Uhhhhh…” for a minute, and I wonder if she was trying to work out what the heck it was. It gave me time to say, “Bye!” and hang up.

          1. OfficePrincess

            I’m partial to “Wait, what’s going on with our service contract? Please transfer me over to customer service so we can get this sorted out” which is always followed by dead air.

            1. Stranger than fiction

              Aww wait a sec there ARE legitimate companies selling ink and toner, my friend has his own website. And the places that include it with service contracts are charging you high retail prices for the brand name (Oem) sorry I just had to say that, I also worked for one of the first online retailer of these products back in the late nineties

              1. Elizabeth West

                Most offices these days have contracts with equipment rental places–few of them, especially the smaller ones, own the machines outright. Those big copiers are fookin expensive. The contract includes toner–when it runs low, YOU call THEM.

                The folks that call you are almost always scammers. The ruse goes like this: they get you to agree to buy a toner cartridge from them. If you agree, they either ship you a worthless, useless cartridge or nothing, and then send you a bill for $600 or so and harass you mercilessly until you pay it just to make them go away.

                The Yellow Pages call is a scam. The toner call is a scam. The Microsoft call is a scam. The newsletter call is a scam. Anytime someone calls me to sell me something, I treat it like a scam. If I want to buy it, I’ll research it and then go find a legitimate company to help me.

    2. Bend & Snap

      All of this, plus I’d be concerned that there weren’t enough professional experiences/accomplishments to fill the resume.

      The church stuff is a huge turnoff. I feel strongly that religion has no place in the office. And that whole resume blurb is so tone deaf.

      1. Spooky

        +1 to both points. My first thought when reading it was, “whoa, that’s a lot of lines. Does she not have anything else to list?” And my second was, “No religion in the workplace!” Unless you work in religion, keep it out. It doesn’t belong there.

        1. HB

          Yeah, I was definitely wondering how she had room on her resume for all that detail about her personal life.

      2. Sadsack

        I think the church stuff should stay if her work there is relevant to the position she is seeking. But the family part should be removed no matter what. If you want to know about work/life balance, you ask about it. I don’t think one should mention her family as a hint that she may need to leave early sometimes.

        1. Anon Accountant

          Yes! When the family part is mentioned as a hint she may need to leave early sometimes it’d make me wonder how often is sometimes. I’m not a hiring manager but I’d wonder if sometimes meant regularly and if the kids activities would be a hinderance to overtime hours as needed.

    3. Allison

      “The foreign work makes me worry that you might be asking for long periods of leave that can’t really be moved around a work schedule”

      I’d worry about this as well. I wouldn’t reject someone because of it, but it would definitely need to be addressed early in the interview process, and not only would the vacation policy need to be made clear up front, it would also need to be made clear that the company wouldn’t be making any exceptions for OP. Unless the vacation policy is “unlimited,” in which case the hiring manager would need to have an honest conversation about when (if ever) a long vacation block for a missionary trip would be okay.

    4. nona

      +1

      I’d be worried about proselytizing at work, too.

      But I think most or all of the church experience described could be fine if it were framed as volunteer experience rather than personal-life-on-a-resume-for-???-reasons.

      1. John

        Agreed about the fear of proselytizing. I’d react different if it was framed as, “Created and oversaw food pantry operations at St. Ignatious.”

        1. MsM

          Or for the missionary work, something like “Tutored elementary school students in core subjects at St. Francis Preparatory in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.” But I agree: without specific volunteer tasks, it’s likely to raise concerns with any employer not explicitly affiliated with that denomination.

    5. some1

      “This either indicates that you think family will play a large role in your work, or that you think that staying married and reproducing is an accomplishment. (I’ve done both, so I’m not knocking them, btw.)”

      I’m not married and I don’t have children. Sometimes I am seen as not as stable or mature by people who are married and/or have kids, and I would be afraid that candidate is one of those people.

      1. anonanonanon

        +1

        This has happened enough times that I tend to be wary of people who bring up their marriage or children first thing in an interview or their first day/week of the job. I know it’s a common conversation topic when you’re getting to know someone, but marriage or kids have nothing to do with how well you can do a job.

    6. Observer

      Yes, this sends HUGE red flags about the possibility of proselytizing. The church job is actually quite worrying, because of the way it’s presented. It’s being called out separately from all of the other volunteer work and it’s framed as support of the mission rather than experience / tasks she is performing.

      I get that religion is a significant part of her life, and I find her commitment of time and effort admirable. But, I don’t want someone who is going to feel like they have a mission to convert the heathen (ie me) at work. If I don’t want to be subject to that, why should anyone else at work have to deal with it? And, as well, it creates potential religious issues. Why even go there?

      1. Lily in NYC

        Yup, my company fired the president’s assistant because she was asked to stop with her religious zealotry at work and kept up with it. We are a quasi-governmental agency and it looked terrible! She used to preach on the subway on her way to work and once someone who had seen her on the subway came in to meet with her boss and he was very uncomfortable. She gave me a bible (unasked for; I gave it back), sent me religious cards, invited me to church, and kept her favorite born-again preacher streaming on her desktop while wearing one earphone listening to him as she worked.
        .
        She kept doing this to other employees after being asked to stop so it didn’t end well for her. So, if I saw OP#1’s resume, I would think twice about inviting her in for an interview.

          1. Brandy

            Back in the 90’s when party lines were all the rage, my brother (who was ridiculously religious, just cause it made him look good he thought, and the rest of my family is normal) would get on and quote scripture. Other teens would be talking about what to wear and he’d interrupt to preach. No wonder he got his butt kicked a lot.
            I still see him today on facebook doing a version of this.

          2. Stranger than fiction

            Last nights episode of masters of sex comes to mind where the group of religious folks were preaching outside their office and blocking them from leaving

        1. Sans

          And I bet she went around telling everyone she was fired because of her religion. and that the people in her workplace didn’t like Christians.

          1. Lily in NYC

            They gave her 3 months to find a new job and really good severance and then told her she had to sign a gag order or whatever it’s called in order to get the severance. She was incompetent so she didn’t really have much of a case – she was also fired because of her inability to do her job. She makes bad-tasting cakes for a living now (but they are pretty).

  12. Not Today Satan

    I think #1 might depend on region or subculture. My mom works for a nonprofit (in the Northeast) that isn’t religious affiliated, but basically everyone who works there is conservative and part of the same religion. I could see them looking with favor upon a resume that includes details about church membership and family. And I could be totally wrong, but I could see this being normal in conservative parts of the South or rural areas.

    Not at all saying people should do it, I just think what LW does might not be considered inappropriate wherever she is.

    1. Louise

      Yes, I could see listing religious affiliation (without any specific leadership or professional roles) on a resume for certain employers. I’ve definitely had to in the past when applying to jobs with a very explicit and specific religious affiliation. (Family and marriage status never came up at any point in any of those application processes.) The town where I grew up is well-known for being quite religious, and many (if not most) people do actively identify as members of their particular church…but for all that my family and community raised me to value the role of religion in my life, it would never occur to me to simply list my religious affiliation on a resume that I was submitting to a non-faith-based employer.

    2. Shannon

      It’s not normal anywhere in the South. Basing hiring decisions on that information is illegal nation wide.

    3. nona

      This is not normal in the south. Some of it might be normal when applying for a job at a church or a religious business, school, or nonprofit, but it’s not normal otherwise.

    4. Katieinthemountains

      Yes, matching religious affiliation would be seen as a plus in some parts of the South, but why risk a mismatch when it shouldn’t be an issue at all in nonreligious workplaces?

  13. Chocolate Teapot

    2. As a linguist in a place where if you only speak one language, there is something wrong with you*, most jobs will have a language aspect to them. If you say on your CV that you speak a lanaguage, then never be surprised if the interviewer suddenly flicks into that language. It is possible to understand a whole conversation, even if you might not be up to speaking or writing about it.

    *This is not quite as insulting as it sounds. Most people have at least 2 or 3 and I once saw a supermarket checkout operator who spoke 6 languages.

      1. Prismatic Professional

        Me too! I’ve learned Russian and French and was fairly good at them when I was using them everyday (yay higher ed!)…but now I just switch between them in my head and couldn’t put a sentence together in only one of the languages for love or money. (Unless you count yes and no as full sentences!)

  14. BananaPants

    #1 – No no no no no. The blurb is tone deaf and wildly against professional norms in North America and I wouldn’t be surprised if your resume with that personal blurb was circular filed in most cases.

    I’m married and I have young kids too. Why do you think that your spouse’s name and the duration of your marriage, and the names and ages of your kids is at all relevant to your candidacy for a job? It shouldn’t be, so as a hypothetical hiring manager I’m left to assume you’re putting it out there so strongly either because you want brownie points for partnering and reproducing (congratulations for doing what humans have done for millennia!), or that you’re going to expect to have flexibility that isn’t offered to others simply because you have young children. You can determine something about the degree of flexibility offered to employees in the job description/industry and also in the interview.

    Years ago a job candidate included a picture of her family on the last slide of a Powerpoint presentation with the comment that she wanted to work for us in part because she wanted to be back with her family again. She had been doing a postdoc halfway across the country for years while her husband and child lived in this area for his job. I admit that I was a bit uncomfortable with that – it was like she was saying we should hire her in order to reunite her family. She is from a country where including marital and dependent status on one’s resume is expected/required, but she’d been in the US for years at that point. She was hired and is an amazing coworker, but I still remember how unusual it was and that I didn’t like feeling sort of manipulated by the reference to her family in that context.

    It’s OK to include a genuine leadership role for a house of worship if the things you did are germane to the job you’re applying for. You’re just a member? Not really relevant and again, I’m wondering if you’re including it because you think it your religious affiliation will somehow help your candidacy for a secular job.

    1. UKAnon

      I sort of see what your co-worker was trying to do; it does partly answer the question of why you want the job and will be you be committed. It was a clumsy way of doing it though!

    2. themmases

      Weirdly, ending presentations with a personal slide seems to be normal in what I’ve seen of medicine. The thank you/questions/OK I’m done talking slide will often include a photo. The photos range in relevance from the speaker on a medical mission doing the type of work described, to the speaker’s family members of the age of the population discussed, to just a beautiful landscape taken by the speaker on vacation or something. I see this sometimes in epidemiology too– usually in department talks, less commonly at conferences. So I can almost see such a slide being appropriate from a post doc who has heard advice about demonstrating a connection to the area if they will be moving. Almost.

      I’ve also seen a lot more personal stuff on medical CVs such as date of birth and hobbies. Definitely not kids though, and not sure about other fields.

      1. BananaPants

        We’re engineers. It was somewhat unconventional in interviewing to ask her to prepare a presentation but she volunteered to do so. She’s very good at her job and is a funny and kind coworker so clearly it worked out for the best! It’s just way more personal info than I’m used to receiving in an interview setting.

        Recently I’ve seen a bunch of new grad/entry level resumes that included extensive detail on hobbies. I don’t know if college career centers are telling kids to do this again. It’s almost always routine stuff like reading or cooking; rarely is it an interesting or demanding hobby.

    3. Emily

      That’s a poor execution, but I can see where including information like that could be helpful to assuage doubts about her willingness to relocate.

  15. NJ anon

    #5 and if that doesn’t work, file a complaint with your states’ dept of labor. It makes me crazy when employers try to take advantage of kids! I have had to do this twice. Argh!

  16. Sarahnova

    As someone who used to interview and assess execs on a daily basis, one of the things that used to drive me bats was that male execs would frequently make brief reference to their kids on their CVs under their “other interests” (“My two children keep me busy on weekends”) but women never did, because they knew well it was a career kiss of death.

    All this to say I agree with Alison, it doesn’t belong on the resume, but I would like it to stop being OK for men to do and not women.*.

    *This was among midlevel and senior execs in the UK; I can’t speak to the States or elsewhere.

      1. Sarahnova

        I would say at least 50% of the men’s CVs I reviewed mentioned children, almost always under 0ther activities/hobbies. I never saw a woman’s that did, and I think I would have remembered. (Disclaimer; not scientific data.)

        However, the nature of the work I was doing was such that my clients skewed at least 75% male, and the more senior they were, the more men there were (bleah). I can’t imagine a senior woman doing the same – I think it would be viewed as a sign that she was dangerously unreliable/uncommitted to her career (double bleah).

        1. Myrin

          Maybe this is a personal quirk of mine, but I find it really offputting when people list their children under “hobbies” (not in job situations, specifically. This annoys me whenever I encounter it). A child is not a hobby, it’s a person. At least put a verb or even a whole sentence there, that way I can understand you didn’t mean “I enjoy playing football with children” but rather “I enjoy chasing children off my lawn”. In all seriousness though, I could be biased since everyone I’ve ever seen do this was someone I didn’t like independently of their hobbies, but I really don’t like it.

          1. the gold digger

            Yeah – it’s the professional equivalent of saying you have to “babysit” your kids. You don’t babysit your own children. They’re your kids. They are your responsibility. It’s not babysitting.

          2. Sarahnova

            To be fair, I think the men concerned were listing it more under the theme “this is what I do when I’m not working” rather than “I consider these human beings that I am jointly responsible for a ‘hobby'”. But I get what you mean (and I share the disdain for a man who talks about “babysitting”!).

            1. Myrin

              Yeah, I’d say that’s generally what people mean by that. It’s just the phrase that really makes me bristle.

          3. Judy

            I’d guess the hobbies were things like “coaching my kids in little league” or “cub scout leader”.

        2. Chinook

          “the nature of the work I was doing was such that my clients skewed at least 75% male, and the more senior they were, the more men there were (bleah).”

          I have to speak to the bleah. I know why you feel that way and it is always my first reaction to this fact but, when you think about how society ahs changed, it sort of makes sense that, if women weren’t doing a job 25 years ago in large numbers, then odds are pretty good that there wouldn’t be a lot of them qualified to be a more senior employee now. We have the same problem in Calgary – 40 years ago there weren’t as many non-white in the area but now we are multicultural. But, as a result, those people in more senior community positions that require local knowledge and experience tend to be white because they are the ones with 40 years of local knowledge and experience. 40 years from now, though, I expect, and demand, that that not be the case.

          1. Elysian

            I understand where you are going, but with every passing day this type of rationalization gets less relevant, I think. 25 years ago now was 1990 – not that backward a time! A quick Google suggests (though I didn’t fact-check this) that men and women were equally likely to earn a college degree in the 90s. While I don’t doubt that there was gender discrimination then (as there is now), it isn’t so far back that that we can point fingers and blame our predecessors. Things aren’t so much better now that these problems are eliminated. We can say “25 years from now it will be better because…”

            This might sound preachy, but I don’t mean it to be. Your point is entirely valid, I think its just easy to get caught up with blaming a more backward time, and as I get older I suppose I realize that 25 years ago wasn’t really THAT long and times haven’t changed all THAT much.

    1. AW

      make brief reference to their kids on their CVs under their “other interests”

      Putting your kids under “Other” is just…I don’t even have words for how weird that is.

    2. Uyulala

      I wonder if that is because so many people still look at the mom as the primary care giver and the one who will miss work if the kid needs someone home. Even OP #1 says she wants a company that will let a mother leave early — not one that will let a parent do so.

  17. Katie the Fed

    #1 – Please don’t do this for all the reasons Alison explained. Also – as a professional woman – your “personal background” is really irrelevant. You’re more than a wife and mother – if you’re getting hired, you’re a professional. Focus on that. I know you’re proud of your family but this isn’t the place, and it really stands to hurt you professionally. You don’t see men putting this kind of thing on their resume, after all.

    1. hbc

      I once had a guy who put his kids and *their* accomplishments on his resume. As in, “-Son was All City offensive lineman his sophomore year. -Daughter is former Miss Ohio, participated in Miss America competition.”

      1. Lily in NYC

        OK, I’m going off on a tangent, but my mom gets the weirdest card a few times a year from an old family friend of my late father. All it consists of is a list of her grandchildrens’ names and the sports they play, nothing else. No one in my family cares about sports or has met any of these kids. It’s just so odd yet entertaining.

      2. BenAdminGeek

        Eldest daughter- Fromer citywide Barbie roleplay champion, April 2014, reigning American Girl doll costume designer (Geek Family division) 2015
        Youngest son- currently 92% potty-trained, All-State cookie drooler May 2015

          1. BenAdminGeek

            My parents refuse to let their Christmas letter die, maybe I can get them to work this in.

  18. Katie the Fed

    #2 – Honestly, this strikes me as an integrity issue, and borders on falsifying your resume. I would end your candidacy too. You claimed to have a skill you didn’t have. That’s a big deal. Whether or not the language was a crucial part of the job is irrelevant – you said you had a skill that you didn’t.

    1. Myrin

      I feel like OP didn’t intentionally falsify, though – she wrote Even though I have “fluency” (i.e., completely understand listening – but have hard time speaking) should I not have put it on my resume?, which suggests to me that she misunderstood what “fluency” actually means. That being said, I’m unclear on how that could happen in the first place – “fluency” is actually one of the more clearly defined terms I can think of in such a context so how that information could have bypassed someone is beyond me, to be honest. There surely are murky terms to describe your proficiency level in a language – I’d say “advanced” is one of those, for example, and would have to be defined more clearly -, but “fluent” isn’t one of them.

      1. Katie the Fed

        Intentional or not – the effect is the same. And because as you explain so well – it’s such a well-understood term, I’d kind of give the side-eye to anyone who claimed they didn’t understand what it meant. Worst case – flat out lied. Best case – misunderstood something that’s widely understood. Either one probably doesn’t bode well for the job.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          I’m starting to agree very strongly with this. “Fluent” is a term that most people understand, and they generally take it to mean, “Oh, I can start speaking to you in Other Language right now.” If the OP had been surprised and asked for a moment to arrange thoughts, then fine– but to say she is fluent when she can’t actually speak… yeah, I’m with you.

        2. Myrin

          Oh, absolutely. I just wanted to point out that the way the letter is worded, the false claim doesn’t seem to have been made maliciously/intentionally, but I can totally understand being dubious about the truth of that misunderstanding – and as you say, there’s really no good outcome to this either way.

        3. Us, Too

          I’ve never met anyone who speaks more than one language who would interpret the English word “fluency” as the OP did. In the “worst” light, I’d assume she is falsifying her credentials. In the “best” light she lacks functional fluency in the English terms required to describe the job requirements – which isn’t a good thing, either. I’d remove her from my candidates list regardless of which reason it was.

    2. KT

      I agree with this–I think the OP genuinely made a mistake and misunderstood the definition of fluency, but it certainly would raise integrity issues with an employer

      1. Elizabeth West

        Even if they understood the mistake, her lack of fluency disqualified her as a candidate anyway. They obviously were looking for someone who was comfortable speaking it.

  19. matcha123

    For #2, there are so many different ways to express language ability. Saying that you have “fluency” in a language without adding any extra detail means FLUENT. It sounds like you can understand limited conversation and give limited replies.
    If I were you, I would list my ability as “conversational.”

    As someone who uses a second language as my main language for work, let me give you a list of the things I do. If you think you can do the same or even better, then you should say that you speak the language at an upper-intermediate level.

    Answer the phone in the language and take notes/give proper advice, etc.
    Translate business/formal letters from the language into English keeping a similar level of formality.
    Speak in the language using polite, business appropriate language.
    Understand and properly respond to conversations happening at work.
    Use the computer in that language’s OS.
    etc.

    Not to beat you up, but if you spent your life listening to your parents talk TO you in their language while you responded in English only, you are a heritage speaker and not fluent in that language. If you want to become better in that language, it sounds like you have a solid base to build on. But, you shouldn’t call yourself fluent if you can’t spend a full day immersed in that language.

    1. the gold digger

      When I was looking for work when I was in Miami, a few people asked me why I thought my speaking Spanish would give me an advantage over anyone who grew up in Miami with Spanish-speaking parents.

      My reply was that although I do not have native fluency – I will never have a perfect accent, I, unlike a lot of the heritage speakers, had studied Spanish in school so could speak, read, and write with proper grammar. I also knew the difference between proper Spanish and street Spanish.

      I actually did get a job in Miami requiring fluency in Spanish.

      1. StarHopper

        Spanish teacher here. I have students with Spanish-speaking parents who want their children in my class (rather than French, where we are supposed to put heritage speakers) because they want their kids to actually LEARN the language. Simply being able to understand it is not enough to be able to produce it in speech and writing, especially in a business setting that depends on accuracy.

        1. jmkenrick

          My mother is Swedish and spoke to me at home growing up – but because I never had any formal education, I would argue that I didn’t achieve fluency. I can read pretty well, but I can’t write. I could never explain to you how the grammar works or translate something. I can just tell you if something ‘sounds right’.

          1. Tau

            I could never explain to you how the grammar works or translate something. I can just tell you if something ‘sounds right’.

            To be fair, that’s actually how it usually goes for native languages. I had the sometimes-interesting experience of ending up in mandatory ESL classes as someone who was effectively a native speaker of English, and it really drove home how I didn’t consciously know how the grammar worked at all. I think it fostered an interest in linguistics due to the amount of times my classmates would ask me (as the resident expert, after all) to explain why something had to be said X way instead of Y way and my answer would be “I… don’t know? It just *does*.” And I suspect in some ways I was worse at translating than my classmates, because they’d been taught a direct English-German correspondence whereas I didn’t have that and always had to go via the concept the word referred to.

            Not writing I’ll grant you is a real issue, though, and hard to learn without that formal education! IME formal speech can also be an issue if you only speak a language at home (I know I had a few very embarrassing accidents with formal vs informal “you” when we moved back to Germany).

          2. Marcela

            Well, I am a native speaker of Spanish and I can’t explain how the grammar works. I simply know something is right or wrong. Thr truth is that I don’t care about the technical rules of my native language, it doesn’t make any difference in the way I speak and write. Now, English is another thing. The rules help me to use the language, to connect words in meaningful sentences.

      2. matcha123

        True. I took Korean in university and my classes were filled with heritage speakers who knew how to answer their parents, but couldn’t read or write. I could never attain their level of spoken fluency, but I could totally make up for that with my reading and writing skills.

    2. MsM

      I’m not even sure “conversational” is the best descriptor, since that still implies that OP should be able to have a basic conversation without any real prep. The suggestions above about using the State Department scale are great; I might have to use them myself. (I quit listing Spanish on my resume when I stopped feeling confident about my speaking skills, which were never great to begin with, but I can still read and write well enough to get by.)

  20. Aim Away From face

    Being married and/or having kids isn’t any sort of “accomplishment”, professional or otherwise.

    Sorry.

    1. Katie the Fed

      I don’t know – some days I feel like making it out of the house wearing matching shoes is an accomplishment.

      1. KT

        Wearing pants/shoes on a Monday morning=accomplishment. Maybe not resume friendly, but we all know it’s true.

        1. aliascelli

          I was once voted “Most Likely to Forget to Wear Pants” in an employee survey. I campaigned for that win!!

      2. Ad Astra

        So many of the things that make me feel accomplished would NOT be impressive on a resume. Washing my makeup off before bed, putting my folded laundry away within 24 hours of laundry day, cooking any sort of meal with more than two ingredients….

        1. Artemesia

          My dishwasher died on Friday and I actually washed dishes for a Sunday dinner party by hand – ALL of them. Do I hear cheering?

          1. Ad Astra

            That deserves a medal. I would have been tempted to just throw the dishes away and buy new ones.

                1. Charlotte Collins

                  I’ve already made clear that I’m not moving again unless its to somewhere with in-unit washer and dryer.

                2. Elizabeth West

                  I own a POC house, and I have a washer and dryer, but I’d die without AC. And I really do want a dishwasher, but it is not going to happen in this house. Nowhere to put it.

              1. Tau

                I don’t have a dishwasher and I want one so much. :(

                Although tbf, if I had a dinner party I’d probably lasso the guests into helping to clean.

                1. Arjay

                  I have a dishwasher and air conditioning, but I’d give my eyeteeth for a washer and dryer in our apartment.

        2. LeahS

          My first thought was literally “This person is GREAT at life”. Impressive on a resume, no. Impressive, heck yes.

        3. ImprovForCats

          Successfully clipping the cats’ claws feels a lot more like skilled labor than some of my more mundane office tasks.

      3. Azalea

        I have mornings where I double check to make sure I’m wearing pants. I consider the fact that I am an accomplishment. However, I doubt employers would see it that way. :P

        1. LeahS

          Haha! This is totally off-topic, but reminds me of the day I took the GRE. I got out to my car after the exam and realized my pants were on backwards. And then reconsidered whether or not I was smart enough to get into grad schools. But in my defense, I was exhausted.

      4. KTM

        Now you have me picturing my own personal resume for life… maybe one I can hand off to potential friends so we can evaluate each other haha.
        Accomplishments:
        -Regularly able to wear matching shoes and socks out of the house. Responsible for ensuring same goes for husband
        -Ability to create a variety of pasta dishes with remnants of meat and vegetables in the fridge when the house is overdue for groceries
        -Extensive knowledge on navigating wedding dress shopping with family and friends

        App Skills:
        Fluency in SnapChat, Instagram, and Facebook. Working knowledge of Twitter and Whatsapp.

    2. Bend & Snap

      Raising my kid is 100x harder than my job. Juggling them both on my own some days feels like an Olympic sport.

      I don’t talk about this in the workplace, but rest assured, being a good parent is absolutely an accomplishment.

    3. AnotherAlison

      ITA. My dad’s parents were married 60 years (and raised 5 kids) before my grandfather died. Fairly certain they hated each other for at least the last 30 years. Any couple can accomplish this simply by not getting divorced.

      1. Bend & Snap

        I’m getting divorced and that feels like an accomplishment! It’s much harder than getting/being married.

        1. AnotherAlison

          It’s definitely more of an accomplishment than staying married and unhappy for half your life!

        2. Artemesia

          LOL — I am 40 + years into a wonderful marriage. One of my greatest personal accomplishments was leaving my first husband 3 years in, in spite of a family that considered divorce a mortal sin and a blight on them personally. And the guy was not a monster — we were just not a good match. I have never however listed that divorce among my accomplishments although considering it so.

          1. Bend & Snap

            I love this! People tend to say “I’m sorry” when they find out and really, I feel like they should be saying “Congratulations!”

        3. MashaKasha

          It’s very much an accomplishment. Takes guts to walk out. And it takes a lot to split up in a civil way that’s fair to both sides, and to provide the kids (if there are any) with the kind of life that will allow them to benefit from the divorce vs. losing out because of it.

          My inlaws were a lot like AnotherAlison’s parents and the takeaway my ex got from watching his parents was, no matter how much your marriage sucks, you stick it out, because marriages are supposed to suck or some such drivel. I’m sure both he and I are now happier because I walked out. But more importantly, that was NOT the message I wanted to ever give my children.

    4. Spooky

      I think the key here is that things that belong on the resume are “what did you accomplish that someone else in the role wouldn’t have?” Even if you take out the workplace element, getting married and having kids is very much the norm. It doesn’t matter if it’s an accomplishment – if everyone else is accomplishing it too, it doesn’t make you special and doesn’t belong on your resume, just like saying “I can operate Gmail” doesn’t make you special and doesn’t belong on a resume.

  21. Helka

    You told them you were fluent in a language you knew they wanted to include as part of the job function, and you weren’t expecting a portion of the interview to be in that language? I’m sorry, that’s just… I’m kind of surprised by that. It seems pretty obvious, no? Every bilingual position I’ve had has included a portion of the interview in the desired language. How else are they supposed to assess whether you’re any good at it?

    1. Ygritte

      True story, I worked in an office that wanted a person who was bilingual in Spanish. We had no one else in the office who spoke Spanish and they didn’t test the incoming person in any way. My questions about how we could verify she was actually a good Spanish speaker went ignored, but I suspect from the giggling of our Spanish speaking employees she was the equivalent of Peggy Hill.

      1. sofia

        I once went to a job interview where they wanted to test my Spanish ability, but the only person currently in the office who could speak any Spanish only knew it in the context of ordering Mexican food. So they had me, a Mexican-American, pretend to take the guy’s imaginary order during the interview. This was a tech start-up by the way, so NOT food service related at all—I have no idea why they thought him confirming that I understood that he wanted mild salsa on his burrito would have any significant effect on their business.

  22. Allison

    #1, I’m always turned off when I see things like this on a resume. Sometimes it’s really over-the-top, like when people list their time as a stay-at-home mom as employment (it’s a job, yes, and maybe you list it somewhere to explain an employment gap, but it doesn’t belong in employment history), and sometimes it’s brief, like “proud father and loving husband.” I really don’t care if someone has a family. I don’t dislike it, but it’s not going to sway me in favor of considering them either if they’re not qualified for the job. It feels like they’re saying “I’m a good person with a family to support” as though that makes them more deserving of the job than someone without a family. That might’ve been the case in the 1950’s, it’s not the case anymore.

    Furthermore, stop listing your hobbies. If you have a legitimately interesting hobby, feel free to mention it in the interview if you get a chance, but don’t list hobbies on a resume, and really don’t list mundane stuff like cooking, reading, and gardening.

    1. Florida

      Listing the stay-at-home mom doesn’t bother me, only because I feel like people are doing it to explain a gap. If I were personally in that situation, I would include it in my cover letter rather than my resume. However, it someone listed a 5 year job of stay-at-home parent under the employment section, I wouldn’t disqualify them for that. However, if they tacked on at the bottom that they were married, had kids, etc. like OP did, I would disqualify them.

      Maybe that’s not fair, but I can understand the reasoning behind listing stay-at-home parent as a job (need to explain the gap), but I can’t understand the reasoning of tacking on to the bottom.

      Agree with you about the hobbies. If it is relevant, you can list it, but that would be an extremely rare situation. Maybe if you are applying to work for an arts organization and you have sung in the community choir for ten years, that would be relevant. Otherwise, let’s talk about it after you get the job and we start working together.

      1. Allison

        Again, I don’t mind mentioning it to explain a gap, but people get really weird and gimmicky about it, listing their husband or family as their employer, or listing themselves as CEO of the home, and listing their parenting duties using corporate buzzwords in an attempt to make it seem like driving their kids to soccer practice or making dinner could translate to job skills. I just roll my eyes when I see it, and wonder if the person is desperate to get into the workforce or just really clueless.

        1. KT

          YES! I once got a resume that said “Corporate Manager” as the title, the “Company Name” was “Lannister Family Enterprises”…and she listed her husband as a reference.

          The responsibilities included “Wholesome catering for demanding 2 year-old tycoon” and “Cleaning up messes made by an over exuberant 5 year old event planner”.

          I’m all for explaining gaps, but do it in a frank, upfront way, not a cutesy or gimmicky scheme..it just read as ridiculous.

          1. The IT Manager

            Oh no! “Cutesy and gimmicky” is right and that has no place on a resume. Although to be fair she’s making up fake titles for her kids just like the fake one she made up for herself.

          2. OfficePrincess

            I’ve seen people do this in their “About Me” section of their blogs. To me, that seems ok, because it’s your stereotypical mommy-blog and it’s relevant to what you’re posting. But on a resume? No, just no. Because if you tell me you “resolve disagreements to maximum customer satisfaction” with your two year old, I’m going to 1) wonder if that means you just roll over and give in and 2) wonder if you’ll talk to difficult customers like they’re two. Neither is good.

            1. Elizabeth West

              Your blog is a fine place for it, unless you’re running a company blog. Mine says “lives in Missouri with a psychotic cat and an overflowing library.” No one would want to see the cat on my resume, however.

            2. So Very Anonymous

              Yeah, my sister lists herself as “CEO of the Hawley/Smoot Household” on her Facebook page, but I’m assuming that she’s not doing that on a resume or job application materials.

          3. BananaPants

            A gimmicky resume like that would get passed around for amusement. The applicant would never be interviewed – why waste our time?

          4. MashaKasha

            OMG what a horrible picture to paint of yourself. “Wanna hire a batshit insane person? Well here I am!”

            Might as well say it on your resume that you’re owned by your twelve cats.

            I’m cringing now on behalf of all of us working mothers that managed to keep this stuff out of the hiring process.

            1. OfficePrincess

              Though it would be nice if the crazies broadcast it that clearly. It would save a lot of headaches later.

          5. Florida

            I think I misunderstood your original comment. I can see them listing it to fill the gap, but I agree with you about calling themselves the CEO or using corporate buzzwords. That would make me roll my eyes.

        2. Andrea

          This, exactly. My sister has been doing this lately—describing herself as the CEO of her household, saying that she does the work of a manager, professional chef, nurse, chauffeur, etc., etc. I think it’s because she regrets quitting her job–and yeah, privately, I thought it was a bad idea, too–and she’s trying to justify it by making it seem like she gained skills that will transfer to come career or be deemed valuable in a professional job setting. Which, no. I think it’s pretty pathetic when moms do this, and there’s no way I’d ever take it seriously if I saw it from a job candidate.

          1. Allison

            If you want to transition back into the workplace, you need to understand that domestic skills and office skills are two completely different things. Even if you used MS Office programs to plan a family vacation, organize the budget, or help Junior make birthday cards for his friends, that doesn’t translate to a professional setting. And I can guarantee that if you’ve been out of the workplace for even 5 years, most of your skills are going to be rusty at best and, at worst, obsolete. You need some re-training to update your skills if you want to compete with applicants who are currently working.

            1. some1

              Right – I handle my personal finances and can put an outfit together at the store but I wouldn’t say I have Accounting or Fashion experience.

            2. cv

              I’ve been wondering about one specific instance of this: we hired a nanny for our kids, and it feels like that ought to count for something when it comes to having managed people before. I’d never list it on a resume or in a cover letter, but I can’t quite decide if it would be totally off base to mention it in an interview if they asked about experience managing others. I’d never claim it was equivalent to managing in an office, but I did interviews, checked references, negotiated salary and vacation time, I deal with a payroll company and run payroll, handle unemployment insurance, etc. And I’ve definitely learned some things about communicating with someone you’re managing (this blog has actually been really helpful on that!).

              But I feel like I probably shouldn’t mention it at all. Sigh.

              1. Laine

                I think this is interesting because as my friends have gotten older/established enough to hire cleaning and child care staff I’ve been totally fascinated by their refusal to manage them. I found it relatively easy myself, but I suspect it’s because I grew up with help so I saw how my mom handled it and I just copied her. My friends with household staff now generally didn’t grow up with it, or it was something their moms didn’t discuss openly, so I imagine that was the cause of the initial hesitation – but the refusal to set expectations for people inside your home is so baffling to me – especially when these people usually can be quite assertive with tailors and wait staff etc. I can totally imagine this coming up as a discussion in a job interview, but can’t quite imagine how it would play out in a resume or CV.

                1. Allison

                  Seriously, you’ve giving these people money to manage an aspect of your personal life – an aspect that I assume is important to you since you’re spending money for it to be done well – so why not (politely) make sure it’s done the way you want it?

            3. AcademiaNut

              With the “CEO of Household” thing…

              It is true that if you did SAHM tasks for pay, working as a nanny/housekeeper for another family, you would be able to list that job on your resume without questions. However, you would have been doing those jobs to someone else’s specifications, and could provide a reference, while when it’s for your own kids and house, there is very little quality control, short of social services getting involved.

              Plus, even a five year stint as a paid housekeeper/nanny wouldn’t be particularly useful when applying for a lot of jobs, unless it’s directly relevant to the work you would be doing. Claiming that it was relevant experience when it wasn’t would get your application pitched just as fast as the CEO of Homes resumes.

              When it comes to what can be listed on a resume, I think the exceptions are ones that would apply to any other hobby.

              Cooking dinners for a picky eater doesn’t get listed. Writing and releasing a web-based tool for meal planning with picky eaters, or running a cooking based blog very well could be relevant, depending on the job you’re applying for. Something like serving on the board for your child’s daycare or running fundraising campaigns might be relevant.

              It’s like I wouldn’t list birdwatching or DMing RPGs on my resume, but if my employer went to my github repository, they might find software tools that I’ve written for use in the hobby, (along with the professionally released software) which could be useful for a job application.

          2. HRChick

            I really hate when people do this because, to me, it really minimizes what people who actually hold those jobs do to become professionals in their areas. Giving birth to a child and having to take care of it doesn’t even make you a “child care specialist” – what makes you think that it makes you any of those other things??

            /vent

          3. Artemesia

            The thing I don’t get about this Mommy CEO stuff is that these are things everyone does. I have been a SAHM and mostly a WOHM and when I worked outside the home, the management skills for maintaining my home and raising my kids were much more demanding than when I was a full time mother. The working Mom is doing all these same things but backwards and in heels. And mostly it is the working Mom and not Dad who is performing home executive functions. So these home management functions do not distinguish the applicant in the way that she implies.

            1. Cat

              Yeah, particularly the “professional chef” stuff – you know people who aren’t stay at home moms somehow have to feed themselves and their families too, right? Shocking, I know.

              1. Charlotte Collins

                Also, I don’t have kids, but I still run my own household and have helped with some eldercare in my family. That doesn’t get added to the resume. (Although my mother swears up and down that eldercare is definitely more work than childcare – you can’t put your elderly relatives in a timeout! Also, they’re used to being the ones in charge…)

                1. Allison

                  Seriously, I lived with an impossibly lazy dude, and sometimes it felt like running the apartment felt like a full-time job. But it’s not on my LinkedIn profile!

            2. BananaPants

              My husband just spend a year as a SAHD (he returned to work 2 weeks ago). Much of what he was doing was stuff like cooking, cleaning, running errands, doing grocery shopping, etc. which is sort of a necessary thing for any functioning adult to do, or have someone do for them. Caring for the kids was rewarding and time consuming but there was no professional skill development in dropping off the preschooler at pre-K on time every day or taking the toddler to library story time. It would have been disingenuous (and absurd) for him to have put it on his resume as if it was some sort of special achievement in his career field. He certainly didn’t put his stint as a stay at home dad on his resume, although it was briefly addressed in his cover letter and during his interviews to explain the resume gap.

              Frankly, I think a lot of the “Household CEO!” and “A SAHM is worth a six figure salary because she’s a nurse, a chef, a chauffeur, a child care worker, an accountant, and a personal shopper!” stuff is nothing more than mommy blogger click bait.

        3. Ad Astra

          I notice this a lot on Facebook. Lady, you don’t have to list an employer at all, so why go to the trouble to type in “Full-time mommy” as your position at “Smith House”? It’s weird.

          1. some1

            Exactly. If you were secure about being a SAHM you would just list that or leave the field blank – you wouldn’t need to dress it up and call yourself a Domestic Goddess or “CEO of the Jones Family”.

      2. LawPancake

        We hire law students for clerk positions twice a year and they all include an “interests” section (which makes sense because they very rarely have enough relevant experience to fill a resume). We’ve never brought someone in because of something on it but we’ve certainly had a good laugh about some of the things they include. One included their fluency in an imaginary language (think Klingon)… Now I wish we’d had someone here that could have tested them on it…

    2. SherryD

      “It feels like they’re saying “I’m a good person with a family to support” as though that makes them more deserving of the job than someone without a family.”

      To me, that’s the crux of why I don’t like this info on a job application.

      1. anonanonanon

        I once worked with someone who demanded that her yearly bonus be doubled because she had children and needed more money to support her family than single people or married people without children.

    3. cv

      In addition to “I’m a good person with a family to support,” I think listing your young kids on your resume says “I care more about how flexible my job is than about the work” or “I’d really rather be a stay at home mother and I’m only getting a job for the money” or “I don’t understand professional boundaries around family and so I’ll be one of those people who expects others to cover for me when my kids are sick/who brings my kids to the office/who can’t miss a single one of my kid’ 217 sporting events this season/who thinks my coworkers want constant updates on every tiny little think my kid does.”

      These things may be totally untrue, but the choice to include that private information on a professional resume raises some red flags that are hard to ignore.

      (And I say this as a working mother of two young kids, so this isn’t coming from across-the-board anti-parent bias.)

    4. MashaKasha

      I list one non-work-related thing on my resume and that is one line under educational attainments,, at the very bottom, saying that I graduated from an online creative writing class and was recommended for the advanced level. The reason I do that is because I’m not originally from the country where I live, didn’t come here till I was 30, graduated college in my home country, etc. I want the employer to see some tangible proof that I actually speak English, and didn’t just hire someone to throw this resume together for me. I’m in the Midwest and some of the folks here are still pretty skittish of immigrants. I’ve had a few people review my resume and tell me that, normally, this line shouldn’t belong on the resume, but in my case, it’s probably a good idea. So I’ve been cautiously keeping it there.

      All the other personal stuff: married, divorced, raised two awesome kids, dated high above my station in life, managed to keep a rose garden alive for five years… that’s all fluff that tells my employer nothing about what I bring to the table in terms of me doing the job he’s hiring me for. So it stays off my resume as it should. Heck, it’s hard enough to keep it down to two pages as it is.

  23. Shannon

    LW1 it sounds like there may be business skills that you can convey from having been a church elder and the nature of your support for pet adoption agencies. However, I’d try to highlight exactly how it translates, as other posters have mentioned.

    I am normally a huge proponent of the “work to live, not live to work,” philosophy. However, putting in a personal section like that would make me wonder if you’re interested in my job or just any job, especially if there isn’t a clear parallel between your personal information and what my company does.

  24. Leslie

    For #3, You may have a requirement to turn the payment into Unclaimed Property (through the Revenue department of their state) if you are unable to get it to her.

  25. Julie

    Re: #2 — Here in Quebec, a lot of job descriptions ask for candidates who are “fluently bilingual in French and English.” They don’t always mean it, however. Sure, there are times when you need a candidate who has flawless grammar in both languages and who could give a high-level presentation to a bilingual audience, but oftentimes you don’t.

    On my resume I have a simple note of “Languages: English and French.” In interviews, when I’m asked about my French skill, I’ll say something like, “I’m conversational, though I’d need to brush up on the specific vocabulary for this industry. I can read fairly well, but I wouldn’t trust something I’ve written to go out to stakeholders without someone to proofread it. I can make myself understood in emails, though there may still be some errors.”

    At that point, it’s up to the hiring manager to determine whether that’s good enough or whether they need someone more fluent. Also, a lot of interviews — even ones for primarily English environments — will have at least a portion that’s conducted in French, so they can gauge your ability up-front. In the end, there’s no point lying about fluency here because it’ll be sussed out very quickly if you’re lying.

  26. F.

    OP#1, I would be concerned that putting personal information on a resume (not necessarily yours, OP#1) could be someone trolling for an EEOC lawsuit if they are not hired. I do NOT want to know whether you have children or are involved in various religious, political or community activist organizations when I am screening your resume.

  27. hermit crab

    Just out of curiosity, for #5, would the answer change if the employee was still a minor? On the one hand, the points about learning how to deal with employment scenarios yourself are still valid. On the other hand, I can picture a situation where a 16-year-old employee’s complaints unfortunately get brushed off until an “actual” adult gets involved.

    1. Shannon

      It would depend on the kid and the employer. I might very actively coach my child, but, I think part of that coaching would be how to elevate the issue through the place of employment’s chain of command.

      1. Artemesia

        This. Part of raising competent kids is to help them negotiate things like this. I have coached my adult kids on negotiating for starting pay; certainly Mommy would never actually do it. And for things like this employer or school crises, helping the kid manage the process is helping the kid grow up more competent. There may be a moment when a parent getting directly involved is appropriate, but first help the kid assert herself.

    2. Blurgle

      I don’t live in the U.S., but when I was 16 I wasn’t legally permitted to make a claim with the Labour Relations Board. My parents had to do it.

    3. Amy UK

      Good point. Heck, a lot of companies just disrespect young women in general. When I was 23 and setting up bills for my flat, three different utility companies fobbed me off until my mother got involved. And plenty of other companies’ customer service departments still give me the run around, presumably hoping I’ll just give up and go away (they rarely do this to my boyfriend to anywhere near the same extent).

      I can easily see an unscrupulous company like the one OP’s daughter worked for ignoring a young person.

  28. Treena

    For #1, her use of the word “elder” made me think she could be Mormon. If that’s the case, I wonder how the advice would differ? Everything in Utah seems to run the Mormon way. Would employers love her church membership or would they not love a mom working? (Obviously in general, I’m sure it would vary)

    1. Blue Anne

      I think Church Elder is pretty widely used in many Christian denominations other than Mormonism. Off the top of my head a know a Baptist and a Pentecostal church near me than both have Elders.

      1. Anonynon

        Yeah, in the Presbyterian church (which she mentions in her resume, so she’s not Mormon), there are Elders and Deacons. It’s a widely used term.

        1. Kerry(like the county in Ireland)

          In the LDS, only men are elders. It’s a term that goes along with holding their priesthood.

      2. MegEB

        I grew up Presbyterian and we have Elders and Deacons in our church. It’s fairly common in Protestant nominations, I believe.

    2. Emily, admin extraordinaire

      (Mormon here.)

      Elders in the Mormon church are always, always, male, as it’s an office in the priesthood, which is also exclusively male. Female missionaries are called “Sisters,” and any female leadership, on either the local or church-wide level, would also be referred to as “Sister Lastname” in formal situations.

      Having lived in Utah all my life, I can also say that not “everything” in Utah runs the Mormon way. Generally it’s easy to tell if someone is Mormon if they list that they went to BYU (like I did), and they might list their mission as a volunteer experience (especially if it included leadership experience, which most will), but for the most part, people keep religion and work separate here unless the organization they’re applying for is faith-based. There are always going to be those tone-deaf individuals who will discriminate one way or the other, but most of us are reasonable people.

      1. Ad Astra

        This matches my experiences with Mormons. Though certain traits (extremely nice, well-to-do but not flashy, never seen with a coffee cup, affiliated with Boy Scouts) might make me wonder if someone is Mormon, it’s not something they’ve ever brought up proactively at work or school.

        I get the feeling Mormons don’t expect things to be run their way in most places. Even Utah is only about 60% Mormon.

      2. Treena

        That’s a really interesting perspective, but I think it’s a bit more muddled in certain areas than you make it out. While I’ve never been to Utah, I worked for two years in a community that has a large Mormon population. They play off a lot of stuff as “family-friendly” but it’s just code for Mormon-friendly. I work in public health and I would have meetings with the county public health department all the time. Just to name a few, they didn’t believe in harm-reduction, they wouldn’t sign a letter of support for a grant because it involved talking about sex with youth, and a county social worker told a transwoman (who had been repeatedly raped by her Amish church leader/adoptive father) that she really needs to start believing in God to begin healing. Leadership of both county offices: Mormon. And this is in the public sector.

    3. BananaPants

      The LDS church does not allow women into leadership positions (only men are “Elder”) and culturally most Mormons don’t approve of working moms – if OP1 is Mormon, I’ll eat my hat.

      I’ve heard the term “elder” used for what we’d call church council members in my Lutheran denomination – Presbyterian and Baptist are the most common. They’re lay leaders of a congregation who help with administrative tasks.

  29. MsChanandlerBong

    It’s really nice that OP #3 wants to pay the freelancer for her time. I’ve been on the opposite end of the spectrum. I had a client order copy for several sell sheets to be used at a trade show. Each sheet was supposed to be on a certain athletic fabric offered by this guy’s client. He gave me some brochures and such, but he didn’t provide information on one of the products. The product wasn’t on the market yet, so there were no reviews or product listings online I could use for reference. When I told him I needed information on the fabric so I could write copy to sell it, he told me to “use my powers of literary persuasion” to make up something.

    Are you surprised to hear that he didn’t pay me the $1,310 he owed me? Later, he offered to settle for $300 because “that’s all it was worth,” even though he’s the reason I couldn’t do a good job.

  30. KT

    I think the language question is a sharp wake up call. “Fluent” means able to handle serious discussions in the language, not just reading comprehension.

    1. Windchime

      I’m finding this conversation so interesting. We have a person at work who is “work-fluent” in English, meaning she can definitely express herself with regard to work related topics while speaking. Her written English definitely has the feel of ESL about it (but still, those of us on the team can understand what she means). When the topic verges off work, her proficiency goes down quite a bit and she will often confess that she doesn’t know the meaning of certain words. Would she still be considered “fluent”? I’ve always considered her so, but now it seems that maybe she is “Proficient”?

      Not that it matters. She’s a great coworker and her English is good enough to make her really great at her job.

      1. Blue_eyes

        This is why I can’t stand the word “fluent”. It’s much too broad and people have totally different definitions. I like some of the language scales that people have posted in this thread, they give much more detail and distinction to different language levels and what you can expect from speakers at those levels.

      2. matcha123

        I think this is the big difference between English-speaking countries and other countries. It seems like English-speaking countries are more forgiving of grammatical errors in speech or writing. At least where I am, if you aren’t some sort of wizard in the local language, you can’t call yourself fluent…but the locals will totally call themselves “fluent” English speakers for memorizing some lines out of a book.

        1. AcademiaNut

          I do think there’s an operating definition of ESL-fluent in a lot of fields.

          For my field, the operating definition of fluent in English means you can understand the person when they talk (even if they have a strong accent and frequent grammar errors), they can understand ~90% of what is said to them in a professional context, can read professional documents, and can write a paper that needs no more than moderate English corrections.

          It’s not unusual to get ESL postdocs hired for English speaking positions that are at the low end of the above, particularly with writing and oral comprehension, with the assumption that they’ll improve as they progress (although a position with teaching responsibilities would hopefully be more stringent).

        2. Amy UK

          Agreed. 90% of the “fluent” English speakers I’ve worked with in my life were nowhere near what people seem to be expecting of the OP. Even among the ones who were what I’d call ‘nearly fluent’, very few of them could write an email without at least one serious spelling or grammatical error that impacted the ability to understand them. Very few of them could have a work related conversation without forgetting or mangling the pronunciation of some difficult-but-commonplace words. And the vast majority weren’t even close to that standard, yet never got called out for calling themselves fluent. I’m laughing out loud at the idea of them doing a sales pitch.

          “Fluency” is such a nonsense term, because everyone defines it differently. And to be honest, I’ve never heard anyone in a language related field define “fluent” anywhere near as strictly as people are here. There’s usually a hierarchy – Native, Bilingual, Fluent, and then all the other degrees of competence. If you want a native speaker or someone completely bilingual, you say that. OP doesn’t sound fluent, but she hasn’t exaggerated her skills anywhere near as much as people are implying.

          And if you’re hiring someone who learned the language in school who wasn’t raised by native speakers or hasn’t spent significant years (usually at least 5) living in a country where it’s spoken often, you are almost never going to get someone who meets the definition of “fluency” being used by posters here.

  31. la Contessa

    OP#2, I feel your pain. I put “Conversational Japanese” on my resume back when I was interviewing in law school, to indicate that while I could (at the time . . . not so much now) hold a conversation, but my reading and writing were weak. I went for an interview for a position for which Japanese could feasibly have been a plus, although it was not remotely a requirement. The first thing the interview did when he walked into the room was blabber something unintelligible at me. I gave him a blank stare and he repeated it. Same response. Finally, he’s like, “I THOUGHT you said you spoke Japanese! I just said hi!” No, no, he didn’t, but how do you tell your interviewer his language “skills” don’t exist? I think I muttered something about not expecting it, but the whole interview was uncomfortable and I ended up withdrawing from the process.

    Maybe not helpful, but you’re not alone!

        1. Chinook

          ““I have to admit, I’ve never heard that accent before. Where did you study?””

          “I’m sorry – I learned my Japanese up in Hokkaido. Which dialect were you speaking?”

    1. Blue_eyes

      Oh goodness, this is like every time my boss tries to speak Spanish. I work in a Spanish-speaking division and she thinks she knows some Spanish, but even the basic stuff is just cringe-worthy.

      1. Anon Accountant

        It’s been 14 years since I had high school Spanish but I had a coworker that liked to brag about his Spanish speaking skills. Finally I translated what he’d just said. “My clothes are on my bicycle” was what he’d said. The bragging stopped.

      2. Tau

        I once had someone insist at me that in German you counted (German equivalent of) one, two, three, five, four. My attempt to tell them that they’d mixed some of those up was rejected utterly. Apparently their picking one phrase up second-hand trumped me being a native speaker.

        …both of us were seven at the time. I’d hoped this was the kind of thing people grew out of…

    2. matcha123

      He probably gave a typical greeting in Japanese which is NOT “konnichiwa” or “yokoso” or something like that.

      When I go to interviews here in Japan, they usually say something like:
      “Kabushiki-gaisha Kira Kira no Kokusai Tantou no Tanaka to moushimasu. Douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu. Douzo, okake ni natte kudasai.”

      Was it something like this?

      1. danr

        What does it mean? I put it through Google translate, had to click on the Japanese characters that it presented and got nonsense back.

        1. JapaneseILR1.5

          “My name is Tanaka and I’m the international liaison at Kira Kira LLC. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Please have a seat.”

          I may be wrong about “kabushikigaisha” meaning “limited liability company” but it is a kind of company or corporation. “Kokusai” means international and “tantou” means “someone in charge” I think, so I came up with an approximation. Kira Kira would just be the name, although it can also be literally translated as “Sparkle” so “Sparkle LLC” could work here.

          1. matcha123

            Yes. Basically this. Usually I don’t translate the “kabushiki-gaisha” part because it’s not something we typically say in English, but that goes to show you what a “typical” greeting in a business setting would be.

            In Japanese, it would look like:
            株式会社キラキラの国際担当の田中と申します。どうぞよろしくお願いします。どうぞお掛けになってください。

  32. Erin

    #1 – I got so nervous when I saw your question – please don’t include that info! The church stuff sure – to show your volunteer work and leadership roles, but that’s it. Things like flexibility with children’s appointments and etc is something you could carefully gauge at an interview.

    #2 – Yeah, you did falsely represent yourself, even though you didn’t mean to. Fluency includes speaking. I can see why you wouldn’t want to not mention that language at all though, but maybe something like, “Familiar with French” instead of “fluent in French.”

    #5 – Please don’t call on behalf of your daughter, that screams unprofessional for her. She is an adult now (even if she did work most of that time as a minor). Advise her along the way as you figure out how to handle this, but please, please don’t call them on her behalf.

    Personal side note: This is something my own mother would have done for me, with the best of intentions of course, but now at nearly 30 years old phone skills in general are something I wish I were more savvy in. I also have trouble speaking up and standing up for myself. I think it’s partially because I was an only child with an overprotective mom. If I had been forced to deal with situations just like this more often I think it would have been a significant stepping stone into adulthood.

    Maybe none of that is applicable for your situation, but in any case, bottom line it would be unprofessional.

    1. LizNYC

      #5 I understand the impulse to call and go Mama Bear on them, but this is an important lesson for your daughter to learn: how to advocate for herself. Please, please coach her and even be in the same room when she makes the call, but she’s got to do this by herself! If she gets shuttled to someone else or cut off, then she should call back and be more demanding. If it still doesn’t work, help her (not do it for her!) navigate how to make an official complaint with the state.

      1. Erin

        Agreed – if your daughter is okay with it, be in the same room with her when she makes the call.

        I had another thought for #1 – You could possibly squeeze in a hobby if you really worked it, but I would do it in the cover letter, not the resume. Example: “I see you need someone detail-oriented – I am organizational to the point where my book collection is categorized first by genre, then by author.”

        You’ve slipped in there that reading is a big hobby of yours, but phrased it in such a way that it sounds like a job strength.

      2. Elizabeth West

        I’d sit down with her and go over the stuff she needs to say. If she’s scared she’ll mess up, a list she can have to hand while making the call could be very helpful. That way, she won’t forget anything either.

  33. Allison

    #2, I really don’t think it’s a good idea to put a language on your resume unless you can use it in a professional setting. If all you know are words like “hello,” “goodbye,” “where’s the bathroom?” and “enough with the rugs already,” and a few random swear words, it’s not even worth mentioning.

      1. Allison

        Nah, I got that from an article I read in some old magazine over the weekend. Where someone did travel to Istanbul.

  34. Alis

    I am an ESL teacher in Canada and many of my students speak multiple languages. When writing cover letters and resumes, I always suggest they follow up “beginner/intermediate/advanced” with “A1/A2/B1/B2/C1/C2”. These are global labels used to describe actual proficiency, because the other terms can be subjective. These are European Framework Standards, but are used here in North America too (particularly for French).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_European_Framework_of_Reference_for_Languages

  35. Amber Rose

    1 reminds me of a resume I received a couple years ago where his cover letter talked about how he’d just taken some time off to move here after going on a motorcycle trip with his girlfriend.

    The sentence went about four details too long. It had my coworker in tears from laughter, which is not the ideal response.

    1. Blue Anne

      We had one once where the applicant had a “Hobbies/Activities” section entirely devoted to the fact that he spent a lot of time breeding and training a certain breed of dog. There wasn’t any mention of winning any agility competitions, dog shows, etc., just his passion for this breed, how many of them he had, and what noble animals they were.

      We didn’t hire him, but we did get a kick out of his application.

      1. Erin

        That is bizarre.

        I think things like this are okay to bring up in an interview, *if* it comes up organically. In a small number of situations, maybe in the cover letter. On the resume? Absolutely not.

          1. Blue Anne

            Yeah, it definitely made me crack up. The breed of dog I have is so noble they were literally beheaded during the French revolution… and she routinely faceplants while trying to get off the couch.

      2. Brandy

        oh I am so putting on my resume that I have 6 pups and I enjoy spending time with them. We don’t participate in dog shows but I watch tv shows with my dogs. And my cats too.
        I wonder if the workplace will be flexible of my time I need/want to spend with them.

    2. MegEB

      One time my former coworker was reviewing applications for a junior faculty position (hospital, not academia), and under “Hobbies”, he had listed “haunting”, among other things. We could not for the life of us figure out what he meant for the longest time (although admittedly we were too busy laughing to try very hard). I think we eventually decided that he must have meant “hunting”, which, STILL. Why would you put that?!

      1. Blue Anne

        “OooooOOOOOOOoooohhhhhh!!”
        “Wakeen what are you doing?”
        “OOOOOOOOOHHHHH! BLARGHABLARGHABLARGH!!”
        “Wakeen I’m going to need to ask you to leave your hobbies and your bedsheets at home.”
        “~~~I’m the ghooooooost of priiiiiiinters paaaaaaaast~~~”
        “Last warning”
        “…yes Boss.”

        1. So Very Anonymous

          “I AM THE BAAAAAD MEEEEEEEEEEETING OF FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 13, 2013!! THE ONE WHERE EVERYTHING WENT BADDDDDDDDDDD!”
          “Wakeen, no one wants to talk about that meeting anymore.”
          “OOOOOGA BOOOOOGA SCARY POLICY CHANGES LEADING NOOOOOOOOWHERE!”
          “Wakeen, we have a strict no-sheet dress code here.”
          “OK, BUT I’M NOT WEEEEARING ANYTHING UNDER THE SHEEEEEEEEET!”
          “EEEEEEEEKKKK!!! Call HR! Call HR!”

          (Wakeen sidles out, quacking quietly as he goes.)

    3. F.

      I just received a resume for an Admin position in which the candidate described in great detail her activity as a Furry (the people who dress up in full animal costumes and feel they are the animal). Of course, I was already turned off by the first sentence of her cover letter which read, “I admit it – I am awesome!” (or some garbage like that).

      1. MegEB

        If anyone started off a cover letter with a statement like that, I would take great pleasure in immediately trashing their application. I’m all for a confident attitude, but just … just no.

      2. Sadsack

        I would find that especially strange because my understanding of furries is it is something people do while having sex. Maybe I misunderstood?

          1. MegEB

            I am 100% not an expert in the furry lifestyle, but I BELIEVE that only a certain portion of furries wear their costumes while having sex. I think most of them, or at least a significant chunk, do it more as a highly unusual hobby, and it doesn’t have sexual undertones for them. I really want someone with more experience to weigh in on this though!

            1. MashaKasha

              I have limited experience. I was once at a week-long event where the hotel next to ours hosted a national furry convention. Some of our people ended up mingling with some of their people, lol Also I know someone personally who has been with the fandom for many years, and went to hear him give a speech about it once. From what I understand, sex is a tiny sliver of it. It’s just, like you said, a highly unusual hobby. I heard some people say that it helps them keep in touch with their inner animal, and then I’ve heard others say that to them it’s an art, like anime, except with costumes. There’s probably a fringe of sexual kinkiness, but I haven’t heard anyone talk of it, other than to say that only a small portion of the furries are into that.

      3. MashaKasha

        I’ve had a close encounter with furries a few years ago, and have spent a lot of time defending furries to people ever since, but I’m, just, WHAT. First of all, yes there is THAT stigma, although from what I understand, it’s far from being accurate – but why take chances with a hiring manager?? Second, how’s this work-related?

  36. SaraV

    #5 – I just wanted to point out, since it was also mentioned in the weekend free-for-all, that legal age of majority in Nebraska and Alabama is 19. The daughter mentioned in the letter could be 19 now, but we don’t know that. I know it’s only 2 states out of 50, but I just wanted to make clear that it isn’t 18 across the board.

    Even if the daughter was 17/18 in one of those two states, I’d have her call. I’d help her with wording and research, but still would have her call.

  37. Dutch Thunder

    I technically speak 5 languages. On my CV, I list them in descending order of fluency, using phrases like “advanced”, “intermediate” and “basic”. I’ve also seen people use “near-native” and “native” ability to describe their proficiency.

    I only list my native language and English as languages I’m fluent in, for the rest I’m anywhere from “advanced” to “intermediate” and “conversational”. Depending on how much I’ve been using a particular language, I’ve had to amend my ability on subsequent CV refreshes up or down based on recent exposure.

    I did enjoy watching my colleague’s eyes bug when I switched to German mid-conference call the other day. Not a language I’d consider myself even close to fluent in, but I can switch and have a conversation. What tells me I’m not fluent is that I was high-fiving myself the whole time for being understood and responded to by the couple of native speakers on the call.

    1. Windchime

      At old job, there were a lot of younger people who grew up in Spanish-speaking homes but attended US English-speaking schools from an early age, so they grew up naturally bilingual. It was always fascinating to listen to them chat with each other in the break room; their conversations with each other were a natural mix of Spanish and English. They would switch back and forth with ease, many times within the same sentence. I’m always impressed when people can use several different languages so naturally (I have a couple of years of high-school Spanish and there is nothing natural about the way I’m struggling to translate in my head when I hear Spanish conversation).

      1. LBK

        I love listening to people code switch. It’s so fascinating and makes me envious of people with such a high level of fluency that their brain just doesn’t really process which language it’s speaking it.

        1. Blue_eyes

          Actually, people who are code switching are usually completely aware of and in control of which language they are using. The study of code switching and where (in the sentence or utterance) and why speakers code switch is fascinating.

          1. Dutch Thunder

            I can consciously choose to switch to English or Dutch, but when speaking with people who also speak both we tend to mix and match without ever consciously deciding to. I don’t always know that I’ve switched. It’s often topic-specific, and I’ll finish a conversation and realise I’m no longer speaking the language I started in.

            1. Myrin

              That’s super interesting to me as that is not what I do at all! Like blue_eyes said, I’m always and completely aware whenever I switch between German and English – in fact, in the majority of cases, I actually do it because I find a word from one languages describes the thing I want to say much better than a word in the other one. I’ve never switched without realising it but am fascinated by the thought!

              1. AcademiaNut

                The cases where I’ve seen someone not realize what language they were speaking tend to be two second languages – so my Czech roommate would occasionally come out with German instead of English. If I try to use my (not very good) French these days, about 1 in 5 words randomly comes out in Chinese.

          2. Tau

            I remember that before my family moved back to Germany, my brother had started speaking (or yelling) in English to our parents when he was angry at them. I didn’t, but we’d both started speaking English with one another, and that stuck around for a few years after we moved (with, my mother tells me, me initiating the German-to-English switch and him following suit) but faded eventually. Nowadays all conversation is in German, with me being the most likely to toss an English word in there if I can’t remember the German one – but I’ve been trying to avoid that ever since my niece has become old enough to participate in conversation (she doesn’t speak English yet).

            99.99% of the switches are conscious now. The remaining 0.001% I notice I’ve switched as soon as the word comes out of my mouth, so it’s never the case that I don’t realise I’m speaking a language. Interesting how differently others experience this…

        2. yasmara

          Reminds me of a friend-of-a-friend who grew up speaking English with his Dad/at school/in the US, but exclusively French with his mom. When he spoke French, his voice *and* mannerisms changed *completely* from when he spoke English. It was fascinating to me!

      2. LJL

        I had Puerto Rican neighbors in the US that did that. I never tired of listening to them. I’m fairly fluent in Spanish, but not even close to that ability!

  38. Addiez

    On OP#3 – if you contract something out, is it weird to have it submitted five minutes before the deadline? If you want something earlier, shouldn’t the deadline be earlier? If you’re getting a draft, I get it, otherwise, I’m a little confused.

  39. skirtyintern

    OP1 – Are you working now? Rather than list all that on your resume, look into similar jobs, as the field you are in now may be that flexible across the board. If you are currently working for your family business, then disregard – that’s one of the perks that often come with family, as opposed to a field norm.

  40. Decimus

    As someone who currently resides in the southern United States, I wonder if adding church membership is a regional thing? Around here A LOT of people list church membership in professional contexts. I’ve seen lawyers listing it on the firm bio page (note that various lawyers in the firm went to different churches and denominations but most mentioned it) , and some doctors do as well. I’ve even seen a home security company mention the owner’s religion in their advertisement. I find it very weird but then I’m originally from up north…

    1. nona

      It’s normal in a lot of contexts in the southern US (I know my doctor and dentist’s churches, for example) (do people use church to network?), but this is not a normal part of resumes for non-religious jobs in the south. Personal information on a resume has all of the issues here that it does in the rest of the country.

    2. AW

      As far as businesses like law firms and security companies go, they do it because they think it makes them look more trustworthy. It really makes no sense to me; most people in the South are Christian so it’s not like advertising it actually differentiates them from the competition.

      Even with all that, it would still be weird to put it on a resume for a non-church job.

  41. Lobster in Dixie

    #5: They might be sneaking just under the law, but 3:30-10 (6.5 hours) and 10-4 (6 hours) are some pretty long shifts for a minor to work without a break. It may be worth checking out what state law says about mandatory breaks or shift lengths as well as the final paycheck period. While it’s possible that the relevant statutes of limitations may prohibit or limit any recovery, they may owe your daughter for more than just her last two days.

    1. Stranger than fiction

      I’m not sure it even belongs on company biographes and personally I never liked it when Oldjob introduced every new employee with one paragraph about their work background and another anout their marital status and children. It’s like ok I don’t care and if I do I can ask myself when getting to know them

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Ok I don’t know how this ended up here so sorry.
        But as far as restaurants and breaks I think there’s some exceptions but the employee has to sign something saying they’re aware and agreed ( at least in CA)

  42. AnnieNonymous

    I really wonder what OP1 thinks she can get away with. She seems like the sort of one-off person who ends up justifying other people’s reluctance to hire women/mothers.

    Flat out: she’s lying or bluffing. She’s not a “young mom.” She’s been married for 9 years. She’s in her late-20s or early-30s, and the framing of the whole thing implies that her oldest kid is maybe 7 or 8. If new moms ever get wiggle room, OP is well past that threshold. And yeah, anyone who values mission work that much is a major liability in the office.

    I’m sorry if I seem acrimonious, but I find the resume insulting on a somewhat personal level.

    1. AW

      She could be as young as 25, depending on consent laws in the state they married in, but she doesn’t say or imply when she actually had or adopted the kids.

      1. AnnieNonymous

        Someone who goes into great detail about church on her resume probably did not wait to have kids. I’m not inclined to be forgiving of this one, as the notion of mission work is inherently offensive, as is her attitude toward employment as a woman.

    2. A-Non for this

      +1
      It annoyed me too for the same reasons. It feels like asking for slack based on inexperience.
      If you’re over 25, (23 really) you’re not a “young” anything any more. You’re an adult.
      Sorry.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Well I gotta say 25 is not as old as it used to be since more people are waiting to have children staying at home with parents longer etc

    3. Kate M

      It’s definitely insulting, I’ll agree with you there. I would disagree with your point that she ends up “justifying other people’s reluctance to hire women/mothers” – there is no justification for that. There could definitely be justification for not hiring her – based on her out of touch view of professional norms, but there’s no justification for a reluctance to hire women or mothers based on those single facts (and I say this as someone without kids).

      But yeah, I can’t imagine what anyone would think the point of adding this to a resume would be. It’s never a good idea (with the exception of volunteer work that directly relates).

      1. So Very Anonymous

        I don’t know, but both my sister and a friend of mine, both in their 40s, have just had babies and they were considered “geriatric” moms.

        1. Ad Astra

          There’s a difference between a new mom and a young mom. Someone under 35 is young by nearly every standard, whether her children are newborns or first graders.

  43. MM

    #3 – I’d make sure to document all your contact attempts, emails etc just in case the contractor ever comes back claiming they weren’t paid. It doesn’t sound like that’s this person’s style, but you really never know and it’s best to be safe.

  44. Gene

    Not that it’s likely to ever come up for me again, I’m curious about including licenses not related to the current job application in a resume.

    In my case, I have:
    Commercial Pilot License, SMEL, Instrument and Hot Air Balloon ratings.
    US Coast Guard 50-Ton Master’s License with Sail Addendum
    Master SCUBA Diver Certification

    All of these take significant investments of time and require a high level of responsibility and knowledge.

    1. Anomanom

      I have a first level sommelier certification from time spent back in the high end restaurant industry mid career. (thank you 2008 crash) I have left it on my resume despite working in a completely different industry now, under certifications with current career related items. It makes for a nice icebreaker, I don’t believe it’s ever hurt me, and in a way I think it shows that I took my job at the time seriously. Plus I’ve learned people in stressful jobs appreciate someone who knows about booze :)

    2. fposte

      It’s job and resume dependent, of course, but that’s the sort of stuff that I think can be really interesting as added color; it’s a lot less generic than gardening and reading (which are things I do but would never put on a resume) and really does look genuinely accomplished. I’m trying to think of what a good name for the category–“Other Achievements,” maybe? And stick it on the end and keep it to those three lines, max.

      (What’s wrong with the land, Gene? Water and air licenses out the snorkel but no CDL?)

      1. Gene

        I’m happiest when I’m learning something new. I’m considering getting a CDL for possibility of doing RV delivery after I retire. Or maybe driving a pilot car part time. But there’s no fun recreational component to that kind of driving (unlike my Regional SCCA Race Driver License).

        And yes BananaPants, all of those allow me to actually work in those fields. I’ve done some charter skipper, sightseeing skipper and mate, and sailing instructor work with the Master’s License and a little light freight flying back in the early 80s.

    3. BananaPants

      Definitely on LinkedIn. Those are serious commitments even if not work-related (unless I’m mistaken those certifications would allow you to actually work in those fields?). If you have room on your resume, include them there too.

  45. AwkwardAnon

    I was once asked at a job interview why I hadn’t included my Mensa membership on my resume. It was after they’d thrown a bunch of those weird brainteasers at me and I solved them and said, well I did pass the Mensa test so I know how to do this stuff. I guess at that point I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work for them, because brainteasers at job interviews are my pet peeve – we’re not in kindergarten – ask me something that’s related to me doing my job, unless you’re hiring me to solve brainteasers for a living.

    Anyway my interviewer looked shocked and baffled when I said, “I didn’t include it because that’s something you never ever put on your resume”. He said “well our other candidates do”. (My turn to be baffled.) I was not hired.

    So what’s your thoughts? Something like that on a resume – turn-on or turn-off? My vote is obviously for turn-off.

    1. MsM

      Ew. Total turn-off. It’d be like listing your IQ. Sure, it’s great that you’re smart (or rather, good at taking tests), but that doesn’t actually tell me anything about how well you do in real world situations – including times when knowing you’re right or have the most clever solution isn’t necessarily the best way to solve the problem. I think you dodged a bullet with that company.

    2. nona

      …He says that like all the other applicants are Mensa members, lol. Sure they are.

      To answer your question about Mensa for the sake of Mensa, I’m not involved in hiring, but I vote for turn-off. If you’re involved in something relevant to the job via Mensa, include that.

      1. AwkwardAnon

        I’ll have to read through that thread (and maybe share with some friends.) Thanks for sharing.

        There’s absolutely nothing there to be intimidated by. “It is known.” In my field of work, just about anyone would qualify if they wanted to. And we’re not even academia, who are obviously overqualified! heh heh

        Then again, I didn’t care for one of the top comments that said “anyone who cared to join wouldn’t be a good fit”. People join for all sorts of reasons. Many people I know joined when they moved to a place where they knew no one, and wanted to find others who had the same weird geeky hobbies as they did. That was before meetup.com and there weren’t many venues available back then to find someone with the same hobby. I joined to be able to take my 10yo to their events, because he was struggling in school, his school teachers suggested he might benefit from that, and I was at a point where I was ready to give anything a try. I then made friends there and stayed for the friends. Could happen to anyone. There’s just no need to put it on your resume, because it comes across as all kinds of weird, pretentious, and irrelevant, since it says little about your ability to do the job you’re applying for.

        1. LBK

          I can certainly appreciate joining for the social aspect, but I thought it was odd that so many people in the comments emphasized joining for that reason in the same breath that they said it was appropriate to add to your resume. If it’s basically just a club for hanging out and doing activities, what part of that makes it worthwhile to add to a resume outside of a (probably unnecessary) hobbies section?

          1. AwkwardAnon

            I saw those comments. I’m as shocked as you are. I was told early on by fellow members that putting it on a resume is a social no-no. (not that I was going to)

        1. AwkwardAnon

          I scrolled through the comments. I have met several of the commenters in person and they’re pretty cool people, who joined way before I did, ie years and years before meetup, special-interest online forums, science lectures/discussions that are being advertized over the internet and on Facebook, and other similar places where one could meet others that had the same interests they did. They’ve known each other for years and have fun interacting with each other. Many of them live across the country from each other and would’ve never met if they hadn’t attended the same national events. They do not come across as embarrassingly insecure to me.

          None of this is related to work, applying for jobs, or resumes. Like I said, I would never dream of walking into a job interview waving my membership around like it’s something that should get me hired, and not something completely irrelevant to my work. But I do understand why they enjoy spending time in each others’ company socially. It’s not like they’re the only ones in that capacity anyway. Ivy league alumni have their alumni groups. People in academia have their faculty groups that they never venture outside of and do not let any outsiders in. The most closed, exclusive, suspicious of outsiders etc. community that I’ve ever encountered was not Mensa at all, it was a group of LAC faculty in a small college town.

      2. LBK

        Wow, somehow I’ve missed this post in my trips through the archives. Nothing like trying to prove your organization isn’t full of extremely condescending people by having a whole bunch of them show up and act extremely condescending.

      3. Sadsack

        I don’t quite get what Mensa is all about, even after reading that post, but I did have a laugh at all the references to “Mensans.”

      4. Tinker

        I kind of suspect that Mensa has vanity googlers, based on a similar experience I had back in the day, and that those vanity googlers are heavily skewed toward the sort of folks that give the organization a bad name. The ones who are socializing with one another rather than dragging the Internet for people to say “Forsooth, sir and/or ma’am, your antipathy towards Mensa must surely be due to, as in that well-known fable, sour grapes. Also please read my wonkily written yet pompous essay about human biodiversity.” at, judging from the times I’ve interacted with such people, seem to be a much better crowd.

        1. AwkwardAnon

          Here’s how I met the first friends I made in that group. I was at the annual national gathering with my kids, then 15 and 12. My 12yo was severely disappointed in some of the social awkwardness he witnessed there. He’d go to hear a speaker and, halfway through a speech that he was enjoying, other audience members would start to heckle the speaker, correct the speaker, and otherwise disrupt what would’ve been a good talk, for no reason other than to hear the sound of their own damn voice. He texted me while he was sitting at one of such talks. His text went like this: “Mensa: fat, old, weird people with no social skills.” Later that evening I went out to a bar with a group where I knew maybe five people. The five people that I knew ditched me at the bar and I found myself sitting next to a couple I’d never met before. We started chatting and I showed them my 12 year old’s text. When they finally stopped laughing, they said: “This needs to be on a T-shirt!” So yeah. There’s a cool crowd, cool in the sense that they’re fun to hang out with because they know better than to take themselves seriously.

      5. MegEB

        I cannot stop laughing at Millicent’s comments on that post. It sounds like she was paid to advertise the benefits of a Mensa membership.

      6. Us, Too

        Holy cow, according to my googling I’d have qualified for Mensa when I graduated from HS (based on my SAT scores). I have no idea why I find that funny, but I actually LOL’ed. Probably because 99% of the time I know that I’m a moron.

    3. Shannon

      All IQ tests show is your ability to process and solve new information quickly. It says nothing about your work ethic, creativity or ethics in general.

      There are so many outside influences that can affect an IQ score. I’ve taken a few and my results can vary wildly, mostly based on whether or not I’m even in the mood to take the test on that day, whether or not I ate breakfast, whether or not I got enough sleep that night.

      There’s also having a high IQ and what you do with it. Stephen Hawking’s IQ is 160. Ted Kaczynski’s (the Unabomber) IQ is 167. I know who I’d rather have working for me.

    4. MegEB

      I say total turn-off, but my boyfriend (a member of Mensa) vehemently disagrees with me and refuses to remove his from his resume. He just snagged a job with the federal government too, so maybe he knows what he’s talking about?

      I definitely say no to putting your IQ on your resume, though. That just reeks of intellectual snobbery.

      1. The IT Manager

        Eh! The USAjobs resumes are nothing like a non-Federal resume, but they wouldn’t give any extra weight to a Mensa membership.

        1. MegEB

          I just told him you said that, and he started shouting all the reasons we’re wrong at me from down the hall. I’ve tuned him out, but I take some satisfaction in the fact that there are people on the Internet who agree with me (I still think you’re right). This is apparently just a very bizarre sticking point in our relationship.

          1. neverjaunty

            I would have said “red flag” rather than sticking point. (Not the fact that he thinks Mensa membership is important; that you feel you have to get backup when you think he’s incorrect, and that he then defends Being Right by shouting at you down the hall.)

            1. MegEB

              … I’m not sure what to say to that, except that my boyfriend and I have a perfectly happy and healthy relationship, and I do not “feel I have to get backup” for what is a very minor and silly issue. This was all meant to be lighthearted, and I apologize if it didn’t come off that way, but trust me, there are no red flags to worry about here :)

              1. AwkwardAnon

                I totally got it. Shouting in a person’s face is a red flag. Shouting down a hall is not! If he’d calmly stated it down the hall, you wouldn’t have heard him!

                1. MegEB

                  Hah, exactly! I was worried I had made our relationship out to be horribly dysfunctional, instead of the normal “we love each other but bicker about small things sometimes” dynamic most people have. The issue of whether or not to put Mensa on one’s resume is one that has come up multiple times over the past couple years so we like to heckle each other about it.

                2. the gold digger

                  I am always so relieved to hear that other couples fight and bicker. All I usually see is “We are soo perfect and sooo in tune and never have a moment of conflict” and all I can think is, “Wow. Is my husband the only person in the world who has ever hurled a package of Colby cheese to the floor in anger after returning from spending two weeks with his mom and dad?” and he is the only one for whom the first step when something goes wrong, after singing The Song of Something Bad Happened, is to assign blame? :)

                  I love it when I can find people online to prove me right. It’s the main I reason I blog – to get people on my side.

                3. MegEB

                  Is The Song of Something Bad Happened an actual song?! If so, I need to know how it goes.

                  Also, yes. My boyfriend and I are wonderfully in love and support each other and blah blah blah. But we also bicker and tease each other, and sometimes our arguments are less “two mature people coming to a compromise” and more “two children on the playground arguing which one is more right”. So. You’re not alone.

  46. LookyLou

    #2: I at least hope that when they asked her to begin speaking in the language that she at least clarified before she began. It likely would’ve been a big difference if she had said “I am sorry but my fluency is in listening, not speaking.” vs trying to ramble through poorly and making them think you are trying to fool them. If I was interviewing I would not hold it against someone if they clarified their resume before beginning the exercise, not failing it and then perhaps mentioning that by fluent they meant they could understand it spoken.

    In our area bilingualism is a huge deal and many people flat our lie on their resume. Almost everyone in town has an elementary understanding of the language but many cannot be considered fluent or even conversational. I’ve seen people list “bilingual” or “fluent” on their resume and show up to only be able to say “The sky is blue, the apple is red” while others turn white because they knew they were lying to bulk up their resume! To me it is just as bad as lying about education or work history – we all know that every word put down on a resume is thought over and reviewed, so why would I hire someone that either intentionally or neglectfully misrepresented themselves? It may sound better to use those words but people don’t’ realize the power behind them.

    1. Steve G

      Me too. Living in NYC where I rarely get a chance to use my 2nd language, I need some times to switch when I am speaking. I watch TV in it at least a few times per week and understand 99.8% of TV/radio (though sometimes I rewind it) and am the same with reading, but speaking is harder…because my 1st instinct is to go into translate-from-English mode, which, even when you know all of the words, sounds bad in my 2nd language – I have to be speaking for 10, 15 minutes to get into the mind set to be able to do something like an interview!

      I thought the comments above on “fluency” were quite harsh, for the US anyways, because so many people here do years of study of a foreign language and can’t have a basic conversation in it. So I don’t think you have to be 100% in every language related skill to say you are “fluent.” Though I don’t know how bad the speaking was….

  47. Nom d' Pixel

    ” It’s going to get you rejected — not because hiring managers don’t want to hire moms, but because you’ll look like you don’t know or don’t care about professional boundaries.”

    So true. I instantly reject resumes that have anything like that on there. I don’t want to deal with employees who are going to drag someone else to church (we have had to involve HR because one person would not stop trying to get someone else to join his church), or people who we think will make derogatory remarks against someone for having or not having children.

    Also, the LW sounds like she wants some sort of special treatment. A good employer will understand that everyone has a life outside of work, not just moms. Coming across as being too about the kids in an interview seems either like you are already making excuses for an attendance problem or like you are trying to emotionally manipulate the interviewer.

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