So you've had kids, and now you're ready to get back into the workforce. No problem! Except...there's a gap on your resume. Uh oh. This is all too familiar for me as a working mom, so I've developed some great tips that will help you address any potential concerns an employer may have about your experiences after having children. Let's talk about them:
Honesty is the best policy
When you're trying to decide how to handle a work history gap, think about what you want your resume to communicate. If your goal is to be honest and transparent with potential employers, then it's best not to hide or ignore the fact that there was a period of time when you weren't working. Instead of trying to explain away this gap in your employment history, embrace it!
What to say in your cover letter or interview
It's important to focus on your skills and abilities, rather than the jobs you've had. You can discuss the gap in your work experience by explaining how you have been learning new skills during this time, and how ready you are to use those skills in a professional setting. Think about the ways that having children has made you a more well-rounded person, able to communicate better with people from different generations and backgrounds.
If possible, it's helpful if there is an obvious connection between these new skills and the job description. For example: "I learned public speaking when I became president of our school board." Or: "I learned project management while planning my daughter's birthday parties."
You might also want to include some examples of what kind of projects or tasks that require these new types of thinking/approach were successful for you (e.g., keeping track of all those thank-you notes).
How to highlight the skills you've gained during your time off work
You can also mention that you have been working on a project at home, or that you've volunteered for an organization in your field. Volunteering is a great way to demonstrate your skills and build connections with people who can help you land a job in your field.
Consider taking classes at night school or online, or reading up on industry trends while staying home with the kids. Taking these steps will show potential employers that even though you are not working outside of the home right now, you are still actively improving yourself and keeping up with industry standards.
Give yourself permission to be uncomfortable
It's easy to feel embarrassed and ashamed when you've had to take time off work after having a baby. We've all been there in one way or another, whether it's the company's policy or your own personal choice. There are many people who have taken time off work for family reasons, so don't think that you're alone when addressing this issue on your resume.
You may be more comfortable talking about it openly and honestly with an interviewer than writing about it on paper—that's totally fine! If there is any part of this process that makes you uncomfortable, remember: You have nothing to be ashamed of. It's normal and OK!
Make sure you're ready to go back to work
Make sure you're ready to go back to work. If you've been away from the workforce for years and don't know if your skills are still relevant, it's time to get up-to-date on your industry. Keep up with industry news, read articles, and network with people in the field.
Be prepared for the interview: Go into every interview expecting that this might be a job offer at the end of it—even if they don't tell you so! In fact, always assume that they will hire everyone who comes in for an interview; then treat it like a job interview even if they have already offered (or rejected) another candidate before yours.
Embrace the work gap. You have a lot of experience that wasn't all "full time."
The first thing to do when you have a work gap is embrace it. You have a lot of experience that wasn't all "full time." You may have taken some time off to raise children, or changed jobs a few times because you were looking for something more in line with your career goals.
Whatever the reason, this is an opportunity for you to show that you are a good team player and problem solver who isn't afraid of change or hard work.
Hopefully, you now feel more confident about filling in that gap on your resume. After all, it's just a part of your life's journey. And if you're lucky enough to find a job where they don't care how long ago or how recent something was—well then, congratulations! You're one step closer to being employed again. If not? At least now when an interviewer asks why this period is so long without any work history at all (and they will), you'll have some good stories ready for them
Ready to put your interview skills to the test? Check out the latest work from home jobs for moms from Legit Mom Jobs here.