Stay-At-Home Dad Resume Advice

Dear VocationVillage.com,

I am seeking some stay-at-home dad resume advice. I have been a stay-at-home dad for the last four years. I want to return to paid employment and I’m not sure how I should address my work stoppage. Do I address/ explain this in my cover letter or do I come up with something clever on my resume or both?

Signed,
Stay-At-Home Dad

Stay-At-Home Dad Resume

Dear Stay-At-Home Dad,

Because you never know if a hiring manager or recruiter will read your cover letter, I do recommend that you address employment gaps in your resume. My clients who have taken a few years off from paid employment have found it works well to be explicit about what you were doing while you were home, and the type of hiring manager for whom you want to work will not have a problem with your prioritization of your family during those years you weren’t employed.

Jim O’Dowd, Board member of  Daddyshome, Inc. and a mechanical engineer who left the workplace to stay home with his four children, agrees with my stance that an employer who doesn’t value stay-at-home parenting skills is not an employer you would want. He says, “Staying home with kids takes skill sets that translate extremely well to corporate challenges (time management, resource management, crisis management, etc.). If I ever decide to return to work outside the house, I will include my time at home prominently on my resume. Anyone who looks at it and decides not to hire me is a person who does not see the value in what I am doing. That relationship wouldn’t last anyway, so it would be the right decision for both of us.”

While many hiring managers do respect the skills it takes to be a stay-at-home dad, employers are most impressed with candidates who can also show a professional commitment to continuous learning and skills development completed during the same timeframe they were focusing on family commitments. Chris Young, a stay-at-home dad who successfully landed a new job when he decided to return to paid employment, says that the reason he received a warm welcome when he decided to re-enter the workplace is that employers could see that he multitasked parenthood with part-time jobs, volunteer work, and small business projects. He says that in multiple job interviews, no one asked him to explain the employment gap.

Andrew Schrage, co-owner and head of HR for Money Crashers Personal Finance says that for him, the most important requirement from job applicants is honesty. Mr. Schrage says that he has met candidates who lied about their employment history and that as interviews progressed, the untruths were discovered. Mr. Schrage advises applicants to be clear that they made the decision to be a stay-at-home father for a period of time, and to land a job to return to the workplace, the task is to effectively convince a potential employer that you are fully capable of performing the requirements of the job and will be reliable over the long term. Mr. Schrage recommends, “Because technology shifts, you must keep yourself up-to-date in your field, and depending on how long you’ve been out of the game, it may also be to your advantage to take classes to become familiar with the latest changes.”

Many dads say they feel a bit unclear about the mechanics of putting together their resumes when they are coming back from several years away from paid employment. Sara Sutton Fell, Founder and CEO of FlexJobs, recommends:

“Instead of focusing on a ‘Professional Experience’ section which might be a bit bare bones, change it to a ‘Related Experience’ section and focus on anything you did that relates to the jobs you’re going after. Include your work before kids, as well as volunteer jobs, club and committee involvement, etc. It’s also acceptable to have an entry for your job as a ‘Household Manager’ where you can discuss the things you’ve done as a stay-at-home father. And at the top of your resume, include a ‘Summary of Qualifications’ section which bullet points your best SKILLS from both your work experience and time as a home-based dad.”

Jill Walser, a professional resume writer and job search coach, warns fathers that competing with applicants who are currently in the workplace can be a tough sell if the only way the job seeker is finding leads is through online job postings. She says,

“In my opinion, it’s not a good idea for someone with a large gap (one year or longer) to try to compete with the hundreds of currently or recently employed job seekers applying for jobs on job boards. Anyone in such a situation should instead strive towards leveraging warm leads via family, friends or associates met at industry events, people who can vouch for the person, explain the gap briefly, and support goodness of fit for the opportunity at hand. Meeting employers via industry association events or mutual connections can salve a variety of resume issues, including employment gaps.”

Have you been a stay-at-home dad who successfully re-entered the workplace? If so, please share your resume advice below.

Comments

  1. Fun being a part of this one among some great advice from some great experts!

    Andrew
    http://www.moneycrashers.com

  2. Networking is for sure a better option since hiring managers don’t particularly want to see career breaks.

    If you’ve gained some certs or continued with education that would be more acceptable but unfortunately not many recruiters will see staying at home as something appealing.

    Try to gain some extra qualifications or simply get some lowly paid / unpaid work experience to get back into the market.

    Don’t give up there will be a position out there for you.

  3. My experience is so much more different than what I’ve been reading about dads who re-enter the work place.

    First off, I’ve been a stay at home dad pretty much full time for 18 years. Yes, I said 18 years. Let me explain, I began being a stay at home dad after losing my job as a Nursing Assistant with hospice. My daughter was born in 1996 and not having a college degree or any significant work history I decided to teach myself photography with a 2.0 Canon point and shoot camera.

    My work history was spotty after leaving the Navy early in 1989, a series of relationships and broken marriages led me down a path of just getting by from construction jobs to Limo driver jobs.

    With no money and no education, no family and friends I found myself alone and a new dad with a beautiful little girl to take care of while my new wife finished her college degree.

    Quickly we fell into a lot of debt and with no help from family or friends we soon had no choice but to file bankruptcy. It was painful to see my wife work for $11 an hour as a tech support person, while we struggle to make ends meet.

    My son, was born in 1999 and then I really had my hands full as a stay at home dad, it was then that I saw an article in the paper about how bad moms have it, I thought to myself…really? I’m a dad and have no support groups, no mom groups and no men to confide in. I reached out to a local paper and told my story and they did a profile story back in November of 1999 after my son was born.

    The struggles of stay at home dads fitting into society’s norms Mr. Mom.
    I was a stay at home dad before most people knew what that was, yet I have never had any help from any stay at home dad groups.

    My daughter just turned 18 and my son is 15. I’ve worked part time I guess you can say as a freelance photographer, but have grown increasingly unhappy with the lack of opportunities that are in my area.

    I’ve invested thousands, usually financed in ramping up my photography business over the years with professional equipment, software, web sites, printer, lighting, you name it. I’ve done a lot with a little.

    When I try to put myself out as a professional photographer looking for full time work as a staff photographer, without references, without a degree, without belonging to expensive pro photographer organizations I haven;t stood a chance at getting hired.

    Now, I find myself at 47, a portfolio of self promotional projects to fill a less than exciting web site, money is still an issue and trying to find a full time job with what experience and tools I have at my disposal is overwhelmingly difficult at best.

    I have to mention, I have spoken with counselors and others from job resource centers who have said, DON’T mention being a stay at home dad when applying to a job, “they won’t understand” This comes from at least two different people.

    So here is my experience.

    I don’t have any guy friends, no social clubs and when I’ve even tried at a church to offer my services as a member when asked If I’d like to take photos I found out there was another photographer who was established there, who took offense to me offering to take photos at the events, it became so unbearable I stopped attending the church and never spoke to that photographer again.

    Here is my real life account of being a stay at home dad.

  4. Hello, TC, I’m sorry you’ve had such a rough time. My experience has been different with fathers returning to the workplace in cities like Seattle, Houston, and Austin and being candid about the years they spent taking care of children. Perhaps there are regional differences? But it sounds like you’ve already invested quite a bit in your photography business, so one suggestion is to explore free business coaching at the Small Business Development Center. Perhaps they can help you to problem solve and figure out how to make a go of your photography.

  5. Dear VocationVillage.com:

    I too am looking for some direction regarding my re-entry into the job/career market. I have a very long absence from the job market due to family illnesses. I had a great job and a long career (12 years) in the financial services industry. I became very ill which caused me to be placed on short-term disability, then long-term disability and finally being released by my company. I was ill for over 5 years. After my recovery, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. I took over the household (domestic) responsibilities, taking care of my wife and our three kids. During this time I took a part time job as a substitute teacher. My wife passed away four years ago and now that the kids are older (youngest is 16) I want to return to work. I am not sure how I should account for my absence in the job history for this very long period (~17 years). Should I be prepared to provide some sort of documentation about my illness, my wife’s or her passing away?
    Is there a website, support group, chat site to help with these and other questions that I have regarding returning to work force? Is there a “career coach”, consultant that I can seek to help with this process?
    Thank you so very much for all your help,
    T.T.

  6. April Klimkiewicz says:

    Dear T.T.,

    Thanks for your comment, and I appreciate you sharing your story. There are a few important pieces of information to keep in mind as you reenter the workforce:
    1. Employers are people too, and many of us have made decisions to support our health and our families. Only a sentence about family health is needed, and you’ll want to mention that the challenges have been resolved.
    2. Sharing that you meet the employer’s need while diminishing the concern that the gap is a problem is what you should focus on. At the end of the day, employers want to know you can get the job done.
    3. Getting an interview is important, so think about people you know who might be able to get you meetings with employers that would be interested in certain skill sets you have. This can greatly increase your chances of being considered a viable candidate for a position even before the employer sees a resume or cover letter.
    4. It would be a good idea to introduce the gap in the cover letter and be prepared to discuss it in more detail during an interview.
    Finally, if you’re interested in exploring a new career direction or you have specific questions about presenting yourself in the best way while applying for jobs, one of our career coaches would be happy to discuss working with you during a complimentary consultation.

    Best Wishes, April Klimkiewicz

  7. Hello,

    I am looking to get back in the work force after a 3 years, my company closed and outsourced the department I managed. At the time we our children were 3 and 4 years old and a week before the lay off we received confirmation about baby number 3. We decided with childcare costs as high as they are it would make more sense for me to stay home with our older girls and baby when she arrived. Fast forward to present day and my two older girls are in elementary school full time and our youngest is now at a childcare center that my wife works at. I am more than ready to get back to the adult work force!

    My questions, do I include the gap in the resume as well as my cover letter? and because of the time off should I expect to start more towards the bottom of the ladder and work my way back up. My previous job I was with them for 7 1/2 years and managed a teams from 7-20+. Just not sure where to start in my search, I don’t want to shoot to high and get no hits but also don’t want to undervalue myself and shoot too low.

    Thanks for any suggestions much appreciated.

    Jim

  8. Hello, Jim, I would need to know more about your industry and career history to give more specific advice, but in general, I do think it is a good idea for stay-at-home parents to say briefly on a resume and cover letter what they were doing during a gap. Otherwise, employers will wonder. A gap of three years shouldn’t mean starting at the bottom unless your industry is super competitive. The best place to start networking are people who are familiar with your work from the past.

  9. Brandon says:

    I was a stay-at-home dad for 9 years simply for the fact that my wife made more money and we wanted to keep the kids out of daycare. While I enjoyed being home with the kids and took my job seriously it has caused me so many problems that I can’t even begin to describe them in a short post. My advice to any dad considering this is to really consider the pros and cons. Entering the workforce again was extremely hard for me and it seemed no one respected or took my hard work serious. I do have a job now but I’m considering applying for a new job in my area and I dread having to explain myself and be interrogated for 9 years of hard work! Unfortunately, there will be people who view your decision negatively, just be prepared for it.

  10. Great info, Janet! Many people find it difficult to handle employment gaps, whether they were voluntary or not. Helping people effectively communicate their transition back into the job market is important to me as a resume writer. I definitely agree with the recommendation given by Sara Fell to incorporate related, unpaid experiences, such as volunteering, continuing education, community/committee involvement, etc. These are all very relevant. It’s also important to always be explicit – never try to hide anything, lie about a position, extend position dates, etc. Visit the ResumeSpice website if you need additional help preparing an effective resume that addresses any worries about employment gaps: https://resumespice.com/

  11. Gordon Chu says:

    I love reading through a post that will make men and women think. Also, thank you for allowing for me to comment!

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