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?
Dear Stay-At-Home Dad,
Because you never know if a hiring manager or recruiter will read your cover letter, I 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, agreed with my stance that an employer who doesn’t value stay-at-home parenting skills is not an employer you would want. He said, “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 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 returned 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 said that for him, the most important requirement from job applicants is honesty. Mr. Schrage said that he has met candidates who lied about their employment history and that as interviews progressed, the untruths were discovered. Mr. Schrage advised 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 recommended, “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 said 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, recommended:
“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, warned 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.