Being a stay-at-home parent is a full-time job, but unfortunately not one that you get paid for—at least in cold, hard dollars. The decision to leave the workforce and raise a family is a choice that many parents do not make lightly, especially if they know that they want to return in the future. You may be concerned about how this gap in employment will look to potential employers, and how it will impact your ability to land a new job. These are valid concerns.
Staying home to raise children has become more widely accepted in recent years, but that doesn’t mean that creating your come-back resume is any easier. If you’re at a place where your children are more independent and you’re ready to continue moving ahead with your career, here are a few things to consider when writing your resume:
Be confident in your decision. Don’t feel bad about taking time off for your family. Let employers know that it was a conscious choice, not a last resort or fallback. If you have to provide a reason for leaving your last job on an employment application, it is okay to say that you resigned. Add a brief explanation in your cover letter that says you chose to stay home with your children, but now they are in school and you are ready to refocus on your career. Just don’t make your cover letter all about this decision – you still want the emphasis to be on the fact that you have the experience and abilities the employer is looking for.
Stay active. Make sure that during your time away, you stay abreast of what is happening within your industry. Pay attention to any major shifts or changes that occur, new standards or protocols, and new technology. You can often take courses online to keep your knowledge and skills sharp. Include any professional development, trainings, or certifications on your resume.
Leverage your experience. Did you volunteer as part of the PTA? Work a few hours a week at your child’s school helping teachers out? Organize events for your HOA? Volunteer for a nonprofit? Don’t underestimate the value of these experiences and the skills you used. Highlight strengths such as event planning, logistics, budget management, fundraising, organization, leading teams or meetings, and anything else you may have done. Write these activities as you would for any other job, even if you weren’t being paid.
Reformat your resume. Depending on how much time you took off from your career, you may want to consider shuffling things around on your resume. Using a hybrid format or possibly a functional format that emphasizes your skills versus dates of employment may be beneficial. This way employers see right off the bat what you bring to the table, then they can see the jobs that you’ve held. Make sure you include a section near the top for your volunteer experience as well, since that is what you have been doing most recently. Avoid the temptation to create a cheesy entry designating yourself as the “Family CEO” just to cover the gap.
As a parent, you are a force to be reckoned with. Let your resume showcase all that you have to offer, and why an employer would benefit from adding you to their team. Need help revamping your resume after a gap in employment from having children? Turn to the team at Grammar Chic. We’ll work with you to emphasize your strengths and achievements, positioning you in a positive light. Contact us today to learn more and schedule a consultation.