When you left your job nine years ago, rejoining the workforce probably wasn’t much of a consideration. Instead you found yourself enamored with that little baby who would begin to redefine your life. Now, though, the workforce is calling, and you’re stuck looking at a huge gap in your CV. How do you explain your life at home while maintaining your professionalism? “Stay at home mum” isn’t exactly a huge boost on your CV. Using euphemisms, such as “household manager” or “domestic executive” is valuable only to others in your position who understand the burden of staying home.
Your best strategy is to focus on exploiting your volunteer experience and creating a polished cover letter. Fist let’s consider your volunteer experience. Have you worked with the Parent Teacher Organisation? Did you coach Sarah’s netball team? Were you on the planning committee for a humane society fundraiser?
Organise your CV so that instead of focusing on work history, which will bring the gap in your employment history to the fore, put “recent experience” first and include your volunteer work. You needn’t include every single activity you’ve done. Select the ones that involved the largest number of hours and have the skills that will translate into good workplace experience.
The netball team coach learned about communication, for instance, which will help if you’re looking to move back into work as an administrative assistant. You will find that as the committee head for the sponsorships committee for that humane society fundraiser, you learned about soliciting for donations and networking. These skills are great for a number of professions.
The cover letter is more important for you, however. The traditional purpose for a cover letter is to allow your employer to see what you have that relates specifically to the position they have open and to see whether you have taken the time to do any research about their company.
For the stay at home mum, though, the cover letter is the place to show how the skills you learned as a full-time administrator of your household will translate into viable work skills. Those euphemisms for stay at home mums may come in handy here. Try to keep in mind that you may be facing people who resent or dislike women who stay at home with their children. Do not be noble. Do not talk about the sacrifices you have made. Women who work full-time and then cook largely convenience meals for their families often believe they “do it all,” never considering that you cook from scratch and organise all of those classroom parties to which they send a bag of chips.
To combat this misunderstanding, you need to focus on skills. You can mention your children but only in regards to the ways in which working with them will help you. If you are trying to get a computer-based job, for example, you can explain how you have honed your research skills using various library databases in assisting your children or how you have gained a clear understanding of “nanny” programs used to filter Internet sites.
The skills you have learned as a stay at home mum are varied, but be creative in defining them. Instead of saying that you’re in charge of the family finances, focus on the skills transfer – the budgeting and entry-level bookkeeping skills you’ve learned. Show potential employers that you made the most of your time at home and that you’re ready to use your talents to help their company.