Updated: May 18
Taking time out from your career to have babies and look after children is common.
But the big question is, how do you represent this on your resume? Do you even need to list it? What do you call it?
Everyone has a different and valid opinion on how to represent a career break on your resume.
It's going to depend on your particular circumstances and how much time you've had away from the workforce.
If there are noticeable gaps in your resume it's best to say what you were doing in that time.
Below are some things for you to consider, but ultimately what you put on your resume is your decision and you need to feel comfortable with it.
How long have you been away from work? If it was less than one year, you could choose to ignore the gap and leave it off your resume.
And if you left and went back to the same job there is no real need to say that you had time off in the middle.
For a longer gap (more than one year) it's best to acknowledge the gap in the 'career history' section of your resume, if your resume is chronological.
So what do you call your career break due to children?
The best thing to put is 'Parental Leave' with the dates.
This terminology is in preference to (in my opinion) 'Maternity leave', 'Stay at home mum', 'Lead parent', 'Primary carer' or 'Home duties'.
There is no need to list how many children you have or what your 'home duties' are. (An exception to this might be if you are the carer of a child with a disability or illness.)
Even with a longer career break, you could leave it off your resume if you have a skills-based (rather than chronological) resume.
This is where you chunk your experience into sections based on the key skills required for the job. This style of resume is particularly useful if you have experience in different areas/sectors at different times throughout your career.
Have you done any volunteer work while on parental leave that might be relevant?
You might be on the committee of your children's kinder or school committee, or maybe you are your local environment group's marketing and sponsorship coordinator or helped out at an animal shelter?
Substantial volunteer work can be listed under your 'Career History' section to fill in any gaps. Just put in brackets that it's volunteer or pro bono work.
The skills and responsibilities that you need for most volunteer roles are not dissimilar to paid jobs, and they can be listed on your resume with the same level of detail - as long as they are relevant to the job that you are applying for.
It's an excellent way to show a prospective employer that you are community minded and have shown leadership, organisational and other relevant skills.
Focus on your skills - not the break!
Finally, remember that your resume is a sales document, selling YOU to a prospective employer.
There is no need to focus on your break from work. Make sure that you sell your skills and attributes and how they match the job.