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Should you include maternity leave on your resume?

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

How to represent parental / maternity leave or other career breaks in your resume or CV can be tricky - it's one of the most common questions I get asked!

And to be honest, there is no right or wrong way to do this. It depends on your particular situation and preferences.

The first thing I will say about career breaks in general is that it is perfectly acceptable and extremely common to have gaps on your resume! The majority of people have had a break during their career, whether to care for a baby or a family member, or to study or travel, or maybe you just had a mental health break between roles.

And frankly, if a employer has an issue with you taking time off to have children, go travelling or care for a family member, then I suspect you probably don't want to work for them anyway! (Their reaction can be a good gauge of company culture.)

Below I discuss some general tips on how to represent career breaks on your resume, but really, how you talk about career breaks (if at all) is a personal decision - it's up to you!

I find the majority of my clients are happy to go with these general suggestions, which in the most part ignore the career break!

Here are my general suggestions for representing career gaps on your resume:

  • How long were you away from paid work? If it was less than one year, you could choose to ignore the gap and not mention it on your resume.

  • 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 of that role. You can ignore the break if you want - you still did that role!

  • For a longer gap (more than one year) you could acknowledge the gap in the 'career history' section of your resume, if your resume is chronological. Keep reading to find out what to write!

What to write in your resume

If you are going to acknowledge a career break on your resume, what do you actually write?

I suggest simply writing "Career Break" and the dates:

Career Break | Mar 2022 - Jan 2023

You could also add a bit more detail if you prefer such as Parental Leave / Travel / Carer's Leave / Study / Relocation:

Career Break: Parental Leave and Study | Mar 2022 - Jan 2023

There is no need to list any further detail about what you did on your break unless you want to.

Focus on your skills, not the break

Please remember that just because you had a break from your career, you didn't lose your skills. In fact, you probably gained some more!

So in your resume and application always focus on your skills, not the fact that you have had a break from paid work.

Your professional profile should focus on your top skills and what you bring to a role - there is no need to mention the career break in this section.

Need further help?

I have a lesson on how to manage career breaks, gaps, and freelance work in the Not Just a Resume Template program, and am more than happy to make suggestions based on your individual circumstances if you purchase the template program.

You can also add on a one hour Zoom editing session to the Template program, where we can really deep dive into your circumstances and ensure your resume is selling you to the reader, while workshopping any tricky issues such as career breaks and how to represent freelance work and older roles.

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