Should You Mention Parental Leave Time Before a Job Interview?

CN_Marc_v1_eWhen you are applying for a job, BEFORE any actual interview, should you try to explain what you’ve been doing for the last few years if you’ve been on parental leave, taking care of your children?

A reader wrote to ask me this question. And she raised the issue of using things she did during that time to help fill in the work gap. Here’s her question:

What Doris wrote

Hi Ronnie Ann,

I worked last back in 2013, and I recently started looking to work again. I understand its been quite a while. The reason was that I got married, had a baby and now I just keep myself busy by helping my sister who has a small childcare.

How should I let each employer know about this gap and should I mention to them that I have been managing Documentation and other office related stuff. In addition my main question is should I wait for the selection for an interview or mention them while I’m applying?

Thank you!

~ Doris

My reply to Doris

Hi Doris!

Not sure what kind of job you’re going for, but employers hate mysterious gaps. So I would come up with a way to show the time on your cover letter (if allowed) and resume. You want to emphasize transferable skills, like the ones you mention — especially those that relate well to the next job.

I found this great article about cover letters for returning parents that offers good tips:

=>   Cover Letters for Moms (and Dads) Returning to the Job Market

And here’s one from the same website that shows how to handle a section in a resume. This resume is for an admin assistant, but the idea works for others:

=>   Sample Chronological Resume for an Administrative Assistant

Or, maybe you can just add a recent section called Part-time Work / Parental Leave, and again use the same concepts for showing your many skills used during that time.

You may also want to read this article from Career Nook that offers some tips about how to get back into the job market after a long gap. The initial situation is not yours, but the tips are for anyone:

=>   Starting Over After a Long Employment Gap

Good luck!!

~ Ronnie Ann

A few more thoughts

For anyone applying for a job, it’s important that you present yourself in the best light — emphasizing anything you’ve done in your past that helps your potential new boss see you as someone able to take on the responsibilities of the new job.

And that includes volunteer work or projects you’ve taken on to help friends or family. You just have to show and tell it in a way that keeps the employer’s eyes on who you will be for them — and doesn’t go wandering into all the side details, unless of course the interviewer asks.

And if at all possible, considering that you do have some extra “selling” to do compared to most job seekers, please use the power of networking to help get your foot (resume) in the door — it can make a huge difference to any job search!

=>   Networking Tips Checklist for Job Search