Addressing a Career Break

Recently I’ve been inspired by local efforts aimed at helping women return to work after taking a career break.  In June ReacHIRE announced plans to expand their successful Boston-based re-launch program to the Triangle area and the Back to Business Women’s Conference will be held in RTP this October

Resumes are an important part of the re-entry process but for women who have stepped out of the professional world and are feeling disconnected from their professional self, the process of creating one can be extremely intimidating.  In fact when I first meet with women who are beginning this transition, they often times think they have nothing to write about.

But returning to work after a career break doesn’t mean you have to have lots of white space on your resume.  Keep in mind, just because you weren’t getting paid for what you were doing outside the home doesn’t mean it’s not relevant experience.

To get started, think about everything you’ve done since you left your most recent fulltime position and evaluate how it relates to your next career move.  For example, were you volunteering for a political campaign – canvasing neighborhoods and speaking out about the issues?  Were you part of an alumni network planning opportunities for others to engage on and off campus?  Were you working with the PTA to raise awareness and funding for your child’s school?  These experiences aren’t trivial and if communicated appropriately, represent a number of key skills that employers value including communication, initiative, relationship building, fundraising, and event planning just to name a few.

Recently I worked with a client who had been a stay at home mom for the past eleven years.  She had some part-time work experience but hadn’t been in a fulltime position since 2004 and the idea of crafting a cohesive resume that effectively communicated her story was completely overwhelming.  After talking about her interests and the types of opportunities she wanted to pursue (teaching and administrative positions within her children’s school), we went to work identifying her relevant skill sets, connecting them with her experience, both paid and volunteer, and finally building out specific examples that could be used as bullets on her resume.

Rather than go with a traditional chronological format, I chose a skills-based format that would put the focus on her talents and abilities vs. her job titles and years of employment.  Everything her next employer needs to know is still there and easy to find, but the reader’s attention is focused where we want it – on her relevant experience and the value add she could bring to an organization.

More importantly for my client, seeing her accomplishments on paper boosted her confidence and began the process of re-building her professional persona.

You can check out her updated resume here: Career Break Sample.

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