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.