How to Make Your Pause for Parenthood Look Good on a Resume

Years ago, I took some time off to stay at home with my young boys.  Previously, I had worked in a demanding position in editorial for a publishing company.  After I married, I moved overseas, had children, and when my youngest turned two, I knew it was time to rejoin the working world.   Since there were no publishing houses in my local area and with a three-year gap in my resume, I held out little hope that someone would hire me based on my eagerness to work and sparkling personality.  

Does this scenario describe you?  If it does, you couldn’t have picked a better time to rejoin the workforce!   First, here are some reassuring reasons to boost your confidence that some lucky employer will give you a chance.   Next, discover ways to capture the attention of recruiters on your resume.  

No better time to jump-start your career!

Perhaps not since the industrial revolution has the workplace been in such flux!   Leverage these economic and cultural shifts in your conversation with recruiters:

The Low Unemployment Rate    At 3.6% in April, employers are desperate for talented employees with soft skills like problem-solving and communications,  abilities every stay-at-home parent has in spades. 

Generational Diversity  Whether you are a Traditionalist, Baby Boomer, Generation X, Y, or Z, age isn’t the deleterious factor it used to be.  Today, most workplaces are composed of at least four generations, a social advantage for parents proactively involved in schools, churches, and communities.

Skills Gaps  You could be wrong if you think your rusty technical skills are a non-starter.  Because of rapidly changing technologies, business leaders are placing greater emphasis on training to ameliorate a widening skills gap. With a willingness to brush up on software skills like Word and Excel, weak technical skills don’t have to be a job killer.  Be ready to show evidence that you are an avid and willing learner!

Highlight stay-at-home skills on your resume

Parenting breaks should be treated with the respect they deserve, so don’t diminish or try to hide the experience.  First, an attention-getting resume summary is critical to passing the 6-second rule, which is the amount of time it takes for a recruiter to decide to round-file the document. Think of your profile summary as the movie trailer of your skills and experiences.  This section doesn’t have to be lengthy, but it should express the values, characteristics, and even successes, you’ve had in past jobs.   

Next begins the section where you list your job experience beginning in reverse chronological order.  That means that your work gap will be up front and center.  On the first line, identify the dates away from the workplace, then title this section “Caregiver” or “Stay-at-home Parent.” Show pride in the growth and values you wish to share with a company by avoiding joke titles like “mom-in-chief.”  

What you will record beneath this title is vitally important as you only get one chance to make a great impression.  Use bullets and short sentences to highlight the skills and abilities that might transfer to the job for which you are applying. Add details and use “power” words and specific examples.  For instance:  

  • Chaired a committee of ten that exceeded our fundraising goal of $95,000 by $20,000
  • Communications and Social Media Liaison responsible for coordinating messaging and updating web content for students, parents, and PTA
  • Web expertise includes active online selling across multiple platforms, online polling using Survey Monkey, and Google Analytics and SEO experience.  

Such skills-based accomplishments will readily capture the eye of a recruiter looking for transferable expertise in leadership, fund-raising, social media, web content, and web data collection and analysis. 

For the remaining sections of your resume, check out these selected resume resources and samples, which will help you build a winning personal marketing document.

Stay at Home Mom: Sample and Writing Guide –

A Great First Impression Starts with a Winning Resume! – Partnership Employment

Above all, sell yourself!  

Only you can sell your value to a recruiter!  If you feel you lack confidence due to the time spent away from work, trust that your initiative and drive will support you. After all, haven’t you arm-twisted parents into volunteering for PTA committees?   Selling your skills and abilities isn’t any different.  Unless you can persuade recruiters that your soft skills are stellar, share what an excellent problem-solver you are, and show examples that support your ability to learn and grow, they’ll never know based on your resume.

So, nix the online applications and jump-start your career by networking with your friends and local businesses, attending job fairs, visiting your Chamber of Commerce, or call a local recruiter like Partnership Employment.   Chances are good they are looking for someone just like YOU!