Author: Pauline Delaney
As a stay-at-home mom of two little girls (a wild three-year-old and a sassy five-year-old) from 2013- 2017, I often had mixed emotions about my “job.”
One day I’d be rejoicing that I had the opportunity to experience every milestone with my girls, the next (probably while cleaning Play-Doh out of the carpet again) I’d be dreaming of wearing a freshly steamed pantsuit to the office.
When my husband and I decided it was time for me to return to work, I found that I had no idea how to navigate the job market.
Thankfully, after a challenging job hunt, I was able to land an amazing position as a career coach (but it did take time to get there).
As a career advisor, I now know that my experience wasn’t unique, and other stay-at-home moms face similar barriers when attempting to rejuvenate their careers.
In fact, the most commonly cited pressure points from parents I work with are related to formatting their resumes and responding to technological changes in the job market.
To help other women (and men) facing these challenges, I’ve created a comprehensive guide to equip them for the job hunt and ensure they can find lucrative and fulfilling career opportunities after they had stayed away from the workforce for a while.
If you have been looking for a detailed guide from a career expert on how to write a perfect resume for mom returning to work, here’s it:
Writing Your Stay-at-Home Parent Resume
Knowing how to write a competitive resume after spending years at home raising children may seem nothing short of impossible.
Although there is no perfect solution for creating a resume as a stay-at-home parent, choosing the right resume format to match your work experience is a good start.
If You Have Significant Work Experience
If you’ve accumulated a considerable amount of work experience throughout your life, try using a combination-style resume format for your resume. This structure can be used to highlight your skills and downplay your employment gap, which is a big draw if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while.
Combination resumes begin at the top with a detailed account of your qualifications and draw attention to your impressive skill set instead of the number of years you’ve been employed.
Also, if you’ve been working part-time or conducting freelance work related to your field while at home raising your children, don’t hesitate to include this in your work experience.
Your “private practice” or “independent consulting’ experience will be an excellent addition to your resume, and it offers a natural solution to the time gap.
Just remember that there’s no need to mention this experience was part-time or freelance work on your resume. Wait until you’ve been invited in for an interview to elaborate on the nature of this work.
If You Have Minimal Work Experience
A combination resume format is also appropriate for a stay-at-home mom who only has a moderate amount of work experience.
However, if your educational history is more relevant for the role you’re targeting, start your resume with a detailed description of your academic experience and accomplishments rather than your skillset.
If you have an impressive GPA, extracurricular activity, or relevant coursework to add, use these credentials to showcase how your education makes you an ideal candidate for the role.
If You Have No Work Experience
If you’re a parent entering the workforce for the first time, impress the hiring manager with your resume introduction and relevant skills section.
You can find effective ways to express the skills you’ve developed, professional certifications you’ve acquired, and other special duties you’ve performed throughout your parenting window.
Additionally, consider including extracurricular activities relevant to the role – especially if they involve a leadership position. For example, “Book Club Leader” or “Band Parent Treasurer”.
Are you still worried that your resume looks a little too sparse? Don’t fret – there are other ways for you to add quality experience and skills to your resume.
How to Boost Your Resume As a Mom Rejoining the Workforce
1. Expand Your Skill Set: Online courses or in-person classes can be used to strengthen the skills section of your resume, and demonstrate that you’re an ambitious individual interested in learning.
2. Freelance Work: Picking up work as a freelancer is an excellent way to solidify your experience and expand your portfolio. Simply register with any of the popular freelancing communities such as Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer, and scroll until you find a job that matches your skillset.
3. Volunteer Opportunities: Volunteering is a win-win solution for filling out an empty resume. Such opportunities let you build valuable work-related experience and also contribute to a good cause at the same time!
“70% of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring, which is up significantly from 60% in 2016.“– Career Builder
Technological Changes in the Job Market & How to Respond
If you’ve been out of the job market for a while, you might not be closely familiar with the inner-workings of the professional networking platform LinkedIn. However, if you’re serious about rejoining the workforce, it’s critical that you create a LinkedIn account (don’t worry, basic membership is free).
LinkedIn, similar to other social networks such as Facebook, requires you to create a personal profile that includes a photo and relevant information about yourself.
A LinkedIn profile is structured similar to a resume and should list out your work and volunteer experience, skills, education, and provide a personal description of your professional background. Once your profile is complete, you can reconnect with friends and past colleagues, send them messages, and endorse their skills.
You can also use LinkedIn to browse the job posting boards and apply for positions directly on the site. You can even set filters by location, industry, and position, to help you narrow down (or broaden) your search.
Many candidates who’ve been out of the job market for a few years are surprised that in 2020 (wow I feel old) they’ll likely be conducting a number of interviews from the comfort of their own home.
Digital interviews usually entail a two-way video call between a candidate and interviewer(s) through an online platform or video calling app such as Skype.
If you have an interview coming up and you would like to learn how to do a digital interview, here are some things you should consider while preparing:
1. Scheduling. First, when scheduling your digital interview, don’t assume that it’ll be in the time zone where you live. Given that the interview is taking place online, it’s possible your interviewer is in another state, country, or even on a different continent.
2. Background. Once you’ve got the time zone confirmed, ensure you have an appropriate location for the interview to take place. An interviewer will likely find it unprofessional if they hear your children crying or your dog barking in the background.
3. Esthetic. Find a quiet location that allows you to position your laptop to display yourself from the waist or chest up. If possible, use a bare wall as your background.
Also, consider the lighting in your chosen location. If you don’t have great lighting at your house, use a portable lamp to brighten up the video.
Online Social Media Presence
If you’re anything like me, you love your social media accounts – you’re always the first one to put up pictures from your wine tasting weekend with the girls or your family trip to the beach.
However, your friends aren’t the only people who may be interested in the information you post online. According to a Career Builder survey, “70% of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring, which is up significantly from 60% in 2016.”
Regardless of whether your personal social media accounts are set at the highest level of privacy, they’re still public and can be accessed by potential employers.
Get your online presence ready for the job hunt with these three easy steps.
1. Clean Up Your Social Media: Before applying for a position, review your social media accounts and remove (or hide) any content that may be considered inappropriate.
For example, anything political, derogatory, suggestive, incriminating, or containing vulgar language. Every effort you can make to learn how to sanitize your online presence is not worth making.
2. Google Yourself: Next, perform a Google search with quotations around your name and see what comes up. This helps you quickly discover what information about yourself can be easily found online.
Next, try including additional words to your query, such as your previous position title, to learn what information is associated with your name in specific contexts. For example, “Your Name” plus the word ‘hiring manager’.
3. Build a Social Media Presence: Lastly, focus on building a positive social media presence associated with your name.
A good approach for this is to engage with content that is relevant to the industry to which you are applying. For example, link, comment, or repost information posted by industry leaders on your LinkedIn or other social media accounts.
Additionally, consider starting a personal website or blog to showcase your work.
Before my husband and I decided that I would stay at home and raise our children, we analyzed the costs associated with stay-at-home parenting. I think all stay-at-home moms rejoining the workforce need to do the same.
When making this important decision, many couples only consider financial factors like lost salary and the cost of childcare.
Unfortunately, the intangible impact with regard to earning power, skill level, career trajectory, and ability to navigate the job market for the parent who stays at home is often understated, if not completely forgotten.
However, it’s a beautiful gift to be able to spend time at home raising your children. Just remember that you can still return to the workforce in an equally (if not more) exciting field if you put in the effort.