When you’re a stay-at-home mom, it’s easy to become isolated in the bubble of home life — so many people to take care of, so many meals to make, so much laundry to do and so much work in general. Staying at home with kids truly is a full-time job in and of itself (complete with lots of unpaid overtime hours).
So, when you’re finally ready to reenter the workforce, will you be able to add those stay-at-home mom skills to your resume? How will you fill in the gaps in your professional experience due to your time spent at home? Writing a resume after so much time out of the professional world can be challenging.
You know you have valuable skills. It’s just a matter of marketing those skills to employers in ways they’ll understand. With the right formatting and creative thinking, your stay-at-home mom skills can be transformed into resume language that will appeal to employers and land you the job you deserve.
The first step to putting together a resume is choosing its format. The most common resume format is chronological, which emphasizes your work history. Other types include functional, which focuses on qualifications and skills, and combination, which contains a little of both chronological and functional. The right resume format is crucial for catching the attention of job recruiters.
Chronological formatting is the most common resume style because employers prefer looking over applicants’ entire work histories. Don’t hesitate to use a chronological format, even if you’re afraid employers will see a large employment gap and assume a lack of experience.
If your resume does have gaps, simply fill them in with a description of what you were doing during those times. Write something like
“stayed home with child” or another appropriate reason for why you weren’t employed. Honest explanations included in chronological resumes make you more transparent, so employers don’t have to guess at what you might be hiding.
Another popular stay-at-home mom resume format combines a list of qualifications with a chronological work history. On a combination resume, your top skills and qualifications are showcased first, followed by your work detailed work history to back up those claims. Combination resumes are great for people who have work history from the distant past. They can showcase their skills and qualifications while supporting them with a solid work history. The focus is split between the two areas, not on a huge gap in employment.
Maybe you completed your degree while staying at home and parenting. That’s an accomplishment you should advertise at the top of your resume. Recent graduates are specifically recruited by many companies. Emphasize your impressive educational achievements to stand out to employers looking for someone just like you. If you hold a degree related to the job, your education at the top of your resume will surely catch their eye.
Functional format resumes are tempting to use because they highlight your skills and qualifications while omitting your work experience history (therefore, no employment gaps are highlighted). It’s easy to brainstorm a list of what you can contribute to a job. But, can you prove it? Often, recruiters shy away from functional format resumes because there’s not solid evidence for claimed skills. It’s best to steer clear of this format and focus on emphasizing your experience, wherever you draw that experience from.
Traditionally, the objective section of a resume comes first (after your contact information), listing in a few sentences your long-term or short-term career goal. It’s also where you’d write why you’re a good fit for the job. This is the spot recruiters often skim when sifting through resumes. They look for whether your goals line up with those of the company.
However, as job-application volume increases over time, recruiters are beginning to prefer short resume summaries at the top of the resume, instead. Summaries are a few sentences describing the applicant’s qualifications, experience and goals. This section gives them a clearer idea of whom the resume represents. It’s your chance to really stand out and describe yourself in a way that you want to be seen.
Whether you use an objective or summary at the beginning of your resume will depend on how much career experience you have. If you have years of experience but just took a break to be a stay-at-home mom, you can and should leverage this experience in a resume summary. That way, your recruiter has an idea of your experience level early in the viewing process.
However, some stay-at-home parents don’t have much experience from traditional jobs to add to their resume. In this case, you might prefer to write a career objective, describing why you’re a good fit for the role and where you’d like to go in your career. With either introduction on your resume, take the time to describe yourself in a way that makes a good first impression because that’s the purpose that this section serves.
They’re not paid for the work they do at home, but the truth is, stay-at-home moms gain tons of experience while taking care of their children, families and homes. How can you translate the skills you’ve mastered at home into career talk to attract job recruiters’ attention? Sometimes, it just takes a little reframing of the mind.
Taking care of kids by breaking up fights, giving baths, coordinating mealtimes, etc. — those are management and negotiation skills. Keeping track of family finances and paying bills — accounting skills. You don’t want to overemphasize your stay-at-home mom skills, but definitely give yourself credit where it’s due. Other activities like volunteering or coaching can give you skills to add to your resume, too.
If you’re having trouble coming up with skills, it’s time to get creative. Maybe you should look for a job where you already have some experience, such as cooking, gardening or even cleaning. Are you good at writing? Do you have an artistic side? Is there a skill from your past that you haven’t thought about in a long time? Don’t be afraid to explore new career paths. Being a cook could lead to becoming a chef. Writing a blog could lead to your first book.
Above all, remember to leverage your stay-at-home mom skills by describing them in a way that’s understandable and relatable to your potential employer.
Out of the many stay-at-home mom skills, here are some to help you get started on your resume:
The hardest part of reentering the workforce is getting started with your resume. Once you have your basic resume created, keep a master template that you can modify for different jobs. Shoot for jobs that match your skillset and comfort level.
Stay-at-home moms often find success in jobs that require certification or licensing, such as nursing or pharmacy technology. They can study and earn their credentials while still at home and enter the workforce in equal standing with other entry-level candidates.