5 Resume Tips for Parents Returning to Work
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- Working parents who've taken leave can re-enter the workforce with a fresh perspective and transferable skills.
- Updating a resume to highlight the challenges of caring for a child may be beneficial.
- Completing freelance work, volunteer work, or continuing education can freshen up a resume.
- A career gap can provide a valuable learning experience, both personally and professionally.
As of 2021, close to 33 million families included at least one child under the age of 18, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 71% of mothers and 92% percent of fathers from these families are part of the U.S. labor force.
Additionally, after welcoming a new child to the family, many parents — especially those who gave birth — take an extended break. According to a 2020 survey conducted by LinkedIn and Censuswide, 49% of working women take an extended maternity break after childbirth. The average length of these breaks is about two years.
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As a result, many new parents have meaningful gaps in their employment history to account once they're ready to rejoin the workforce. The resume revision tips described below can help working moms and dads get back to work by highlighting relevant skills and strengths acquired during a career gap.
Consider Freelance Work
If you're a working mom or dad who has taken extended leave, you may find that you have the ability to take on some freelance work. Whether or not this freelance work is directly related to your field, the experience gained can still be important.
Freelancing shows that you can take initiative, multitask, and use your time effectively — even while caring for a new child. Add this short-term freelance work to your resume, calling attention to your resourcefulness and work ethic.
Add Relevant Work-at-Home Experiences
Staying on top of affairs at home can be more demanding than your actual day job. There's endless budgeting, scheduling, negotiating, etc. Consider including your daily work-at-home tasks as a new section of your resume. Promote your planning and practicality qualifications, as well as your multitasking mastery.
Volunteering Also Counts
Parents who can't yet return to work but want to contribute in a meaningful way should consider volunteering. If you've taken the time to lend a hand in your community, your contribution to society is worth sharing.
You can update your resume to point out your participation in making the world a better place. Spotlight your responsibilities and speak to how volunteering makes you a stronger job candidate.
A career gap can be an opportunity to enrich your education. Online courses are convenient for new moms and dads who might not otherwise have time to go back to school. Advancing your education can help you gain more knowledge in your industry or in another area of interest.
Upskilling may also make you a more desirable candidate and bump you up to a higher salary range. While it may not be the main feature of your resume, continuing education can fill in a blank space on your resume between jobs.
Select the Best Resume Format
While you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, recruiters and HR representatives may make snap judgments about prospective employees based on the format of their resumes. An easily scannable resume is more digestible and direct, allowing the reader to focus on your experience and skills without creating confusion due to clutter.
Generally speaking, there are three main ways to format a resume:
A chronological resume format best suits applicants with a constant and consistent work history. Starting with the most recent work experience, this timeline often works well for job-seekers hoping to advance in their current field.
A functional resume format focuses on skills that have been aggregated through various jobs and life experiences. A parent returning to work might find this format preferable. It can help them share relevant skills developed while on parental leave, making up for a gap in their timeline.
A combination format may be suitable if you are well-established in your field and need some flexibility depending on the job you're applying for. This format allows for more personalization.
If you are in the field of academia or seeking work internationally, a curriculum vitae (CV) may be better suited for your situation. CVs go deeper and have more detail than a standard resume.
Engage in Self-Reflection
What do you bring to the table? Take the time to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses honestly. What are your priorities as far as parenthood and your professional life? This exercise can help you make smarter decisions for yourself, your family, and your work-life balance.
Self-reflection can help you think of additional skills to add to your resume and inspire you to refine and rewrite any sections that no longer reflect your mindset or mission. You may also realize that now's the time to switch careers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Resumes
How do you write a resume for the first time?
Writing a resume from scratch may feel daunting, but it's definitely doable. Start by using an easily scannable format. Include a brief summary of your overall background, skills, and goals. You'll want to list your work experience and education, as well as any other notable talents, awards, and credentials you have. Look online for resume tips, such as how to craft a compelling cover letter and resume do's and don'ts.
Can I make my own resume for free?
Online templates are only a click away, and many of them are free. You don't need to hire an expert to help you compose a resume that looks professional. If you have a mentor, they may also be willing to walk you through the steps of writing a resume and help organize your resume layout.
How do you mention a career gap on a resume?
Be forthcoming about any gaps in your career history. Even if you weren't officially working, the experience you gained during an employment lapse can still be valuable. Parents who are reentering the workforce can describe new skills they've developed and the daily tasks they carry out while raising a child to showcase responsibility.