Minding the Gap...In Your Resume
Motherhood and career. For a lot of moms this is not a black or white issue at all. It’s more of an evolution.
Some women swear up and down before they have children that they are going to be a working mom through and through…and will return from maternity leave when their child is 8 weeks old, while minding their Blackberry the whole time.
Other women plan to be stay at home moms, shunning the rat race to raise their kids and manage the home.
Sometimes the best laid plans can be thwarted by, well, life. And many women who had decided to return to work soon after giving birth decide to stay home and those who made the decision to stay home find themselves returning to work sooner than they thought. Sometimes this happens out of necessity and sometimes it’s a personal choice.
Either way, when a mom has taken off time from their career to take on what is arguably the most important job in the world, being one, sometimes it’s not easy to simply return to the workforce. Especially in this economy. But what many moms don’t realize is that the gap in their resume may not be the gaping hole they perceive, but rather an opportunity to show that they’ve continued to hone their skills and in some cases, build on new ones.
Let’s look at an example. We have a financial services professional who had every plan to return to work after the birth of her child. However, when her daughter was five weeks old, her husband was promoted to a new job…meaning more income for the family…and…relocation out of state. The couple decided that this is too good of an opportunity to pass up so she decides to stay home longer while they move and acclimate to a new city. Now they are where the cost of living is lower, their income is higher, and by staying home they are saving the expense of daycare.
Fast forward five years. The daughter is about to start kindergarten and the mom misses the camaraderie of the office and the challenges and growth opportunities that she used to thrive on at work. She’s ready to explore the opportunities but when she starts to draft her resume…she feels stumped. How does she explain her situation in a way that will make employers want to talk to her? Here are a few suggestions:
- She should list any volunteering she’s done with one bullet point at the top, starting from when she stayed home to present day and then list in bullet points (like this list here) the specific dates, organization, and the duties she took on, especially those that specifically relate to the career she is trying to pursue now. This not only shows skills transfer, but also shows commitment and character.
- If she has done any fundraising at all, whatsoever, for her daughter’s school or any other organization this should be outlined in a way that demonstrates the results of the fundraising. So instead of saying, “Volunteered on silent auction committee at Rising Sun Elementary School”, she should say, “Through outreach to local area businesses, secured 25 silent auction donations within one month, resulting in $3000 raised for Rising Sun Elementary School.” In this results-driven world, companies want to know metrics. While the job she’s applying for may not have anything to do with fundraising, I’m willing to bet it has everything to do with the bottom line and this demonstrates measurable results are important to her.
- Include any continuing education or professional development that has taken place. If she hasn’t embarked on this while staying at home, the time to do it is while sending out resumes. There are lots of flexible, online options for professional development…whether it’s software certification or licensing exams.
- Finally, if she really wants to build her experience and ramp back on to her career track gradually she can find flexible and freelance jobs on websites like eLance, oDesk, and FlexJobs. An important thing to remember is that when listing these projects and freelance work on her resume, she should include (contract) after each one so a prospective employer knows that she is not a full-time employee. She should also include on her resume clearly what she is looking for: full-time, part-time, contract, etc. If she doesn’t, the prospective employer can only assume…so she should make it crystal clear.
In my job as Regional Manager for Plum District, a lot of my team is made up of moms returning to the workforce. Many of them are returning to work after several years and I have found that many are excited to bring back all the assets that made them successful before and it truly shines through in their work they do on my team.