Are you a Stay-at-Home Mom going back to work soon and DREADING the whole resume thing? While taking time off from your career path to care for your family may have been the best decision you ever made, it does take some skill to help an employer see it that way. Here are four resume tips for tackling the SAHM employment gap and spinning your at-home experiences to your best advantage — without making up cheesy titles for yourself like “Executive Cleaning Officer” or “Home Management Specialist.”
Plus, there are even more tips on formatting and what to include on your resume in my FREE resume template and tip sheet JUST for SAHMs.
Here we go!
1) Don’t make it easy on them.
Hiring Managers are REALLY good at skimming resumes in search of employment gaps, so they can narrow down their huge piles. After you’ve seen a stack of resumes for just ONE position, you do have to cut them a little slack — it’s a DAUNTING task to sift through that many papers looking for the best candidates. So, they generally start with the whole “has she been consistently employed” thing and go from there.
Not great for SAHMs trying to go back to work.
So, don’t make it easy for them to dismiss your qualifications. Instead of putting your employment dates big-as-boo at the end of the line — where it’s easy to scan, place the dates in the middle of the line of text. On my FREE template, you’ll notice I placed them right after the job title, but before the company and city/ST. In this format, employers pretty much have to AT LEAST take note of your job titles before they hit the dates. If they can start scanning more than just the dates, you stand a much better chance of making the cut.
Don’t make it easy for hiring managers to dismiss you!
2) Think outside the traditional job box.
While home with your babies, did you take on a volunteer role — just to get out of the house? Be sure to include it! Did you join the PTA or local civic organization as a way of getting some adult-time in your crazy week? Include it! Especially if you were in a leadership role in any of these types of organizations, they’re great experiences to have on your resume.
Any volunteer experience can be listed as a “job” under your experience section to help round out those pesky dates we talked about in tip #1. There may still be a few years unaccounted for, but that’s why we don’t make it easy on them, right?
Be sure to use the description and bullet points under each position to highlight your accomplishments. Maybe you organized the annual carnival for the PTA and raised more funds than the last several years combined. That’s awesome! Tell employers exactly how much you made in $ or what % more you made over previous years! Including numbers — even in volunteer positions — makes a huge impression on decision makers!
Perhaps you got roped into directing the church’s annual children’s Christmas cantata. You managed to wrangle 20 six- through twelve-year-olds for three months of weekly rehearsals and put on a show-stopping performance for over 150 people. (See how there are LOTS of numbers in that one? ALWAYS include numbers if at all possible!)
For more ideas on how to proactively beef up your SAHM resume, check out this post.
3) Include recent training.
It is entirely possible that you didn’t join any charities and weren’t elected to a volunteer leadership position. Maybe you’re like me, and anytime you get bored, you go out and get another certification in whatever interests you at the moment. (I kid you not, I do this EVERY time I start getting antsy in my current life situation. Need a change? Go get a certification! It’s insane. And a bit cost-prohibitive at the moment… So, I blog instead! Challenge accepted! :))
Any community college or online courses you took to keep up your career skills are awesome pieces to include on your resume. It shows an employer that you not only were able to handle balancing working as a full-time mom, but you were also dedicated to staying relevant in your field. You know how to balance your time and obligations.
4) Make the most of your cover letter.
On a resume, it’s all about filling in your employment gap and camouflaging dates as best you can. There really isn’t a place to actually talk about WHY there’s a gap in your work history.
This is where your cover letter becomes so important. Use your cover letter to address the gap head-on and talk about how excited you are to get back to work. (Note: This is the same way we talk about weaknesses in interviews! Acknowledge the flaw, then talk about what you’ve done to correct it or how you’re working on it currently. Spin everything positively!) You can include something like the following in your cover letter:
“After spending several years at home raising three amazing kids, I am excited to align my energy and passion with a company like XYZ that values …”
It doesn’t have to expound upon all the details on your time at home. Just acknowledge your time away and reinforce your readiness and desire to rejoin the working world. You can even mention the additional training you did to keep your skills up-to-date to make sure they understand there is no risk in hiring you. If applicable, you could even quote something interesting and relevant from a professional journal in your field. Let them know in any way you can that you are up-to-date on your skills and industry best practices!
You can learn more about writing an interview-winning SAHM Cover Letter in this post!
Are you ready?
These four tips will give you a great place to start crafting your return-to-work resume. Don’t stress about having an employment gap. Just take what you’ve learned here and apply it.
Did you grab the FREE resume template and tip sheet yet? It’s everything you need to make the resume-writing process as painless as possible. Go snag it now!
I have complete confidence in you. Your resume is going to be great, and you’re going to land a great job in no time. Now, go get it, mama! You’ve got this!
As always, if you need any help, guidance, or just want someone else to write the doggone thing FOR you, click here or comment below. Crafting awesome resumes for mamas just like you is a big part of what I do. I’m happy to help!
As a former University Resident Director, Career Counselor, Certified Personality Trainer, and high school Spanish teacher, Laura has quite the “scattered” background — with one underlying theme: education! She writes to teach and inspire women on topics related to faith, family, and lifework. She is also a resume writer, specializing in resumes for moms, career changers, and new graduates.