The Resume Gap
When my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our first child, I was hit with an immediate panic as I thought about what would happen with my job. I had a long commute, I worked long hours, and I was required to travel on occasion. Then we were offered the opportunity to move overseas so my husband could take over a job based in Shanghai, China. Given the international assignment allowances paid on top of his salary, I could take a break from the working world.
Our two-year assignment in China turned into five years (with a move to Dubai, where we welcomed our second child), leaving me with a significant gap in my resume. I view this gap as a positive thing, even though I wasn’t technically “working” during that period. I learned multiple languages, navigated foreign cities with small children, and spent a considerable amount of time networking.
- Can you afford to take time off?
- What skills can you enhance during this gap?
- Network with other moms (and dads)—they are a great source for leads.
When we returned home to the United States, I found myself thinking about returning to work. I knew returning to a full-time position in the field I had worked in previously would send my stress levels sky-high and be difficult to maintain. I began working on an informal skills and interests assessment so I would be ready to apply if the right opportunity popped up. I had previously done some work with websites and social media to help support my parents’ small business, and I started thinking about looking for a job in that field. I set up wide filters on multiple job opportunity websites and subscribed to industry blogs and newsletters to help enhance my skills in key areas. I also volunteered for a local non-profit organization as its webmaster, which involved maintaining the website and managing email communications and social media platforms.
- Volunteer for networking opportunities to keep your skills fresh.
- Think about your skills and interests when seeking a new job.
- Sign up for a variety of industry newsletters.
- Pick one or two networking associations to join.
- Watch one webinar per month.
- Start updating your LinkedIn profile.
(9/21/2018 update) Research shows that women who openly acknowledge time spent on maternity have a greater chance of being rehired into the workforce (although legally, employers can’t ask about gaps in your employment history). When I tried to update my resume and LinkedIn profile to show time spent growing my family, this seemed to detract from my experience professionally and I was worried that my “gap” of 5 years would be viewed negatively.
I recently stumbled upon a website called ThePregnancyPause that offers parents assistance with returning to the workforce after taking time off for parenting. By updating your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn Profile and showing “The Pregnancy Pause,” you’re providing potential employers with information about your gap and reminding them that maternity leave is a full time job and the value of this time should not be discounted. I especially like the sample cover letter they provide — every time I’ve submitted my resume for a job I’ve felt the need to explain my resume gap in a cover letter and this sums it up perfectly!
Check out my LinkedIn Profile to see The Pregnancy Pause in action!
The Unexpected Opportunity
One day while I was looking at a local community page on Facebook, I noticed a posting from a local business owner. It read something like, “Do you love Pinterest and have technical skills? Looking for a flexible job? Get in touch.” I was surprised to see a job posting with a perfect job description for me on a local community Facebook page. I reached out to them for more information, scheduled an interview, and got the job. I started out managing a Pinterest account for one client and then moved on to creating content and managing social media accounts for multiple clients. Although the pay wasn’t great, I had a flexible schedule working from home, and I learned a lot about something I was very interested in.
- Job opportunities aren’t only found on job boards. Keep your eyes and ears open.
- Hire a resume writer to help you update all your documents.
- Set up two lunches per month with former colleagues to get an understanding of where they are professionally.
- Be prepared to answer questions about your time off so you can confidently and readily explain your gap without detracting from your skills and abilities.
Where I Am Now
Our family continued growing and we moved again, which resulted in another gap in my resume. After this gap, I decided to set out on my own and offer my services as a freelancer. I picked up multiple clients based solely on word of mouth and referrals. I can work from home (or my local coffee shop), and I have enough flexibility to attend PTO meetings and appointments for my kids without sacrificing a day off. My evenings are often spent returning emails or catching up on various client tasks, but knowing I don’t have to stress about carpools and vacation schedules makes it all worth it.
- Being your own boss is a great way to work on your own schedule.
About the author
Megan Bozzuto, mom of three and a marketing expert, currently works as a Senior Marketing Business Partner at IAW. She started her career in internal audit and then pivoted to marketing after taking time off to grow her family while living overseas. When she isn’t working, she is usually chasing her three kids. She also has a passion for helping small business owners establish their online presence (a side hustle!).