Resume tips for full-time parents returning to work
It's tough to get back on the career track after being a full-time parent. Make sure your resume helps you sell yourself.
Parents can use these resume tips when re-entering the workforce.
The latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate 5 million women and 176,000 men are stay-at-home parents. Although the Census Bureau doesn’t track the number returning to work, hundreds of thousands of parents decide to venture back to the workplace every year. These tips will help you get your resume noticed despite the employment gap.
Highlight related activities
You need to convince employers that you have the skills and experience to do the job, so your resume’s content must actively sell you. When writing about your time out of the paid workforce, include only those activities that back up the skills relevant to your career goal.
“Most women who stay at home for a period of time are not just doing laundry and homework oversight," says Kathryn Sollmann, founder of 9 Lives for Women, a career-advisory firm that helps current and returning professionals re-enter the workforce. "Most women are involved in significant volunteer efforts, and that is the experience that should be included in a resume." Sollmann successfully returned to the workforce by leveraging her volunteer and freelance experience.
You can highlight the following activities on your resume:
- Volunteer/community involvement (PTA, charity work, fundraisers): Just because you weren’t paid, doesn’t make the experience any less valuable, so treat volunteer work like you would a paid position on your resume. If you held leadership roles or made a difference to your organizations, tout your accomplishments and the key skills developed. You can include volunteer work in your work experience section to cover the employment gap.
- Continuing education: Show that you’ve kept your skills refreshed through courses, online learning, and/or independent study. Looking to add more skills? Our partners at Skillshare offer 10,000 online classes to help you brush up on Excel, Adobe Photoshop, public speaking, and more. Join Monster and get three months for $0.99.
- Freelance projects: If you’ve done consulting/freelance work that’s related to your job target, include project highlights in your work experience section.
- Professional development: Demonstrate your commitment to the field by including membership in professional organizations and participation in conferences.
- Work-at-home/Self-employment: Even if you worked part-time for yourself or your partner, include the experience on your resume.
Should you use a job title?
There’s conflicting advice about whether to give yourself a job title and job description for your role as a parent. If your homemaker activities are related to your job target, it makes sense to draw attention to your parenting activities and accomplishments. For example, if you are looking for a job teaching, in a day care, or working for an organization serving children, you could emphasize the relevant experience of child care and incidental teaching as a stay-at-home parent. Examples of job titles parents have used include: household manager, manager—Jones family, and family CEO.
For most people, though, it’s best to avoid including parenting as an actual job on the resume. "We, personally, feel that there is no need to dress up time at home with silly titles like ‘domestic engineer,’" says Sollmann. "The important thing is to identify how you have continued to use your business skills in the time you have been out of the workforce. And if you truly have had nothing but child care and household responsibilities, it would be a good idea to get involved in some volunteer activities that require business skills—managing committees, writing newsletters, handling budgets, etc."
Select the best resume format
According to Linda Matias, president of CareerStrides, the right resume format is critical to getting noticed. Matias suggests that parents avoid chronological resumes and consider using a combination resume format. A chronological resume can eliminate a parent's candidacy in seconds, she says.
Parents who have been out of the workforce for a number of years and have minimal alternative experience, such as volunteer work, may need a functional resume. Although functional resumes are not preferred by hiring managers, this format allows you to emphasize your skills while downplaying your employment history.
Use your cover letter to briefly explain your recent gap, but emphasize that you have kept your skills up to date and are energized to return to the workforce.
Are you a parent looking to re-enter the workforce, but aren't sure where to start? A great first step is to join Monster today. As a member, you can upload your resume and make it searchable to recruiters looking for people like you.
Returning to the workforce is a major decision for any stay at home mom (or dad). Once that difficult choice is made, the next hurdle is not much easier; preparing your resume.
There’s not one perfect method to follow. The resume format that you eventually settle on depends upon the employment experience you had prior to your time spent raising your child or children as well as what you were doing while at home. Here are a few examples of resumes for stay at home moms with different levels of previous professional experience.
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Table of Contents:
- Resume for a Mom or Dad with lots of Professional Experience
- Resume for a Mom or Dad with a Little Previous Work Experience
- Resume for a Mom or Dad with No Previous Work Experience
Resume for a Mom or Dad with lots of Professional Experience
If you fall into this category, the process for making a killer resume is fairly straightforward. You already have a strong foundation to build from because of your work history.
The major hurdle you face is how to address the time gap. Choosing the proper resume format can take care of this, which in this case is the combination resume.
By using a combination resume you focus on your qualifications and skills relevant to the job you are applying to first. Those are then supported with your previous professional experience.
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Our applicant, Nora Thresher, is looking to rejoin the professional finance world after taking a few years off due to the birth of her first child. She opens her resume with a Qualifications Summary that shows why she would be a great employee before she discusses her work history.
Her work history opens with the fact that she was self-employed. Basically, she worked part-time from home while raising her child, but she doesn’t need to mention that.
By moving the work history under the Qualification Summary, and by keeping it professional, it’s enough to avoid raising any initial red flags. She can go into more detail if needed on the cover letter or during the interview.
Stay at Home Parent with Professional Experience Resume Template
2190 Cleveland Ave, Canton, OH 44702
- Efficiency and Time Management: Proven track record of completing reports and audits well before deadlines.
- Management Skills: Assisted in training 3 junior accountants, monitoring their attention to detail during the first 30 days of their tenure.
- Awards and Recognition: Awarded “Employee of the Month” 3 times in recognition of my tireless work ethic.
- Relevant Job Skills: Adept at creating financial reports that follow GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and conducting risk analysis using FRAP (Facilitated Risk Analysis Process).
- Communication Skills: Excellent written and verbal skills. Proficient with various forms of electronic communication such as email, chat and VoIP applications.
PRIVATE PRACTICE Canton, OH
Tax Accountant March 2011 – Present
- Prepared annual and quarterly tax returns for individuals and small businesses.
- Advised clients on tax related information, such as IRA accounts and charitable donations, saving individuals an average of 12% on owed taxes from previous filings.
- Filed extensions helping clients avoid penalties.
- Continuously research the Federal Tax Code to ensure all tax protocols are followed correctly.
MARCUS ROSS, LLC Cleveland, OH
Financial Advisor July 2008 – March 2011
- Reviewed accounts regularly ensuring compliance with both internal and external rules and regulations.
- Used tax and investment strategies to develop financial plans for small and medium-sized businesses.
- Increased sales of financial products for the business an average of 8% each quarter.
- Forecasted losses and earnings extremely accurately allowing the company to intelligently manage resources.
HARDEN UNIVERSITY OF FINANCECleveland, OH
B.S. in Accounting, June 2008
Resume for a Mom or Dad with a Little Previous Work Experience
Even if your work experience is a little lacking, the above resume style is OK for you as well, but you have another option too. The next style of resume is even better if your education is relevant to the position for which you are applying.
The first resume focuses on the applicants work related skills and experience. If yours is limited, you can instead start with your education.
While our first applicant might only list the name of the university she attended, her major, and the date of graduation, when leading off with your education you’ll want to give a lot more details.
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This applicant, Valerie Perkins, doesn’t have enough professional experience to focus on her skills and work history. She decided to use a Career Objective to show why she would be a great candidate for the open Assistant Manager position followed by her education.
Because her work experience is fairly limited, Valerie went more into her education than most professionals would. She listed her GPA because it was over 3.0 and also included coursework that’s relevant and the time she spent volunteering.
The bottom half of her resume is where she gets into her work history. Valerie spent the last 3+ years home with her son, but she also sold baby clothes on eBay to earn some extra money. To make it sound much more professional, she phrased it just like someone who was working for a large retailer would.
she phrased it just like someone who was working for a large retailer would
She did not lie, nor did she stretch the truth, but she did use words to describe her part-time online sales that were more professional than those she’d use while discussing how she earns some extra money to her friends.
Stay at Home Parent with Some Experience Resume Template
1942 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
An organized and motivated Customer Service professional with over 6 years of experience in consumer relations. Aiming to parlay my proven customer service background and communication skills to effectively fulfilling the requirements of the Assistant Customer Service Manager position.
Target your Career Objective to each specific job you’re applying for. It can be as simple as changing the position.
CINCINNATI CITY COLLEGE Cincinnati, OH
B.A. in Sociology, June 2007
• GPA: 3.45/4.0
• Relevant Coursework: Speech Communications, Sociology of Work, Sociology of Emotions, Social Psychology
o Volunteer RA (Resident Advisor) for 2 years
o Volunteer Student Center Social Sciences Tutor
PRIVATE PRACTICE Cincinnati, OH
Online Retailer February 2010 – Present
• Launched and managed successful online retail shop with an average of $10,000 of sales per month.
• Marketed business through multiple channels including Internet forums, social media, and personal networks.
• Facilitated customer needs in regards to questions, complaints, and product returns.
• Continuously researched products & manufacturers, customer relations etiquette, and online retail community best practices.
SHOPQWICK Cincinnati, OH
Customer Service Representative July 2007 – February 2010
• Conferred with customers by telephone or in person to provide information about products or services, take or enter orders, or obtain details of complaints.
• Directed requests and unresolved issues to appropriate departments.
• Decreased customer complaints by 15% over the previous year by spearheading a new companywide SOP for the handling of merchandise returns.
• Recommended improvements in products and services from firsthand customer feedback to company merchandisers.
• Introduced customers to V.I.P. membership program, informing them of the annual average savings and other benefits recognized by members.
Resume for a Mom or Dad with No Previous Work Experience
The most difficult of all scenarios for a stay at home parent wanting to enter the work force is when you don’t have any work experience at all. It gets even more complicated if your education is limited as well.
If you have only recently graduated from high school, that is if you’re only a year or two removed, you can always use a resume similar to what a high school student with little or no experience would use.
Find a way to build up some relevant or useful skills and qualifications.
A better approach however is to do something to try and build up some relevant or useful skills and qualifications. Once you have something useful to put on a resume, then you can actually start worrying about fine-tuning your resume and turning into an interview grabbing machine.
Here are a few ways to do just that:
- Volunteering: Hospitals and retirement communities are always in need of volunteers, as are many publicly funded institutions such as libraries and museums. Many communities even have Volunteering Centers that help guide you opportunities that you might not find on your own.
- Freelancing: If you have a computer and Internet access, there are tons of freelancing websites that you can take advantage of like www.elance.com and www.freelancer.com. Do some writing, graphic design, data entry, or anything that you have the tiniest amount of knowledge with to give you something to put on a resume.
- Learn New Skills: Employers want to pay you for work that you do. That means you need to have something to offer them. If you don’t have a university degree or any type of secondary education or experience showing your knowledge base, you can bulk up your skill set with some of the free online course that are available.
Besides the three suggestions above, anything that you can do to help give you some type of marketable skills will go a long way into helping you find a job. Don’t be too proud to take on a job that you feel is beneath you. Even putting in 6 months at a position you don’t like can help give you that little extra something that separates your resume from other former stay at home moms or dads with zero experience.