Given the lack of systemic support networks and equitable working environments for working moms, it’s not uncommon for moms to leave the workforce for a period of time. Even though 75% of working moms are excited to go back to work, 43% end up leaving their job entirely. And oftentimes, attempts to re-enter the workforce can be just as difficult as trying to stay in it. Given that many employers are biased against applicants with employment gaps, talking about the “mommy gap” on your resume can be an overwhelming endeavor, to say the least.
Thankfully, science is on your side. While lingering misconceptions and biases about working moms certainly exists, becoming a mother is undoubtedly a net-benefit to any would-be employer. Studies have shown that moms are more productive than their child-free counterparts, 65% of American workers believe moms make for better listeners, and 89% believe moms bring out the best in their employees. Highlighting the ways in which motherhood has made you a more well-rounded individual who can handle the highs and lows of any working environment will help ease any concerns about the so-called “mommy gap” and how hirable you are.
HeyMama’s first-ever Motherhood on the Resume campaign, powered by Lincoln, is all about providing moms with the tools and language to better discuss how the “mommy gap” was a beneficial time of growth and learning — one that can and will undoubtedly make any workplace environment for effective, efficient, and successful. From preparing for the conversation to describing how that time has made you a more desirable candidate, here’s how you can talk about the mommy gap on your resume with accountability, confidence, and poise:
- Be prepared to discuss your resume gap
Practice the conversation well before it happens. This can take many forms: right out a list of all the attributes you acquired as a result of motherhood that you want to discuss when speaking about your employment gap, or role play the conversation with a trusted family member or friend. Since you know the conversation is coming, the best way to exude confidence and to show the hiring or recruiting manager that you have nothing to be ashamed of is to practice exactly what you want to say and highlight.
- Be upfront and honest about why the gap exists…
Yes, this is a conversation you very much want to have. Don’t hide the fact that you have an employment gap, or try to work your way around having to address it. Instead, see this moment as an opportunity to discuss the myriad ways motherhood has made you a better employee. You don’t have to come up with some elaborate excuse, either. Instead, you can be upfront and honest: you left the workforce to focus on motherhood, and now you’re ready to re-enter it.
- … but don’t feel obligated to go into great detail.
Remember: You don’t have to make excuses or essentially explain away the personal decision you made. While this is an opportunity for you to discuss the ways in which that employment gap actually armed you with hirable tools, it should not be a conversation in which you feel obligated to divulge every single detail of your thought process or decision making. When necessary, just keep thing short, sweet, and to the point.
- Describe the work-related tools you learned during as a result of the gap
While your employment gap may be the result of having a child or children, the tools you gained as a mom don’t have to be the only work-related skills you discuss. Take the time to highlight any other instances in which you benefited from some time outside of the workforce, including but certainly not limited to: volunteer work, community organizing, local politics work, or even a hobby that provided you with a very specific skill set. All of these outside-the-workplace experiences double as a chance for you to discuss why you’re perfect for the desired role.
- Discuss how motherhood specifically has made you more hirable
Of course, don’t be afraid to talk about how motherhood specifically has made you a more desirable candidate. Be it conflict-resolution skills you’ve gleaned from your time soothing a near-feral toddler, to organization and managerial skills obtained by managing your family’s schedule or a tumultuous breastfeeding-and-pumping schedule, there is no end to the ways you can discuss how a “mommy gap” has only made you more fit for the workplace.
- Reassure your would-be employer that you’re looking for long-term work
You don’t have to fall over yourself promising your would-be employer that, if hired, you’d stick around for the long-haul, but if you do sense that they’re growing anxious around any gap in your resume, you can let them know what your long-term plans are. Sometimes, they just need to hear that you don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon, nor do you plan on leaving the workplace in the near, or even distant, future.
- Don’t apologize for having an employment gap
You have absolutely nothing to apologize for, and a “mommy gap” is not indicative of who you are as an employee. Don’t say sorry for something that doesn’t warrant an apology, and instead use this opportunity to tout your unique skill set — a skill set that wouldn’t exist without that “mommy gap” on your resume.