Should I Put Mary Kay on My Resumé?

If Mary Kay was your main “job” for any length of time and now you’re searching for a real job, you may feel like you have to put it on your resumé. How would you explain the gap in employment otherwise?

And yet…. You know that participation in an MLM may reflect negatively on you. Many people don’t view MLM as a legitimate career. (And they’re right.) Could admitting to being a Mary Kay Lady work against you on your resumé?

Here’s what one person had to say on Reddit:

Am I being too harsh? As an employer, if I see someone put a MLM “job” on their resume (and they usually add their ridiculous rank as their title), it’s an automatic “no” pile. I feel that putting MLM “experience” on there shows that the candidate makes poor decisions and also, they obviously haven’t learned how poor of a decision they made if they put it on a resume. In addition, IMO, MLM’s provide no valuable training and I don’t want to risk hiring someone who may still be enticed by a MLM and try to bring that crap in my company. Your thoughts?

Someone responded with a link to Ask a Manager, where someone asked if a person in an MLM should put “business owner” on their resume. Allison Green responded that MLM people are salespeople, not business owners. She says the MLMs tell you that you’re a business owner “… probably because it helps them disguise the reality that a huge percentage of the people who sell their products don’t make a profit, and even lose money.” Most importantly, she noted that if you call yourself a business owner, most people would think that’s not an honest description of what you did in MLM, and that will make you look bad.

Ask a Manager recommends leaving MLM off your resumé all together “… because of the strong stigma against them (due to their exploitative business model, which especially preys on women) and because it’s a hard sell to argue MLMs provide their reps with provide transferable skills. Most of the time, including an MLM on a resume will be a negative, not a positive.”

I agree that it’s best to leave MLM off your resumé, off your LinkedIn profile, and not mention it in a job interview. But what about those who were sales directors or executive sales directors etc.? Isn’t that a great success that should be discussed? Aren’t there great skills that were learned in Mary Kay?

Again, I think the downside risk is too great. Chances are the person looking at resumés will see it as a negative. If you have a gap in jobs because of your time in Mary Kay, I’d rather see you explain the gap by saying you took time off to care for your family. You decided to be a stay-at-home mom for a while, you had family responsibilities that were time-consuming, you wanted to focus on your family for a period of time, and so on. You don’t have to be specific about it, and most employers don’t hold that type of thing against you if you’re qualified for the job you’ve applied for and you’ve kept your skills current.

What do you think former Mary Kay reps should do when it comes to their resumés?

33 Comments

  1. Coffee Canuck

    This is a tough one. I feel that if you do put it on, do it with caution. Make sure you say Independent Sales rep. Or leave it off but state the skills you learned (if any), such as public speaking, budgeting, etc. Comfortable speaking with the General Public, etc. And, only put it on if your resume is sparse with real work experience (I am thinking more of a fresh out of university person). But if you have any real world experience, then leave it out.

    1. Susan Hubbard

      I think if there are skills you felt you learned, put it in a additional skills section. This saves people from listing the same item with every job

      As a hiring manager, if the job experience was sparse, I would look under their additional skills and see if anything was relevant to what I was looking for.

      If I saw an MLM listed, the application would go to the bottom of the pile unless they had other entries that showed they could handle the position I was hiring for,

      1. pinkblacksheep

        I like the additional skills section. I definitely came out of MK with good selling skills. I became very good at presentations and public speaking, and learned how to meet new people and start friendships without coming off crazy. I think those are all valuable, as next day job will be in real estate.

  2. Abby

    I’m a recruiter, so I am torn about this. On one hand, we know that MLMs are garbage. But on the other, they prey on vulnerable people who are often excluded from higher-paying jobs. Even worse, they prey on women, who often do the brunt of the work involved in raising children, which means they may leave their jobs or stop aiming for promotions/higher pay because they have obligations at home. So I wouldn’t outright reject someone for listing an MLM if that’s the only way to explain a gap in traditional employment.

    I think it depends on how it’s listed. If the person lists themselves as an independent sales rep and discusses concrete achievements, it might be okay. But if they use the fantasy titles and don’t mention any accomplishments, it would be a harder sell.

  3. PeachyNotPink

    As another hiring manager here, I would advise not putting MLM on the resume directly. Like mentioned above, any skills learned can be put under an “Additional Skills” heading.

    If the candidate makes it to the interview stage of the process, they can easily spin their time in MLM into something positive. “My sales experience and attention to deadlines and details, unfortunately, come from a short stint working for (an MLM). I realized quickly that I didn’t want to be a part of (an MLM). However, I know these skills will be valuable to (this job I’m interviewing for now). Here is how I believe I can help (your company): x, y, z reasons. I’m really looking forward to making a positive contribution here (at company).”

    I always believe in addressing the 800lb gorilla in the room. You come across as honest, able to admit you made a mistake, and that you can adapt to correct course.

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    1. Lazy Gardens

      Yes … some of my skills have come from working for extremely BAD companies. Saying “I was lured, and realized the business promise was a lie, but I did learn a few useful things that I can apply to this position”

      Many of the companies I worked for would FIRE you if they found that you had made material omissions on your resume or application.

      1. Heather

        I worked at another hospital for about four months because I thought the grass was greener on the other side. Turns out it was greener because it was over a septic tank. Nursing managers have asked about those four months, where I did learn some great skills that have added to my nursing knowledge, and I basically say that I learned a lot and loved what I was doing. However, the place was not a good fit and what I had been promised in my position never materialized. I leave it at that. (Long story short, my preceptor left on FMLA about 6 weeks into my orientation. I was left to my own devices, and the other PACU nurses “watched” me. I was a 0.9 FTE, which meant I got 36 hours a week, plus call and OT. When I brought this up to my manager, particularly as I was *supposed* to work 40 hours one week and 32 the next, all I got was, “We’re short-staffed. I can’t do that. If you want the time off, you have to use PTO, which probably won’t get approved.”)

        With regards to MK, I have dropped it completely off my resume (as I have been out of the pink bubble for over ten years now). I did learn a few skills – better time management and public speaking.

  4. EyesWideShutNoMore

    One of the very young (early 20s) girls in another unit was applying for a job at a hotel. Her director raved at us how she put MK on her resume and the manager at the hotel immediately knew she’d know to be “dressed professionally” at all times so he hired her. She put her director down as a reference, which also opens up a debate on whether to do that or not.

    Not quite sure what happened with that job, but she did take another one working as a topless server at a strip club while aiming for her Red Jacket. Anyone else see the irony? LOL

    1. BestDecision

      “Dialing for dollars” became “Swinging for Dollars”. Wow! One of my unit members recruited a girl I was positive had been an escort, and I had to delicately we teach professional attire to my whole unit because of her. And her cleavage. And “enhanced” bosom. Not too many “real” jobs where someone has to have that chat!

      1. EyesWideShutNoMore

        Lol, good one.

        This girl brought a couple of her “colleagues” to a dinner and makeover and wow. You could just tell these girls were strippers. There’s high-end dancers and these girls were NOT it. Barely any clothes on, long straggly hair extensions to the butt, covered in tacky tattoos and heavy heavy make up and acrylic nails. Loud, not well spoken and just rough in general. The MK one told a few of us later that the one stripper lost all her teeth from meth but earned enough stripping to buy new ones. Well there’s another I story waiting to happen!

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  5. morningstar

    I would say for my industry. Aerospace. If you have a gap in your resume you can speak to it. It creates positive conversation and the ball is in your court.

    I have a gap now and happy to sit down and will talk to it, as an interview advances. I was on zoom for a local county this last Monday and was blown away at the confidence the presenter who covered this topic of resume gaps. She will take ALL questions. It is a zoom mtg. no faces shown, muted out – except the presenter so you can relax. TJ is one of the best confidence booster type people I have heard speak- ever.

    Anyone can join in, as she presents each week no matter where you are located. I am referring to:
    Interviewing Part 1
    https://www.adworks.org/index.php/job-seekers/online-powerpoint-workshops

    Thank you for this Forum.

  6. Cindylu

    I managed to get a letter of reference from another Director. Fortunately it was a good one.I would never ever have put my SD as a reference. I briefly used MK experience till I was able to rebuild my resume. I had to restart my career after stopping to be home with my children. Definitely an uphill battle. I took temporary or part time work during the year. Changed fields often: Seniors Homes Activity Director, Teachers Assistant, Day Care Worker, Security and finally a well paying job so I ended up with three pensions (from all the jobs I’d had since 16). Women definitely make sacrifices. It’s happening more now with COVID and the many responsibilities females have has moms and caregivers.

    1. EyesWideShutNoMore

      Good for you for insisting on that. Do you have the unit managers nose around on an applicant’s social pages? I’m surprised what people will post on FB etc and openly lead people to their pages, links etc on resumes!

      Sort of off topic, but my manager laughed about a guy he interviewed for an engineering position and he had a link on his resume to his Insta page where he had pics of himself doing nude yoga. Immediately was not in the running for the job. My boss was pretty laid back and had a good sense of humour, but he said he checks every interviewee on the socials and anything sketchy doesn’t make the cut.

  7. Pinkiu

    This is a tough question. I used my MK experience to get my foot in the door with Dior. It’s highly possible that the Executive Director didn’t have an understanding of MLMs and thought it was a positive as a “go-getter” or as experienced in sales. However, in my position now, if someone put it on their resume, I would think twice depending on the other resumes I received.

    1. Juliet

      Actually it makes a lot of sense to me that Dior would not exclude an MK rep. The fact that you were involved in cosmetics and in sales, even if MLM, that’s experience that someone like myself would not have, and would require more than a little training. You would walk in with that knowledge. I may be totally wrong lol but it does make sense to me. Hope you have had a wonderful time with Dior!

    1. Juliet

      I am applying for positions right now and have a 7 year gap where I haven’t been working in any paid positions outside of self-employment of $80 a month so I can get Medicaid, but I seem to have covered the time well. I put in a few applications on Robert Half around 8 to 8:30 am and about 10 am the recruiter called me lol. On my profile/resume, for the gap years, I wrote for company name, Home and Family Care, and explained that I have been an unofficial caregiver for elderly and disabled family and friends, and sadly with the passing of loved ones, I do have time to work again which delights me no end. I didn’t write all the flowery stuff lol, but that’s why I have been homebound and I do feel I was truthful and respectable in my answer. Hope this might help.

      1. EyesWideShutNoMore

        It’s bittersweet, eh? Being off to take care of someone then suddenly you’re a free agent but of course, can’t predict when it’s going to happen to start applying and interviewing. Not to mention pull it together enough to get through the interview!

        I have a year and a half gap from 2018-2019, I had a contract job end and then 2 deaths shortly after (grandma and my dad, both were somewhat sudden) and my mom needed help with all that comes with the aftermath like cleaning out a house etc. I’m so glad I was able to take the time of to help my mom, and I don’t regret it at all. I’ve found it’s a good test to see how people interviewing me react if they ask about my gap. Some are disbelieving and some are completely understanding. One awesome director said when I wanted to explain it that gaps are no big deal nowadays and nothing I should be worried about. “People travel, life happens, things are out of your control. Not alarmed at all by this!”

        1. Juliet

          Thank you, EyesWideShutNoMore <3 Just the compassion you shared warms me so, it does help to hear others know where you have been. 2019 was most brutal, my husband and I lost five truly lifelong friends, then our treasured nephew who battled so many disorders due to juvenile diabetes until passing at 36, and three mothers of friends and family. My blood runs cold just remembering but that year has surely kept 2020 in perspective for me. I always appreciate your writings, thank you so much for your encouragement most definitely. xoxoxoxo

  8. MMMhmm

    I am an RN with a major health insurance company. Resume gaps don’t matter too much for businesses that hire nurses, a lot of nurses go in and out of employment depending on their family needs or the economy. The main qualifications for what I do are ‘do you have an active, unrestricted nursing license’ and ‘can you use a computer’ – the rest is trained on the job as it’s rather specialized.
    The attitude here about the MLM stuff is – ‘That’s not a job, we don’t want to see that on your resume’. Anyone who did put that on a resume, or talked about it in an interview, would be discreetly shuffled to the bottom of the pile. There is a strictly enforced policy about not discussing MLMs anywhere on the job or on work time. (This includes posting flyers. I have seen people walked out the door for leaving catalogs in the break room).
    There’s an awareness that some nurses are heavily into this stuff and they don’t want that coming into our workspace. It’s something I really appreciate about the company I work for.

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    1. Heather

      Registered nurse here. There are a LOT of RNs in various MLMs – Pampered Chef, MK, Avon, Lip Sense (or whatever it’s called). My facility has a ZERO tolerance policy for trying to solicit or promote shizznit, particularly while you are on the clock. Promoting a baby shower by sharing the registry website for the first-time momma is different. You are not selling anything.

      When I run into nurses and staff members who are in MLMs, I briefly touch on my experience and point them to this site.

      1. BestDecision

        I agree! Healthcare professionals are exactly that: professionals. My Director tries to convince her unit otherwise and says she makes more money than nurses. Interestingly, she’s in the exact same place she was in 20 years ago, yet nurses are in far better places in the same timeframe.

        Your thoughts on nursing versus MK?

        1. Heather

          Nursing versus MK? NO COMPARISON. None. Nada. Zip. You bet that I work my tail off during my shifts, and many times I’m a sweaty, cussing mess, especially with all of our PPE.

          BUT here is the big difference. When I leave work, works stays there. I don’t have to bring it home and I don’t have to think about it. (Sometimes that can be difficult, especially if your day was challenging.) My days off are days off. I don’t HAVE to work unless I WANT to, and being in our float pool means I get to set my own schedule. I have a 403(B) with matching, a retirement plan with my company, paid time off, paid sick, and tuition assistance (I’m in the last semester of my master’s degree).

          Pay-wise I make pretty decent money. It’s not what I was making as a travel or crisis nurse. Travel nurse pay brought me about $1500+/week NET. Crisis (aka COVID) nursing brought me hella big bucks. Six weeks, 48 hours a week, my TAKE HOME was over $3100 PER week. Guess what I was doing on my days off as a crisis nurse? NOTHING. (Okay, I did do a few things, like laundry and grocery shop, and I spent some time poolside hanging out.)

          1. BestDecision

            It sickens me she trash talks Nursing. I love that when I’m off, I’m OFF. And no expenses to incur after my employer deducts taxes for me. My car is MINE, and I don’t have to guess I won’t have a payment to make for the next 3 months if my numbers are low.

            Here’s to us!

  9. Autumn

    I only worry about how resume gaps are treated.

    So while I agree, MLMs are not jobs I hate to see people not hired because they were MLMing and woke up and smelled the coffee. They may have a LOT of debt and need a job. Wouldn’t it be better to fully examine the MLM experience and find out that the applicant understands that they got scammed and were scamming others, and that they want to leave that life behind and pay off their credit cards and this job they’re applying to is the vehicle for doing that?

    It’s kind of like doing credit checks on applicants and not hiring because of debt load/credit score, sure they were stupid in the past, but if they can’t get a job how are they supposed to get their lives back on track.

    If employers won’t have you because you were desperate and got scammed it’s almost like your getting scammed twice.

    This kind of hiring discrimination is a hot button with me. I’ll admit that.

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