Resume writing is tough. A fine art and a guessing game to make it flow well, represent your experience in an impressive way while also trying to figure out what the hiring team might be looking for. For a parent who has stayed at home to raise children, the challenge can be even greater. It’s not like you have been living under a rock for the past X number of years. Far from it. But how do you translate all you have done in the world of being a stay at home parent into the corporate business world? I have worked full time in the Human Resources field for over 12 years and am hoping these tips can help when you decide it’s time to venture into the wonderful world of being a working mom!
Add Volunteer Roles: More than likely, you have held some sort of volunteer role during your time as a stay at home parent. Don’t discount the challenge of these roles as they often take skills such as organizational, project management and even financial management. If you led a team (think PTA president etc), be sure that is clearly called out in the resume. While you should never falsify an application, don’t stray away from representing these roles with the same words you would if it were a paid position (while also indicating the role was PTA or Volunteer etc). Leading teams of parents, being responsible for a school budget- all of those things are very relevant.
Don’t Discount Your Past: If you worked prior to having kids, don’t be afraid to include that. Even if it was years ago. Part of what a recruiter or manager does when scanning a resume is to use it as a tool to get to know the candidate on a brief and high level. Completely leaving out any work experience could cause confusion.
Address the Gap in Experience: No need to go back decades on a resume. But leaving time gaps in recent years or for the current year could leave un-necessary questions to the hiring team. Simply stating “stay at home mom/parent/dad” is solid enough to address the gap. You are not trying to hide it and putting it out there will show the recruiter/manager just that. You can also be crafty and not indicate months, but rather indicate years. Sometimes this lessens a time gap.
Here is an example:
PTA President ABC Elementary School
(Here is where you would then include the job duties this role entails)
Auction Committee Co-Chair XYZ Middle School
Stay at home mom
Sr. Financial Analyst, Bank of ABC
Cover Letter: A cover letter is another way to explain any gaps in employment. I am honestly neutral on the benefit of a cover letter. Do one just to be safe, particularly if you have an employment gap of more than a few years. This is your opportunity to throw in your relevant skills, indicate you stayed at home and are now ready to get back into the workforce and why you are the perfect candidate.
Don’t Try to Oversell the Mom Role: I once saw a resume from a stay at home mom that went into the details of her breastfeeding schedule. To be honest, all I thought was yeah I also nurse full time…with my full-time job. Ok, that meant I pumped like no other, but still. Is breastfeeding hard? Sure! But I don’t translate that into anything helping with a career. Unless you’re applying to be a wet nurse maybe.
Don’t be Cutesy with Stay-at-Home Experience: This one is up for debate and that’s fine. But my opinion is to not add things like Chief Home Officer. While I do recommend including that you were/are a stay at home parent just to address the experience gap, I think trying to add things like Laundry Manager or Carpool Lead (no joke, I have seen a variety of interesting titles) will not get your resume to be memorable in a positive way.
Add Education Near the Top: I usually include my education near the bottom of my resume since I have current and relevant work experience. But as a parent who has stayed home, if you have degrees, certifications or trainings, I would encourage you to put those up top so they are sure to be caught in the initial screening of your resume. Bonus if you have taken recent online courses to ensure your skills stay up to date!
Professional Development: Similar to keeping up on education, if you have membership in professional organizations and/or have participated in conferences, include that! It basically screams “I am passionate about the field!” Recruiters and managers love that!
Don’t be Afraid of Key Words: You are likely applying to a position because you feel you are qualified for it. Don’t’ be afraid to cater your resume a bit to match the job description. No, don’t lie (this will disqualify you at any point in the process!). But sometimes reading the description can help you determine what buzz words might help get you through that initial pass.
Include Freelance Work: If you’ve worked on a contract, temp, or freelance basis, that’s absolutely relevant information, and should be included on your resume.
Consider a Different Format: The most common resume format is chronological. However, check out these resources for some other options that help specifically when you have had a gap in your corporate world experience.
The More, The Merrier: Don’t just submit one resume and wait for a call. It doesn’t hurt to apply to get your resume out there to numerous possibilities. Remember, applying doesn’t mean you are committed to anything. It’s simply submitting interest. If you are selected for an interview that you find to not be a good fit, at least you have gained some positive growth in your interview skills.
There are lots of resources for you out there. There are even services helping in resume writing at places like community colleges. You don’t have to venture into it alone. Utilize the tools you have available to better your chances!
Read more of Stephanie’s contributions to allmomdoes here.