A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Returning to Work
by Haley Lyles
Leaving the workforce for years to raise a family isn't an easy choice. When looking to return to work, many stay-at-home moms find themselves in an unfamiliar professional environment. Additionally, social stigmas and implicit biases result in stay-at-home moms being half as likely to get a job interview as other applicants who were laid off for the same amount of time.
Deciding to go back to work after time as a stay-at-home mom can be a scary transition. It's a decision that will impact the whole family, so taking the time to be thorough with your research and planning can help you find a career where you have the flexibility you need to succeed at home and in the office.
If you're a stay-at-home mom wanting to get back to work, but don't know where to start — we've got you covered. Keep reading for a comprehensive guide to help you seamlessly re-enter the workforce.
Table of Contents:
- Be Clear About What You Want
- Network With Others
- Develop Your Brand
- Three Cs
- Informational Interviews
- Keep Materials Up to Date
- Do You Include Stay-at-Home Mom On Your Resume?
- Dos and Don'ts of Stay-at-Home Mom Resumes
- Resume Formats
- How to Explain a Gap in Your Resume
- Networking and Job Opportunities
- Helpful Sites
Stay-at-Home Moms by the Numbers
Sources: Harvard Business Review | Pew Research Group
With only 7 percent of dads staying home compared to 27 percent of moms, there's a clear disparity between the genders. However, the share of dads staying home rose from 4 percent in 1989 to 7 percent in 2016.
It's important to remember that spending time as a stay-at-home mom doesn't mean the end of your career for good. In fact, 70 percent of stay-at-home moms eventually return to work, and nearly half of those that do return full time.
How Do You Get Back Into the Workforce?
Today's professional landscape is continuously evolving. Due to this, the process of returning to work may have shifted dramatically from what it was even a few years ago.
Gone are the days of physical job postings and mail-in applications — with 77 percent of recruiters using the social networking platform LinkedIn to reach candidates, it's clear that online networking has become the primary job-hunting method.
To help you find the perfect position for your needs, we've put together some of our best tips to help you successfully navigate your re-entry into the workforce.
Be Clear About What You Want
If you're considering re-entering the workforce after time as a stay-at-home mom, it's essential to consider what you want out of your job before beginning your search. Whether you're an empty nester or your kids are off to elementary school, there are additional factors you should now consider to find the right job fit for you. Questions you should ask yourself to understand what you want out of your career include:
- What are your career goals now?
- What type of company do you want to work for?
- What job position do you want?
- Do you need a flexible work schedule?
- Do you want a career with an upwards trajectory?
- Are you looking for part-time or full-time work?
Network With Others in Your Position
Whether you've been out of the professional environment for a while or recently took a step back, the largest hurdle to jump when re-entering the workforce is a mental one: the feeling of isolation.
After some time out of the labor market, reconnecting with your network can feel daunting — particularly if your coworkers have continued to advance their careers during your time away.
That being said, up to 85 percent of jobs are filled via networking — and there's a whole world of working moms who are a great resource to help you re-enter the workforce. Using our resources for stay-at-home moms, you can find other working moms to give your situation insight and advice.
Develop Your Personal Brand
Your personal brand is how you can set yourself apart from the rest. Comprising everything from your social media profiles to your elevator pitch, your personal brand fills in the gaps that aren't easily explained on a single-page resume.
To develop your personal brand, you should look at your skills, experience and passions to determine who you want your target audience to be. From there, you can work backwards to create a brand personality and build relevant content around it.
No matter the industry you're in, you can benefit from developing and maintaining a healthy, professional personal brand.
Three Cs: Take Classes, Go to Conferences, Get Certified
Many adults face the hurdle of not knowing where to look for more training. If you want to specialize in a field even further, consider the three Cs:
Online classes are available in many different subjects and are easy ways to learn more about a given topic at your own pace. Whether you're taking an introduction to coding course or a food safety class, online courses are a great way to become more specialized in a particular industry.
Going to relevant conferences is another fantastic way to boost your skill set. With so many now happening virtually, you can easily attend conferences traditionally held all over the country from the comfort of your own home.
Lastly, free online certifications are a quick and straightforward way to test fields that interest you. Since getting a certification usually isn't as time-consuming as taking classes, it's an excellent opportunity for those entering a new industry or specialization to quickly (and cheaply) learn more about the subject.
Ask for Informational Interviews
Many people make the mistake of sending out a resume and waiting for a call. In today's professional landscape, taking a proactive approach rather than a reactive one can make the difference between being professionally "ghosted" (when someone stops responding without explanation) and being one of the 20 percent contacted for a job interview.
Informational interviews are a low-stakes way to get your foot in the door at a company that piques your interest. Many people will contact a specific company's employees and request a short phone or video call to discuss career advice and answer questions about the company.
While informational interviews can seem intimidating, taking the initiative to set up an informational interview can be the opportunity you need to find the right career for you.
Keep Your Materials Up to Date
You've likely heard that recruiters take an average of six seconds to read your resume. But did you know that now, 75 percent of resumes aren't even seen by a real person?
Using an applicant tracking system (ATS), companies can automatically scan a high volume of resumes, so only the best are even seen by recruiters. Because of this, it's essential to optimize your resume for an ATS.
When creating an ATS-compatible resume, some critical things to consider include:
- Matching the vocabulary on the job posting
- Getting smart with your font and formatting
- Eliminating unrelated content
However, there's much more that goes into each company's specific ATS system. With over 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies integrating ATS software into their recruitment process, it's crucial to create your resume with ATS compatibility in mind.
How to Write a Stay-at-Home Mom Resume
As a stay-at-home mom, putting together a resume can be a frustrating experience. What should you include? What do you leave off?
Here's what to do (and what not to do) on your resume as a stay-at-home mom.
Do You Include Stay-at-Home Mom on Your Resume?
If you're looking to go back to work, deciding whether to include being a stay-at-home mom on your resume is one of the most challenging choices. While gaps in employment can be a red flag if not handled correctly, it's also important to consider how to frame your time as a stay-at-home mom to determine if it's worth taking up the real estate on your resume.
Resumes Formats for Stay-at-Home Moms
If you've decided to include stay-at-home mom on your resume, the next order of business is to determine how to lay out your resume. For this, there are three main resume formats: chronological, functional and hybrid.
- Chronological: These resumes put your work history front and center, usually in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent experience at the top.
- Functional: A functional resume focuses on your skills and achievements and can be an excellent way to deemphasize a lack of work experience.
- Hybrid: As the name suggests, a hybrid resume combines elements of the above formats by featuring work history like a chronological resume, while also highlighting skills like a functional resume.
Now that you're aware of the different formats, you should think about what type of resume is right for you. While functional resumes allow you to focus on skills and downplay your employment gap as a stay-at-home mom, chronological resumes are the easiest for ATS systems to read and can keep your resume clear and easy to digest.
To help you get started, take a look at this example of a hybrid resume for stay-at-home mom Mary Evans. Mary's resume includes an objective section stating her goals, a list of her hard and soft skills, her work experience, education, and social and contact information.
Want to get started on your path back into the workforce? Click here to build a resume like Mary's.
How Do I Explain a Gap in My Resume as a Stay-at-Home Mom?
Many moms returning to work struggle with how to explain a resume gap. While an insufficient explanation can be a warning sign to potential employers, over-explaining can leave employers with no impression of you other than your gap.
To navigate your way through explaining a resume gap, here are some general guidelines to follow.
- Be honest and transparent: When explaining an employment gap, you should own up to it and focus on what you learned from the experience as a stay-at-home mom, rather than shying away from it.
- Write a summary or objective statement: While both are great additions to a resume, an objective statement may be better for stay-at-home moms since it focuses on the future rather than the past.
- Include previous relevant experience: Whether you volunteered to manage your children's school bake sale or worked as a remote freelancer, highlight what you did during your time as a stay-at-home mom.
- Talk about what you learned from being a stay-at-home mom: Parenting teaches you soft skills that can't be taught in the office, like compassion, patience and empathy.
Resources for Stay-at-Home Moms
From job boards specifically for caregivers to a "Glassdoor for moms," here are some of the most valuable resources for stay-at-home moms returning to work.
- Après: A job market just for women looking to re-enter the workforce, and provides coaching to help the transition.
- The Mom Project: From freelance to full-time positions, The Mom Project is a platform for stay-at-home moms to find work that fits their flexibility needs.
- Hire My Mom: A database for small businesses and working mothers to connect and find work opportunities.
- Corps Team/Mom Corps: A subset of Corps Team, Mom Corps is an online job board for moms looking for flexible and part-time work.
- Power to Fly: A platform for women in marketing, sales, technology and other digital fields to find work.
- Tech Ladies: An online job board for women in technology industries.
- iRelaunch: For those looking for a mid-career return to work, iRelaunch has helped develop the concept of re-entry internships and hosts career conferences for employees and employers.
- Path Forward: A community that creates four-month returnships to help women ramp up to work after time off as caregivers.
- reacHIRE: With a focus on a diverse and gender-balanced workplace, reachHIRE helps women find returnships and full-time employment through work training classes and coaching.
Networking and Other Helpful Sites
- Career Contessa: A site specifically designed for professional women, Career Contessa provides articles, podcasts, webinars and more for women looking to build their careers.
- Ellevate: A community for working women to discuss mentorships and professional advice.
- InHerSight: As a "Glassdoor for working moms," InHerSight is an anonymous online platform for women to rate their past employers' benefits in work flexibility, maternity leave and more.
- Working Moms Against Guilt: Working Moms Against Guilt is an online community with support and resources for those looking to go back to work.
- Fairygodboss: A social networking platform for women re-entering the workforce.
Sometimes, the choice to be a stay-at-home mom isn't really a choice. In today's current environment, nearly one in five working-age adults reported not working because COVID-19 affected their child care arrangements. However, with 70 percent of stay-at-home moms eventually returning to work, it's important to remember that becoming a stay-at-home mom doesn't mean you're sacrificing your career for good.
As a mom it can be tough to navigate the transition back to a professional environment, but focusing on your personal development will make the process of tackling a job hunt much smoother.
Ready to take the first step towards your career? Start by building your resume today, customized for your needs as a stay-at-home mom.