Searching for a new job is never an easy task, but there are things that can make it even more of a challenge. One of those challenges involves trying to find a job after you’ve been a stay at home parent for any length of time. There are few things more rewarding than taking care of your kids. Still, how can you capture an employer’s attention after several years out of the workforce? If you’re a stay at home parent, we have the resume tips you need to stage an employment comeback!
We'll also show you exactly how to mention your employment gap on your cover letter.
For a stay at home parent, it's critical to know how to craft a resume that can help you land an interview--and then the new job.
A common challenge for stay at home parents
It’s important to realize that you’re not alone. According to government statistics, there are millions of men and women in the United States who have chosen to be stay at home moms and dads. Many thousands of them return to the workforce each year. And yes – they all face many of the same struggles you’ll encounter as you try to land that new job.
In this post we'll cover some good resume tips for stay at home parents.
The right resume format for returning to work
Your choice of resume format can be critical. While a chronological format may be the first thing that comes to mind, you should avoid it if you have a large employment gap.
Simple: that format will make your employment gap stand out like a sore thumb! While you should be prepared to explain your time away from the workplace, there’s no reason to draw extra attention to it.
Instead, you may want to go with a functional resume format, and focus on your main qualifications rather than emphasizing your recent work history. That will enable you to better illustrate your suitability for the job and increase your odds of getting an interview. That interview is critical to getting the job, after all.
We wrote a post here on the functional resume format.
Tips for stay at home caretaker resumes
All caretakers who have left the workforce, whether for childcare or other caretaking, can follow the same tips to craft a resume that will land a job. We have a resume example below written for a stay at home mom with no professional work experience
These other tips can be vital as well:
Resume for stay at home mom with no work experience
If you have no work experience, then it’s vital that you showcase your knowledge and skills instead. Emphasize your education and training and include both hard and soft skills that apply to the position at hand. Make sure that you evaluate the job posting and craft a resume that answers every one of the job’s stated requirements.
We wrote a good post on here on how to write a resume without work experience.
How to write the cover letter
For the stay at home mom, the resume cover letter is an important way to get your foot in the door. Your cover letter can effectively shape your personal narrative, explaining why you left the workforce and why you’re ready to return.
Here are some resources for you to reference:
How to Write a Cover Letter When Changing Careers (hint: it's by leveraging your transferable skills)
Additional skills are valuable too
As a stay at home caretaker, chances are that you’ve developed some key strengths that can be applied in almost any workplace. Whether it’s time management, budgeting, or organizational skills, these talents can help to add value to your resume. Don’t be afraid to include them in a core competencies section or your cover letter.
Tips for a stay at home dad resume
Available data suggests that there are more than a hundred thousand stay at home dads. While men make up a smaller percentage of the stay at home parent population, their resumes can be a real challenge. For men, being a stay at home parent can be an exciting opportunity. However, that opportunity can come at a price, since it can be harder to get back in the workforce after an extended leave of absence for men.
The good news is that there are tips that can help dads who need to polish up their resumes. For example:
Emphasize education and skills
While you will need to include information about your work history, don’t make it a point of emphasis. Instead, you should concentrate on your education and skills. Include any continuing education that you’ve been involved with during your time away as well.
Focus on your value add
Above all else, don’t forget to illustrate your value as a potential employee. The first question that the employer is going to ask is, “can this candidate add value to my company?” Keep that in mind as you write descriptions for your skills, education, and work history.
Example cover letter to explain your gap in employment
Use your cover letter to explain any gaps in your work history. While it is less common for a dad to serve as a stay at home parent, it is not totally unfamiliar. Most employers will understand your situation and give you consideration if you can demonstrate that you’re a sound candidate. With your cover letter, you can explain your time away from the workplace, and reinforce your worth as an employee.
For example, you can include a simple explanation of your reason for being out of the workforce, and assurances that you’re ready to return:
While I have been focused on caring for my family for the last few years, I have also worked to keep up with changes in our industry. I’ve continued to read [industry news, magazines, etc.], and focused on developing new skills [detail them]. As a result of those efforts, I am confident that I can be an asset to your company right away, and I am eager to start contributing to the firm’s success.
Other resume tips for stay at home parents
There are some other key tips that a stay at home parent can use to make that resume shine. For example:
If you’re using a functional resume that focuses on qualifications, older jobs may have more relevance. Yes, you probably eliminated your most dated employment from your last chronological resume, but now’s the time to bring those listings back. Simply list them with a focus on the skills you used and achievements you accomplished and watch that resume really shine!
Have you done any volunteer work that expanded your skills? Include that as well. Don’t be afraid to list those non-paying responsibilities, especially if they involved skills that are applicable to a work setting.
Don’t try to portray your stay at home parent efforts as work experience. While raising children is hard work, most employers won’t view it as something that adds value to your candidacy.
Listing stay at home parent duties on a resume
Finally, let’s address one of the most commonly-asked questions that we see from the average stay at home parent. What do you add to your resume if you’ve been away from the workforce for a lengthy period of time? There’s a natural temptation to want to plug any long gaps with some type of information, but how should that be managed?
First, don’t get cute with your employment gap. Sure, you could create a job title like “Household Manager” or refer to your role as “Child Care Provider” – but that could lead to uncomfortable questions. In fact, the right questions could force you to either lie or admit that you were using euphemisms to describe your stay at home role. Neither option is palatable.
The better option is to focus on being as honest as possible. If you feel like your work gaps are too large to ignore, use your resume to describe new skills you developed, continuing education, and any unpaid work you performed. You should use your cover letter to explain any time away, including maternity or paternity leave. And don’t forget to explain why you’re so committed to returning to the workforce. Potential employers appreciate that enthusiasm and dedication.
Being a stay at home parent is a great opportunity to spend time with your small children during their formative years. Still, it’s often a struggle to rejoin the workforce as those children get older. By following these tips for better resume management, you can overcome that challenge and improve your odds of making an employment comeback.
The ZipJob team is made up of professional writers and career experts located across the USA and Canada with backgrounds in HR, recruiting, career coaching, job placement, and professional writing.