Career To Dos for Parents: Resume Edition
Navigating a career transition can be overwhelming for anyone. Doing so while parenting young children? It’s a lot to manage. In this Career To Dos for Parents Edition I’m tackling tips to help you write an effective resume so you can work smarter, not harder, on your career transition.
One: Look Before You Leap
Do you have a crystal clear strategy for your next career move? It can be tempting to skip over this process of clarifying your career direction, but trust me, the strategy will save you time and effort – and anyone parenting young children knows time and effort are a scarce resource.
Whether you’re looking for a new job in your field, seeking a promotion, or pivoting in a new direction, here are a few questions to help you look before you leap.
What do you love doing?
What are you really good at?
What are the things you feel most at home doing?
What do others say are your talents?
How has parenthood strengthened your abilities in a unique way?
What job ads appeal to you and why?
What workplaces pique your curiosity and why?
Who can you connect with to learn about new professional paths?
What strengths are needed to excel in the work you have your heart set on?
How do your strengths align with the work you want to do?
What industry problems are you uniquely equipped to solve?
One Final Question
What’s your strength and how does it help your workplace, clients, or customers?
You should have a simple and clear response to this final question. Ultimately, your answer will shape your personal brand and strategic job search. If you feel fuzzy about your response, spend more time on your strategy before writing your resume.
Two: Choose the Right Layout
What resume format are you using? There are three typical types out there. Each with it’s own set of pros and cons. Each favoured more or less by hiring managers. There’s the Reverse Chronological, the Functional, and the Combination/Hybrid.
Consider your employment history and type of work you want to do when making your choice. Reverse chronological resumes are usually a safe option and a great choice for demonstrating a strong professional background. But if you have a history of job hoping, an employment gap, or you’re transitioning into an entirely new field, a combination/hybrid layout may be better suited to your situation.
Although a functional resume can also work in the latter situation, my professional opinion is usually to stay away from functional resumes if possible, as they’ve developed a bad rep for hiding a troublesome employment history. That’s not the first impression you want to make as a candidate.
What can you do if you happen to have a longer employment gap, say from an extended family leave, and you want to stick with a reverse chronological resume? Consider current activities you can include on your resume (e.g. volunteer work, training or courses, professional memberships you kept current or can get back into). These are all valuable experiences to highlight and will help minimize concerns about an extended employment gap by telling a positive career story for re-entering the workforce.
Three: Embrace YOU
Don’t make the mistake of listing duties on your resume. I mean it. Do not hide behind your duties. This is your time to SHINE. Embrace your talents and share them courageously.
How do you achieve this with a resume? Go through your duties, one by one, to create accomplishment statements. Start your statements with a high value Action Verb, then give details to describe the work you performed, and finish with the Positive Result of your efforts. Quantify results where possible to give it that wow-factor.
Clients share with me that although this step can be a lot of work, it gives them a major confidence boost. Put in the effort and you will be proud of what you have to share.
Easier said than done? I get it. This process takes brainpower. Enlist the support of others. Arrange for help with your children from your partner, a family member, or sitter. You’ll need a few ‘work blocks’ – chunks of time in a quiet space with access to a computer – for this process. Don’t even try to do this while wrangling your little one. Give yourself a chance to focus by voicing what you need and asking for help.
Four: Celebrate your progress
Resume writing can be a fantastic way to reclaim confidence, self-esteem, and a vision for your future. I’ve seen this transformation in my clients.
Remember to take breaks to celebrate your progress along the way. And once your resume is complete, consider what you’ve learned from the resume writing process. How can you use your new self-knowledge in your job search? Do something FUN to recognize yourself for the wonderful progress you’re making.
Five: Connect Resume + Strategy
When your resume is ready, don’t limit your search to the online job ad abyss. Connect.
The majority (80-85%) of jobs are not publicly advertised. Even when jobs are advertised, it’s likely you’re up against hundreds of other candidates. Networking is absolutely crucial to get into the hidden job market where you can find opportunities that are truly meant for you. You’ll become more strategic about your job search, as you gather information and find leads for opportunities.
Networking is also a really fantastic way to get the inside scoop on an organization’s culture - valuable insight to assess how family-friendly your options are and choose your next workplace wisely.
Networking can look like a lot of different things. It could be picking up the phone and cold calling a company, spending time commenting on and sharing content on LinkedIn, or emailing former colleagues to stay in touch. My personal favourite strategies for networking are informational interviews, volunteering, and professional development. I’m a continuous learner and like to connect with others within a context of contribution, making these strategies a good fit for me. What networking strategies are a fit for you?
With all you have on your plate, I hope this Career To Dos for Parents: Resume Edition helps you work smarter (not harder) on your resume and job search. Need more guidance? Feel free to reach out to me for support. You’ve got this and I’m here for you.