Can You Put 'Motherhood' On Your Resume?

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Jobseekers work hard to polish their resumes, trying to impress employers with their work skills. But what aspects of your juggle should you include?

If you are raising kids or doing volunteer work, which activities will sell you to an employer?  And if you love sports or working out, do you put them on your resume? How about your pursuit of surfing or Bikram yoga? Would you leave off your passion for skateboarding?

I asked a few image consultants and resume experts for advice. The most common theme they struck: Emphasize only authentic passions you think will be seen by your target employer as a good fit.

If your desired job requires a lot of schmoozing with clients, then golf, tennis or racquetball could be a plus, says Lori Bumgarner, an image consultant with PaNASH Style. If the job will take a lot of teamwork, mention any team sport such as basketball or soccer. In a toss-up between sports or relevant work skills, however, always opt for the work skills, Ms. Bumgarner says.

And skateboarding? If your target company is “young, hip, energetic, creative and open-minded with a work hard-play hard mentality, then skateboarding” might be a winner, she says. Above all, be truthful; pretending to love golf when you don’t will come back to haunt you.

Brad Karsh, president of JobBound, a career consulting firm, says employers often like to see leadership roles listed. If you were captain of the football team, employers “may not care how many tackles you had, but they will love to hear about how you grew as a leader,” he says. Talking about passions, such as yoga or mountain-climbing, can help an employer get to know your personality, Karsh says.

As for volunteer projects, including efforts at your kids’ schools, coaches recommend listing successes that would transfer to the workplace, such as fundraising or organizational skills. The best examples quantify results in dollars or numbers of people or projects overseen. With luck, you will be interviewed by someone like-minded; one hiring manager I interviewed said she feels a connection to applicants who list school volunteer work similar to projects she has undertaken in the past.

But it usually isn’t wise to emphasize nurturing skills, unless you are applying for a job in a related field. Asserting that you are a good time manager because you can balance the demands of a toddler and a teenager may be true, but it isn’t going to carry a great deal of weight with most employers, coaches say.


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