Taking time off from work - be that one year or 18 years - to bring up your children is nothing to be sniffed at.
But if you do decide to return to the workplace after a break, it can be difficult to get your foot back in the door.
So increasingly people are trying to make their parenting experience sound more relevant to the workplace.
One recruiter explained recently on Mumsnet how a woman called Mrs Jones* wrote on her CV that she’d been employed by the “Jones family” and that her work involved “organising international travel for her family.”
The intention was that this would make the woman more suited to an office-based role, but the recruiter disagreed.
“More galling are the claims that women make about the critical role they played - with my favourite being the one who ‘spent seven years looking after my two children who needed and deserved my attention,’” she wrote.
The recruiter made clear that she thought being a stay-at-home-mum is incredibly valuable, but you should not “put this kind of waffle on your CV.”
Most people agreed that such remarks were a bit “cringe,” but others explained that many careers advisors wrongly recommend it.
What should you do instead then?
According to CV and interview expert Duncan Watt, if you’ve done something that’s relevant to your career (an accountant who becomes treasurer of a local charity while out of work, for example), you should include it on your CV.
But otherwise, simply say you’re a stay-at-home-mum, because there’s no shame in that.
“Equally any courses that have been taken to keep technical skills relevant are good,” Watt explained to The Independent. “Running websites or blogging, for example, might also be relevant but shoehorning day to day activities into your CV is not a good idea.”
Of course, as a parent you do develop many skills which are useful at work, such as communication, time management, negotiation and organisation, but it’s important to present them in the right way.
“Where maternity stretches to a career break it is important to emphasise skills maintained and developed though any volunteer work such as school PTAs or parkrun,” Yvonne Smyth, Group Head of Diversity at leading recruitment agency Hays told The Independent.
“You can also include any voluntary activity such as raising money, negotiating prizes or sponsorship which demonstrates a number of skills including project management, people co-ordination, communication skills, PR, marketing or even IT skills.”
But the key is to think about your experience in a less literal way.
If you’re on a work break but think you may want to resume your career, Smyth recommends “keeping an estimate on your eventual return and actively seeking out opportunities to use your skills.”
That way you can remain confident in your abilities when it comes to applying for jobs again.
*Name has been changed
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