Stay-at-Home Mom Needs to Explain Resume Gaps


This posting is a guest entry from the Career Doctor, Randall S. Hansen, PhD: Nancy writes: Do you have any suggestions on how to explain/validate long periods of professional work gaps in a resume? I am a stay-at-home mother and need some convincing and creative ways to describe this recent position on my resume. I would appreciate any input.
The Career Doctor responds: I know I risk the wrath of some of the women reading this blog, but I don’t really like to see resumes that under experience list something cute, such as “Household Manager” or “Domestic Coordination Specialist,” as job title for women who stay at home to manage their households and parent their children. Of course, with a traditional chronological resume, if you don’t list something for when you stayed at home, you will have huge gaps between jobs. So, you really have three options. First, you can take the approach listed above and make your time at home a category under experience. And while I realize there are many responsibilities involved — I was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home dad for a few months a long, long time ago — I still don’t think, from an employer’s prospective, that it qualifies to go in this section. Second, you can consider experimenting with reorganizing your resume into a chrono-functional or hybrid resume that is organized around skills clusters (such as communications, leadership, organizational, etc.) rather than specific jobs and experience. Unfortunately, this style of resume is a bit on the outs right now because employers fear you are hiding something by taking this approach. Third, you can look beyond your household and compile all the volunteering, freelancing, or other part-time or educational experiences you may have had and use those to show that you were still using and perfecting your skills. Remember that the goal of your resume is to get your foot in the door — to get you that job interview — and once in the interview, you can decide how to position yourself — your experiences, skills, and accomplishments — in order to sell the employer on your candidacy. Learn more about mastering resumes by using one of more of the excellent resources found in the Resume and CV Resources section of Quintessential Careers.