What To Include In a Resume If You Are A SAHM Returning To Work

Sher-li Torrey, Mums@Work (Singapore)

So you have taken a few years off to care for your children. And suddenly you decide that it’s time to return to the workforce. You take out your old resume (last updated in 2003, before Facebook was even around) and you realize there’s a huge gap from your last held job to your current situation. Before you press the P-A-N-I-C button and decide that you are going to be a SAHM till you get promoted to SAHGM (Stay-at-home-grand-ma, not general manager), have an honest review of the last few years being a mother. You can still put together a resume that suitably describes you and isn’t a lie.

Here are some simple tips:

1. Using a JOB TITLE as a Parent

Some Mums like to call themselves “Family CEO”, “Home Manager”, “CEO of Domestic Affairs”, “Domestic Diva/ Goddess” or even“Home, Managing Director”. If your interviewer has a good sense of humour, you are probably going to be able to get away with it. But honestly, unless you are applying for a job that is directly-related to your role as a parent (e.g. Childcare teacher/ Pediatric Nurse), it may not be best to draw attention to your parenting achievements. (Not that you shouldn’t be proud of it). Instead of putting Parenting as an actual job, it might actually be better to identify how you have continued to use your business skills during the last few years. If you really have had nothing but childcare and household responsibilities, it might be time to consider getting involved in your chold’s PTA, volunteering at societies/ organizations or being committess that can tap on your business skills (such as managing budgets, writing articles, managing small volunteer groups, organizing fund-raising events etc)

2. Highlighting your strengths through related activities as a Mum

A good resume focuses on “transferable skills”. You can list how in your out-of-office work activities that are not-parent-related, have equipped you with skills that can be used in an office. Cite these activities (and skills demonstrated) under your Work Experience to fill up the gap.

Here are a few examples:

– VOLUNTEERING with your child’s schools’ parents-teachers association Event organizing, Budget management, Leadership skills, Writing skills, Sales etc

– VOLUNTEERING AT NON-PROFIT Organisations/ Local Community Clubs/ Parenting Organisations/ Women’s Groups Same skills as above

– PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT/ CONTINUING EDUCATION Latest IT skills, or even more advanced diplomas/ postgraduate degrees for the areas that you wish to pursue.

– FREELANCE WORK Start off by taking up freelance projects for small firms. They may not pay much, but it’s something to put on your resume and a great intro back into the workforce

– WORK-FROM-HOME BUSINESSES (MUMPRENEUR) As any Mumpreneur can attest to, starting a new business (even if it is just selling handmade jewellery on etsy.com) allows one to pick up a lot of new skills. So give a try and if all else fails, it’s a good thing to have on your resume.

3. Changing the resume format

Always use the combination format (which highlights skills, and also lists jobs in chronological order)

4. Be Real

Rather than highlighting your gap in your resume, mention in your cover letter briefly your decision to spend a few years away from the corporate world to look after family. Be brief and non-apologetic. Emphasise that you have kept up-to-date with your skills and the latest trends in your job industry. Highlight your enthusiasm to go back into the workforce.

5. Have Faith/ Confidence

Many SAHMs who start the process of re-entering the workforce face rejections at the beginning of their job hunt. Don’t get disheartened. There will be a job out there – but if you start off being negative and thinking that “No employer hires older mums!”….then, the truth is, you are never going to get hired.


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