SAHM And 3 Year Employment Gap--include on Resume?

Updated on February 07, 2012
F.D. asks from Ridgefield, NJ
13 answers

Hi all.

I don't know how to solve this dilemma I have. I've been sending my resume out for a year now with no real luck in getting interviews. I only interviewed at my last employer and had a phone interview at another company, but nothing came of either. I haven't been able to get any other interviews. I'm having my resume redone and the advice I've been given so far is to not state that I've been a SAHM, unless I've been maintaining my relevant skills in some way. I was living overseas for a couple of years, and tried to maintain my skills with an online writing course, but I took a leave of absence from the course. Could anyone offer me advice? Would mentioning my being a SAHM on my cover letter even grab a prospective employer's attention? I really don't know what else to do and don't know how much longer I can stay unemployed. Thanks.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the advice. I'm still trudging along, sending my resume out and still no interviews. I haven't mentioned my being a SAHM or anything on my cover letter. I don't know if it would make any difference if I did. I recently saw a job posting at one of my previous employers and would like to apply, but I'm afraid I won't even be considered. The thing is my old boss there, whom I've kept in touch with, knows I'm looking, but she hasn't even approached me about the job, which I'm pretty sure falls under her. Any advice? I don't want to seem desperate, but I think I'm getting to that point. Thanks.

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answers from Dallas on

I have been working for the last seven months after being a stay at home mom for a little over three years. I did not add SAHM on my resume as I did my previous work (with years, description, etc) but I did mention it as a reason for leaving my last job. I didn't mention it on my cover letter. Not because I wasn't proud of being a stay at home mom (it was a million times more challenging for me than any job I have ever had or will ever have!) but more because it really isnt their business. My resume shows that I was productive and successful in my work before my time off, and there is no reason to think I wouldn't be again. If they thought otherwise, its best that I didn't interview with them.

Be patient and keep looking and something will open up.


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answers from Houston on

That's right, do not state you are a stay at home mom on the resume, and never actually use the term "stay at home mom".... that could tactfully and briefly be touched on in the cover letter if you wish depending on the job.. BUT it is best to save for the interview, such as, "I took some time off to raise a family and am confident that my experience and eagerness to return to the workforce in such and such capacity would be a great asset to your company. During my professional unemployment, I maintained education by taking online courses, volunteered with x in their budgeting department... "

In the meantime, look for volunteer positions, at the library, at Big Brother/Big Sisters, PTA, church library, the Red Cross... anything to not only help pad your resume with current experience, but to help you get networks. Think about things you have done in the past few years that you can update on your resume... been active in the PTA, volunteered teaching Sunday School, with a charity/community or with any other organization? Anything like that you can even mention, just focus what you did that would match the job description. Also, continue that online writing course, or any other type of course or professional organization or class that will help show that you are maintaining your skills.

Lots of good tips here:

My church offers free career counseling to anyone. You can either just get some basic information (like interview/resume/cover letters/job hunting tips) online here:

Or you can go and take a free career workshop that teaches tons of things on marketing yourself and job searching, it offers group support, networking ideas and skills, resume help and even some career counseling.

(to find one near you go here)

The workbook they go through here:

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answers from Minneapolis on

I would not put SAHM on a resume and especially not mention it in a cover letter. It isn't relevant to your job search. The only things that go on a resume and in a cover letter are your qualifications to do the job. These "marketing materials" are not meant to tell your life history, but are a way to highlight your experience, skills, qualifications, and strengths that relate to the work you want to do. I would not bring up the fact in an interview, either, other than to quickly answer a direct question about these years if asked. Then my answer would be "yes, during these last three years I've been raising a family, and keeping my skills up-to-date by taking online courses, and volunteering/being involved/contributing by... "

I can personally feel "sad, angry, tired" of being told that being a parent is not relevant in the work world, or I can just get over it and develop my marketing tools stressing my relevant experience and practice answering interview questions in a way that will impress employers. Explaining that you've been a SAHM for the last three years WILL get attention, just not the kind you want.

I have worked as a job search coach for an Outplacement company and with private clients for four years.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

Never put SAHM on your resume OR cover letter. Although you consider it a job, the professional world considers it a personal preference, and personal ideas don't mingle with the professional world. You need to pack your resume with your PROFESSIONAL history, and tailor your cover letter to the job, using job related skills that match the job you are going for. The only thing is to be honest on applications and the reason WHY you left employers; stating you left your last professional employer "to stay home with newborn" is completely acceptable, and will automatically justify the gap ( no reason to say anymore than that (and don't), because it's too personal). BTW, most recruiters are women, and they have families too, they completely understand the "to stay home w/ newborn" statement. Me saying that, comes from experience, I job hunted for 18 months (unemployed), had several interviews, and (finally) got a full time job (but had to keep looking, bad hours, low pay), and then just landed a decent job after 4 months of that (thank God!). I would say, if you have SAHM on anything, take it off, and you should see a difference. Play up your writing course, make it seem like you are still pursuing it, if you can.. (if it wasn't over a year ago, that should be doable). Anyway, I hope some of that helps, I know it's hard, hang in there!! You will get something!!! Chin Up!!!



answers from Allentown on

These days, there are different ways of presenting your resume. You don't have to put down everything you ever did, accounting for every year; rather you can put down what is relevant to the job showing how previous jobs used the experience and skills they require. Sounds like you're getting good advice there. No, don't mention you were a SAHM.



answers from New York on

I was in Human Resources for 10 years. It's tricky- you will have more difficulty than someone who did keep up their skills but I would definitely include the fact that you were home with your children in your cover letter and that you are eager to get back into the workforce in a full time capacity. Do you want me to take a look at your resume/cover letter for you? Inbox me if you do.




answers from Redding on

NEVER put anything like that on a cover letter or application.
You want to focus on any previous employment history or job related skills that are pertinent to the position you are applying for.
If there are gaps in employment, you can address those IF asked during the actual interview.

I have been a single working mother for many, many years. I've been an office manager and worked in HR and my current job involves screening job applicants.
Starting out right off the bat explaining that you've been a stay at home mom DOES grab attention of prospective employers, but not usually in a positive way.

After my divorce, I hadn't worked in 10 years. I had a 10 year gap to overcome.
It's not unusual for women to rejoin the workforce once their kids start preschool or kindergarten so you don't need to make a big thing of it.
It may be unfortunate, but if you start off with the SAHM thing, an employer might wonder if you will be able to adjust and be happy working and juggling daycare, etc.
I am often amazed at women who apply for a job with us but then go on to say all the hours and days they can't work because they have no daycare or their kids have gymnastics, some other activity or they refuse to let anyone else pick their children up from school.
What that says to an employer is that there will likely be scheduling/attendance issues. Why apply for a full time position and then point out all the reasons you have for not being able to be there full time?
I don't get that.
I'm not saying YOU are doing that, I'm just pointing out that if you really, really want a job, you have to focus on all the reasons you will be the best and most dependable/capable candidate for the position.

Focus on all the things you did at your previous job. Focus on your best traits.
Dependable, organized, efficient, good people skills, dedicated.

Leave the personal stuff out of it.
I was recently divorced, had two kids and a 10 year gap in employment.
I have worked ever since and supported two kids by myself. Just getting your foot in that first door will open other doors for you down the line.
It's tough in this economy. Employers need to believe that you have your home bases covered and can focus on your job and be a benefit to them.

I wish you the best.



answers from Rochester on

Do not put that you were a SAHM on your resume. The minute most employers see that, a red flag goes up! What if they hire you and you get pregnant again? (It happens!) Will they have wasted their time (and money) possibly training you, only to have you go on leave again to be a SAHM again?

You would be better off either leaving that time period blank or put in some of the things you did during that time about volunteer work, schooling or training (on line or in person).

I am not telling you to lie or make up anything, but sometimes we forget about the simple things that can go on a resume. Like say, if you did some work with the church raising money for a new roof (or whatever). Helped a mom's group with a fund raiser or organized a dinner party for them. That can all be put on the resume. List all the things you did to accomplish these tasks. If you did any research on line for a project to help someone. Put that on the resume. A friend of mine took pictures of her son for 2 years to make up a book to send to her family. She put that on her resume. As a result she got a fantastic job as a photographer at a printing company. And loves it!



answers from New York on

I would look for some current stuff to put on the resume like volunteer stuff or continuing education. if you don't have anything now find something that is a reasonable time committment for you to start. I wouldn't talk about being a SAHM too much or put it on the resume/ cover letter.


answers from Chicago on

Disuss that during the interview if it comes up. I would do what you could to brush up on your skills however. It all depends on the type of job you are looking for really as well what exact direction to go in.



answers from Myrtle Beach on

I have been having a very similar experience. I really believe that this "new" way of looking for employment on-line is completely ridiculous. Companies are no longer required to have the decency or responsibility to the job seeker that they once had. With everything being anonymous now a days not only do companies not need to show us respect, they make it impossible to do any kind of follow up that we "the older generation" have come to consider the "norm".
With that being said, may I suggest an employment agency. I recently applied and within three days of applying I was being tested and hired by the agency. A job placement is hopeful for the end of the month with a reputable company and with decent pay.
As for your original question, maybe you should fill the three year gap in your education or skill fields on your resume'. Experience has taught me that potential employers do not like to see gaps in your employment so if you maintain the gaps with education they will at least be able to see that you were working towards something.
Good luck on your search.



answers from Phoenix on

I was out of work for 3 years, for the same reason, and I didn't list it on my resume. Most potential employers asked about it, and when I gave my explanation, they didn't seem put off by it.

I think you're not getting hits because of the economy - either that, or you need to tweak your resume. I revamped mine & finally got hits, but they were for jobs that didn't pay very well.

I did finally get sick of not getting a job with decent pay, though, so I went through a job placement agency & had a temp to perm job within a month. They have connections with big companies that don't advertise their positions, and the pay was better than any jobs I was finding on my own. Just some food for thought.

I think if you have marketable skills & mesh with the interviewer, the gap is not going to matter. Being a SAHM is noble, but it just doesn't translate well into a resume & putting it on there would just look like you were trying to pump up the resume or fill it up with skills that have nothing to do with the jobs you're applying for. Also, advertising it too much could be a deterrent because the employer might be scared that you'd leave to stay home again if you had another child or if the job was too much for you.



answers from Chicago on

You know I don't really know how to answer this, but I am very sad, angry and tired of hearing that being a stay at home has prevented people from being hired. You are flexible, dedicated, professional in your self employment endeavor. You should be proud of that fact and state it. Whatever you are trying to be you are very employable. You are accountant, nanny, chauffer, cook, waitress, shopper, and I see you wrote on this website so I am assuming you are computer literate. You might not have the correct papers to be a doctor or passed a test to be a lawyer but you have taken different tests, read different books and have assisted in health care, injuries and have probably pushed enough in some situations to be a sales person, a repair person or out and out assistant to someone or something. Do not let anyone sell you short! EVER, NEVER, EVER. Be proud and hold your head up and let them know that they are missing the best darn employee that ever walked the face of the earth. I guarantee you are employable and too many are making be a stay at mom home sound like you were in on criminal charges somewhere for a couple of years. You are valuable and almost remember that. so put it out there and someone is going to be darn lucky to get you.

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