For the last (insert length of time), you have changed hundreds of dirty diapers, lifted and carried thousands of pounds of baby and kid gear around with Sherpa-like strength, learned and mastered EMT skills, performing first-aid and other unimaginable measures for your kids during emergency situations (car blow-outs, anyone?), acted as personal chef for the pickiest of eaters, and let’s not forget your 24/7 shuttle service.
Yet, when you’re faced with returning to the paid workforce, you probably draw a blank regarding which skills and accomplishments to highlight on your resume. Well, you’re not alone. According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, 74% of professional women rejoin the workforce after taking time off.
Even though you’ve acquired an enormous amount of skills during your leave, there are probably some concerns you may be wondering about, such as: How to write a resume for a mom returning to work? How do I address employment gaps? Which skills and experience should I include? How long should my resume be? What if I want to change industries?
As daunting as it can be to start the process of updating your resume during a career transition, this article will help you learn five resume tips for moms that break the process down into simple, easy steps (you got this, mama!).
#1: Determine your career goal(s)
Are you looking for full-time, part-time, and/or contract work? If you aren’t sure, spend some time reflecting on which job situation will best meet your current needs. If you are a mom caring for young kids, you might want to find a job that is family-friendly and flexible. Keep in mind, for each person flexibility means something different. For one person it might mean working primary from home. For another individual it could mean arriving early into the office and leaving early.
If you are thinking of making a transition into a different field but you’re not yet sure where you want to go, writing your resume will be challenging. You can conduct research on sites like FlexJobs, LinkedIn, Indeed, and Simply Hired, and to find out which types of positions are available in your field of interest. Pay attention to the qualifications. Do you need to attain additional training or certifications? What is the nature of the work? Is it appealing to you?
There are many additional resources designed specifically to help moms returning to the paid workforce. A relatively new phenomenon called “returnships” are paid internships designed for both women and men who have taken a long hiatus from their professional careers (usually for family reasons). Path Forward is a program that partners with major corporations and provides these types of paid learning opportunities, as well as free job search seminars.
#2: Target your resume to a specific position
Once you figure out what your current career goal is, you want to tailor your resume to every single position you apply for. You might be thinking: why do I have to tailor a different resume to every job? What if I am applying for many jobs within the same industry? Even if you are applying for similar jobs, every job has a very specific list of skills and qualifications, including keywords, that you want to match with skills and qualifications from your own background.
Print out the job description and highlight all the keywords and qualifications the employer is seeking. Next, do a “background check” of all of your related skills, qualifications, and accomplishments and be sure to include these items throughout your resume.
Once you get one well-written draft of your resume, updating and targeting it will become easier and less time-consuming!
#3: Only include the most relevant information
I’ve been writing and editing resumes for nearly 20 years, and one of the most common questions I get asked is: how long should my resume be? The answer is: let the job description be your guide. The employer tells you exactly which information they want to see on your resume in the job announcement. If a past position or skill set doesn’t relate to the job for which you are applying, you can leave it off.
The golden rule for experience on the resume tends to be that if a position dates back longer than ten years, leave it off. However, let’s say you are applying for a position in the tourism/ hospitality field, and you have experience working at a hotel that’s 11 years ago. Should you include it? Absolutely!
#4: Categorize your resume according to the position for which you are applying
If you have a gap in your paid experience or you are planning to change career fields, creating a category under your contact information titled “Summary of Qualifications” or “Professional Profile” can be a useful way to showcase relevant skills. Use the job description to determine which skills to highlight.
Is your most recent work experience unrelated to your current career goal? You can create a category under your Summary of Qualifications titled “Relevant Work Experience” or “Relevant Skills” to highlight your most applicable experience. Under this category you can create another category titled something like “Additional Work Experience” to list additional, less-relevant positions.
#5: Craft a compelling, kick-butt cover letter
One resume tip for moms that I often repeat is to not just repeat information from your resume in your cover letter. Research the company and find out their mission, goals, projects, as well as challenges. How does the company’s mission relate to your work philosophy or goals? What specifically can you do to assist the organization.
Don’t be afraid to show a little of your personality. Unlike the resume, your cover letter is written in the first-person, allowing you to share first-hand about your passions, strengths, and interests.
It’s important to also tailor a cover letter every time you apply for a job. I network with hiring managers all the time, and many tell me that the majority of cover letters they receive (if candidates even bother to write one) are not targeted to the position or company. In order to make yourself stand out among the thousands of job applicants out there, crafting a well-written, targeted letter will make you stand out! Check out the four easy ways to write a kick-butt cover letter.