Dear Hiring Manager:
You may have noticed that I have a few years unaccounted for on my resumé. After receiving my degree and spending several years successfully navigating a professional career, I found that it was more cost-effective to leave my previous position than take unpaid FMLA and chose to leave the workplace to become a mother. Now, my infant is starting daycare, and I have found that I am more passionate than ever about returning to my career. Please note, I have taken care to include the following skills on my resumé:
- Able to navigate multiple active projects at one time
- Regularly used breastpump while simultaneously performing complex operations on computer
- Example Project: Completed household tasks while wearing a screaming baby in a sling
- Managed projects while providing increased attention to detail, including:
- Laundering of an abundance of tiny onesies and burp cloths
- Laundering same onesies and cloths when they inevitably run out at the worst possible time
- Tracking diaper changes and detailed notation of diaper contents
- Ensure timely feedings of aforementioned screaming infant
Excels Under Pressure
- Skilled at performing tasks on little to no sleep
- Able to pull all-nighters when required
- Especially experienced in waking every 2-3 hours
- Often worked directly with and supported a partner
- Able to judge difficult situations and request help when necessary (see reference: Grandma)
Edit: After finding it difficult to return to work so soon after becoming a mother, I chose to become a stay-at-home mom. While this was simultaneously very difficult and personally rewarding, my children have started grade school, and now I find that I am more passionate than ever about returning to my career. In addition to the skills that I have gained in caring for an infant, please note these additional skills:
- Tact and Decisiveness
- Quickly and purposefully made decisions to maximize problem-solving potential and avoid conflict
- Skilled in rapid determination of appropriateness of learning-based activities for toddler
- Example Project: Should toddler eat bath bubbles?
- Example Project: Should screaming child receive extra graham cracker for dessert?
- Master Negotiator
- Expert in compromise and trade negotiations
- Particularly adept in the use of diversion and distraction to gain an advantage and minimize ongoing arbitration
I am excited by the work being done at your company and believe that these skills would make for an important asset to your active projects. Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to speaking with you further.
Every Mom Ever
This article may be a satire, but the situation is not: for the millions of American moms who return to work after becoming a mother, there are gaps in their resumés, due to the time spent caring for a child. “Unemployed” is a word that carries a negative connotation when applying for a new job, but these women (and many men!) weren’t just unemployed—they were taking the much-needed time to develop the parent-child bond and learning the skills necessary to be successful parents.
By expanding federal parental leave, encouraging men to take the necessary time off, and extending leave to individuals caring for ailing or elderly family members, the effect of “the pregnancy pause” can be minimized and increased social acceptance can be provided to new parents who choose to leave the workplace and do what they feel is best for their families.
Dr. Amanda G. Riojas is a Scientific Computing Researcher living in Austin, TX. She is also the Advice Section Editor for the Scientista Foundation Advice Blog, Liaison to the Corporation Associates Committee of the American Chemical Society, and Chair of the ACS Central TX Local Section Women Chemists Committee. Amanda basically spends all of her time trying to tell everyone that women are awesome—because she has a daughter now and wants her to know that girls can do anything.
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