Parenting is a tough job. It is non-stop, relentless, with no clear roadmaps. Many families have one parent who handles childcare full time when no support systems are in place. As facts stand, it is mostly women who take on this role. Regardless of who stays at home, career takes a back seat for a duration that could last anywhere between a few months to a good few years. The hiatus varies depending on individual circumstances.
Returning to work is daunting in itself. More so, if you have had little to no time for continuing education or skill upgradation. The resume, you fear, will be weak in comparison to other applicants. The fact is people take career breaks all the time. Some to raise kids. Others to figure out life. A break, however, is never a detriment to career progression. It is what you put on your resume that can be.
Before you start on that resume, we highly recommend taking stock of your schedules, support systems, and relevant skill sets. Your working hours and time commitment at home would need to function in tandem.
A resume should get you to the HR door and not define your hiring fate. Same goes for the cover letter. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions on what you should certainly do on your resume to ensure a fair chance at being considered.
- Qualification Summary: Start out with a brief, bullet point list of your core skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Keep this section short. The idea is to showcase how your skills tie into the job requirements.
- Address the Gap: It’s a fact that you took time off to handle a life situation. In your case, it was about raising a child. Own it. Don’t hide it. If you consulted or freelanced, while being a stay-at-home parent, highlight that. Focus on the skills you were able to polish while managing a child and home.
- Leverage Volunteer Work: If you volunteered at your child’s school to raise funds or organise events, you should certainly add that to your resume during the gap years.
- Highlight Skills Training: If you had no time to upgrade your skills while on a career-break, enroll in a course now. There are plenty of online education opportunities that offer flexibility. Even if the course is in progress, put in on your resume. An employer is more interested in a candidate who is proactively upskilling.
- Customise Your Resume: Your job application should have a customised resume to match. No two jobs are the same. A generic resume with work gap slims your chances at an interview. A customised resume, with keywords relevant to the job, put your profile in focus.
Equally important, if not more, is your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is excellent for networking with past employers, colleagues, and friends. Referrals are still a top hiring source and you must not leave that one untapped.
Interestingly, as a returning parent, the odds may be gradually tipping in your favour. A growing number of organisations, in India and across the globe, run hiring initiatives targeted at parents looking to return to work after a career break. Online research, LinkedIn networking, and your social circle can help connect you with hiring managers at these organisations.