Stay-at-home moms have a challenging job. Managing 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 explain that gap in employment?
When writing a resume as a stay-at-home mom, it's important to create a resume that is appropriate for the type of job you are looking for. Targeted resumes are far more effective than generic, one-copy resumes. To keep it simple, we'll focus on our top resume writing tricks for two job targets stay-at-home moms typically consider.
1. Aim To 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 employment trends that you should be aware of. The biggest change you should know about is the reliance of mid-sized to larger corporations on Applicant Tracking software when hiring. With the average job posting receiving a response from 150+ candidates, employers need a way to store and sort through resumes and applications.
Because of this, your resume needs to first pass employer software before it's even seen by human eyes. 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 and "parse" correctly. (Don't get creative with your section heading titles!)
- 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 filter through the resumes to find qualified candidates. (No broad, generic resumes!)
As a stay-at-home mom, your likely to have employment gaps. Consider your time away from the workplace. Have you been volunteering at your child's school or for a local organization? These are experiences that you can list on your resume to help fill in the gaps.
2. Identify & Highlight 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 parent activities can translate into transferable skills including:
- 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 in the eyes of an employment 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 so 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
One of the other major changes in resume writing trends over the last 5-10 years has been the fall of the Objective and the rise of the Branding Statement or Career Summary. In your case, a Branding Statement that identifies the employer's immediate problem (typically integrated into the job posting) and specifically how hiring you solves that problem.
A Branding Statement is your "elevator pitch" which should highlight your most valuable skills and ultimately shares why you are a valuable asset to any employer. On a resume, this statement should be listed first under your contact information and encourage an employer to keep reading. This section should also be no more than 3-4 lines on your resume.
Your Branding Statement can also be developed into a Summary on your LinkedIn profile or streamlined for a Facebook profile bio (Employers check Facebook too!). It should be your "elevator pitch" or introduction during job interviews or networking events. Don't skip this step when working on your resume!
4. Use An Entry-Level Format
If you are looking for part-time, flexible work, you should present yourself as an entry-level candidate. You'll find on most entry-level job postings that minimal experience or education will be required, so a 1-page resume that focuses on your transferable skills will be more effective than a 1-2 page resume that details 10+ years of experience with 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 seems 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-scan Key Skills section. Add a Recent Experience section (following a reverse chronological format which starts with your most recent experience and working backward) which summarizes any volunteer or home management experience with highlights showing 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 for this job target than when targeting an entry-level, part-time job; however, you still have that gap in employment to work with.
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 keywords, and developing your Branding Statement into a Summary that tells your story and encourages response from your ideal employer. Connect with (or follow) former co-workers and supervisors and ask them to endorse your skills and write a Recommendation for your profile. Join groups and follow 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. Either way, the employer is more concerned with your previous experience than your gap in employment.