I was recently working with a client I'll call Mary. She was very worried about having been out of work for two years while she was an at home parent. Following the advice of a resume book, Mary wanted to "hide" her time out of work by talking about volunteer work that was unrelated to her career in sales. I told her that this was a bad idea. Instead, we used one line to inform potential employers why Mary was out of work and what she was doing. The rest of her resume focused on her 10 year career in sales and her many achievements. Most employers will understand that some very good employees take time off to care for children or sick relatives. Rather than telling them about experience that has nothing to do with the job they need to fill. Mary was focused in her job search, and she landed a job in a little over a month.
What should a mother or father do who is looking to return to work? I would recommend reading Meg Graham’s article in today’s Grid from The Chicago Sun-Times. This article talks about resources and strategies available for professionals who have taken time off to raise children or care for sick relatives. I recommend it as a great resource.
What I would add to Graham’s article is that parents and others who have to leave their jobs need to be proactive in planning how they will stay professionally viable while they are out of work. They need to plan to volunteer or work part time in a way that will involve the skills and knowledge they will need when they return to work. Like all good career management, knowing how to enter, exit, and re-enter the job market takes planning and foresight.