Learn how to attract employers and find the perfect mix of parenting and professionalism with these stay at home mom resume tips.
Stay at home moms face significant barriers when returning to the workforce. Perhaps the most glaring is the 30% pay decrease that moms face after just two or three years away from the job. While men are given bumps in pay for having children, women’s wages are reduced because they are viewed as less committed, competent, and productive.
COVID has not improved the situation. Inroads were being made to lure stay at home moms back into the workforce before the pandemic. However, the advances made when the job market was tight have now been clawed back. Research shows that more women than men were laid off. In addition, many women are now putting off returning to work or are being forced out of the workforce due to increased caregiving demands.
However, if you are a stay at home mom dedicated to returning to the workforce, below are 13 tips to optimize your stay at home mom resume and secure the stay at home job or hybrid office job of your dreams.
1. Identify Your Target Position
Before you rewrite your stay at home mom resume in preparation for reentering the workforce, have a target position in mind. If you try to rewrite without a focus, or with multiple possibilities in mind, you may miss important skills or experience. Alternatively, you may describe skills or experience that are less relevant to the type of work you really want.
One good resource is a dedicated job board like Virtual Vocations that hosts a hand-vetted list of over 40,000 jobs remote positions. You can narrow down your search filter by industry, job type, level of experience, location, and more. Select a few that best exemplify the role you want and study the job postings to determine what skills and experience are important to help you find your focus.
2. Get Current on Job Market and Industry Conditions
As part of your research to identify your target position, bring yourself up-to-speed on any changes occurring in your job field and industry. The dynamic nature of many industries means that job descriptions and titles can change rapidly. In addition, some fields are projected to contract while others are expanding. This research is important to help you be realistic about your prospects.
Check with your professional or industry associations for up-to-date information that can inform your job search. Another good resource is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook which keeps statistics on projected growth rates as well as median earnings and entry-level education requirements. If your previous occupation is looking difficult to get back into, try looking at related positions or industries to identify growth areas.
3. Reassess Your Skills as Related to Your Target Position
Now that you are clear on what you’re looking for, go over your past resumes, performance appraisals, and any other work documents you may have saved. Identify areas where your skills and experience match what your potential employers are looking for. Creating an up-to-date skills inventory is a very useful exercise if you’ve been out of the labor market for a while.
Be sure to also consider any experience or skills you have acquired during your time at home. Maybe you engaged in volunteer work, picked up extra classes, or just learned to balance the areas of your life that compete for your time. Regardless, your time at home has been valuable to your development and this should be captured where possible on your stay at home mom resume.
4. Develop Keywords
Now that you have the language to describe the required skills in job ads and you’ve identified the skills you need in your skills inventory, you can develop a list of keywords. Including these in your resume in the form of a core competencies section as well as in job descriptions where required can help improve your scoring by applicant tracking software (ATS) systems.
However, don’t try to stack your resume with too many keywords. It doesn’t usually work with the ATS systems as they have different ways to weight keywords. It’s also something that is pretty easy to pick up on by human readers if your resume makes it that far in the process.
5. Optimize Your Resume Summary
As the first thing to be read by a human, adding an impactful career summary at the beginning of your resume is very important. Recruiters and hiring managers are very busy and sometimes have to sift through hundreds of resumes. Catch their attention early with a summary that clearly shows you are a qualified candidate. If you are grappling with a significant employment gap, a good career summary can help smooth that over.
To optimize your summary, you want to provide a very brief overview of your professional career. Include specifically how you meet the requirements of the position and highlight one or two of your strengths. Try including one that is technical or operations-oriented, and one that is more relationship-based. For example, illustrating how you work with teams or manage client accounts.
6. Use a Reverse-Chronological Format
List your professional experience in reverse chronological order. Avoid the temptation to adopt a functional resume as a way to hide your employment gap. Everyone, including your potential employer, knows that a functional resume is hiding something.
In addition, a functional format can cause problems when read by ATS systems. This is because they are programmed to associate skills and years of experience with co-located job titles and dates. Your resume could be disqualified before anyone even looks at it.
7. Address Your Career Break Upfront
Rather than hide your career break, you should address it upfront. Include a simple one-line statement with the years. For example, Sabbatical – Caregiving or Planned Career-Break. Following that, you can include any volunteer work or upskilling you may have done during your break.
8. Add Volunteer and Part-Time Work If Appropriate
If the volunteer work completed during your time as a stay at home mom is significant, you can include it in the professional experience section of your resume. Skills and experience gained while volunteering are valid and valuable, and can just be listed as professional experience just like any paid or full time experience.
9. Include Recent Education or Training
If you haven’t undertaken any additional education or training during your time as a stay at home parent, you might want to right now. There are two great reasons why upgrading or refreshing your skills are a good idea. First, you can get caught up on any changes taking place during your break. Second, you can indicate to potential employers that you put effort into staying current in your field.
Luckily, additional training doesn’t need to be expensive or overly time-consuming. There are plenty of free or reasonably-priced course offerings available on the internet. Two to check out are mooc.org and edx.org. These sites have free and paid courses offered by recognized education providers. Courses can also be found on sites like Udemy or LinkedIn. It’s important, however, to know what educational sources will be recognized by your potential employers before spending money and time.
10. Leverage Your Cover Letter
Use your stay at home mom cover letter to make your case as to why you are the applicant that should be chosen. Because of the prescriptive nature of the resume format, there is not much room for mitigating information. You can make up for this in your cover letter. The cover letter can include information regarding why you are returning to work while also presenting the argument that your unique skills and experience are perfect for the position.
Stating why you wish to return is important to your future employer. Summarize generally the reason for your employment gap and then present why you are dedicated to reentering the workforce. You want to calm any potential fears that you are not committed to your career. So, try to focus on positive outcomes you can obtain. For example, you want to continue advancing on your career path, or seek new challenges, or make a contribution to society.
11. Customize, Customize, Customize
The best way to make a positive impression on your potential employer is to target them and their needs as specifically as possible in your stay at home mom resume. This means studying the job ad and ensuring that you address the main requirements and include specific keywords and phrases. This also means doing some extra research too. Since you are competing against individuals without an employment gap, anything you can do to stand out positively is important.
12. Create/Update Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is a valuable resource for stay at home moms returning to work because it offers an additional avenue to display resume information. You can also include career related information that may not make into a resume or cover letter. Add detailed information about important projects you worked on by adding a projects section. Or, go into more detail regarding volunteer work or work done for your professional association.
If you don’t have one, now is the time to create one. LinkedIn is one of the most used online resources for recruiters and hiring managers. It is used both for advertising available positions as well as conducting further research on applicants. It has become so ubiquitous that, depending on the industry, a recruiter may question a candidate that does not have an online profile.
13. Connect With Your Network
One of the best stay at home mom resume tips for reentering the workplace is to reconnect with your professional network. Send your resume around to a few of the most trusted to provide you with feedback. Use the opportunity to ask about any job openings they may know of. Not only with you gain valuable tips on your resume, you will refamiliarize your network with your experience and announce you are back.
Your professional network can be key to thriving following an employment gap. Before becoming a stay at home mom, develop strategies to stay in touch with a group of prioritized contacts. Drop them an email, give them a call, follow them on social media and engage with their posts. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but enough to keep your name familiar.
Unfortunately, for every year you are away from the job market, you lose a little professional credibility. The tips above will help you to counteract this “credibility gap” by optimizing your stay at home mom resume and job search strategy. While it may take some time and perseverance, you can be successful in returning to work as a stay at home mom.
Do you have any stay at home resume tips? Or tips for stay at home mom cover letters? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts and tips. We’d love to hear from you!
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