5 Resume Tips for Parents Returning to Work

By My Perfect Resume

Any parent will know that at-home time dedicated to child care furnishes you with more unique skills than any other job in the world. Problem is, prospective employers won't necessarily see it this way. When a hiring manager looks at the resume of a candidate who took several years "off" to raise kids, they generally just see a gaping hole in the work history section. This problematic rift is commonly known as the "mommy gap" - though, considering more and more fathers are staying at home with the little ones these days, the term "parenting gap" is probably more appropriate.

The good news is, while there are certainly barriers to re-entering full-time employment for both moms and dads, it's far from impossible, and many parents do it successfully. It just requires a bit of strategic thinking right from the get-go, when you sit down to update your job application documents.

To help you along with this part of the process, we've put together the following resume tips for parents returning to work - use them to overcome a gap in your employment timeline and convince recruiters that, despite your career break, you are still the best fit for the role. And remember, if you've been out of the game for a while and have no idea where to even start, you can always make use of a free online resume builder to get all the basics right.

Here are the 5 resume tips for parents returning to work:

1. Don't try to hide the gap

While you certainly don't want to draw attention to a parenting gap on your resume, if you make no attempt to even acknowledge it, you're going to leave hiring managers with a number of questions, and chances are they'll just toss your application into the 'no' pile. In fact, a recent study on the subject found that offering an explanation for an employment hiatus improved female applicants' hiring prospects (the research only considered females). So, be upfront about the reason for the gap on your resume by stating in your work experience section that from date x to date y, you stepped out of the workforce to be a stay-at-home parent. Don't apologize for this fact or feel pushed to give extra details - just account for the time lapse and leave it at that.

2. Use a compelling summary statement to tell your story

The summary statement - a brief outline of who you are that appears at the top of your resume - is an opportunity to make a memorable first impression, so use it to your advantage. While you can briefly address your parenting gap here too, you should quickly shift the focus to all the reasons you're still an outstanding candidate - highlight your impressive skill set, your flawless work ethic, and the achievements you're most proud of. As employers might be nervous that you'll change your mind and return to full-time parenting soon after being hired, it's worth using the summary statement to also emphasize your eagerness to work and enthusiasm for the role.

3. Switch up your resume format

To downplay the impact of your time off, you might want to adjust the structure of your resume slightly. Consider the following:

      • Use a combination style that first lists your key skills, backed by accomplishments, and only then outlines your work history in reverse chronological order. This way, recruiters will gain insight into your capabilities and achievements before their attention is brought to the gap in your employment record. Conversely, avoid using the functional resume format, which does away with all dates and timelines - it's an obvious sign that you're hiding something.
      • If you completed any relevant training during your at-home time, be sure to mention this on your resume and move your education section higher up, above work experience, to put the emphasis on your commitment to continued learning. Prospective employers will likely be concerned that, owing to a parenting gap, you've fallen behind on current trends in your field and become a bit rusty, so show them that this isn't the case. If you haven't yet furthered your education or refreshed your skills, consider registering for online classes now - it'll certainly boost your resume.
4. Reconsider what constitutes "work experience"

Sure, you haven't held a full-time job for several years, but that doesn't necessarily mean you haven't filled certain roles worth listing on your resume. Any volunteer or part-time work you did during your career break can, and should, be mentioned, along with freelance or consulting jobs. Be sure to also highlight new competencies you've developed in these roles that are relevant to the position you're applying for.

5. Go beyond the resume

While these resume tips for parents returning to work will hopefully assist with your re-entry into the workforce, it's always advisable that you do more than just update your job application documents. Reach out to your connections, set up meetings with staff at companies you'd like to work for, and even consider doing a transitional "returnship" - essentially, do everything you can to let the world know you're ready and eager to make your big comeback.


My Perfect Resume offers resume samples and resume templates to work from, plus guidance on how to write a resume (among many other things). Stop by today, and get your career search on the fast track!



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