I deliberately quit my job to stay home with my preemie newborn last June. My husband and I planned for about a year off and we’ve done great so far, but we are beginning to dip into our savings. I’ve submitted cover letters and resumes but I have yet to figure out a way to gracefully explain my year off. I did some volunteer work, but to be honest most of my new skills involve couponing, jogging, mommy playgroups, and perfecting my social media experience. So my questions are two-fold:
1) Should I dedicate a paragraph in my cover letter to explain why there is a year gap in my employment history? I am cautious to do so because I know talk of family and kids can lead to EEOC concerns. Or that the employer will assume that I’ll always be out with sick kids and never available for work outside the 8-5 timeframe.
2) I’ve added a Community Involvement section to my Resume and that is where I’ve listed my volunteer work during my time out of the work force, it feels a bit like padding a resume, but I’m afraid my resume is more easily passed over when the time from June 2010 to August 2011 isn’t accounted for.
Dear Ginger (or On-Ramp Mom),
Re-entering the workforce is something I hear about often from members who are stay-at-home parents. First of all, you really don’t need to explain anything in your cover letter—dates alongside your community involvement will deter the employer from seeing a “gap” in employment. And as I overheard one alumni mom tell another recently, “You have nothing to apologize for either!” Your skills and overall experience are still the most important factors to showcase to employers. If your volunteer experience over the last year is career-related, then forego a chronological resume and incorporate that experience into a combination-formatted resume. Combination resumes allow candidates to spotlight transferable skills and areas of expertise, and then employers can actually see the candidates for what they truly offer. For more information on combination resumes, register *for a Career Services Teleclass. I’m more than happy to help you update your resume.
Illustration by Angela Wen