Confidently discuss your unpaid work as a mom when re-entering the workforce.
Stepping away from your career to focus on your family is a decision a lot of moms face. It’s not always an easy choice, but no matter the reason, it’s your decision and should be made based on what’s best for you and your family. But when you’ve made the decision to return to the paid workforce it can be difficult finding the right words to appropriately address your career pause.
Driven by the social stigma that taking time to focus on raising your children means you’re not serious about your career, we often find ourselves defending our reason for taking a break from the paid-workforce or just too ashamed to address it at all. Let’s change this narrative by harnessing the power of the mom pause.
When taking that step back into your professional career, it’s important to be able to discuss and (even celebrate!) your mom pause. It’s a chapter in your story and helps to provide additional context of your personal and professional journey.
Keep the focus on your experience and qualifications
Keep your career pause explanation simple but strong. There’s no reason to feel self-conscious about your decision to focus on your family and you don’t need to over-explain.
When answering any question regarding the gap in your career, succinctly address the question and then pivot the direction of the conversation to focus on your experience and qualifications as it relates to the job.
"I decided to take a brief pause from my work to fully dedicate myself to supporting my family at an important time in our lives when it was needed. It was a great experience but I now have the time and resources I need to focus on my career."
"I took a five-year pause to care for my children and home life and am eager to reenter the workforce with the same focus and dedication I applied in my last professional role."
👉 Use positive language in your response. For instance, instead of saying ‘I have been out of the workforce for too long and haven’t been trained on [XYZ software],’ try ‘I have read about the positive impact [XYZ software] has had on the efficiency of workflows in the workplace and am eager to explore it further.’’
Emphasize any skills or experience you gained during your pause
You’re a valuable candidate and a possible asset to a company in many ways, and one thing that you might bring to the table that other candidates do not is the experience and skills you acquired during your career break.
Think about any transferable skills you gained during your break. Were you required to manage multiple schedules and be a project manager for every single family member? Did you utilize a new scheduling tool to do so? Or perhaps you learned to be adaptive in the fast-paced environment that is child-rearing. Was there any necessary networking you had to do to plug into different supportive communities in order to learn and share tips for supporting you and your family? Did you apply your professional skill set to any volunteer opportunities?
Or maybe you took some of this time to enhance a skill or interest that could be relevant to a job requirement, like certification courses in Photoshop, social media marketing or photography? This is the time to share any new relevant experience you gained during your pause.
👉 Becoming well versed in a variety of experiences, platforms or tools can help strengthen your portfolio and build confidence in your capabilities.
Communicating your career pause on your resume
Including your career pause avoids mystery gaps on your resume and can help provide the recruiter or hiring manager more context when assessing your application. The Mom Project Pause allows you to add a career break to your resume using our Resume Rev tool. Your pause will be listed in chronological order to seamlessly complement your other professional experiences.
Getting comfortable with your pause is getting comfortable with actually speaking to it. Practice builds confidence. Confidence translates to strong capability. Outside of the career search process, practice by chatting with friends and family about your career break and journey. What did you learn and what about re-entering the paid workforce excites you the most?
From there, you can build a structured, succinct and professional response as if you were in an interview. Then practice your professional response. In the mirror to yourself, to your spouse, to your mom, to your dog, anyone. Saying it out loud helps you own it.
Be patient. Remember – it’s a journey.
Just as offboarding yourself from the workplace didn’t happen overnight, onboarding will take just as long. It’s not so easy to switch your gears so fast. With the practice of applying and interviewing as well as the skills you build along the way, you’ll get back in your groove.
It’s also important to be kind to yourself, be open to new possibilities and not compare yourself to others. This is your journey. No one else’s. There will be rejections and there will be tough realizations. But this is an opportunity to put yourself in a growth mindset and be open to new possibilities in order to sharpen your skills.
You’re in the right place to start this journey. Take these tips, stay strong and, most importantly, stay true to yourself. You were brave enough to take the leap of faith in making the right decision for you and your family, so you’re certainly brave enough to rejoin the world of paid work. You’ve got this.
Apply for career opportunities with vetted companies that support work and life integration. From startups to the Fortune 1000, inclusive employers of all sizes use The Mom Project to post job opportunities and find skilled, diverse talent.