The Mother of All Blog Posts

Let’s all agree to leave “mother” out of job descriptions

Dear Job Description Writers:

I’d like to take a moment on this fine Mother’s Day to give a bit of recruiting advice; Leave out the “mother” metaphor from your job postings.

For example, don’t do this.

“[Company Name] NEEDS A MOTHER.
Don’t be offended if you’re a dude. In this age of blurred lines, you can be our mother too. A mother tends to the flock, has an ear towards unspoken needs, and keeps the kids happy and healthy. As we grow beyond our current cozy size, we need a power player in the house with an eye towards community life.”


“You are also often affectionately referred to as Office Mom because hey, you better be able to remind folks of upcoming meetings and know where the ibuprofen’s at at any given time.”


“Are you a person that can anticipate what the team needs before we need it? Like being the office ‘mom’? Then you are in!”


“Need an Office Mom! We are a small venture funded startup full of geeks. Need someone to come and help us survive.”

Those are excerpts from real job listings.

Do you really need someone to tell you to play nice with others, clean up after yourselves, and sneeze into your elbow? As Amy Poehler would say, “Really?!”

I get what they mean to say.

I’ve scheduled flu shots, organized rock climbing events, and made sure we’ve had enough unsalted almonds in the kitchen (“keeping people healthy”).

I’ve planned really fun holiday, beach, product launch, and just-because-it’s-Friday parties (“keeping people happy”).

I’ve watched and analyzed the office vibe, kept an open-door policy and made sure concerns have been addressed (“has an ear towards unspoken needs”).

Instead of seeking out a “mother” though, perhaps realize the overlapping skills a mother has of, let’s say, an Office Manager, Director of Operations, Chief of Staff, Receptionist, Director of Recruiting, Sidekick, HR Manager, Director of Happiness, or whatever made-up title you create.

Sounds like you’re looking for someone who is smart and gets things done — a leader who can juggle logistics. Someone who knows when and how to prioritize the never-ending tasks that come their way. Someone who is solving problems before you even realize there are any. Someone that makes everyone excited about the projects they’re working on and about coming into work.

Why would someone like that want to work at a company that needs a mother? The person you’re looking for wants to work at a place where other grownups roam the hallways. Not children.

Being a mother is a very tough job that comes without bonuses, raises, or promotions. It can be a thankless job. The person you’re looking for wants growth, a career path and to be recognized for a job well done.

Writing a job description like that not only promotes a sexist atmosphere, even if “dudes” are allowed to apply, but also alienates the qualified candidates that you are seeking. It’s simply counterproductive and insulting.

Can we all agree to leave out “mother” from job descriptions from now on?



Mother of two lovely boys.
VP of People at Trello where other adults join me for coffee in the kitchen.

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