A SAHD Resume

This week NPR ran a story on Morning Edition concerning the topic of stay-at-home dads (SAHD) returning to the workforce (“Stay-At-Home Dads Grapple With Going Back To Work”). The root issue of the piece written by Yuki Noguchi speculated as to if SAHDs who are considering re-entering the workforce should represent their time as the family’s primary caregiver. The segment featured several SAHDs at a playgroup in the DC area, all of whom sounded like competent fathers who recognized to varied degrees the upside to their time at home. (There were downsides too—namely poop and dishes.) Despite the positives benefits of their role, it was clear a few of the dads planned on returning to work once the economy improved. The question implied then was how to deal with their time off in a job search.

Opinions differed. On one side, there were those who felt, yes, they should list their time as a domestic engineer on a resume to explain their time away while highlighting parallel job skills like managing priorities and multitasking. Some took a more creative approach employing strategies such as weaving their old job duties with their current ones or referring to themselves as consultants. But others, like The Daddy Shift’s Jeremy Adam Smith thought employers would perceive this time off as a liability, something mothers have had to deal with for years.

The point was a valid one, and it was echoed by @NYCityMama in a Twitter conversation that ensued as a result of the article. “It would be interesting,” she tweeted, “to follow dads returning to the workforce to see if they receive the same backlash as women.” I’m wondering the same thing. From my prior experience on the corporate management level, I can’t tell you the number of times I sat in meetings where other managers would grumble about a mother-to-be taking maternity leave. In some cases where said mother was a less than stellar performer, her time away was viewed as an opportunity to get rid of her.

Of course such a practice is unlawful. Having a family should never be a reason for discrimination by a current or potential employer. Yet for companies that are productivity-focused and not people-focused this sort of practice is widely prevalent. (It’s happened to my wife more than a few times.) So if it’s unfair to penalize a woman, how is it fair to hold being a stay-at-home against men who are going to back to work? The short answer is, it’s not.

And there was another dimension alluded to by @coffeewithjulie when she remarked that in some ways it may actually be tougher for fathers to return to work than women. Because of the traditional perspective commonly held to by conservative companies, women are expected (sometimes begrudgingly as mentioned earlier) to take time away from their careers in order to raise families; whereas men are not. As such, I’m curious how employers will view men who have been SAHD, and what sort of impact will this have on these dads’ potential to obtain job? If a position came down to a better qualified SAHD and a less qualified father who was never laid off, which of the two would be selected? (Maybe hiring managers should acquaint themselves with the dollar value of an at-home dad. Click here for a fun exercise.)

Like @TessasDad and @EdAtHomeDad who also were a part of the "tweeter-sation," I would prefer to remain at home. @EdAtHomeDad loved the fun of nap time and @TessasDad was about to witness his daughter’s first steps, something he may have missed otherwise. We fathers can’t always be there for such moments, but it does underscore to some degree how important it is for us to be there for our children as much as possible. As a SAHD, that’s a benefit I appreciate, especially given all the unique needs my three sons and two stepdaughters have.

Still, unless I sell a million copies of my book (…bwahahahahaha! …haha …ha …ahhh), I will have to return to work (outside the home) soon in order to keep up my financial responsibilities and the various needs of my family. This is something of a Catch-22 because on one hand I am providing for my family while at the same time to do so compromises their emotional needs by not being able to focus on them the way I can now. (And seeing as how we are forced to be a dual-income household, neither can my wife.)

I only share all of this as a way of putting into context the personal implications of this issue for me. I know there are many other dads who are in similar situations and have questions as to how to represent their SAHD duties on a resume. I’ll admit that mine reads “Real Estate Consultant & Freelance Writer, 2007 – Present,” with no mention whatsoever of multitasking, the dishes, lunches and laundry.

Based on my experience, “CEO of Household Operations” doesn’t play well in executive-level job searches where interview boards nitpick every detail through three rounds of interrogation (read corporate water-boarding) only to pass on you because three of the five members of the hiring committee thought your power tie was too red. (If they thought that was bad, they should see my credit score.) Still, there’s a lot about conflict resolution, risk mitigation, and team building that has come from my being at home, and I could make it sound real official-like.

That all said, I’d like to know is how other SAHD’s returning to work intend to explain their time as the family’s primary caregiver? Thoughts in general?

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