Stay-at-home moms have a challenging job.
Managing a home and family requires another set of skills that are often undervalued. Now that the kids are in daycare or school, you may be considering going back to work.
But how are you going to handle that gap in employment on your resume?
When writing a resume as a stay-at-home mom, it's important to create a resume with the type of job you are looking for in mind. If you’re making a career change and applying for jobs online, you’ll find quickly that a broad resume just won’t work. If you’re looking to return to your former career, that gap in employment is going to be larger obstacle to tackle than you may realize.
Luckily, you have a resume writer in your back pocket who can’t wait to share the top resume writing tricks for stay-at-home moms with you!
1 | Fill In The Blanks
If you haven't been on the job market for more than 5 years, there a few changes to recruiting and hiring trends that you should be aware of. The biggest challenge ahead of you is the Applicant Tracking software that most companies are using to narrow down qualified candidates. With the average job posting receiving a response from 250+ candidates, employers need a way to store and sort through applications.
Because of this, your resume needs to first pass employer software before it's even seen by a human being. To pass Applicant Tracking software (ATS):
Your resume's digital formatting needs to meet ATS-specifications. (No graphic resumes!)
Your resume needs to be organized in a way that software can scan, recognize, and organize your information correctly. (Don't get creative with your section heading titles or layout!)
Your resume needs to show a consistent work history. (Functional resume formats won't work here!)
Your resume's content needs to be optimized with keywords that will be used to narrow down and find the most qualified candidates. (No broad, generic resumes!)
As a stay-at-home mom, you likely have employment gaps. Aim to fill in the blanks on your resume by considering how you spent your time away from the workplace. Have you been volunteering at your child's school or for a local organization? Have you been furthering your education or training? These are experiences that you can list on your resume to help fill in the blanks.
2 | Focus On Transferable Skills
Employers are going to be interested in how you've spent your time even if you haven't been volunteering or working part-time. You have been busy managing your home and a family, and your resume can reflect this by highlighting your transferable skills. Typical stay-at-home parenting experience can translate into transferable skills such as:
Soft skills like communication, organization, problem solving, and time management.
Administrative skills like record-keeping, task management, and scheduling or appointment setting.
Management skills like budget management, project planning, and leadership.
Computer skills for Microsoft Office and social media for business.
Listing transferable skills will hold more weight if you can effectively support them with examples. Your examples should describe a problem, how you applied your skills to solve the problem, and what resulted from your actions. Often, the results are improving some aspect of your home life. The challenge is to translate this experience into solid examples that show the value you offer to employers.
3 | Develop A Job-winning Branding Statement
Another major change in resume writing trends over the last 5-10 years has been the fall of the Objective and the rise of the Branding Statement. In your case, a Branding Statement presents you as the best fit for the job you’re applying for by introducing your top related qualifications, skills, and the unique value you bring to the company based on its needs.
A Branding Statement is like your "elevator pitch." On a resume, this statement should be listed under your contact information before your Experience or Education sections to encourage an employer to keep reading. Keep your statement to a short paragraph exceeding no more than 4-6 lines.
Not sure how to get started? This Branding Statement Cheat Sheet should help!
4 | Use An Entry-Level Format
If you are looking for part-time, flexible work, think of yourself as an entry-level candidate. You'll find minimal experience or education required for most entry-level jobs, so a 1-page resume that focuses on your transferable skills will be far more effective than a 2-page resume that details 10+ years of experience after a 5-10 year gap.
Entry-level resumes are not the same as a functional resume. Functional resumes just list skills and skip details about your experience. While this may seem practical for your situation, Applicant Tracking software doesn't like these resume formats at all.
Instead, start with your Branding Statement and an easy-to-skim Skills section. Add a Recent Experience section (with a reverse chronological format starting with your most recent experience and working back) which summarizes any volunteer or home management experience and demonstrates your skills in action.
5 | Rework Your Resume For LinkedIn
If you are looking to return to your previous career, you may want to take a different approach. Your education and prior years of experience will matter more in this case than when targeting an entry-level, part-time job; however, you still have that gap in employment to contend with.
Luckily, you can bypass Applicant Tracking software by optimizing a LinkedIn profile as your resume and networking diligently. Start by uploading a professional headshot for your profile photo, optimizing your Headline with the keywords or skills employers will be searching for, and reworking your Branding Statement into a Summary section that tells your story and encourages a response from your ideal employer.
Then connect with (or follow) former co-workers and supervisors, ask them to endorse your skills and write a Recommendation for your profile, and start following and interacting with companies that you would be interested in working for.
The goal of actively using your LinkedIn profile is to find a job by referral. Rather than uploading your resume to an employer's Applicant Tracking system, you may be able to attach it to a private message or use your profile alone as your resume. Yes, your gap in employment will still be there; however, with your foot in the door, you’ll have a greater chance of landing an interview as a referral.
I challenge you to create a resume that not only fills in the gaps but also highlights your transferable skills.
You can create a job-winning resume with the Do-It-Yourself Resume which includes this ATS-approved Modern Resume Template, Branding Statement Cheat Sheet, Skills Inventory, and Resume Targeting Checklist!
What has been the most challenging aspect of returning to work for you?