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Stay-at-home parents know their time out of the workforce was anything but "time off." Now, potential employers on LinkedIn will know that, too.

By Beth Ann Mayer
April 05, 2021
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Being a stay-at-home parent is no easy task. These caregivers manage finances, cook and serve meals, teach their children essential life skills, are tuned into their children's emotional needs 24/7—the list could go on. They didn't fill out a W2 or get paid for this work but make no mistake: It was a job.

But people couldn't make "stay-at-home parent" a job title on LinkedIn, making it difficult to explain gaps on their resume—until now. LinkedIn recently added "stay-at-home mom," "stay-at-home dad," and "stay-at-home parent" job titles, allowing people who care for their children and manage their homes full-time to highlight what they did while not part of the paid workforce.

The changes come after Fortune asked LinkedIn to comment on a Medium article by Heather Bolen. Bolen was looking for a way to market herself to employers after working as a stay-at-home mom and found her options limited on the networking platform.

Mother Working from home and holding her baby
Credit: Getty Images

"It's time for employers to accept that careers are often non-linear and to provide improved policies for remote work, flex time, and paid family leave," wrote Bolen, a former corporate Starbucks employee who founded an educations start-up. "And it's time for job seekers to not feel like they must skirt around employment gaps, lest be frozen out."

LinkedIn agreed.

"I wholeheartedly agree that we need to normalize employment gaps on the profile to help reframe hiring conversations," Bef Ayenew, director of engineering at LinkedIn, told Fortune. Ayenew added that the current solution of allowing stay-at-home caregivers to add a job title is a "stop-gap" fix, and the company is planning more comprehensive changes.

Stay-at-home parents, particularly women, already face an uphill battle when trying to re-enter the paid workforce. As Bolen points out in her article, a recent Harvard Business Review study showed employers generally view stay-at-home moms and "less capable," and "less committed." What's more, stay-at-home moms were less likely to get a callback or interview than parents who were laid off for the same amount of time. Women who stay home for three or more years lose 37 percent of their earning power.

Normalizing and legitimizing stay-at-home parenting is all the more important as we emerge from a global health and economic health crisis. More than 2.3 million women have left the workforce during the pandemic as schools and daycare centers closed. Women were about three times more likely than men to be out of work for childcare-related reasons during the pandemic, according to a U.S. Census Bureau Report.

Bolen is excited about the change.

"There shouldn't be shame in trying to be open about taking time off and then wanting to come back," she told Fortune. "That's even more the case with the pandemic, and all the women leaving the workforce."

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