Crafting a resume is always difficult, but it’s all the more challenging when you’ve got the dreaded “mom gap” on your most official piece of professional identification. Believe it or not, employers see this often. Two of the most common reasons for resume gaps are child and elderly caretaking. And for many employers, this is something you should address in your cover letter.
The resume, on the other hand, gives you a chance to become more than just the “gap” in your professional achievements. Choose from a list of resume format examples, and start considering how you’ll make the most of it. Remember, recruiters aren’t looking down on you. Taking care of your family is an admirable thing, and shows that you’ve been busy with important work during this time. But doing your best to gain necessarily skills and training to better yourself (and your resume) shows that you’re truly ready to put in the work and hit the ground running. Here’s how you can spruce up your resume when you’ve got a mom gap:
Cater to The Job Description
It doesn’t seem very sustainable to adjust your resume to a specific job each time you apply somewhere, but when the cards are stacked against you, sometimes you’ve got to pull out all the tricks. Adjusting your resume on a case-by-case basis allows you to truly hone in on what an employer wants, and cater to that. If you notice that the job description is light-hearted and fun, use similar verbiage in your cover letter, which complements your resume and adds personality. If they sound corporate, go in that direction.
For example, let’s say you were a marketing specialist or assistant for your previous company. Job Posting #1 is looking for a Marketing Analyst, while Job Posting #2 is looking for a Content Marketing Specialist. If you did a range of tasks in your previous position, list the tasks that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for. The Marketing Analyst position might include tasks like generating forecast and marketing reports, evaluating new methods for collecting survey data, and preparing reports for management. However, if you were applying to the Content Marketing Specialist position, you might describe how you helped write blog posts and created extensive keyword research reports for SEO purposes.
Take on Freelance Projects
No matter what industry and field you’re in, chances are there’s hundreds or freelance projects available. Adding some freelance jobs to your plate can not only help you bring in a little extra money, but can liven up your resume. Freelance sites like Upwork provide opportunity across the board, from graphic design gigs to IT support. Any company you work for–even when the job is small–is another addition to your resume. It will also allow you to gather professional references if you no longer have them. If you don’t feel that a freelance project is enough to qualify as a “position” in the main area of your resume, you can detail it in a separate section labeled “Contract Work” or “Freelance Work,” or simply mention it in your cover letter.
Volunteering can be a powerful way to show your commitment and interests. When you do something for the good of those around you, it shows that you’re passionate about making a difference and getting results–even if there’s no immediate benefit for you. Volunteering also shows that you can manage your time and work well with others. And lastly, through volunteering, you can expand your network and meet many more like-minded people.
One of the best things about volunteering is that you have more freedom to choose the organization you’d like. Try to focus on a volunteering gig that relates to the field and career you want to pursue. If you want to work your way towards becoming a veterinarian, for example, volunteer at local animal shelters. If you’re studying to become a nurse, volunteer at a hospital.
Through volunteering, you can help build your personal self-confidence and truly get to know yourself and what you’re most interested in. Use online volunteer matching portals to help you find the right organization. Search on All For Good, VolunteerMatch, Idealist, and Network For Good to start. If there’s a specific organization you’re interested in, check their website to see what locations have volunteer opportunities. You might also be interested in international programs. These usually cost a fee, but those fees go directly towards the program, much like a donation. Check out Transitions Abroad, G Adventures, and Maximo Nivel.
Get Additional Training
Getting certified or taking a class can help you apart from the pact and expand your knowledge in areas of expertise, especially as they pertain to your ideal job. For instance, if you want to help manage projects, work towards getting your Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. Or, if you wanted to prove your prowess in the world of marketing, get Hubspot Certified. Take a design or business management class. These can all add to your certifications and strengthen your overall resume.