There comes a time in every stay-at-home parent’s life when they consider what their next steps will be. Maybe it’s when the kids head off to school or perhaps it’s part-time work to fill the naptime lull. Regardless of the type of work, a refreshed resumé is key to landing the job. But this isn’t just another job; it’s returning to the workforce after a hiatus. Some parents are returning after just a few months, while others were away from paid work for years. Either way, this situation comes with its own unique challenges for resumé writing. If you’re wondering how to address your time away from the office, read on for some creative ways to highlight the (unpaid) work you’ve been doing as a stay-at-home parent.
Make the Invisible Visible
Stay-at-home parents are the masters of invisible labor, and by keeping it invisible, we diminish the work that millions of people are doing every day. When updating your resumé, bring that work forward to showcase your skills and growth. Every parent knows that staying at home is a full-time job, so get credit for it. To get started, imagine you’re hiring someone to replace you as a stay-at-home parent. List out all of the responsibilities, as well as attributes of an ideal candidate. Use this as a jumping-off point to show potential employers what you’re capable of doing. Take your list and translate it into resumé language. Here are a few examples to spark inspiration:
- Did you find a way to make ends meet after losing half your household income? Share your financial savvy on your resumé by saying “Reduced annual operating costs by 50% through negotiating with vendors, sourcing new suppliers, and creatively managing resources.”
- Never been late to pre-school drop-off? Sing your praises on your resumé with “Excellent time management skills. 100% of deadlines met.”
- Can you feed the baby while bathing your toddler, making dinner for the family, and drafting a grocery list? Sounds like an “expert level multi-tasker” to me!
- Parents of multiple children are skilled negotiators and peace-keepers. Laud yourself with “Team player skilled at negotiation. Committed to crafting innovative win-win solutions.”
Think Outside the House
Many of our parent duties pertain to child care and household management, but don’t overlook opportunities you may have had outside of household chores. Perhaps you organized a school fundraiser or held an office in your Parent Teacher Organization. Did you help a former coworker with a project or take on a side gig during your time at home?
If you’re returning to the same field you previously worked in, think about how you’ve stayed connected to trends and colleagues. Maybe you attended a webinar, subscribed to an industry publication, or took a course to refresh skills. Including these roles and skills on your resumé can help fill in gaps and show how you’ve kept exercising those work “muscles.”
The Finishing Touches
Most importantly, be sure your resumé is a good match for the position you’re applying for. While most hiring managers prefer a 1-2 page resumé, experts suggest having a main resumé of all of your work history as a reference point. Then, when you’re applying for a job, pull the relevant experience to craft a resumé perfectly tailored for the new position. In this digital age, employers often use software to scan resumés for keywords. For example, if a position requires “case management experience,” make sure you’re explicitly using the terms “case manager” or “case management” on your resumé.
If you’re running low on space, opt for quantifiable results, and share your traits and soft skills in your cover letter. Ultimately, when it’s time to apply, you are your own one-human hype-squad. Even if you don’t meet all of the qualifications, put your best foot forward and still apply!
It’s easy for parents to fall into a trap of thinking they were “just at home with the baby.” But there is so much more to parenthood. We are talented, effective, and capable. We have skills and expertise to share with the world. When you’re ready to get back out there, don’t hide your time at home. Share it proudly on your resumé, and let employers know just what parents can do!