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If you're a stay-at-home mom considering a return to the workforce, this blog is your companion every step of the way - from discerning your career direction to preparing your application and addressing your resume gap, this is the perfect place to start.

Resume Refresh: 5 Resume FAQs Every Returning SAHM Needs Answered

resume Dec 05, 2023
mom on couch writing her resume

As you gear up to re-enter the workforce, there's often a whirlwind of questions that come up -especially when it comes to crafting your resume.  In this blog post, we'll respond to five frequently asked questions (FAQs) that many SAHMs face when revamping their resumes. Whether you're wondering how to bridge the gap in your work history or how to highlight the skills acquired during your career break, we've got you covered. 

Returning to the workforce after dedicating time to family is a significant transition, and your resume is your ticket to making a great first impression and securing an interview - it is key to showcasing your value, skills, and readiness to jump back into the professional realm. Let's dive into these common questions to help you craft a compelling resume that reflects your experiences, skills, and passion.   

1.  Should I list my SAHM experience on my resume? 

Everyone’s experience and career goals are so different that there’s not a one-size fits all approach.  In general, we do not recommend that you try to hide or lie about your career break.  Honesty is highly valued by employers and your resume gap is actually something that you can position as a strength if done correctly.  That said, some people choose to list their SAHM experience on their resume while others choose to leave it off.  Here are some questions to consider that may help you decide how you’d like to move forward. 

  • How much time have you spent away from the workforce?  If it’s a shorter amount of time (1-2 years), you may choose to leave your SAHM experience off your resume and instead draw attention to the other professional experience you had prior to your career break.  If you’ve been away from the workforce for a longer period of time (3+ years), it may make sense to include your SAHM experience to acknowledge the reason for your time away and also to highlight some of the skills you’ve developed as a mom or during your career break that relate to the job you’re applying for. 
  • Do you have other unpaid experience to highlight, including leadership, volunteer, education, and/or training experience?  If so, you may want to use the limited space that you have on your resume to focus on this experience instead.  If you’d like to address your career gap somewhere in your application materials but it doesn’t fit in your resume, consider mentioning it in your cover letter. 
  • Are you applying for a position where your experience as a stay-at-home mom is closely related?  If you’re applying for positions that have similar skills required (including caregiver, house manager, nanny, daycare worker, teacher, etc.) we’d highly recommend showcasing your experience as a mom for these types of positions because it will likely make you a stronger candidate.   

2.  What can I put on my resume if I have no recent paid work experience? 

We love encouraging moms to think outside of the box when it comes to their resume because your resume is a marketing tool used to paint a picture of the type of employee that you will be and the value you bring.  With that in mind, listing unpaid volunteer experience, leadership, trainings and certifications are great things to include that help an employer get to know you better.  If you don’t have a lot of this experience in your background, consider taking some trainings on LinkedIn Learning to boost your skills and add to your resume. 

3. What’s the best way to format my resume if I have a lengthy career break? 

There are a few different resume formats that are common – chronological, functional, and a hybrid of the two.  Chronological highlights work experience in chronological order by date, whereas a functional resume tends to focus on skills and downplays work experience.  While some people believe a functional resume is the best approach for people who have a significant career break, we don’t typically recommend this format because it can be difficult for recruiters and employers to understand your background and experience.  Instead, we recommend a hybrid of the two formats with a summary and skills section toward the top and an experience section following, which can include paid or unpaid experience.  The hybrid format immediately draws attention to your skills and background towards the top but also provides an organized view of your paid and unpaid work experience. 

4.  What can I do to help my resume stand out among other applicants? 

Outside of creating dynamic, tailored content throughout your resume, we’d also recommend thinking about your personal brand - ultimately, how people experience you when they encounter you, your online presence, and/or your application materials.  If you’d like more specific tips for moms on creating a personal brand, check out our recent post, First Impressions Matter: Personal branding tips for moms. 

5.  I’ve applied to 50 jobs and haven’t heard back, what should I do differently? 

There are a few elements we would explore if you’re in this situation.  The first would be making sure that your application materials are Applicant Tracking System (ATS) compliant, meaning that your resume is formatted in a way that the content can be read by ATS that are often used by companies to filter applications.  The second thing you may want to consider is how you’re tailoring your resume to each job description.  Ensuring that the information in your resume is customized to each job you apply for can help your resume get through keyword filters and also help recruiters and hiring managers quickly identify that you’re a great fit for their job.   

We provide a lot of in-depth information on tailoring your resume to a job description and resume formatting for ATS compatibility in our online course, The Resume Roadmap for Moms.  If you’re just getting started with writing or updating your resume, this course will provide you with everything you need to address your career break, stand out to recruiters, and land invitations to interview.  Additionally, if you’ve already created your resume but would love some expert feedback to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward, we offer a Personalized Resume Review that can help give you that extra edge! 

Your resume is such an important aspect of your job search because it’s often your first opportunity to make a great impression.  Spending the time and investing in this aspect of your job search can change your entire trajectory.  You’ve got this and we’re with you all the way! 


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