Getting back to work after an extended parental leave can be an exciting experience but it can also evoke some insecurities. The employment gap that occurs after you have dedicated some time to being a stay-at-home parent can seem like an obstacle.
Honestly speaking, it really doesn’t have to be.
The fact that you took some time off to take care of your children isn’t something you should worry about when trying to get back in the working force. You just need to know how to present that gap in the best possible light. It is helpful if you know the right approach to attract and retain the attention of employers.
The following tips will teach you how to do that.
Personalize Your Resume
Sending out one generic resume to everyone may be the easiest choice, but creating a few different ones is the smartest. Especially when you want to get back to the working force after a long break.
You can use a template to make this process less tiring, but adjust the content based on the job position.
Tailor the resume so that it fits the desired requirements. Emphasize different skills that you worked on during maternity leave depending on the job position.
For example, if you are applying for a writing job you can state that you were taking writing courses during your time off. On the other hand, if you are applying for an editing job, you can emphasize that you were editing other people’s work. Adapt the resume to the requirements.
Each employer will expect you to answer the question of why are you a good fit for their company. Using a one-size-fits-all resume won't help you give a satisfying answer.
Keep in mind that some employers use an applicant tracking system (ATS) for their recruitment process. When you are creating your resume, use appropriate keywords (related to the job position) in each resume that will be recognized by the ATS.
Speak Honestly About Your Employment Gap
Don't try to avoid the subject of your absence. You have nothing to hide so deal with the resume gap head-on.
Address the reason for your absence and explain to the employer why you took some time off.
What can help you explain your situation is an effective cover letter. For example:
“After the birth of my youngest child, I took some time to take care of him/her. I am a dedicated and focused person in every aspect of my life. That means that even during my maternity leave I kept track of industry news. I was also enhancing my skillset in order to be prepared for getting back to work.”
Be prepared to speak about your time off in your interviews as well. Focus on what you did during your time off to stay current with your career or continue your education. More on that next.
Show that you worked on your skills during your leave
Emphasize your untiring ambition by mentioning online training that you had when you were away from work.
This will highlight your strength, commitment, and persistence.
In case you didn’t take any online study program, course, or training, it is never too late. Before you start sending out your resume, find a quick online course that corresponds to what you want to do.
There are plenty of amazing online sites that offer various free courses. Some of them are:
- Khan Academy
Volunteering is also an experience that employers will value. Through volunteer work, you show selflessness and willingness to work as a good trait.
Keep Your Resume Clear, Clean, and Simple
List all of the elements of your resume shortly and concisely. The main aim is to emphasize your relevant skills and expertise.
Prospective employers have numerous resumes to go through so they will especially value those who make their job easier by writing a clear and simple resume.
Use short descriptions and only include relevant experiences and skills depending on the job responsibilities. While you may wish to seem more experienced, listing irrelevant jobs is just a waste of time. Instead, highlight valuable courses or skills that you enhanced during your leave.
If you feel like you can’t form your thoughts in the way you want to, consider browsing for professional resume writers. An expert can help you with the readability and effectiveness of your resume.
When it comes to the resume summary it is important that you write it in 3 to 5 sentences, no more. The best way to work around the employment gap in the summary is to highlight your skills and accomplishments.
Use the right resume format.
The overall design of the resume can make or break your chance for landing a job.
A flashy resume will seem unprofessional and distract the employers from what’s important – the content.
A recommended format for an employment gap is the hybrid format. It highlights your skills and accomplishments and takes the spotlight off the employment gap.
Take this hybrid format resume template as an example:
What About Recommendations?
You might have put a pause button on your career, but your previous employers’ kind words still have value.
Contact your previous employers and ask them for a letter of recommendation or if they will act as a reference for you. Think about it like this – there is nothing to lose.
If you took a certain course during the maternity leave, you can even ask the teacher to highlight your strengths in a recommendation.
In case you can’t get any letters of recommendation, don’t stress about it. There are other ways that can help you in your job searching process such as networking.
Talk with people you know, fellow volunteers, or former colleagues. A benefit of being a full-time parent is that you get to meet a wide variety of parents who can be your networking opportunity.
Business networks such as LinkedIn can be of great help as well so make sure that you make a profile there and check out other business profiles.
Over to You
Your parental leave shouldn't keep you from finding the job of your dreams. These job search tips will help you shape up your resume and get it ready for new opportunities. Besides showing off your skills on paper, be prepared to justify your words during the interview.
Just keep in mind that the time gap hasn’t made you less skillful or less competent. Through parenting, you gain many skills such as multitasking, organizing, managing conflict, communication skills, problem-solving skills, etc. You can do this!