If I were to apply for a job right now, after three years of being a Stay-at-Home mom, I would face the same challenges as many of you. Being a SAHM is an amazing gift to our families, but trying to explain that gap in traditional employment can be tricky. Why would an employer hire ME over someone who has been continuously working in the field??
Because we SAHMs have AWESOME skills and gifts to bring to the table! We just need to make sure we package it well, so the employer can see that truth, as well!
We’ve talked before about the SAHM employment gap, and it’s a challenge we KNOW how to handle on a resume. Today, we’re tackling the next step: the SAHM cover letter!
If you’ve been following the advice from my previous post about why SAHMs need to work on their resumes NOW, even if they don’t immediately need one, you should be good to go for job hunting! If not, be sure to jump over to that post and get to work beefing up your own resume before tackling applications and cover letters.
3 Key Tactics
Covering the SAHM employment gap and not giving employers an easy excuse to dismiss us is our best strategy for writing a SAHM resume. However, for a SAHM cover letter, we need to take a different approach:
1) Address employment gap head-on
While a SAHM resume seeks to minimize our time away from work, a SAHM cover letter’s goal is to confront the issue directly. A cover letter in general is meant to show the employer a bit of your personality and true self beyond the facts and figures of a resume page. For SAHMs, the cover letter’s purpose actually works in our favor! We can explain why we took time off for our families and demonstrate how that time investing in our kids and home will actually BENEFIT the employer. (More about that in Tactic #2.)
The key here is to address the gap BRIEFLY, then move QUICKLY on to what we have learned in our time away, the skills we’ve gained, and our desire to use everything we’ve learned in the work place. Don’t dwell on your reasons for the work pause or wax eloquent about the virtues of being a SAHM. Just let them know your family is the reason you stepped away for a season, then move on.
Here is a sample opening statement:
It’s not every day I apply for a new job. Being an at-home wife and mom the past several years has been more than enough to keep me occupied. However, now that my children are older, I am beginning to itch for a new challenge…
From there, you can discuss how you’ve kept your skills sharp, the trends in your field you’re excited to get in on, and why you are the best fit for this particular position. Let them know they’re getting the best VALUE with YOU!
2) Highlight your time at home as an ASSET
As I mentioned in Tactic #1, we can leverage the personalized tone of the cover letter to talk about how our time at home will actually BENEFIT the employer. Particularly if you used your time at home to continue your education, do virtual trainings in your field, write about your field in a blog or eBook (more on that next week!), or otherwise improve your skill sets, be sure to use the cover letter to highlight those assets!
For example, if I were to apply for a university Career Counselor position, I would include something along these lines:
A Stay-at-Home mom is always busy, but we also have moments of quiet where all we can do is read and pray we don’t wake a sleeping baby. I used this downtime to study all the Career Development information I could get my hands on. I have also spent the past few months writing about career-related topics on my blog and doing live video trainings on Facebook for my readers. As students move more and more toward a preference for online, on-demand education and training, I am well equipped to meet them where they are and provide the career guidance they need in the format they desire…
Again, demonstrating our awesome fit for the position doesn’t have to be super in depth. In fact, according to several infographics floating around, a large percentage of hiring managers actually prefer a half page or less! (Take that info with a grain of salt since I’ve only seen it mentioned online, but it makes sense that someone sifting through hundreds of applications would prefer a cover letter to be short & sweet!) You don’t need to belabor the point. Just point out the best qualities you bring to the job and wrap it up!
3) Match the tone of the job description
Here’s where we have to be careful: If the job description is serious and direct, be sure that your cover letter is equally sober and to the point. (If you’re a super fun-loving person, be careful to make sure you investigate the company’s culture before applying. If the work environment will zap you of all creative energy, it may not be worth it!)
However, if the posting is fun and playful, feel free to make your cover letter more casual and creative. For one such cover letter I did recently, I even managed to tie in my daughter’s favorite Disney movie! (If you tend to be of a more serious nature, just like above, be sure to check out the company culture before applying. Constant interruptions or a more noisy work environment may not be the best fit for you, either.)
Most of us are fairly familiar with the standard, serious-minded cover letter examples out there, and if not, you can find PLENTY of samples through Google or Pinterest. What you may not find, however, are samples for the opposite end of the spectrum. So, here’s a more playful spin for you:
Have you ever seen an episode of My Little Pony? Each pony has a special mark on their flank depicting their unique gifts and talents. If I were a My Little Pony, my cutie mark would be a quill and ink. Besides being a tad on the quirky, pioneering side of the spectrum, my whole world is about writing. Finding creative ways to use words to connect with my audience is what I live for, my greatest pleasure. It is also your company’s greatest need in an XYZ Creative Copywriter…
Yes, yes, we DO watch a lot of My Little Ponies around here! 😜
Also, please keep in mind references to Disney princesses and other cartoon characters should ONLY be included if the job posting is VERY playful and you can tell they would appreciate such references!
Regardless of how the job description is worded, pay attention to the underlying tone and match it in your cover letter. Doing so will help your messages from Tactics #1 & 2 shine through and be best understood by the employer.
Are you ready to do this?
While writing a cover letter can be intimidating, it does allow you, as a SAHM, to really show an employer why you are a no-risk hiring decision. We can address the employment gap, highlight why our SAHM life makes us an even better employee, and wrap it all up in a nice neat bow. ☺️
If you need any help along the way, you can always reach out for guidance through the comments below or by contacting me on Facebook.
Also, I offer Career Coaching to help SAHMs return to the working world with confidence & purpose! As part of that coaching package, we work specifically on your SAHM resume & cover letter — as well as any other job search documents you may want or need. Head over to my Work with Me Page to learn more!
You can do this, mama!
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.