Being a stay at home mom can present unique challenges when you’re ready to go back into the workforce. Employers will notice a gap in your employment, and your skillset or certifications may be out of date.
Fortunately, it’s entirely possible to craft a resume that puts your best foot forward, particularly if you take some time to build on your current skills. Read on to find out what you should be including and what to leave out - and for some helpful tips to keep in mind as you get ready to look for a new position. Plus, we've also included a resume template in Word or Google Docs format that you can use as a starting point.
A stay at home mom resume template
Before we dive in to our recruiter perspectives, here's a sample resume for a stay-at-home mom or parent. Feel free to use it as inspiration as you write your own resume (download links below).
To download the PDF of this stay at home mom sample resume, visit this Google Drive link. Or you can get the Word document of the stay at home mom resume template that you can edit. Once you download the template, please make sure to upload it to Score My Resume to make sure there aren't any mistakes and it gets picked up by recruiters.
Mind Your 'Employment' Gap
Hiring managers will definitely question a gap in your employment, but you can head them off by referencing your work as a stay at home mom in a summary at the top of your resume or by including it in your work experience (see the next section for tips on how to do so).
Beyond the gap in your work with an employer, the most important thing to demonstrate to the hiring manager is that your skills are current. If you have done recent volunteer work, you should definitely include it (read tips here on how to do so). Freelance work that is related to the position you’re aiming at is also great to include (read up on including contracting work here).
If your skills aren’t current, read on to find out how to build your skills and add to your resume appropriately.
Building Your Skills While Looking for a Job as a Stay at Home Parent
Just because you haven’t been with an employer for a while, you can still hone your skills, take courses, and potentially work on freelance projects during your job search. Each approach helps build your competency level in the eyes of hiring managers by demonstrating that you’re in touch with your skills.
One avenue to consider is looking for volunteer opportunities around your community. Non-profit organizations and parent/child-oriented groups are always looking for assistance with conducting outreach, fundraising, and holding events. If you’re interested in marketing, for example, helping to promote the Parent-Teacher Organization’s upcoming dance by creating and distributing flyers is definitely something you can include on your resume.
Depending on the field you’re interested in, it may help to look for relevant courses (either online or at nearby colleges). Some community colleges offer adult education courses to learn basic computer applications such as Microsoft Word, which will help with all kinds of office work. If you’re more advanced, you can look for courses in a wide variety of fields, from computer programming to graphics arts. If you have more time to invest, consider enrolling for a two-year degree if your field of interest would benefit from it.
Lastly, taking on relevant freelance projects (such as writing copy for online companies, conducting lawn or landscaping services, or programming simple applications) will give you experience and accomplishments that will highlight how you’ve kept your skills current.
Formatting Your Resume
For an easy and time-saving boost to formatting your resume, you can start with the template above or from all our ATS-ready resume templates. Pick one that appeals to your background and the position you’re applying for, and enter in the details as you go.
Your resume header should include your full name, phone number, email address, location (state and country, not street address), and potentially your LinkedIn profile. An example is below:
You can optionally include the job title of the job you're applying to in your resume's header.
Having a summary at the top of your resume is a great way to introduce yourself as someone who “worked in [X field] for [x] years before taking four years off to raise two children”, as an example. Your summary can also encompass any recent activities or projects you’ve started, such as by stating “In that time, started a successful copywriting business with x clients”, or “started and maintained a babysitting business with x clients”.
All of your work experience should follow the same style of format. Regardless of when you last worked, you’ll want to list your previous employers in reverse chronological order (with the most recent employers on top).
Each of your listed employers should be followed by a series of bullet-pointed accomplishments. Start the bullet points with strong action verbs that are related to skills you’ll be using in the position you’re going into, ideally. Whenever possible, include a numerical value (such as “improved sales by 10 percent over X years”) to help employers understand exactly how much of a difference you made. We have more tips on how to write your work experience.
If you want to include your work as a stay at home mom in your work experience, you should consider doing it in a format similar to this example:
Rather than “Growthsi” and the title below it, you could enter “Stay at home parent” (like in the following example), the dates of your time at home, and bulleted accomplishments along the lines of “Maintained a blog on parenting tips featuring 50+ articles averaging X page views” or “Created a 100+ member Facebook group providing support for stay at home parents” or how you’ve established and run an Etsy shop. Anything you include should be relevant to the job or position you’d like to apply for (with similar skills engaged).
Avoid including your stay-at-home mom experience as a 'work experience' or 'professional experience' — instead, like above, use an 'Other Experience' section title.
You should include your education on your resume, putting it at the top if you recently completed a degree (while being a stay at home mom). Include the name of the school, the degree you graduated with, and the program you graduated from. Depending on the type of degree you received and the position you’re planning to apply for, you may also wish to add in the most relevant courses that you took (such as “Data Analysis” or “Software Engineering”).
Chances are, being a stay at home mom has given you a host of soft skills (such as time management, communication skills, and follow-through). You should definitely work these into your resume if you can, but remember to not list them directly into your resume — e.g. don't mention 'time management' skills, but show how you have delivered a project that required strong time management. Read some tips on how to list soft skills on your resume.
Resume skills section
If you have a sufficient number of technical skills, you should include a skills section on your resume. This could be placed at the right hand side of the page, or at the very bottom. The skills you list should be appropriate for the position you’re applying for. As an example, if you’re applying to be an office manager, you could list “QuickBooks”, “Microsoft Office”, or “Google Calendar” as your skills. If you’re going into graphic design, list the programs you’ve worked with before.
For all of your skills (in the summary, body of your resume, and skills bank) you should aim to include ones that align with your background and the job you’re applying for. Refer to this list of resume skills and keywords to get an idea of what hiring managers and automatic screeners are looking for.
Remember, including any volunteering, contracting work, or special projects is definitely an asset - especially if it's recent and related to the work you’re applying for.
What to Avoid
While it may be tempting, particularly if you manage a complex household or go above and beyond in your daily duties, you should refrain from listing “Head of Household” or “CEO of Household” in the body of your resume. No matter how elaborate your work in this role, claiming it as job experience means you risk signaling to the hiring manager that you hold your household to be equivalent in the scope of duties and level of accountability as you would a business.
Generally speaking, CEOs of businesses hold much greater responsibility (from the business’s perspective) than heads of households, and significantly more financial risk is involved.
With that said, if you have made a spreadsheet to manage your family’s finances, you can definitely include Microsoft Excel in your technical skills. You may also be able to work it into your cover letter to demonstrate your commitment to organization.
Optimize and Fine Tune Your Resume
Once you’re finished building the bones of your resume, you can use a few different tools to optimize it and make adjustments that will enable it to get past automatic screeners.
Get feedback on your stay-at-home parent resume
Score My Resume is a free, AI-powered tool that will analyze your resume, highlight any trouble spots, and make recommendations in a fast and easy process.
Tailor your stay-at-home parent resume
If you know the job you’re applying for, Targeted Resume is another free AI-powered tool that will enable you to tailor your resume to that specific position. The tool will assess your resume based on the job you’re applying for and let you know what skills you might be leaving out.
General Tips for Your Job Search
Going back to work after taking time to care for your family is a big step, but keeping these tips in mind can help make it easier.
Your personal network could be your biggest resource when looking for a job. As many as 80 percent of people have gotten a job through someone they know, meaning that it would behoove you to ask around among your acquaintances to see if anyone has heard of something in the field you’re looking for.
If you don’t have a robust social network (as sometimes happens when your focus is fully on your children), don’t despair. Build your profile on LinkedIn (using similar techniques as you did with your resume) and start reaching out to people at companies you’d like to work for. Alternatively, consider attending in-person networking events with your local Chamber of Commerce or those hosted at businesses themselves.
Looking for a job at any point in life can be stressful, so remember to care for yourself as much as possible during the job search. Reconnect with your family with ample quality time, during the job search and once you’ve secured a position. It can take time to get the ball rolling, but once you get back into the field, the soft skills you gained as a mother are bound to serve you well!