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Maternity leave in the CV
Thread poster: Iulia Cosma

Iulia Cosma  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 22:01
English to Romanian
+ ...
Jul 11, 2008

Hi everyone.
I've been reading and reading (got lost in many useful posts articles and freelancers' CVs) but I just don't know whether I should mention my 2 years' maternity leave in the CV or not.
Before our daughter was born I worked as an in-house translator and mainly as a teacher of English, and now I finally took the big step towards being independent. So I'm obviously looking for clients.
I believe not mentioning the maternity leave would be dishonest. Besides I haven't committed any crime. On the contrary:) In the meantime I've been using my translation skills but not for money...
What do you think?
Thank you!


[Edited at 2008-07-11 10:36]


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:01
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
I do! Jul 11, 2008

No one's complained or mentioned it.
Angela

iuliacosma wrote:

Hi everyone.
I've been reading and reading (got lost in many useful posts articles and freelancers' CVs) but I just don't know whether I should mention my 2 years' maternity leave in the CV or not.
Before our daughter was born I worked as an in-house translator and mainly as a teacher of English, and now I finally took the big step towards being independent. So I'm obviously looking for clients.
I believe not mentioning the maternity leave would be dishonest. Besides I haven't committed any crime. on the contrary:) In the meantime I've been using my translation skills but not for money...
What do you think?
Thank you!


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Sandra Peters-Schöbel
Germany
Local time: 21:01
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
I prefer being careful Jul 11, 2008

To be honest, I am very careful with that kind of information. I myself never mention my daughter at all with agencies or clients.

We are living in modern times, but still: quite a lot of project managers (same of course for other employers) are not able to imagine that a female translator with children is able to organize her working day to manage it all.

And we know that sometimes it is difficult indeed...

I have always been afraid that they will rather give time critical or large jobs to someone else, as they imagine that suddenly the child could become sick or something else happens.

So I declared those times in my CV as times of freelancing work, language courses or whatever; they won't check it anyway. One of our collegues on proz.com gave me a hint that a month of unemployment I had in my CV should not appear in it. That's private and not the client's/agency's business...

So, have a successful start! It certainly was a good decision.


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:01
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
That's very sad Jul 11, 2008

And not my experience at all.
I've never had a problem - as I said above - and I think it's tragic that you have to cover up your reality. After all, if you worked in an office, you couldn't pretend you had no offspring, could you? So why fib about it with customers?
Lots of women freelance precisley because they can be flexible and work around their children's needs.
And to be honest, being a mother is one of the best training grounds for multitasking and organizational skills that I know of!
Magazines are full of success stories of working mothers who work out of their homes. Why should we be different?
Angela


Sandra Peters-Schoe¶bel wrote:

To be honest, I am very careful with that kind of information. I myself never mention my daughter at all with agencies or clients.

We are living in modern times, but still: quite a lot of project managers (same of course for other employers) are not able to imagine that a female translator with children is able to organize her working day to manage it all.

And we know that sometimes it is difficult indeed...

I have always been afraid that they will rather give time critical or large jobs to someone else, as they imagine that suddenly the child could become sick or something else happens.

So I declared those times in my CV as times of freelancing work, language courses or whatever; they won't check it anyway. One of our collegues on proz.com gave me a hint that a month of unemployment I had in my CV should not appear in it. That's private and not the client's/agency's business...

So, have a successful start! It certainly was a good decision.


[Edited at 2008-07-11 11:17]


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
CV reports professional information Jul 11, 2008

I believe this is private and personal information, not career related. It is not fibbing or hiding information, it is just none of anyone's business!!!

The CV reports your PROFESSIONAL information. Actually, if you do not like leaving those two years blank and, as you say, you did some free translation work in the meantime, you could even write down something to that regard (volunteer translations for XXXX, XXXX or volunteer translation work, even freelance translation...)

I have never even thought of including my maternity leave or times of unemployment in my CV.
I write down the place of employment, type of employment, and years of employment there.

If they REALLY need to know, they can ask you : "What were you doing between 1998 and 2000?", and then you can decide how and what to respond. And someone would only ask you in case of hiring you for a permanent position, not for a 10,000 word freelance job!

Would you write down that you took two years off if you would have been taking care of a sick relative, traveling around, or just resting? Also, I would never include my hobbies, travels abroad, sports I play, books I read, religion, political beliefs... as this has no relevance whatsoever to my skills as a translator or interpreter.

(Furthermore, I believe that in the US it is even illegal for a prospective employer to ask you questions regarding marital status, age, children, disabilities, beliefs and things like this...)


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:01
Member (2003)
German to English
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CV info Jul 11, 2008

Heidi C wrote:
... Also, I would never include my hobbies, travels abroad, sports I play, books I read, religion, political beliefs... as this has no relevance whatsoever to my skills as a translator or interpreter.

(Furthermore, I believe that in the US it is even illegal for a prospective employer to ask you questions regarding marital status, age, children, disabilities, beliefs and things like this...)


Depending on the translation assignment, hobbies, sports, etc. might be relevant, but it's better to leave this information for a cover letter where appropriate.

You're right about the US view of resume content. Various friend and family members in senior management of US corporations have often expressed frustration with the European compulsion to include unwanted personal data. Marital status, number of children, photos, etc. are a real nightmare for them sometimes and lead to these CVs being discarded quickly. And generally nobody cares where you were born or what elementary school you went to.

The presenter of a very nice information seminar from the German translators' association (BDÜ) that I attended a while back took the position that freelance translators should not submit CVs to potential clients but rather "profiles" emphasizing skills and experience. Depending on how they are structured, there may sometimes be only subtle differences between such a profile and CVs, but in principle I think this idea is sound. If the agency asks for a CV, call your profile a CV if it makes you happy - if it is well-written it will contain the information that is really relevant to the business relationship. That doesn't include a year "off" to care for a baby or half a year to recover from a mental meltdown. Keeping the personal stuff to yourself isn't dishonest; it is generally professional.



[Edited at 2008-07-11 14:40]


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:01
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Actually a CV is a curriculum vitae Jul 11, 2008

... and that means how your life has evolved.
For instance, if you have lived abroad or live abroad, that is often important for your language skills. As a language professional, your experiences can be key to your translating skills.
If you list your employment, how are you going to explain that from year X to year Y you have no documentable experience?
I took time out to have children - I was not out of work nor was I in jail or in detox! And it's one miserable sentence in my CV, which is about my life and why I am the way I am, which makes me a reliable and competent translator. It's not a ten-page description of my parenting skills, for goodness sake, it's a three-page resume, laid out in a way that makes for interesting but very fast reading.

Moreover, it's one thing not to mention it, it's quite different to fudge it or say you were doing something else. And the post I was answering actually said "So I declared those times in my CV as times of freelancing work, language courses or whatever; they won't check it anyway", didn't it?

So, if you took a year out to be a volunteer in a developing country, you wouldn't mention that either? Something that is life-changing and creative and can only enhance your maturity and your image?

Wow, this is truly sad. That being a parent, the most important role anyone can ever play "is not anyone's business"? Pheww, I wouldn't like my kids to read or hear that. They're proud of me - I'm a successful freelancer (despite having mentioned in my CV that I had time off to become a mother). And I'm proud of them.

Of course, if someone were to interrogate me about this, then I wouldn't like it, but we're not talking about that, we talking about "accounting for" a gap in a CV.

As far as other activities are concerned, I also state that I do very specific pro bono work and that has assured me several very well-paid and prestigious assignments. Which I would not have got, if I hadn't developed experience for myself as I did and put it in my CV.

Moreover, I'm gobsmacked to read ... "Also, I would never include my hobbies, travels abroad, sports I play, books I read, religion, political beliefs... as this has no relevance whatsoever to my skills as a translator or interpreter." How can this be possible?
For instance, I was brought up in a specific religion and it means that I have extensive knowledge of history, architecture and traditions that I have applied in my translation work; I read books and magazines, and watch films and TV shows, to keep my language skills honed and to keep up with new language developments; when I travel I observe habits, recipes, turns of speech, monuments etc. All of this has made me a better translator. I even keep multlingual instructions from things I buy if I find interesting terminology.


Angela

Heidi C wrote:

I believe this is private and personal information, not career related. It is not fibbing or hiding information, it is just none of anyone's business!!!

The CV reports your PROFESSIONAL information. Actually, if you do not like leaving those two years blank and, as you say, you did some free translation work in the meantime, you could even write down something to that regard (volunteer translations for XXXX, XXXX or volunteer translation work, even freelance translation...)

I have never even thought of including my maternity leave or times of unemployment in my CV.
I write down the place of employment, type of employment, and years of employment there.

If they REALLY need to know, they can ask you : "What were you doing between 1998 and 2000?", and then you can decide how and what to respond. And someone would only ask you in case of hiring you for a permanent position, not for a 10,000 word freelance job!

Would you write down that you took two years off if you would have been taking care of a sick relative, traveling around, or just resting? Also, I would never include my hobbies, travels abroad, sports I play, books I read, religion, political beliefs... as this has no relevance whatsoever to my skills as a translator or interpreter.

(Furthermore, I believe that in the US it is even illegal for a prospective employer to ask you questions regarding marital status, age, children, disabilities, beliefs and things like this...)



[Edited at 2008-07-11 16:03]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Professional Jul 11, 2008

A CV is for information related to your professional qualifications, and thus personal information such as maternity leave or even whether or not you have any children does not belong there.

If there is a gap, then there's a gap.

Keep it strictly professional.


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Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:01
German to English
Depends on the country Jul 11, 2008

In Germany, it's considered unprofessional to leave gaps in your CV, even if it's just a few months, let alone a couple of years. You're also generally expected to put your marital status and number of children at the top of the CV! Whether or not you include this information will depend on the country you're sending the application to. Of course, you could fill in the gaps as Sandra suggested.

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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:01
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
I beg to differ Jul 11, 2008

A CV or Curriculum Vitae is:
- Your Life History
- Your Job History
- Your Achievements
- Your Skills

For instance:

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/curriculum_vitae

Perhaps a "professional resume/résumé" would be strictly professional.

Regards
Angela



Henry Hinds wrote:

A CV is for information related to your professional qualifications, and thus personal information such as maternity leave or even whether or not you have any children does not belong there.

If there is a gap, then there's a gap.

Keep it strictly professional.


[Edited at 2008-07-11 15:45]


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
A CV is for professional purposes. Jul 11, 2008

Angela Arnone wrote:
Actually a CV is a curriculum vitae
... and that means how your life has evolved.


If it is a professional CV, it is how your professional life has evolved.
Generally, people receiving it want it to be concise and to the point, maximum one page.
No need to pad with irrelevant stuff...

I understand different countries have different requirements in a CV. So you would have to account for gaps in a place where they expect each year to be documented.

Of course, in a country where it is required to account for every gap, you would include a maternity leave (and also having been in jail, traveling the world, looking after a sick relative, having a nervous breakdown, I suppose)

Also, you would probably have to write your CV differently if you were applying for a permanent position in a business than if you are applying for freelance work.


Just a clarification. When quoting someone, make sure you read and quote accurately :

Moreover, it's one thing not to mention it, it's quite different to fudge it or say you were doing something else. And the post I was answering actually said "So I declared those times in my CV as times of freelancing work, language courses or whatever; they won't check it anyway", didn't it?


The post you are quoting never said "fudge it, they won't check it". The person who started the thread said:

On the contrary In the meantime I've been using my translation skills but not for money...


And the post RESPONDING to it (and quoted in the same post) suggests that this is something RELEVANT that should be included.

Actually, if you do not like leaving those two years blank and, as you say, you did some free translation work in the meantime, you could even write down something to that regard (volunteer translations for XXXX, XXXX or volunteer translation work, even freelance translation...)


Not receiving money for work does not disqualify this as work!!!
And reporting work you did for free is not lying (unless you are just making it up).

If you translate for free, it is your business, it is still work and still relevant professionally.
(more relevant than being a mother). And this would solve any concern about "having a gap" where applicable (which, where I live is not a problem that would come up).


[Edited at 2008-07-11 16:03]


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:01
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Why dates? Jul 11, 2008

If you are not applying for an actual job but just want to use your CV to attract new clients, why include dates at all? Why not just say: X years as an in-house translator and teacher, X years volunteer work for such and such organizations, X years (or just starting out) as a freelancer, and leave it at that. All they need to know is how many years of experience you have - you don't owe anyone an exact account of when you did what.

I agree with those who say that a CV should be for professional purposes only and not your entire life history. It should include your education, credentials, work history, skills, and work-related achievements. I would not mention children unless you are specializing in children's books, or hobbies unless they are related to your areas of expertise.


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Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:01
Member (2008)
English to Danish
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Interesting thread Jul 11, 2008

- We are still worried that having children is perceived as an obstacle to our professional life, I guess.

I don't put my 2 years of maternity leave on my CV because I think it's irelevant. I have seen CVs where it's been put in and I never liked the look of it. I don't think it's any employers business. I put nothing personal on my CV.

In a description of myself to complement my CV - part of a cover letter - I might put a photo of myself and a short description of my my family details. It's very rare though - usually even my cover letter is only about work stuff.

Again, it is interesting that it is still a subject for discussion and that some people see it as a gap. Personally I think I aquired tons of skills during maternity leave - I can now multitask, plan my time better (I have so little of it...), I am a better listener, I am much more tolerant of other people's mistakes but most of all I am much more focused and I know exactly what I want to achieve in my professional life and I have a better idea of how to get there. I think I more attractive to potential employers now than before I had children!

There are lots of books on the subject of using the skills you aquire as a parent in professional life - I read a few and it's very good for your professional selfesteem after maternity leave.

Turn it around - look at the positive effects of maternity leave and children.


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:01
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
No one said it wasn't Jul 11, 2008

We're "quibbling" about what might or might not be relevant and it seems that - as in many instances - this is a cultural concept.

I simply stated that I mention - briefly - that I have taken time out to have children and nobody has ever said they objected to that, or that I was wasting their time by adding that sort of information. It must take all of 2 seconds to read that sentence.
I also say that I was born and raised on the UK but that my family are Italian and thus I can offer bilingual skills. Is that also too personal and confidential?

The CV I send is the one on my profile page. It is concise and I often get complimented on it being interesting and eye-catching. It also garners me huge amounts of well-paid work, so before anyone turns up their nose at its "human" slant, they might bear that in mind.

Angela



Heidi C wrote:

Angela Arnone wrote:
Actually a CV is a curriculum vitae
... and that means how your life has evolved.


If it is a professional CV, it is how your professional life has evolved.
Generally, people receiving it want it to be concise and to the point, maximum one page.
No need to pad with irrelevant stuff...

I understand different countries have different requirements in a CV. So you would have to account for gaps in a place where they expect each year to be documented.

Of course, in a country where it is required to account for every gap, you would include a maternity leave (and also having been in jail, traveling the world, looking after a sick relative, having a nervous breakdown, I suppose)

Also, you would probably have to write your CV differently if you were applying for a permanent position in a business than if you are applying for freelance work.


Just a clarification. When quoting someone, make sure you read and quote accurately :

Moreover, it's one thing not to mention it, it's quite different to fudge it or say you were doing something else. And the post I was answering actually said "So I declared those times in my CV as times of freelancing work, language courses or whatever; they won't check it anyway", didn't it?


The post you are quoting never said "fudge it, they won't check it". The person who started the thread said:

On the contrary In the meantime I've been using my translation skills but not for money...


And the post RESPONDING to it (and quoted in the same post) suggests that this is something RELEVANT that should be included.

Actually, if you do not like leaving those two years blank and, as you say, you did some free translation work in the meantime, you could even write down something to that regard (volunteer translations for XXXX, XXXX or volunteer translation work, even freelance translation...)


Not receiving money for work does not disqualify this as work!!!
And reporting work you did for free is not lying (unless you are just making it up).

If you translate for free, it is your business, it is still work and still relevant professionally.
(more relevant than being a mother). And this would solve any concern about "having a gap" where applicable (which, where I live is not a problem that would come up).


[Edited at 2008-07-11 16:03]


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:01
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Isn't a photo personal? Jul 11, 2008

Now that's something I would never do, put my photo in with my CV.
I find that to be "irrelevant".
Does it matter what you look like? How would you feel if you "lost" a job because someone didn't like your photo? -)-)-).

However, what you say about acquiring skills as a parent I agree with wholeheartedly, as I mentioned in my earlier post.

Certainly, if I was not able to get work or I was getting negative comments about my CV, I'd have a serious think. That's not the case and I shall stick with it.

Of course, we are talking about freelance work here, and probably with people you won't ever meet face to face. I want my CV to reflect the sort of human being I am, not just how many thousands of pages I have translated. The customer will be interacting with me, with my attitude, my approach, my culture, my humour and my humanity.
I don't want to come across as yet another faceless wonder with nothing that makes me stand out from the crowd. I want to be remembered, preferably as that "nice lady who does those good translations and turns them in on time".

Angela







Ivana Friis Wilson wrote:

- We are still worried that having children is perceived as an obstacle to our professional life, I guess.

I don't put my 2 years of maternity leave on my CV because I think it's irelevant. I have seen CVs where it's been put in and I never liked the look of it. I don't think it's any employers business. I put nothing personal on my CV.

In a description of myself to complement my CV - part of a cover letter - I might put a photo of myself and a short description of my my family details. It's very rare though - usually even my cover letter is only about work stuff.

Again, it is interesting that it is still a subject for discussion and that some people see it as a gap. Personally I think I aquired tons of skills during maternity leave - I can now multitask, plan my time better (I have so little of it...), I am a better listener, I am much more tolerant of other people's mistakes but most of all I am much more focused and I know exactly what I want to achieve in my professional life and I have a better idea of how to get there. I think I more attractive to potential employers now than before I had children!

There are lots of books on the subject of using the skills you aquire as a parent in professional life - I read a few and it's very good for your professional selfesteem after maternity leave.

Turn it around - look at the positive effects of maternity leave and children.


[Edited at 2008-07-11 18:12]


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