For years, parents, particularly mothers, who’ve temporarily put a pause on their work, have asked LinkedIn for a way to reflect an employment gap resulting from caregiving on their online resumes.
Finally, the popular professional networking platform has responded to the criticism by executing change on the platform.
LinkedIn has recently added new options of job titles for users to choose from. Sounds mundane, right? The exciting part is that now users can choose “stay-at-home mom,” “stay-at-home dad” or “stay-at-home parent” as a job titles!
LinkedIn Adds ‘Stay-At-Home Mom’ And Other Caregiving Roles As Job Titles
“We’ve heard from our members, particularly women and mothers who have temporarily stopped working, that they need more ways to reflect career gaps on their Profile due to parenting and other life responsibilities. To make it easier for moms, and all parents, we’re making some important changes to the Profile. We introduced new job titles, including “stay-at-home mom,” “stay-at-home dad” and “stay-at-home parent” to allow full-time parents and caretakers to more accurately display their roles,” LinkedIn has said in its statement.
Along with the new job titles, LinkedIn has also removed its requirement for a job title to mandatorily be linked to a company or employer.
These features have been added to allow full-time parents to account for gaps in their career timeline. The intention is for parents to more accurately be able to describe their time away from the paid labour force, which would otherwise raise questions about what they did during those ‘lost years’.
Bef Ayenew, director of engineering at LinkedIn, has also confirmed that they are planning to add 10 additional titles to reflect employment gaps for users to choose from soon, including “parental leave,” “family care” or “sabbatical”. (Source: Fortune)
Will These New Options On LinkedIn Be Helpful Or Harmful To Caregivers?
These may seem like small changes, but they are significant in the broader scheme of hiring. Women have continually taken time off to raise their children and suffered the consequences of this ‘hole’ in their resume.
With schools and daycares shutting down during the pandemic, many employees (far more women than men) dropped out of the workforce to shift to full-time child care. Additionally, the women-dominated service-oriented sectors were some of the hardest hit during the pandemic. Nearly 2.2 million women globally left the workforce between February and October 2020.
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Having this employment gap on your resume can be concerning, making women feel like they’re being unfairly judged as workers.
Can the new options provided by LinkedIn prevent this unfair judgement and disqualification? Some research suggests – not really.
Caregiving is a full-time job that involves time management, multi-tasking, financial engagement, leadership, and essential life skills… the list is endless. However, employers have continually viewed it as an ‘inferior’ occupation.
Stanford professor, Shelley Correll, says that representing parenthood on a job application can often lead to a ‘motherhood penalty’. “It appears that signalling that you stayed at home to be with kids is likely to evoke stereotypes that caregivers are more committed to family than work,” Correll says. Another study suggests that employers believe women candidates can either be warm or competent. The theory is, women who stay at home with their children come off as warm, and so cannot be competent.
The Options Can Help Reframe Hiring Conversation, Especially For Women
The added options on LinkedIn, then, may prove counterproductive when it comes to employers who continue to follow these sexist and discriminatory beliefs.
However, the very fact that a company as massively influential as LinkedIn has implemented this inclusive change, and in implementing it, asserted its view on caregiving jobs as valuable labour, lays the foundation to break through these barriers for women.
Having the option to describe their occupation can assuage caregivers’ insecurities of having an ‘inferior’ professional journey. In India, particularly, companies often hire stay-at-home moms on a freelance basis. The option to reflect their caregiving on their digital resume can, in turn, aid these women in restarting their careers.
LinkedIn’s move, small as it may be, helps break the barriers between paid and unpaid labour. It helps reframe the hiring conversation for women.
What are your thoughts on LinkedIn adding these new job titles to their platform? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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