What to Do with an Employment Gap on Your Resume

Stay-at-home parents re-entering the workforce learn how to deal with the dreaded resume gap.

Earlier this year I re-entered the work force after staying home for over a decade. My children have graduated from tots to teens and I made the decision to pursue a career outside the home once again. The passing of years, spousal job loss and the economic crunch has a lot of stay-at-homer’s making similar choices. Once you have decided to start the job search it won’t be long until you’re asking “what do I do with that gap in my resume?”

First you must examine that so called gap. Is it really a gap after all? Unless you spent the time at-home in a coma, chances are you were busy. As a mother of three boys I find I spent my at-home time being very busy, leading scouts, working with church groups, perpetually running children to sports, tutoring, constantly cooking and fighting the endless housework. All of these activities utilized my skills and gained me new ones. Think of the groups or activities you dedicated yourself to and list the traits it involved. Did organizing that fundraiser involve teamwork? How about the leadership involved with teaching Sunday school? Dedication, accountability, teamwork, leadership, commitment…these are all very marketable qualities you can add to your resume even if you didn’t exercise them in a paid position.

I recommend keeping a running resume even if you are not quite ready to take on the workforce. Listing charities and events as you do them keeps it fresh in your mind and makes dates and outcomes more accurate than trying to remember at a later date. This also makes your ready if opportunity comes knocking or you experience a sudden loss of income, getting your resume up to date will be one less thing to worry about.

Make sure the employment gap doesn’t take center stage on your resume. Consider veering from a typical resume template and structure yours to list your qualities and abilities first. List education and accomplishments, yes getting the Volunteer of the Year award from the elementary school is an accomplishment, list it! Add your employment history after you have highlighted your objective and skills and make sure to list your unpaid positions, if you served 4 years as president of the PTA that should be listed on your employment history as well.

Present your at-home gap in a professional manner. Employers will react favorably to a well constructed cover letter that gives a brief, professional touch on re-entering the workforce. Going back to work was a BIG decision for my family but when I put my resume package together I didn’t want it to revolve around my choice to go back to work. Instead I put focus on my past education and professional skills with a tiny blurb about my readiness to seek new challenges outside the home.

Like any life change their will be challenges but a resume gap shouldn’t be one of them. Employers are looking for motivated individuals and will see the value of the stay-at-homer’s who are returning to work.


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Posted on Apr 30, 2009
Jerry Walch
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Posted on Apr 30, 2009