You may feel daunted about preparing your resume when you’ve been out of the workforce for a period caring for children. You may question how you should refer to this gap in employment, and what information should be included (and left out). There are a number of strategies you can use in your resume to improve your chances of job search success.
Be direct and to the point
While there is no doubt that being a stay-at-home parent uses and develops a range of skills, in general employers prefer this role to be referred to briefly. Rather than fancy, embellished job titles (e.g., ‘Chief Domestic Officer’), and lengthy descriptions of duties, a simple, straightforward reference to your role during this time is best. For example, you could refer to the time as “parenting duties”. Generally, there is no need to list the duties associated with this role.
Consider and document external unpaid roles and achievements
Many parents undertake additional roles and activities outside the home while being stay-at-home parents. For example, you may have volunteered at your child’s school, or sat on a committee. You may naturally have been drawn to roles that align with your career interests. For example, those with website skills may have helped with similar tasks in volunteer capacities. Consider what skills you have used and how these might be relevant for the types of roles you are wanting to apply for, and emphasise these experiences within your resume.
Update (and document) qualifications
Completing some refresher courses is another way to show employers your skills are still current. You may want to explore professional development opportunities through your relevant board or industry body or look into new education options if you’re keen on a change in job direction. A career gap can in fact be an excellent time to review your career interests and goals. Just because you have worked in a particular field pre-parenthood, doesn’t mean you can’t do something different now. Once you’ve completed these courses, list them (along with when you completed them).
Use an effective resume format
While most Australian employers prefer the traditional reverse chronological resume format (where your most recent experience goes at the top), there are other resume formats and sometimes these might be more appropriate if you’ve had a long career gap. One option is a functional resume, which is where you list your skills and achievements across all roles. For example, a person targeting a managerial role might list skills like ‘leadership’, ‘communication’ and ‘teamwork’, and then detail within each skill in which roles they have developed these skills. Most employers still like to see some reference to the dates you held each role, however, so if you use this resume type, you should also include this information somewhere within the resume.
Use these tips when preparing your resume for a return to paid work. You’ll be getting calls for interviews before you know it.
Nicole Wren is the Founder/ Principal Resume Writer at Resumes to Impress, a resume writing and career support service. A qualified psychologist with post-graduate qualifications in Human Resources, Nicole utilises her skills in interviewing and professional writing to ensure each applicant’s resume reflects their unique skills and achievements to help them secure their dream roles. www.goresumes.com.au