How to Add “Family Caregiver” to Your LinkedIn Profile, And Why it Matters


How to Add “Family Caregiver” to Your LinkedIn Profile, And Why it Matters


LinkedIn users can now add several caregiving-related titles to their profiles, including “stay-at-home mom” and “stay-at-home dad.”

These changes, which went live in March, went into effect several weeks after it was announced that nearly 3 million women in the U.S. have left the workforce since the start of the pandemic. LinkedIn also seemed to take into account the advice of stay-at-home mom Heather Bolen who writes about the platform’s implicit biases against women and the opportunity they have to help users better explain resume gaps, “by simply modernizing its profile editing options.”

Furthermore, says Bolen, “there are zero pre-populated options on LinkedIn to identify maternity leave, parental leave, adoption leave, sick leave, bereavement leave, elderly care leave, or for long-term injury/illness, education/re-training, volunteering, long-term travel, a gap year, a sabbatical--or for a pandemic.”

Bolen is right. This is a gap the team at observed, as well. In fact, at the beginning of the year, we explored how people could work around some of LinkedIn’s inflexibilities around title and employer requirements in order to share past and present family caregiving experiences--which our team believes should count toward a person’s work experience. CNN contributor Elissa Strauss best captures our reasoning here:

I have some initial thoughts on adding family caregiver to a LinkedIn profile after attempting to demo their changes for myself:

LinkedIn still requires an employer to be added to an experience entry.

As of April 5, 2021 (the day I drafted this piece), I am unable to add a new experience without selecting an employer. Why does this matter? The Forbes announcement about LinkedIn’s title changes states, “LinkedIn is...removing its requirement that any resume entry—for example, ‘stay-at-home dad’—must be linked to a specific company or employer.” It’s not clear whether this update is being rolled out in phases to users or it’s a forthcoming site-wide update. Either way, our suggested workaround for the time being for people interested in adding caregiver to their LinkedIn profile is to select “self-employed.”

Why Caregiver vs. Caretaker matters.

In the Fortune article referenced above, these LinkedIn changes are said to accommodate “full-time parents and other caretakers.” “Caretaker” is also one of the title options a user can select from their list.

Did you hear what I just heard? That’s the sound of thousands of family caregivers across the country audibly cringing.

As we continue to both normalize periods of under- and unemployment due to caregiving and bereavement and recognize the value of care work in our society, we must also be thoughtful about the language we use to describe caregiving experiences. Just as Bolen was aggravated by “mom” being synonymous with “homemaker” in LinkedIn’s auto-suggestions for titles, some caregivers take offense to the word “caretaker.”

Rosanne Corcoran, who is a full-time caregiver for her mother, says, “The definition of a caretaker is a person employed to look after a building, yet that term is interchangeably used for caregivers. We give care to people, not take care of a property.” Not everyone who’s a caregiver is bothered by being called a “caretaker,” but it's understandable why this term is problematic. Adds Brenda Blais-Nesbitt, who’s been the primary caregiver for her daughter for almost 28 years, caregivers will drop everything to care for their loved ones and show up when no one else will. They are more inclined to give than to take.

By and large, the preferred terminology is caregiver or family caregiver. This whole issue, raised by Bolen, boils down to using identify-affirming language. Caregiver is an option you can select from LinkedIn’s drop-down list. And while you can manually enter “family caregiver” as a title, there’s value in it being added to LinkedIn’s list of title options. Not everyone chooses to publicly identify as a caregiver, but users who do will appreciate LinkedIn’s effort to recognize their experience.

While I feel like more options and functionality are needed to better reflect the diversity of caregiving roles and experiences, LinkedIn has taken some important steps forward, with plans to make additional improvements--such as adding a separate resume section for employment gaps--in the pipeline.

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