If you’re considering returning to work after a period of time taken off to look after kids, then preparing your CV can be a stressful task. The truth is that taking time out to look after the family can be a time of great personal growth - you certainly learn a whole load more than how to change a nappy unaided.
If you’re wondering how to demonstrate the transferrable skills you learned during your maternity leave, parental leave, or a period out of paid work for family reasons, read on.
#1 Organisational skills
As a parent you will be used to juggling competing priorities, dealing with short notice deadlines and multiple changing agendas. These skills are vital to succeed both at home and at work, and your CV should reflect this. You may choose to demonstrate your organisational skills through a profile or skills section of your CV, or include it in your cover letter if this is crucial to the jobs you are applying for.
If you have undertaken any particular organisational tasks, such as voluntary work or fundraising, then these are equally valid to include on your CV either under an interests section, or in the case of regular voluntary work, as a role noted alongside paid employment, and may well prove very interesting to recruiting employers.
The business of raising a family is all about leadership - albeit in a slightly different mould to the usual office environment. But don’t overlook the areas in which you have shown leadership during your time off - perhaps you were involved in a PTA or toddler group, became a school governor or arranged a ’Race for Life’ team. All these things could find their way onto your resume to demonstrate your ability to inspire and bring together a team.
In the case of working with a PTA or as a school governor, for example, these roles come with a variety of other responsibilities such as dealing with money, giving honest feedback, engaging an audience of very mixed stakeholders and creating and sharing a vision - all of which would be impressive when listed on your CV for a recruiting manager to review.
#3 Self discipline and reliability
One thing you will know about is the need for discipline and reliability - and this is something that often makes returning parents extremely good employees (and bosses!). Your need to be organised and planned well in advance to meet the needs of your family will improve your productivity, and ensure that all work demands are met in good time, and you will be well used to working independently and in a team to get results. Include these skills on your CV and be prepared to talk through examples in your interview.
#4 Focus and determination
One thing not to overlook, both in the wording of your CV, your cover letter, and how you position yourself at interview, is your focus and determination to succeed. Returning parents are sometimes considered to be torn between their family commitments and their careers - and whilst the needs of your young ones are always there, the simple fact that you have decided to return to the workforce shows the focus you have to make the arrangement work out.
If you encounter any real (or indeed perceived) concerns in recruiting employers or interviewers, about your ability to fulfill working commitments, you may want to tackle this head on and emphasise the fact that you are returning not because you have to - but because you want to pursue your career and find a fulfilling and challenging job.
Whilst it is important to remember that discriminating against anybody because of their family status is illegal in many countries including the UK, returning parents still have a part to play in ensuring that their skills are recognised for what they are, and giving themselves the best possible chance at snagging that dream job.
Spend some time, especially if you have been out of the workforce for some time, thinking about and refreshing your CV, and don’t forget to include and emphasise all the transferrable skills you have picked up along your parenting journey.
Image: Working Mother with laptop via Flickr