Should You Put Mary Kay On Your Resume?

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 resumés?

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?


  1. I would list it as “direct reseller”, leave off the company name and focus on the skills actually used. When or if asked, say it was a fling on the dark side and that you came to your senses and realized MLM was an unworkable business model.

    ANY check on social media will show it – you might scrub yours cleaner than a Norwex hun’s bathtub, but you will show up in your up and downline and team members, news sites.

    And now, instead of an MLM on your resume you have a big, fat lie.

  2. I’m on Team Leave It Off. People who know about MK but don’t know the dark side of it will think of it as a grannyish and outdated makeup company that holds parties where women sit and giggle and put makeup on each other. That mental image doesn’t live up to something like “Senior Executive Sales Director.”

    Those who do know about the dark side of MLM will be like “oh hell no” because of all the reasons listed by Alison Green and the poster from Reddit.

    I think the best you can do is focus on your work experience prior to MLM if you have any (and if the huns didn’t get you to nuke your old career because MK is just the cat’s ass) and demonstrating whatever soft skills you’ve developed that are relevant to the job that you’ve applied for.

    It sucks that this is going to limit an ex-hun in the kind of job she’ll be able to get and I’m sure that is a big reason why so many of them jump from one MLM to another, or start footling “consulting” businesses. Especially since MLM promises the moon and doesn’t deliver, while making such a big deal out of having the appearance of wealth.

  3. I’m also on Team Leave It Off. No one wants to know you were a “Boss Babe” with an MLM. If someone asks, I have routinely said I was in direct sales as a consultant and worked on commission. I don’t mention the compnay name or anything associated with it. No one has ever asked anything beyond that.

  4. When I jumped back into the world of real work after a 14 year stint with Mary Kay, I left MK on my resume. I focused on the skills I learned and developed, NOT the fluffy titles and meaningless “accomplishments.” I only applied to a handful of places, landed two interviews during which I made it clear that MK was a closed chapter, and got a really good sales job very quickly. I know my experience is entirely anecdotal, but it didn’t seem to harm me. I think the experience would have been much different if I had focused on how great the company was or had I still been in the Pink Fog. It also would have been different if I hadn’t spent my MK time actually learning to sell, overcome objections, develop more real relationships, keep up with an office, etc. Were my skills where MK said they were? No! Were they better than before I was a consultant? Absolutely.

  5. Adding – If you were working your MLM as a side job and had a real job too, you might safely leave it off and call it a “failed hobby” if asked.

    But it’s becoming common for employers to run a quick social media search to see what your public-facing persona looks like, and you risk having your 5-year resume gap exposed as being less than truthful.

    • I have a carefully curated FB account which is family and friends only. I have another on which I have people that I met though various forums over the years. The first would be the one I offer up for scrutiny. The latter would never. I don’t have twitter or Instagram so my digital footprint is small outside her and Reddit.

  6. This is a hard one because I did get a job with Dior because of my previous experience with MK. I’m guessing it’s because my Account Executive was desperate for workers right before Christmas and hired me to push perfume and gift boxes. Once she saw that I had sales and makeup skills, she kept me and substantially increased my hourly rate to keep me from going to another line.

  7. I say yes. Especially if you had a car. Not everyone knows all the pitfalls of this business. I did have a boss at one point that has an MBA from ASU. He told me had to study Mary Kay for his MBA. I don’t think he discovered anything derogatory about MK this was pre internet thought so maybe it would have been harder to learn the bad stuff in those times. Certain jobs want fo hire self-starters. Like pharmaceutical rep, insurance agent, some jobs will see that as a trait they need.

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