As more people - primarily women - are forced out of the labor force during the course of the pandemic, LinkedIn recently added a new feature, which will give parents the option to use "stay-at-home mom" or "stay-at-home dad" as a job title, among other options.
In a blog post, Bef Ayenew, LinkedIn's director of engineering, wrote that the changes include the ability to add job titles such as "stay-at-home mom," "stay-at-home dad" or "stay-at-home parent". LinkedIn will remove requirements that users' resume entries be linked to a specific company or employer.
According to reports, the social networking website made the changes after a blog that criticized its lack of profile options went viral. The blog was published for Better Marketing on Medium by Heather Bolen on March 8.
Bolen noticed the issue when updating her LinkedIn profile to look for work after taking time off to raise her children. She pointed out that LinkedIn had no pre-populated options for different types of leave, including parental and sick leave.
The only pre-populated option she found for stay-at-home parents was "homemaker," which she points out hasn't been commonly used for 50 years.
Instead, Bolen said some users had made up jobs, choosing titles like "Director of Operations" or "Chief Home Officer" to explain the time they spent as parents or caregivers. Bolen herself chose "Family Chief Operating Officer," but called the need to use such titles a "gimmick."
She wrote that people shouldn't feel ashamed about taking time off and wanting to come back to work. "That's even more the case with the pandemic, and all the women leaving the workforce," she added.
"I hit a wall immediately," she told the BBC.
In addition to the new title options, there will be a selection of employment gap types, including parental leave, sabbatical, and family care. This will continue a larger LinkedIn move to create a more "expressive and inclusive" profile, including a field where members can add their pronouns.
These changes come as a disproportionate percentage of the recently unemployed are women, particularly minority women.
According to a McKinsey analysis of BLS data, unemployment for women peaked at 15.8% in April 2020, more than 2 percentage points above that for men., after being equal in February 2020. In September 80% of the 1.1 million people who exited the workforce were women. In December, women accounted for all US jobs lost.
Pre-pandemic, employers had already been working to help parents return to work. Goldman Sachs debuted one of the first returnship programs in 2008, and there are now at least 50 similar ones across the United States, 38 of which were launched in just the past two years, according to iRelaunch, a career re-entry firm. Many more operate abroad. These programs, structured like internships, are growing at an explosive rate. Open to men and women who have taken a career break of at least two years, they generally last from eight weeks to six months. Returnees are able to refresh their skills and organizations can evaluate them as potential employees. Then everyone can gauge whether there is a good long-term fit. If not, the returnee at least has a more updated resume.
Return Path found these re-entry programs so successful, the company launched a non-profit program called Path Forward to help companies set up these types of mid-career internships.
The consequences could prove costly. McKinsey estimates that if women do not return to the workforce quickly, the global economy could see a loss of $1 trillion in GDP, and potential lost-opportunity of up to $13 trillion.
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