Returning to Profession After Few Years as SAHM - Accounting for Gap in Resume

Updated on February 17, 2012
E.F. asks from Battle Creek, MI
11 answers

I'm writing my resume for a professional position and I'm not sure what to do about the gaping hole (4 years) where I've been home with my kids. Do I come out and say it in my covering letter? On my resume? I want this to be professional - and I don't want it to look like I mislead anyone with the time frames. Do I write a skills based resume instead of a chronological one? I've heard hybrids are best, but that still leaves my big ol' blank for the past 4 years. Any thoughts?

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answers from Chicago on

I wouldn't mention anything until you get in the interview and you're asked about it. Be prepared to respond as you've mentioned above. Many people now-a-days realize it's a full time job being a stay at home mom and I don't think there's a stigma attached to it all that much any more... hope this helps! :)

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answers from San Diego on

Not resume, but I would talk about choosing to stay at home in your cover letter. I would also state on your resume any volunteer work you did while staying at home, anything. You may have been consulting without being aware of it. I'm not talking about distorting the truth, but you do have a skill set you may have been using all along.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would bring it up in your cover letter. You don't want to appear to be hiding anything negative. And if you leave it unaccounted for, you might not even make it to the interview stage. BTW, four years is not all that long to be out of the work force--I was out 13 years (four kids) before I re-entered! Definitely include any volunteer work at school, in the community, in clubs or at church, especially if it involved leadership roles. Not sure of your field, but any position of responsibility requires a certain amount of administrative skills and professionalism.

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answers from Provo on

I just put: Aug 2007- Jan 2011 Family.

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answers from Redding on

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with some of you.
Mentioning returning to the work force after being a stay at home mom, ESPECIALLY on a cover letter, is a terrible idea.

I work in HR and I'm sorry that it's true, but when an employer sees that, first thing, on a cover letter, they're thinking this person is likely new to juggling daycare and a job and perhaps doesn't have a back up plan if the kids get sick......
When I divorced, I'd been out of the work force for 10 years. My resume only mentioned the firms I had previously worked for and the skills that made me valuable. My cover letter explained the reasons I was the best candidate for the position based on my skills and the asset I would be to the company I was applying for due to my relevant experience.

You want to keep things very businesslike. That's what employers and HR managers look at. You don't need to disclose anything further than that until and unless you are asked during an interview. Getting the interview is the important thing.

When I had my first interview after my divorce, I explained the time gap by saying that I was married and my husband's company transferred him quite a bit. My youngest child was starting kindergarten and I was ready and eager to get back into the business world.
I landed the job.

I mentioned absolutely nothing about being divorced, I mentioned nothing about feeling being a stay at home mother was important for my kids. I kept it short and simple.

Being a stay at home mom is a job and it's admirable, but unless you are trying to get a job that requires experience being around kids, it really has no place on a cover letter or resume. Even when asked in an interview, there is no reason to go into details other than to say that you can be available to work as the position requires and you are the best person for the job.
You have to sell yourself.

I've been divorced 15 years and supported two kids by myself. I've left jobs for an even better one. Getting your foot in the door is the first step. You may land the perfect job. You may stay there awhile and gain the experience to add to your resume while looking for a better job.
Keeping the personal stuff out is always the best policy.

That's just my professional opinion.

Best wishes!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

You don't put anything down. When it comes up in the interview, then you explain it. This is 2012, not the stone ages, you will not be penalized because of the gap.

A resume & cover letter are what sells you to the employer. Being a SAHM is a wonderful thing, but it has nothing to do with your work career, it has nothing to do with what skills & assets you offer to a company.

Trust me, I just went through this. I left the 3 year gap & it was fine. I think that putting it on the resume is not only a stretch, but it looks like "filler", or that you are trying to plump up your resume, even though you haven't had a traditional job in 3 years.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Rapids on

I haven't read the other responses yet, but I am recently finishing my associates degree after being a stay-at-home mom for over 8 years. Davenport University (in GR) makes us do resume's and get checked off on them before we can do our internship. They had me put down "Homemaker" and the dates, i.e. 9/03 - 4/12. They said that in today's world with unemployment, etc., it's best to put it down so it doesn't leave the employer wondering and risk the chance of your resume being tossed in the garbage.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

After reading the previous posts, I probably agree that leaving the gap and explaining it once you land an interview is probably best. However, I copied this text from a cover letter and thought it was great. “Since relocating to California in 2007, I have tended to the responsibilities of my young son. It is my hope that my decision to exit the workforce to fulfill my parental responsibilities can be viewed as an asset. It represents a consistent pattern of responsible decision-making throughout my entire life.” Good luck and please let us know what works for you and what doesn't!

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answers from Columbia on

Put in on your resume. Being a SAHM is a job.

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answers from Detroit on

I would say that you should definitely refer to it somewhere. If you are doing a chronological resume (my preference as I can quickly scan to see if the candidate is a job hopper) then a short blurb similar to what Krista wrote would be great. Definitely don't list it as a job, most hiring managers have some idea what is involved with being a SAHM and don't want to have to waste their time reading that you were a 'domestic engineer' who managed to handle accounting and marketing functions of running a home.

Personally I don''t like reading skills based resumes, they are too subjective - I want to know where you worked, how long, your job title (in my business this counts) and what you achieved.

I have read resumes of former employees who have listed an amazing skill set that never showed up in their actual work. I like a factual resume and a well written cover letter that explains some discrepancies.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

There is no good way to cover that gap. I was lucky, sort of, because I went back and got my masters so what I did while getting my degree and my degree fill up the resume so no gaps needed.

One suggestion that sounded good to me was including volunteer work while you were a stay at home. Looking back I have always worked since I was 14, just when I was a stay at home I didn't get paid for it.

Now if you stayed at home and ate bon bons, that was a joke by the way, they this won't work. Here is the problem with taking off when the kids are babies, which is usually the stay at homes that don't volunteer, I mean come on kids under five are like wild animals, who has time to volunteer when you don't have time to sleep? The problem is this shows employers that if you have another kid you will drop off the grid again, ya know?

Anyway long story short put it down, don't explain it. If you get an interview that is your chance to spin it with conviction!

1 mom found this helpful
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