Stepping away from your career to be fully present with your loved ones is the most rewarding thing you can do personally, but it can take its toll on your professional life. While the times are changing and more men are opting to be stay-at-home dads, traditionally women have taken on the caregiver role, and taking care of little ones can mean years away from your desk. According to a 2009 study by the Center for Talent Innovation, 31% of “highly qualified” professional women voluntarily took 2.7 years on average from their careers to “raise children or care for sick or elderly family members.” But this extended gap didn’t help when they returned to work. The same study found that “only 40% of the women surveyed were able to resume their careers full time.” Why? Because employers see these extended gaps in your work history as a loss of skill, up-to-the-minute business knowledge, and even commitment. Scroll down for a few things you can do to avoid it.
Don’t have a résumé.
This is the primary strategy women can use to explain their extended time off work. In general, employers are going to be put off when a résumé states a lesser-known business as your most recent role or when you refer to yourself as a consultant. This is so broad it actually hinders your chances rather than helping. Find another way to impress your potential employer, such as a pain letter.
Sign up for a new class.
It can be tough to find time for yourself as a new mom between changing diapers and breastfeeding, but if you can squeeze it in, try signing up for an online course and sharpening your skills. This shows your initiative while you’re on leave to keep up with the new business trends and changes in your industry.
Use LinkedIn’s free publishing platform.
Just because you’re at home with the kids doesn’t mean you’ve lost any passion for your profession. Use LinkedIn’s Pulse to reach a global audience, and you never know; your next employer could also be reading them. You can insert the links from each post to your LinkedIn résumé and help close that gap.
For more tips for explaining the parenting gap, visit The Wall Street Journal.
For more business tips, check out our book selection below.
How did you explain the parenting gap when you returned to work? Do you think it even needs to be explained? Let us know in the comments.
What Happy Working Mothers Know by Cathy L. Greenberg, Ph.D, and Barrett S. Avigdor ($16)