Tina Fey: A resume built on parenting skills

Tina Fey told David Letterman that working with some co-stars has improved her parenting skills. Similarly, many parents find their resumes benefited by perfecting problem-solving and communication skills while raising kids. 

Fred Thomhill/Reuters
Actress Tina Fey attends a news conference to promote the film 'This Is Where I Leave You' at the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, September 8, 2014.

Tina Fey told David Letterman that working with temperamental co-star Alec Baldwin helped her build her parenting skills. What the star may not know is that parenting experience works in both directions and many long-time moms seeking to re-enter the full-time workplace can draw on their parenting experiences as effective resume-building skills

Ms. Fey told the “Late Show” host last Friday that working with Baldwin prepared her for being a mom to her independent, high-energy daughter.

"I feel like I try to use some techniques I learned working with Alec," Fey said of the parenting strategies she employs with her youngest daughter Penelope, 3. She and husband Jeff Richmond also have an older daughter, Alice, 9.

For a brief period of time a few years ago, I tried to make ends meet by taking an office job in addition to my work as a writer.

I worked in a busy workforce development office as a state-licensed “Career Developer” helping people re-enter the workforce after a layoff or long hiatus spent parenting.

Day after day, I helped people take stock of their skills and qualifications, seeking out what made them unique and valuable in the job market as we wrote and re-wrote their resumes.

Seeing Fey’s funny moment on Letterman got me thinking that while Fey’s work experience was valuable at home, my own parenting skills, acquired over the past 20 years with four sons, can apply to a work environment.

In fact, had Fey been a mom for longer before she worked with Mr. Baldwin, she would have probably handled him with what many experts call "soft skills."

As a Career Developer, I was taught those skills include: verbal communication, leadership, analytical/quantitative skills, strong work ethic, ability to work in a team, problem-solving, initiative, and being detail-oriented.

While at that job, my own parenting skills were put to the test daily by an office bully, tantrum-throwing clients, and some people who simply could not work and play well with others until I offered them a snack.

I made it a practice to keep a jar of chocolates on my desk to help defuse jobless clients I met with who had been waiting in unemployment lines, worrying themselves to pieces over how to feed their families.

Fey may have experienced similar situations with Baldwin, and for that she can thank him for honing her parenting skills.

She would probably have had a “mommy voice” to use on Baldwin.

“Alexander Rae Baldwin the Third,” Fey might have said in “The Voice.”

If that alone didn’t turn his knees to jelly she could have added, “You’re the oldest of four boys. Set an example!”

While Fey hopefully doesn’t need a resume at this point in her career, the rest of us who are parents can take heart that our on-the-parenting-job training is valuable to employers.

In March 2014, US News and World Report offered a list of “soft skills all employers seek.”

The list includes “agile learning” – like all the times as a parent when you were, as US News and World Report puts it, “forced to make a decision based on lots of data or changing information.” Sounds like when we try and figure out which child is telling the truth about who broke something.

Then there’s “emergent leadership,” which seems to come out when we’re faced with a problem as part of a team. This reminds me of every school volunteer assignment I ever accepted.

Perhaps the best skill honed in parenting is what the magazine calls “intellectual humility,” or taking ownership of your ideas while being able to recognize when to back down to better ideas. There’s nothing like parenting to have grown my ability to recognize when I am completely wrong.

If a potential employer wants more evidence of how your parenting has uniquely qualified you to handle the daily stress, responsibility, and decision-making of a busy office, there’s a very simple response.

References will be furnished upon request in the form of all my kids being delivered to your care after a long day and a sugary drink.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Tina Fey: A resume built on parenting skills
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today