Being a parent is an immense responsibility that requires a great many skills. Beginning your job search after taking time to be a stay-at-home parent often means translating that experience in a way that helps hiring managers understand it. Whether you’ve been a full-time parent for a short period or a longer stretch, there are ways to highlight what you’ve learned, done, and accomplished on your resume.
Although attitudes about career breaks—sometimes called career gaps—for full-time parents have not always been supportive, they have been shifting in recent years. In fact, taking time away from a career is more common than it might seem. In a LinkedIn survey of 7,000 people, 62 percent reported taking a break from work . The professional online platform even instituted a way for users to add a career gap to their profiles in an effort to “more positively represent” time spent away from work.
In this article, we’ll go over how you can highlight the value of your time as a stay-at-home parent on your resume and other ways to strengthen your application materials as you prepare to reenter the workforce.
When you’ve been a stay-at-home parent, the resume you write will largely resemble a traditional resume, which conveys your unique story. Choose the most appropriate resume type based on what you want to feature: a timeline of your work, your biggest skills, or some combination of both.
You should include required resume sections, such as header, experience, education, and skills, and consider whether optional elements, like a resume summary or resume objective, can help frame who you are and what you’re looking for. As you reflect on your working history, determine how far back you should go in terms of experience.
No matter how much time you’ve spent away from the workforce, you can list your time as a stay-at-home mom or dad on your resume as part of your experience.
It’s important to quantify your impact where possible—that typically means detailing the effect you’ve had. Start by thinking about what you’ve done as a parent. How did you stay organized? How did you handle conflict resolution? How did you manage any household budgets? Make a list of your different responsibilities.
Learn more: How to Write a Resume with No Experience
Once you have your full list of parenting tasks, begin identifying the transferable skills you’ve developed—such as problem-solving, communicating, and planning—and write them down. It’s important to tailor your resume for each role, so spend time reviewing job descriptions, noting any required or recommended skills that may help you better align your overall experience and skill set with that company’s needs.
The language you use to discuss your experience and skills is also important. Key action words can help express both what you did and the impact of those actions in a more direct and digestible way.
Now that you have an idea of what you’d like to highlight, begin building an entry for “stay-at-home parent” on your resume. Depending on the type of resume you choose, you’ll add this information to different sections.
On a chronological resume, which outlines your working history, you’ll list this information under the “experience” section.
On a functional or skills-based resume, which focuses on skills over experience, you’ll discuss the skills you’ve gained and strengthened as a result of your full-time parenting.
When you list your experience on a chronological resume, it’s a good idea to title what you did (stay-at-home mom, stay-at-home dad, or stay-at-home parent), the nature of your parenting (self-employed), the dates of your full-time parenting, and the location.
Under that information, create a bulleted list outlining your major tasks and impact, calling attention to transferable skills where possible. Let’s take a look at two different samples.
Self-employed, 2018—present (Atlanta, Georgia)
Managed schedules for two children under the age of 10, organizing competing appointments and activities
Oversaw weekly grocery budget, reducing overall spending by 8% over two years
Created a local parenting group on Facebook that currently features over 60 members; planned meet-ups and collected resources and tools to feature each week
Self-employed, 2020—present (Cleveland, Ohio)
Oversaw remote schooling for three children (ages 5-11), adapting weekly to changing requirements and working one-on-one to identify needs and stay organized
Volunteered with the PTA, arranging meetings, communicating needs, and problem-solving on matters of curriculum and budgets
Other resume sections may be worth including or expanding on. Let’s go over additional ways you can strengthen your resume as a stay-at-home parent.
A resume objective explains your larger career goals, including what you’re looking for. It’s a concise section that typically sits between your header and experience or education—depending on which section you list first. It can quickly outline your needs and goals to a recruiter. You can mention your time as a stay-at-home parent, or leave out that information since a recruiter will see it elsewhere on your resume.
Savvy marketing associate turned stay-at-home mom who is eager to find a part-time marketing strategist role where I can apply my four years of research, communications, and problem-solving experience.
Project manager with four years of experience. I recently refreshed my knowledge and skill set by completing the Google Professional Certificate in Project Management, and I’m keen to find a mid-level web developer role at a leading creative agency.
It may help to include any freelance or volunteer work you’ve done as a full-time parent. Any experience you’ve gained during your time away from the traditional workforce can show recruiters the effort you’ve put into your personal and professional development.
Professional development doesn’t stop simply because you’re not in an office full-time. List any courses, certificates, or programs you’ve successfully completed in an effort to strengthen your skills, and add any new skills you’ve learned to the “skills” section of your resume.
If you’ve finished any schooling, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree, while parenting, add that information to the “education” section of your resume. List any new degrees you’ve earned, or create a separate “certificates” section for any professional certificates you’ve completed.
Learn more: How to List Education on Your Resume
Your resume is likely not the only thing that needs to be updated when you’re beginning a job search after parenting full-time. Let’s go over some other tools and resources that you may want to consider.
Moving back into the workforce doesn’t necessarily have to mean a full-time role. Whether you’re looking for full-time work that promotes work-life balance, part-time work, or freelance work, take time to think about what you need as you begin your job search. It may also help to research jobs that are in-demand, or jobs that tend to be more flexible. A resume objective may be a useful section to add on your resume, explaining what you’re seeking.
Learn more: 9 Jobs for Better Work-Life Balance
Sites like LinkedIn are an excellent—and highly visible—way to tell your professional story. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date by adding a new photo, refreshing your headline, and revising your “About Me” section.
Word of mouth is a powerful resource, as are job referrals. Consider who in your network might be able to help you connect with new opportunities—these can be former managers or colleagues, mentors, or friends. As you identify interesting roles that catch your eye, you may even want to consider reaching out to a recruiter on LinkedIn to introduce yourself.
If it’s been some time since you’ve been part of the workforce, consider strengthening your skills (and industry knowledge) by enrolling in a professional certificate program. These are a relatively short way to develop career-ready skills while learning about the latest developments in an area of work, such as marketing, data science, or business. Once you successfully complete a professional certificate, you can list that information on your resume.
Learn more: 7 High-Income Skills Worth Learning
Learn all about resume writing with the University of Maryland’s course Writing Winning Resumes and Cover Letters on Coursera. Enroll for free to gain important tips you can apply to revising and strengthening your resume.
Or if you’re looking to hone your job skills, explore a Professional Certificate from Google, Meta, IBM, Salesforce, and more on Coursera. Learn about in-demand areas like project management, UX design, data science, marketing analytics, and sales.
LinkedIn. “LinkedIn Members Can Now Spotlight Career Breaks On Their Profiles, https://www.linkedin.com/business/talent/blog/product-tips/linkedin-members-spotlight-career-breaks-on-profiles.” Accessed June 29, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.