By Rachelle Lappinen
In my first installment of career tips for working mothers. I will share how stay-at-home-moms can customize their resumes to transition to Superwomen-working-moms!
Above all, your resume should communicate your personal brand.
Transform your resume from the traditional chronological or functional format to a resume based on transferable skills.
Focus on what skills you used outside of the work place that are easily transferable to a job -- event planning, conflict resolution, and negotiation, to name a few.
Consider using a "combination" resume, which includes both functional and traditional chronological resume aspects, with a Summary of Qualifications section.
In the Summary of Qualifications section, you focus on your qualifications and skills relevant to the job you are applying for.
This section can be supported by your previous professional experience.
The Summary of Qualifications can also be supported by the transferable skills you gained during the time you spent raising your children. (Yes! You did gain transferable skills raising your children! More on that below.)
To help avoid employers finding red flags on your resume, place the work history section of your resume directly under a professional qualification summary. If you choose, you can go into more detail in a cover letter or in the interview, but use caution.
An interviewer cannot ask personal questions not relevant to the position, such as questions about family, marriage, children, etc.
Remember, the purpose of the resume is to get the interview. The purpose of the interview is to get a second interview, and ultimately get a job offer.
For more information, read How to Manage Resume Red Flags.
Don't use a functional resume - a resume that does not list any dates or career chronology. While I emphasize starting with a summary of qualifications, I do not suggest leaving off dates.
Instead, what I suggest is using a combination resume
Your resume will have gaps on it, but those gaps are not dead time.
For more about why the combination resume works best, read How to Choose the Best Format for Your Resume.
Stay at home mothers find ways to be involved, from leading a Daisy group, to serving on a PTO, to volunteering at a local food shelter. These activities help to fill gaps on your resume, keeping your experience recent and relevant.
These experiences can be included on your resume as "Relevant Experience." During your time out with your children, you can also consider creating a consulting company, and list all the volunteer, pro bono, and consulting projects.
If you have little or no work experience, you might consider leading off with your education, especially if it is relevant to the position you are applying to.
Remember, the resume is not a static document! Sections can, and should be moved easily. With this approach, you may consider using the old-fashioned career objective - as long as it is focused on the position you are applying to, and is not vague with canned language.
For more details How to Handle Employment Gaps on Your Resume.
Remember, being a stay-at-home-mother is one of the hardest jobs, and a job that is rich in transferable skills:
This is not a full and comprehensive list of transferable skills a mother gains through raising children and running a household. Just Google "stay-st-home-mom transferable skills" (with the quotation marks), and you will find many more!
Spend the time to identify your transferable skills, and highlight them in summary section at the top of your resume. (See Resume Sample: Mom Returning After a Gap, Making a Career Change.) Leverage your networks, and hand that resume to people who can refer you for the right job.
By day, Rachelle Lappinen, working mother of two, serves as a college and career advisor for GEAR UP. When Rachelle is not writing her blog or advising her students, she enjoys camping and going to the theater with her children. Follow Rachelle on Twitter at @RLappinen, connect with her on LinkedIn, and follow her blog SolutionsByRachelle.