So – you took a break from your career to be a stay at home parent for a few years while your children were young. Now that they are getting older and are in school full-time, you’re thinking about returning to the workforce. This might be a return to your former career or perhaps your interests and values have changed and you are interested in something completely different. Whatever you choose, know that you have developed some incredible skills during your time away from the workforce and those skills are in demand in today’s workplace!
Assuming it has been awhile since you have written a resume and launched a job search, you might be feeling overwhelmed given the amount of information available. A quick Google search for “how to write a resume” yields 144,000 results. Who has time to go through all those results, much less decide what is valid information? Not a stay at home mom! After years of working with women returning to the workforce, I’m offering 4 top tips on what to include on your stay at home mom resume.
1) There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all resume
You cannot create one resume and use it for every application. You must customize each one and target it to the position. Use the job posting as your guide. Pull out the keywords and skills and incorporate them into your resume. Otherwise, your resume will get lost and overlooked by applicant tracking systems. It might sound like a lot of work, editing your resume for each job you apply to, but it is critical to do this so your application will catch your reader’s attention.
Jobscan removes the guesswork from this process. Just paste your resume and a job description below to see a prioritized list of skills, keywords, and other checks to consider.
2) Identify the skills you gained while raising your kids
Everyone has something to offer. Everyone. Not only that, but every experience is marketable. It’s all in how you present it. As a stay at home mother, you didn’t necessarily get a paycheck each week, but that doesn’t make your experience any less valuable. Being a stay at home parent is one of the hardest jobs you will ever have and the skills you gained are incredibly transferrable. Some of these skills include: multi-tasking, communication, persuading, listening, research, organization, managing people, collaboration, and the ultimate mom skill – negotiation. The list does not stop there.
Consider ALL aspects of your life – organizing schedules, managing a household, managing finances, volunteering for your school, volunteering for your church, being on a board, involvement in your community, sports coaching, etc. Ask yourself and make a list: What do I do and how do I do it?
To demonstrate this, I would like to introduce you to one of my clients. Laura left her career to stay at home and raise her two kids. When they were in school, she volunteered for the school playground project. This experience included fundraising, research, community presentations, and collaborating with the school, parents, and the company who was contracted to build the playground. After the project was finished, the company approached Laura to see if she would be interested in a part-time role. They were so impressed with the work that she did, and the skills that she demonstrated. At the time, she didn’t think much about her involvement in the project, other then ensuring a fantastic space for her kids to play. In retrospect, it was amazing to identify the tasks she did and the skills she gained.
If you are uncertain about your skills and need help identifying them, evaluate yourself. Get help from a career development professional or do some self-assessment on your own. Try reviewing these employability skills from the Conference Board of Canada to see what skills you have.
3) Address the gap on your stay at home mom resume
A resume that has a gap in employment can be a red flag for a recruiter. It is important to include employment dates, as this is information that employers look for. You will likely create a resume that contains information about the job(s) you had prior to raising your kids. Treat your experience as a stay at home mom as a position you held. Give it a title, include dates, and outline the activities, skills, and accomplishments you acquired during this time.
Having said that, avoid tongue-in-cheek titles such as “Chef,” “Domestic Engineer,” “Chauffeur,” and “Housekeeper.” It’s true you have done all these roles but using them as your job title on your resume will do you a disservice, confuse recruiters and applicant tracking systems, and not sell your transferable skills very well. To be blunt – you won’t be taken seriously. Instead, try something like “Career Sabbatical to Raise Children.” Your bullet points can include the skills you gained in your role as a stay at home parent that easily transfer to the position you are applying to. These are known as transferable skills.
4) Does it add value?
As you curate and compile all the content for your resume, a couple things to keep in the back of your mind are, “Does this add value for my reader? Does it demonstrate my skills and accomplishments for the position I am applying to?” In general, it is recommended that you avoid including the following on your resume, as many of these practices are not only dated, but they are taking up valuable space on your resume:
- Objective statements
- References, and the term “References available upon request”.
- Avoid including information about your sexual orientation, religious and political affiliation, marital status, age, social security number, physical characteristics
Include activities such as volunteer or community involvement, continuing education courses, freelance projects, professional development, or self-employment you may have had during your break from your career.
Remember, a stay at home parent has an incredible skillset, both from their experiences as a mom, as well as her past experiences in other areas of life. By taking the time to identify the value you bring, it will make it easier to communicate this on your stay at home mom resume and to demonstrate your value to your next employer.
Lise Stransky is a Certified Career Development Professional and founder of the career services firm, Careers That Work for You. Lise believes work should be meaningful. This is the number one value that guides her work with clients as she helps them to identify their skills, values and interests to find their ideal job.