While motherhood is undoubtedly a noble and demanding profession, truth is, taking time away from the office to raise kids can, and often does, derail your career somewhat. In fact, the hole that at-home time leaves in your employment record tends to present such a widespread challenge for mothers that it’s been given its own name: “the mommy gap” (although, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that many dads are stay-at-home parents, too).
But that’s not to say you should just give up on your admirable quest to re-enter the workforce. It just means that in order to find a job after years of parental leave you might, unfortunately, have to do a bit of extra work to market yourself as the outstanding hire you are. And while there’s lots involved in this process, it all begins with an update of your resume.
Our recommendation? Start by using a reputable resume builder to simplify the job of (re)writing this important document, and then follow the tips below to ensure the mommy gap doesn’t get in the way of your next big break.
Say it like it is (and own that gap)
Too many moms choose not to acknowledge the gap in their career chronology on their resumes. Rather than leaving it up to employers to guess the reason behind your lengthy absence from the workforce, be open about it – after all, there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. In the work history section of your resume, cover the employment gap by simply stating that you were raising children during this time. Choose language that makes it clear that staying at home with the kids was entirely your decision and the number one reason you left your last job.
Use the tools at your disposal
To explain away the gap in your work timeline, you can now draw on a handy resource pioneered by creative agency Mother New York. This tool makes it that much easier to acknowledge your time spent as a stay-at-home mother on LinkedIn by giving you the option to list “Mom” as a job title on your profile and connect this to the company The Pregnancy Pause. Printable resumes and cover letters that achieve the same objective can be created, too – just download the campaign’s specially crafted toolkit. By making use of this new standardized approach, you can treat parental leave like the full-time position it is and effortlessly fill the gaps in your chronology.
Write a killer summary statement
While there are certain standard resume rules to follow, there’s room to use this critical job search tool as a powerful storytelling device, and the summary statement, which sits right at the top (after the header), serves as the opening paragraph. Use it to set the scene by focusing on your accomplishments, qualifications, competencies and enthusiasm – all the things that make you a great fit for the role, despite your work hiatus. If you used your at-home time to solidify and realign your career goals, tell this story here. You can briefly touch on the gap in your employment timeline in the summary statement, too, but the idea is to spin it as being inconsequential to your ability to do the job.
Highlight the many other ways you used your parental “leave”
Most moms who step away from paid work for several years don’t just spend that time changing diapers and reading bedtime stories. Maybe you did an online course, joined a professional organization, started a blog, freelanced or consulted part-time, or volunteered at a local charity. These are all valuable experiences that would have undoubtedly equipped you with a heap of relevant skills, and they deserve a place on your resume. Future employers will be looking for evidence that you’ve kept your skills and knowledge of the industry fresh, even while away, so be sure to list all activities that prove you’ve stayed in the game, so to speak.
Rethink the structure of your resume
There are a number of ways in which you can reorganize your resume to keep the emphasis on your suitability for the role and off the mommy gap. For example, you could:
- Opt for a combination format that first outlines your key skills and the technology you’re proficient in, and only then delves into your work history.
- Move your education section higher up, above your work experience section, to highlight continued training completed during your time away.
- Create a separate section for volunteer experience and part-time work, accompanied by descriptions of your duties that use strong action verbs, to make sure this information stands out to the reader.
- Identify a common theme that you want to put the spotlight on, and then weave it through every element of your resume, with concrete examples.
Whatever you do, exude confidence
If you doubt your own ability to successfully re-enter the workforce, a hiring manager might pick up on your apprehension. You want to convince a future employer that you are 100% capable of hitting the ground running in a new position, so you need to believe this yourself, too. The fact that you put your career on pause for a while for child care purposes doesn’t inherently make you a less gifted employee or less suitable candidate. So, change your mindset, ooze self-confidence, and leave no doubt in a recruiter’s mind that you are the right person for the job.
LiveCareer offers assistance to job seekers at every step of the journey. Access free resume templates and resume examples, plus a cover letter builder and advice on how to answer interview questions of all stripes.
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