Back to Work: Position Your Unique Skills Learned as a Stay-at-Home Parent
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to ripple across the workforce, and that includes the number of people taking a career hiatus. A 2021 study by MagnifyMoney found the percentage of stay-at-home parents in the United States had increased 60 percent since 2019 thanks to virtual schooling and virus concerns. That means more parents will be seeking creative ways to best position the skills they picked up as a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) or dad (SAHD) on their resumes.
The good news: Your time as a SAHM or SAHD is not a negative career-wise. In fact, it may be a career kick-starter, opening new doors to you in terms of skills and networks and allowing you to find a position that's a better fit. It's all a matter of perspective.
Consider how your SAHM or SAHD experience has changed you
Whether you are a long-time stay-at-home parent or became one during the pandemic, you are not the same person reentering the workforce who left it. Make a list of the skills you've developed or strengthened-and translate them into the language a resume keyword scanner loves. Consider:
- As a stay-at-home parent, you likely not only provided care for one or more children but also managed your household. This translates into strengthened time management skills, project planning, and managing vendor relationships.
- If you have been managing your child's virtual schooling, you likely now have skills using learning management platforms, as well as virtual meeting tools such as Zoom and Google Meet.
- As a parent, you've probably dealt with trips to the emergency room and other unfortunate incidents, giving you experience in crisis management.
Don't forget the value of volunteer experiences
Stay-at-home parents tend to attract volunteer opportunities. Don't discount their value on your resume or their ability to expand your skill set:
- Even if you've never worked in accounting, a term as the PTA treasurer will expose you to budgeting and financial reporting, plus demonstrate a level of accountability and responsibility.
- The emotional intelligence and patience you develop as a youth soccer coach or scout leader translates to the emotional intelligence and patience needed by a successful supervisor.
- Organizing a fundraiser requires fundraising, marketing, and event planning skills. You likely had to secure sponsorships, create event promotion materials, sell tickets, and sign and manage contracts with caterers and event facilities.
- Do you moderate any social media groups for your neighborhood, school, or place of worship? Community moderation is a career field unto itself—but even if you don't want to dive into it professionally, managing the online behavior of others is a public relations feat.
Document how you kept up with your industry
During your time as a stay-at-home parent, you've likely kept your toe in the professional waters. Perhaps you've maintained professional association memberships, kept up with the continuing education requirements necessary to maintain a certification or license, or taken on a few freelance assignments.
Consider a new format for your resume
After all this thought, you're probably charged up to rewrite your resume. Is the traditional chronological resume style still your best approach? It depends on your industry and the type of position you are seeking, but you might want to consider switching to a functional or combination (functional on top, work history on bottom) resume. The goal isn't to hide any gaps in employment but instead showcase your best assets for scanning eyes, whether human or machine.
Some resume experts suggest describing your stay-at-home parent experience with an evocative title, like "Chief Home Officer." Whether that's clever or too cute will again depend on your industry and career goals. But however, you choose to describe your time as a SAHM or SAHM, be proud of it. That's hard work—and it will benefit you in any future employment experience.