3 Smart Ways to Position Your Accomplishments As a Parent In Your Job Search

Posted on Dec 30, 2015 | 0 comments

3 Smart Ways to Position Your Accomplishments As a Parent In Your Job Search

Whether we like it or not, most employers don’t want to hear about your accomplishments as a parent on your resume or when interviewing you. There are some exceptions—including professions or positions that deal directly with children or other parents—but for the vast majority of positions, this is not the case. So how are you supposed to explain those years that you invested in your children when it comes to applying for your next job? Here are three great ways to include the important skills you’ve learned while parenting and your accomplishments related to your children.


Figure out why your parenting experience makes you a great candidate.

You may be concerned that seeing a 10-year gap on your resume (which is the time you were staying at home with your children) will automatically get your resume tossed in the “never call her” pile. It’s a legitimate concern and one that you have to anticipate and figure out how to conquer. The best way to make sure they are interested in you is to figure out how your time as a parent is valuable to them as an employer. Why is it good that you stayed home with your children from their perspective? What do you have that other candidates don’t have because you did stay at home with your kids?


You hated cleaning up spit up and dog pee, right? It made you go crazy. You stayed home with your kids for many good reasons, and you’re happy with your decision, but now you’re more than ready to go back to work. That’s your answer: what you have is a stronger desire to be in the workforce than others who are just looking for another job. You’re beyond ready to do some professional work.


The other five people your potential employer is calling for an interview are just making lateral moves. They already work in a similar position and have probably done so for many years. However, you have something they don’t have. You’re actually excited to go back to work, bring a new perspective to the company, and do it with a passion they’ve never seen before. Your advantage is how badly you want this position and how much energy you’re ready to put in.


Address your “time off” while parenting directly in your cover letter.

First of all, excuse me while I laugh my head off for writing “time off while parenting.” Every parent knows that parenting cannot even remotely be construed as “time off.”


All laughter aside, starting off your cover letter with “I want this position so badly because I need to get out of my house/need the money” isn’t quite going to work. But telling the employer why they will get more bang for their buck and their company will benefit from hiring you will absolutely do the trick.


Dedicate one paragraph (no more) of your cover letter to explaining your passion for this position. A lot of people worry that telling employers how much they want the job will put them off, but this isn’t true. As a parent, I encourage you to apply for jobs that you really want and tell the employer why you really want it. The reason you want it is never just for the money. You’re applying to this particular job and not others for what reason? Because you admire the company? Because you think you have something to contribute to the team? Because you love working with spreadsheets? Figure out your reason and then state it clearly in the cover letter.


Use examples in your interview.

During an interview you’ll be asked a lot of questions that will give you a good opportunity to share things about yourself and your personality. This is a great time to talk specifically about your accomplishments as a parent. For example, let’s say that you’re applying for a job in accounting and they ask you to recount an experience dealing with a difficult person. You could easily weave in information about parenting during a difficult stage for your child. Here’s an example of a great answer:


This is probably a bit different than the answers you may receive from other candidates but the most difficult person I’ve ever had to deal with is my daughter, who is on the autism spectrum. She was diagnosed with autism when she was four years old, and has never followed the typical path that all the parenting magazines and blogs write about. Understanding where she was coming from, supporting her, and disciplining her in an effective way was a daily challenge, but I learned some things about how I approach “difficult” people while parenting her.


First, “difficult” people aren’t really difficult. They’re usually just different than me. They have a different perspective, different goals, and a different sense of what is right from my own personal perceptions. With a little patience and interest in the other person’s perspective, it’s a lot easier to get to the root of the misunderstanding or disagreement in order to be able to move forward. I learned not to be extremely set in my ways and not to assume that what is right for me is right for everyone.


I now use those techniques when I’m interacting with everyone from child to adult. I’ve yet to find a situation in which this doesn’t work! I’m confident that my patience and true interest in the other person’s perspective will allow me to interact with everyone in a pleasant and helpful way at your company.


As you can see, this answer weaves together the candidate’s experience as a parent and what he learned from it. He is clearly able to explain how the skills he learned will benefit the team at the company where he is applying.


Notice that none of the three ways mentioned involves your resume? That’s for good reason. It’s never the right decision to put “stay-at-home parent” on your resume. Tackling it in the cover letter and interview give you the chance to properly explain your parenting time and highlight the elements that are most relevant to your employer.




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Anna Sparks, Expert Global Career Consultant

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