Are you a mom or dad returning to the job market after having taken time off to raise your kids? Here are some tips about how your cover letter can make that transition a little smoother.
Many moms and dads who find themselves re-entering the workforce after one or many years of child rearing are unsure about their place in the current job market. If you're a re-entry job hunter, you may be scratching your head and asking questions like these:
- How do I explain so many years of "not working"?
- Do I have the skills to compete in the current world of employment?
- How do I market myself to an industry that has been zooming ahead while I’ve been busy changing diapers, shuttling kids, and doing volunteer work?
Before you put any energy into your job search, it’s important to know that your role as a parent, family manager, community volunteer, student, or freelance worker (to mention just a few of the things you might have been doing while your kids learned how to walk) is valuable and marketable to an employer. In these roles, you maintained and developed skills, many of which are relevant to your new job objective.
Although you weren't paid for work you did as a parent, your experience can be mentioned in your cover letter (and resume) with dignity and relevance. By the way, this applies to full-time dads as well as moms.
You might also like:
Marketable Skills for Moms and Dads Returning to Work
Raising a family is hard work, requiring many skills. I don't need to tell you that — you of all people know! To prepare for your job search, make a list of the skills it took (or takes) to be the good parent you are. Your skills list might include the following:
Once you create your skills list, check off the ones that are relevant to your new job. Now you know what your marketable skills are from your family management experience.
Volunteerism Pays Off
Many employers feel that what a job seeker does for no pay speaks louder about her character and commitment than what she does for money. State your volunteer experience proudly in your cover letter (and resume) to demonstrate that you have the skills, experience, personality, and, yes, passion (perhaps for a relevant social cause or humanitarian effort) for the job you seek. To help you realize what skills you've developed through your community service, take a look at the following talents used by many volunteers:
Fundraising (aka "development" in the nonprofit world)
Now make a list of skills you used (or use) in your community service. Again, check off the skills that will be useful in your new job.
See how much you have to offer an employer? You just have to talk confidently about your skills and experience in your cover letter.
Susan Hamilton, a woman re-entering the job market after raising a family of 4 over the last 17 years. By speaking with dignity about her full-time parenting, Susan portrays it as an asset. Take a look:
Returning to the workforce is a major decision for any stay at home mom (or dad). Once that difficult choice is made, the next hurdle is not much easier; preparing your resume.
There’s not one perfect method to follow. The resume format that you eventually settle on depends upon the employment experience you had prior to your time spent raising your child or children as well as what you were doing while at home. Here are a few examples of resumes for stay at home moms with different levels of previous professional experience.
Make a Resume in Minutes >>
Table of Contents:
- Resume for a Mom or Dad with lots of Professional Experience
- Resume for a Mom or Dad with a Little Previous Work Experience
- Resume for a Mom or Dad with No Previous Work Experience
Resume for a Mom or Dad with lots of Professional Experience
If you fall into this category, the process for making a killer resume is fairly straightforward. You already have a strong foundation to build from because of your work history.
The major hurdle you face is how to address the time gap. Choosing the proper resume format can take care of this, which in this case is the combination resume.
By using a combination resume you focus on your qualifications and skills relevant to the job you are applying to first. Those are then supported with your previous professional experience.
Make a resume in minutes > >
Our applicant, Nora Thresher, is looking to rejoin the professional finance world after taking a few years off due to the birth of her first child. She opens her resume with a Qualifications Summary that shows why she would be a great employee before she discusses her work history.
Her work history opens with the fact that she was self-employed. Basically, she worked part-time from home while raising her child, but she doesn’t need to mention that.
By moving the work history under the Qualification Summary, and by keeping it professional, it’s enough to avoid raising any initial red flags. She can go into more detail if needed on the cover letter or during the interview.
Stay at Home Parent with Professional Experience Resume Template
2190 Cleveland Ave, Canton, OH 44702
- Efficiency and Time Management: Proven track record of completing reports and audits well before deadlines.
- Management Skills: Assisted in training 3 junior accountants, monitoring their attention to detail during the first 30 days of their tenure.
- Awards and Recognition: Awarded “Employee of the Month” 3 times in recognition of my tireless work ethic.
- Relevant Job Skills: Adept at creating financial reports that follow GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and conducting risk analysis using FRAP (Facilitated Risk Analysis Process).
- Communication Skills: Excellent written and verbal skills. Proficient with various forms of electronic communication such as email, chat and VoIP applications.
PRIVATE PRACTICE Canton, OH
Tax Accountant March 2011 – Present
- Prepared annual and quarterly tax returns for individuals and small businesses.
- Advised clients on tax related information, such as IRA accounts and charitable donations, saving individuals an average of 12% on owed taxes from previous filings.
- Filed extensions helping clients avoid penalties.
- Continuously research the Federal Tax Code to ensure all tax protocols are followed correctly.
MARCUS ROSS, LLC Cleveland, OH
Financial Advisor July 2008 – March 2011
- Reviewed accounts regularly ensuring compliance with both internal and external rules and regulations.
- Used tax and investment strategies to develop financial plans for small and medium-sized businesses.
- Increased sales of financial products for the business an average of 8% each quarter.
- Forecasted losses and earnings extremely accurately allowing the company to intelligently manage resources.
HARDEN UNIVERSITY OF FINANCECleveland, OH
B.S. in Accounting, June 2008
Resume for a Mom or Dad with a Little Previous Work Experience
Even if your work experience is a little lacking, the above resume style is OK for you as well, but you have another option too. The next style of resume is even better if your education is relevant to the position for which you are applying.
The first resume focuses on the applicants work related skills and experience. If yours is limited, you can instead start with your education.
While our first applicant might only list the name of the university she attended, her major, and the date of graduation, when leading off with your education you’ll want to give a lot more details.
Make a resume in minutes > >
This applicant, Valerie Perkins, doesn’t have enough professional experience to focus on her skills and work history. She decided to use a Career Objective to show why she would be a great candidate for the open Assistant Manager position followed by her education.
Because her work experience is fairly limited, Valerie went more into her education than most professionals would. She listed her GPA because it was over 3.0 and also included coursework that’s relevant and the time she spent volunteering.
The bottom half of her resume is where she gets into her work history. Valerie spent the last 3+ years home with her son, but she also sold baby clothes on eBay to earn some extra money. To make it sound much more professional, she phrased it just like someone who was working for a large retailer would.
she phrased it just like someone who was working for a large retailer would
She did not lie, nor did she stretch the truth, but she did use words to describe her part-time online sales that were more professional than those she’d use while discussing how she earns some extra money to her friends.
Stay at Home Parent with Some Experience Resume Template
1942 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
An organized and motivated Customer Service professional with over 6 years of experience in consumer relations. Aiming to parlay my proven customer service background and communication skills to effectively fulfilling the requirements of the Assistant Customer Service Manager position.
Target your Career Objective to each specific job you’re applying for. It can be as simple as changing the position.
CINCINNATI CITY COLLEGE Cincinnati, OH
B.A. in Sociology, June 2007
• GPA: 3.45/4.0
• Relevant Coursework: Speech Communications, Sociology of Work, Sociology of Emotions, Social Psychology
o Volunteer RA (Resident Advisor) for 2 years
o Volunteer Student Center Social Sciences Tutor
PRIVATE PRACTICE Cincinnati, OH
Online Retailer February 2010 – Present
• Launched and managed successful online retail shop with an average of $10,000 of sales per month.
• Marketed business through multiple channels including Internet forums, social media, and personal networks.
• Facilitated customer needs in regards to questions, complaints, and product returns.
• Continuously researched products & manufacturers, customer relations etiquette, and online retail community best practices.
SHOPQWICK Cincinnati, OH
Customer Service Representative July 2007 – February 2010
• Conferred with customers by telephone or in person to provide information about products or services, take or enter orders, or obtain details of complaints.
• Directed requests and unresolved issues to appropriate departments.
• Decreased customer complaints by 15% over the previous year by spearheading a new companywide SOP for the handling of merchandise returns.
• Recommended improvements in products and services from firsthand customer feedback to company merchandisers.
• Introduced customers to V.I.P. membership program, informing them of the annual average savings and other benefits recognized by members.
Resume for a Mom or Dad with No Previous Work Experience
The most difficult of all scenarios for a stay at home parent wanting to enter the work force is when you don’t have any work experience at all. It gets even more complicated if your education is limited as well.
If you have only recently graduated from high school, that is if you’re only a year or two removed, you can always use a resume similar to what a high school student with little or no experience would use.
Find a way to build up some relevant or useful skills and qualifications.
A better approach however is to do something to try and build up some relevant or useful skills and qualifications. Once you have something useful to put on a resume, then you can actually start worrying about fine-tuning your resume and turning into an interview grabbing machine.
Here are a few ways to do just that:
- Volunteering: Hospitals and retirement communities are always in need of volunteers, as are many publicly funded institutions such as libraries and museums. Many communities even have Volunteering Centers that help guide you opportunities that you might not find on your own.
- Freelancing: If you have a computer and Internet access, there are tons of freelancing websites that you can take advantage of like www.elance.com and www.freelancer.com. Do some writing, graphic design, data entry, or anything that you have the tiniest amount of knowledge with to give you something to put on a resume.
- Learn New Skills: Employers want to pay you for work that you do. That means you need to have something to offer them. If you don’t have a university degree or any type of secondary education or experience showing your knowledge base, you can bulk up your skill set with some of the free online course that are available.
Besides the three suggestions above, anything that you can do to help give you some type of marketable skills will go a long way into helping you find a job. Don’t be too proud to take on a job that you feel is beneath you. Even putting in 6 months at a position you don’t like can help give you that little extra something that separates your resume from other former stay at home moms or dads with zero experience.