For a stay-at-home mum, explaining the gap in your CV is not fun. It’s like you have to justify why you had to stay-at-home as if that was an an easy decision to make.
With the rising cost of childcare and the demands of life with young children, for many stay-at-home mothers, leaving their jobs for an extended period of time is the only decision that makes sense for their growing family.
There are so many stay-at-home mothers who return to work after their little ones are grown. Some of them become small business owners, in which case, there’s really no need to explain the gap in your CV. Where the problem usually lies is when the stay-at-home mum wants to return to the corporate world, then it becomes necessary to explain the gap in your CV to your would-be employers.
My aunt got married and became a stay-at-home mum for over 13 years. As soon as her last child started school, she decided to go back to work. With the help of her husband, she opened a retail store where she sold recharge cards and mobile phones. She didn’t have to explain why there was a 13 year gap in her CV.
On the other hand, my cousin worked for a few years as a corporate lawyer and decided to take time off work to raise her children. The plan was that once the kids got to a certain age, she’ll return to work. After 6 years as a stay-at-home mum, she has finally decided to go back to work. The only problem, she’s not able to adequately explain to employers the reason for the gap in her CV.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with saying that you took time off work to raise your children. That is a valid reason and no woman should be penalized for that. However, a lot of employers feel that during your gap year, policies/laws may have changed, and a lot of stay-at-home mums are really not up to date with the current happenings in that particular sector.
A friend told me that a particular lady came in to her firm for an interview but could not remember the basic principles of law. Her excuse was that she’s been out of practice for a long time so could not remember.
If you are ready to head back to work, here’s the best approach to explaining the gap in your CV:
It is not an excuse for you to say that because you’ve not been going to work, you don’t know what is going on in your industry. Stay up to date by reading, watching the news and if possible, discussing with your former colleagues and peers on recent transactions.
This way, you are able to engage smartly with your would-be employers on topical issues that are affecting your industry.
According to Dr. Maelisa Hall, licensed psychologist and career coach, “don’t worry too much about explaining the gap in your resume, since you can do that through a cover letter, introductory email or message. List the dates and a very basic reason for not working”.
In my article, The First Commandment- Thou Shall Not Lie In Your CV, I wrote about avoiding over exaggeration in your CV. Be simple and straight to the point. Don’t shy away from mentioning your career break – you shouldn’t feel you have to apologize for it or hide anything away.
Opt for a skills-based CV that emphasizes what you have to offer and the experience you’ve gained whilst being at home on your career break that can be transported in a work environment.
Regardless of the fact that you are a stay-at-home mum, if you hope to return to work, you should find time to volunteer during your gap year. You can attend some sector-specific events and network with your peers and professionals.
Internship is also another viable option, especially for those who do not have years of experience and became stay-at-home mums fresh from college. You can work as an intern, usually without pay, at most firms. This way, you gain valuable insights and are abreast of developments in your sector.
The experience gained from your volunteer work can also be used to show your strengths on your CV. Of course, it isn’t always easy to network and volunteer when you’re a stay-at-home mother, but it’s never too late to start revitalizing your professional network.
To learn how to network effectively, you should read this post.
Let’s be honest. It is very difficult for you to return to work after so many years as a stay-at-home mum, and earn the same pay as your peers who were working all through your gap year. Most mothers are unable to understand that fact.
Starting out after your gap year might mean taking a lower position and salary than what you’ve been used to. The key thing is not to be discouraged. Remember that these are all milestones as your work towards rebuilding your career and gaining your footing in the work world.
As a stay-at-home mum, you’ve been working so hard balancing budgets, doing multiple tasks at the same time, settling disputes and doing so many other things that have taught you valuable skills that employers are looking for. Don’t sell yourself short. You can use these skills you learnt and turn them into valuable assets.
So, whenever you are ready to re-enter the corporate world, relax, update your CV and try the approach listed above.
Was it easy making that decision to be a stay-at-home mum? Did you find it difficult returning to work after years off work? Let’s discuss.