Stay-at-home mom: The resume dilemma

Would you list being a stay-at-home mom on your resume? Jennifer asks other moms and the response may surprise you.

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After my husband lost his job, I found myself desperately looking for a full-time job. Caught off guard, the only thing with more holes than my ratty stay-at-home mom wardrobe was my resume. It had been four years since I held an office job, and the gap on my resume was intimidating. But it wasn’t as though those years out of the workforce were wasted; I’d become a master of budgeting both time and money, an outstanding cook and a multitasker extraordinaire (hello breastfeeding and cooking a meal at the same time!). But while I could see how the skills I used daily as a stay-at-home mom would be valuable in any job I applied for, I was still hesitant to add Household CEO to my resume.

Read more: Why we need to quit calling motherhood a job>

But it turns out I’m in the minority when it comes to feeling that way. Over on Jezebel’s The Powder Room, one blogger defends filling resume gaps with her job as a stay-at-home parent. In her post, I’ve Got Mad Mom Skillz, domesticdisturbia writes:

I understand the fear of having holes in a resume. But I also have a hard time believing in this day and age that most people don’t have them for some reason or another. Maybe you went back to school. Maybe your company shut down. Maybe you were living in a fox hole in Iraq. There are LOTS OF REASONS to be out of work for a while. But that doesn’t have to mean you weren’t learning or growing during that time.

Which is why I include my time as a SAHM on my resume. Yep, I list it as the time I was CEO of my household. It’s partially tongue-in-cheek, but it’s also because the time I spent at home, managing my household and kids has value, dammit, and I want credit for that just like from any other job.

Read more: Stay-at-home moms: Worth $100K a year?

Cara Yost, a Winnipeg-based stay-at-home mom to three girls, agrees. “I am proud of my kids and the job I do with them and would have no qualms saying so in an interview. There are plenty of things we learn by staying at home that benefit our work life anyway. People put volunteer experiences or unpaid internships on their resumes all the time. In fact, it is encouraged. Stand tall, parents who stay at home, own your experiences and use them if you transition back into paid work life.”

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“Why should us moms hide and be shamed for staying home?” tweeted Natalie Chenard when I asked the same question on Twitter. The Ontario stay-at-home mom says that she has learned a lot during her years at home and would definitely add the skills she’s developed to her cover letter.

“By not including being a stay-at-home mom, you are devaluing your hard work as a mother. You also devalue the strong leadership skills you have gained and strengthened over that time.  As a stay-at-home mom you can bring a lot to the ‘work force’ and it should never be ignored or not valued,” added Natalie.

But the way stay-at-home moms view their time away from the office is different from how employers see it. For example, small business owner Christella Morris says she’s unsure she could take someone who listed stay-at-home parent on their resume seriously. “I see parenting and household management as life experience, not work experience. Though, from a hiring perspective, knowing they’ve been off work for family obligations can explain long gaps in their resume. To me, something like that is better discussed during an interview or even in a cover letter.”

While it would be nice to think that employers wouldn’t discriminate against stay-at-home moms, I personally think that to gain an edge in a competitive job market, moms should leave their diaper duty off their resumes. And in case you’re wondering, I have tested out adding my years as a stay-at-home mom on a resume and cover letter. And guess what? Those were the opportunities I wasn’t called in to interview for.

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children. Read more Run-at-home mom posts or follow her @JenPinarski.

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