It can be tough working out what to do about the gap on your CV between employers if you’ve been on maternity leave or staying at home to raise a family. Do you explain the gap, hide it or ignore it? Here's the advice I give to my Clients when faced with this challenge:
1. Be bold
You don’t have to apologise for taking time out for maternity leave, or staying at home with the kids. You have nothing to hide, so be bold and confidently mention the time you have taken out of work on your application documents whilst describing your eagerness to jump back into the workforce.
You don’t have to make a big feature of your career break, something along these lines included in your cover letter or Career Summary/ Professional Profile at the top of your CV should do the trick: “Eager and fully ready to transition back into the workforce after taking time off to raise a family”.
2. Consider writing a functional CV
A functional CV can be a good approach to use if you have had a long career break and don’t want this to be the first thing a recruiter sees on your CV. A functional CV highlights the main experience you have in terms of core skills and experience, before listing your career history. If you have strong expertise in project management for example, make this a section of your Professional Experience and gather all your project management experience in one place, making special mention of any key successes along the way.
You can see a sample of a functional CV here.
3. Highlight your skills
Highlight the skills you have gained both in previous work roles and as a stay-at-home mum. If you need help identifying your skills, brainstorm with a friend or coach or use one of these online skills/ strength finder tools:
Authentic Happiness: www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/testcenter
Clifton Strengthsfinder: www.gallupstrengthscenter.com
Jung Typology: www.humanmetrics.com
Talent Dynamics: http://www.tdprofiletest.com/talent-dynamics-profiles/
Demonstrate your up-to-date knowledge of the industry you work in, including any courses you may have taken or additional studies you may have conducted at home. Most importantly, highlight your resilience, adaptability and drive – skills that show your ability to overcome any obstacles that are perceived to exist when returning to work.
And don’t forget to adapt your application materials to suit the job you are applying for and make sure everything is relevant to the job in question. When it comes to CV’s, one size doesn’t fit all!
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