How to smash a Stay-at-Home Parent CV

Applying for jobs if you’ve spent the last few years playing crowd control with the kids can seem daunting but there’s actually lots you can do to stand out.

So, you’ve waded out of the pile of dirty nappies you’ve been buried under, and are ready to re-join the working world.

If you’ve been out of work as a stay-at-home parent, you’ll know better than anyone that the phrase career ‘break’ doesn’t apply.

However, it’s also true that employers will want to know why you’ve been off and that you can still do the job you’re applying for.skills cv maternity

Absolutely nailing your CV is the best way to get an interview, and once you’ve got the interview you can wow them with your charming personality, which means the gap in employment may not matter as much.

Luckily, there are a few ways to make your CV stand out even if you’ve been out of the workplace for a while.

Don’t beat around the bush

There’s no point pretending that you’ve been quietly living your life as a solicitor in Southport over the last few years, or trying to wrangle your CV to make the gap less obvious. If a 20-year-old can take a gap yah to find themselves in India then you can take time off to make sure your child becomes a fully functioning human.

If you’ve been working on a ‘side hustle’ such as starting your own business or writing your memoir while you’ve been off then that’s definitely something to emphasise when writing your CV. The reality is most of us don’t manage that at the best of times, let alone when they’re trying to keep someone else alive.

So, feel free to put ‘Stay-at-home parent’ as your most recent job title, and then think about what skills you’ve picked up while you’ve off making sure your kid doesn’t drown in the bathtub or choke on a Spiderman figurine.

Key skills

If you’ve been out of work for a while, a skills-based CV is probably going to be the way to go rather than a chronological CV, which focuses on the most recent job you’ve had.

So, identify the key skills being a parent has given you. Obvious ones include multi-tasking, communication, research, persuading, listening, organisation, managing people, team work and negotiation.

Think about any extras you’ve been involved in during your time off, like volunteering for your school or within your community, being on a board, involvement in your community, running an arts and crafts club – whatever it might be.

There are also lots of programmes out there to help returning parents get skilled up, such as #techmums, and often companies will have their own support.

Don’t overegg the pudding

Having said that, you don’t want to include a load of day-to-day stuff that isn’t really relevant.

This means you probably don’t need specify that you manage to wash and dry 12 loads of clothes a day (although I feel for you!) and steer clear of the cutesy ‘Chef for 5, PA to the Jones’s’ type language.

Don’t get discouraged

Job-hunting is rough as toast at the best of times, let alone if you’ve had a big break and your brain is full of playgroups and schedules and cleaning and Barney the Dinosaur theme tunes.

Don’t get discouraged though. There are lots of things you can do which actually might be slightly easier while you’re not working.

For example, use it as an opportunity to skill up. There are lots of free courses online, such as coding, which can help you get up to speed on the skills you might need for re-entering the workplace. Even if it’s only the basics, it shows a willingness and ability to learn.

Read up on what’s happening in your industry of choice, so you can go into the interview fully armed.

Now is also a good time to arrange some coffee meetings and get to know the right people. Ask them for industry tips and what skills are in demand.

If you make a good impression it’ll give you an edge, even if you’re worried about the gaps on your CV.

Don’t forget the basics

Good CV etiquette is still important. This includes things like:

  • Sticking to two pages max
  • Not including things which aren’t relevant to the role
  • Making yourself sound proactive and including clear examples where you can e.g. instead of ‘I answered the phones at my last job’ try ‘I improved customer relationships with my dazzling phone manner, which resulted in a 10% reduction in complaints’
  • Laying it out well, in one easy-to-read font, with some white space between sections

Employers are recruiting on values more and more these days, so make sure your CV shows that you’ve done some research and emphasises the fact you’d be a good culture fit too.

How can we help?

If you’re an Onward customer and want some more hot tips, our Social Investment Team runs Works4Me, a free service that can support you with a whole host of work-related questions.

Whether you – or anyone you live with – needs support looking for a job, apprenticeship or gaining work experience/work placements, employment related training, or even thinking about starting your own business, we’ve got your back.

What it offers:

  • Support and advice to build independence and confidence
  • Arrange training in job skills
  • Help with your CV or job application forms
  • Job search
  • Interview practice
  • Advice on setting up your own business
  • Financial support with employment-related costs such as training, childcare, travel expenses or smart new interview costume
  • Arrange work experience or volunteering either with Onward Homes or in other organisations
  • Career Advancement support

If you’re an Onward customer looking for careers advice drop us a line

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