Mum Returning To Work Cover Letter
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.
Are you a mom or dad returning to the job market after having taken time off to raise your kids? Here are some tips about how your cover letter can make that transition a little smoother.
Many moms and dads who find themselves re-entering the workforce after one or many years of child rearing are unsure about their place in the current job market. If you're a re-entry job hunter, you may be scratching your head and asking questions like these:
- How do I explain so many years of "not working"?
- Do I have the skills to compete in the current world of employment?
- How do I market myself to an industry that has been zooming ahead while I’ve been busy changing diapers, shuttling kids, and doing volunteer work?
Before you put any energy into your job search, it’s important to know that your role as a parent, family manager, community volunteer, student, or freelance worker (to mention just a few of the things you might have been doing while your kids learned how to walk) is valuable and marketable to an employer. In these roles, you maintained and developed skills, many of which are relevant to your new job objective.
Although you weren't paid for work you did as a parent, your experience can be mentioned in your cover letter (and resume) with dignity and relevance. By the way, this applies to full-time dads as well as moms.
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Marketable Skills for Moms and Dads Returning to Work
Raising a family is hard work, requiring many skills. I don't need to tell you that — you of all people know! To prepare for your job search, make a list of the skills it took (or takes) to be the good parent you are. Your skills list might include the following:
Once you create your skills list, check off the ones that are relevant to your new job. Now you know what your marketable skills are from your family management experience.
Volunteerism Pays Off
Many employers feel that what a job seeker does for no pay speaks louder about her character and commitment than what she does for money. State your volunteer experience proudly in your cover letter (and resume) to demonstrate that you have the skills, experience, personality, and, yes, passion (perhaps for a relevant social cause or humanitarian effort) for the job you seek. To help you realize what skills you've developed through your community service, take a look at the following talents used by many volunteers:
Fundraising (aka "development" in the nonprofit world)
Now make a list of skills you used (or use) in your community service. Again, check off the skills that will be useful in your new job.
See how much you have to offer an employer? You just have to talk confidently about your skills and experience in your cover letter.
Susan Hamilton, a woman re-entering the job market after raising a family of 4 over the last 17 years. By speaking with dignity about her full-time parenting, Susan portrays it as an asset. Take a look: