27 Apr How To Update Your Résumé after Maternity Leave
What! You had time off?
You Haven’t Worked for HOW Many Years?
Have you taken a year (or a few) off work to care for your little ones? Are you worried about how to fill the (maternity leave) gap in your résumé? Read on for some practical tips to combat the gap.
You’re ready to re-enter the grown-up world, dust off the heels and dig past your Mum clothes to find your nice office clothes at the back of the wardrobe… praying that they still fit (Ps. mine did after baby no.1. they definitely did not after baby no.2).
But wait! You need a job first?
Now to dust of the old résumé……
Oh no, what do I update, I haven’t worked the last few years. Well we all know you have worked harder than ever, tending to the needs of our offspring. Unfortunately these are not the kind of tasks your future boss will be looking for. (Unless your applying for a role in childcare, then yup, those skills are very relevant 😊).
First things first! You need to get your mindset in check.
I have so many clients come to me and they seem disheartened or concerned that they are unemployable and some even feel ashamed that they have not worked for a long time.
If you have made the choice to stay home and care for your children in the early years of their lives, then you need to own that choice and be proud. Every family is different, and each make their own choices to suit their family needs and desires. Whether that be a stay at home mum or dad, both working full-time or part-time or a combination of those.
Whatever your choice has been for your family, do not let society, a potential employer or anyone make you feel unemployable or unworthy of gaining work.
Did you know it is the law to for employers to hold a job open for a minimum of 12 months for an employee to take (unpaid) maternity leave. Many leading companies allow a second year off (unpaid). They realise the talent and skills they are losing out on in their business (and the cost to retrain).
NOTE it is ok that you have had time off.
So how do I address the gap, I hear you asking?
I work with a lot of Mums returning to the workforce and every résumé I create is unique to the person and their situation. However, majority of the time I do display the gap on the résumé and indicate that it was for “Maternity Leave” or “Family Commitments”. The times that I do not do this, is if you are still technically employed by the company and if the time off have been less than a year. In this case, I leave your most recent job title stating (start date Mon Year) – Present on the dates.
Being vague on a résumé only causes more doubt or concern for the reader which then gives them the opportunity to the probe and question you further to clarify their concern and clear up the doubt they have. If you can provide clarity to clear this doubt in your potential employer’s mind, this will show confidence and honesty. Therefore saving the awkwardness of them needing to probe further into your personal life.
(In most cases), here is how I would display the gap it on your résumé (adjust the date accordingly):
Jul 2017 – Current Maternity Leave
Jul 2015 – Current Maternity Leave / Family Commitments
Directly underneath (with one line space) would be your most recent role and responsibilities, prior to maternity leave. Only leave one line space before going into your most recent role; we want the eyes to be drawn straight to this experience and not leave the Mat Leave title sticking out like a sore thumb.
If you have taken less than 12 months off, I would omit the Family Commitments and simply state Maternity Leave.
If your gap has been greater than 18 months, you may want to consider few other things to ‘fill the gap’. Have you participated in any voluntary work in this time or been involved in the community? Even if it has been a few days or hours here and there they are certainly great qualities that you could work into the résumé. Again, keep them brief, to not distract from your most recent actual work.
Your Cover letter is also your chance to give more of an explanation to your current situation and demonstrate why you want this role (i.e. your motivation). In the case of having time out to raise a family, the cover letter will play an important part in your application. It is that extra piece of the puzzle to get your awesomeness across the line and into interview.
If you are after any further information regarding résumé, cover letter, LinkedIn writing, interview or career coaching click here.
Ps. Keep an eye out for my next blog, for when you have secured the role or are returning to your old role; Top Tips for Mums Returning to Work. Don’t want to miss out on this one? Sign me up!