Stay-at-home parents who are re-entering the workforce can be comforted knowing they are not alone. Taking time out of the workforce has become commonplace since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and hiring managers realize that many people are now re-entering the workforce and perhaps facing a new career change altogether.
This article explains how to write a resume if you are a job seeker re-entering the workforce after spending time as a stay-at-home parent. We show how to bridge the employment gap between your last job and your next job, accentuate your value as an employee, and provide resume examples.
No doubt you have an old resume that you used before you were a stay-at-home parent, but that will now need updating for each job that you apply to. It’s important to tailor your resume to exemplify the skills that are most relevant to the job.
Studying the job description will tell you what skills the recruiter is looking for, but it’s also a good idea to research the company and get a better idea of the company culture and the type of employees it hires. You could go to the company’s LinkedIn page and research existing staff.
Then, before you revise your resume, consider the following three things.
How does your previous experience apply to the job posting?
Did you do any freelancing, volunteer work, community work, or learn a new skill while you were at home that might be relevant to the job you are applying to?
How has your perspective changed while being at home? Are you more motivated now to re-enter the workforce?
A functional resume, or combination resume, might seem like the best option for someone who has been out of the mainstream workforce. A functional format emphasizes your skills rather than your work history. However, recruiters know this and may sense that you are trying to hide something.
A chronological resume emphasizes career progression, which you might have had in spades before you left to be a stay-at-home parent, so a chronological resume or a hybrid resume are both good options.
For more guidance on choosing a resume format, read “Which Resume Format or Outline Should You Choose?”
A resume should begin with your name and any credentials that you have after your name, such as “CPA,” “MBA,” or “PhD.” You should also list your contact information, such as your phone number, email address, and social media addresses like your LinkedIn url. There is no need to add your street address, but you could add your location if an employer states they want to hire locally. The town and state will suffice.
A bold resume summary statement will attract the attention of the recruiter. The summary statement should highlight your role before you were a stay-at-home parent if that is compelling and show what your objective is in terms of a career. Your resume objective should align with the job you are applying to.
Here’s an example of a summary statement for a computer scientist.
“Passionate data scientist with three years of project management experience and proven technology skills including Python and C++. Wrote back-end code for five business websites as independent consultant. Looking for an opportunity to lead a solution development portfolio for an established tech group.”
This example is compelling because it uses action words to introduce the candidate and their skills, highlights a measurable achievement, and shows their career goals.
The body of your resume will differ depending on whether you choose a chronological, hybrid, or functional resume.
On a chronological resume, if you want to list your relevant experience as a full-time parent, you can use the title “Home-maker,” “House Manager, or “Chief Home Officer,” and then list your achievements underneath the title. Although the job of chief home officer is no laughing matter, this adds a measure of light-heartedness to your resume, which might be appropriate for certain employers and not for others, depending on the company culture.
For a functional resume, you might list your experience under the heading “Skills” or “Core Competencies.” You can include dates of employment, and there is no need for them to be in chronological order. Your skills should also include those that you developed while a stay-at-home parent.
Many parents develop transferable skills when a stay-at-home parent. Some find the time to look after other people’s children as well as their own as part of a parent co-op and learn business, organization, and communication skills. Some parents become entrepreneurs or take online classes.
Others take on freelance work, part-time, or voluntary work, such as helping at their children’s school or in the community. Fund-raising and community work show organizational and leadership skills. Think about what you accomplished in your time as a stay-at-home parent and whether it applies to the job you are applying to.
For both types of resumes, it’s important to use action words to highlight your skills. Describe your professional experience in terms of achievements, not responsibilities, using measurable examples in bullet points.
Here's an example:
Collaborated with marketing and product development and improved the company’s content marketing efficiency by 25% with trained machine learning models.
“Collaborated” is a good action word, and “improved the company’s content marketing efficiency by 25%” shows a concrete, measurable achievement.
Expert Tip: Remember that your job application is likely to be first scanned by an applicant tracking system. So, study the job description and include key words or similar words in your resume.
For more resume tips , read “Resume Do’s and Don’ts”
The resume should also include a section for education. Only include your high school education if that is your highest level of education.
Here's where you should highlight your technical and soft skills. Only include those that are relevant to the job, and list them in order of importance. It's a good idea to list your skills in a separate section on your resume so that they catch the eye of the reader immediately.
Include any awards, certifications, publications, or conferences you have attended if relevant to the new job.
Here is a stay-at-home resume sample in a chronological format
Here is a stay-at-home resume sample in a functional/hybrid format
In this functional/hybrid format, the time at home is listed under “Work Experience.” However, you do not necessarily have to add this section. The only danger if you don’t is that the employer might sense that you are trying to hide something.
Another option is to explain the gap in your cover letter. You might add in your cover letter that you have recently taken time out to be a fully engaged parent. You can then use the cover letter to accentuate what you have achieved while at home and how that has added to your skillset.
You could also emphasize that you are fully motivated to re-enter the workforce after taking some time out to re-skill (or fully engage as a parent).
An example of what to say is:
“I have spent the last years as a fully engaged parent and am now eager to resume my full-time career.”
Lastly, and crucially, always have someone proofread your resume and cover letter before you send them.
Anybody who has stayed at home to look after children knows that childcare and household management are far from a cakewalk. Wise career advice is to own your decision to be a fully engaged parent, not hide it, because so many people are re-entering the job market and even changing careers, particularly in the post-COVID era.
Consider what you have done while being a homemaker, how that has added to your years of experience, and what your value is to a potential employer. Be proud and confident that you are now a more-rounded and motivated individual. You have valuable technical and soft skills and should soon face a job interview and an end to your brief job search.