Level Up: Will Companies Hold Your Resume Gap Against You?
Maybe not, thanks to today's hot labor market.
If you quit paid work to take care of your kids during the pandemic, you’re not alone. Millions of moms were pushed out of the workforce or into part-time roles—but the good news is many of them have been able to jump back into full-time employment.
More mothers of school-age children are working for pay now than they were a year before the pandemic, according to a Census Bureau analysis. And college educated women with children under 4 are significantly more likely to work for pay now than they were before the pandemic, according to another analysis by a Harvard economist. That’s the gist of a recent piece in The New York Times about how mothers mostly kept working for the past two years, despite daycare and school closures that pushed so many of us to the mental brink.
It’s a promising development following a pandemic that threatened to set women’s progress back by a generation. Many experts worried that women who left paid work might struggle to return. Historically, that’s been the case. A 2018 study found that stay-at-home parents were about half as likely to get a callback as unemployed parents when applying for jobs.
Today’s competitive labor market, however, might be forcing employers to overlook women with a “mommy gap” on their resume. It’s also forcing companies to continue offering perks like remote work, which make it easier for many parents to combine a career and family life. Plus, many employers are acutely aware they’ll never be able to achieve their DE&I goals without hiring and retaining caregivers, who make up more than half of the workforce.
It all adds up to an era where moms have more leverage in the workplace—even if they paused their careers to care for children.
Still, it’s natural to be nervous about returning to paid work. It’s unlikely the motherhood penalty has been completely eliminated. Some managers will still believe that parent employees are less competent and committed. And it should be noted that the opportunities afforded by a hot labor market aren’t equal. Black women and Latinas are still experiencing higher rates of unemployment than white women. And, as a group, women without college degrees haven’t made up for their pandemic job losses.
If you’re looking to resume or rev up your career, don’t fret. There’s rarely been a job market so welcome to workers, and with the right strategy, you’ll land your dream job. Here’s what the experts at Indeed suggest:
The Fix: What to Do When You’re Worried About a Resume Gap for Caregiving
Reentering the workforce can feel like an uphill battle. However, many stay-at-home parents and caregivers successfully make the move, reestablishing themselves as top-tier candidates in the job market—even with a considerable gap in their resume. If you’re making this transition, congratulations! It’s a big decision. We understand you might be worried about how employers will respond to your resume gap. Thankfully, with proper preparation you can find something that matches what you’re looking for as you venture back into the job market. Before applying, take time to get your ducks in a row, as it will help you focus on the job search and establish realistic goals. Here are our top tips:
Update your materials. Depending on how long you’ve been away from work, you’ll likely need to refresh your resume to reflect your gap. Consider a skills-based resume outline rather than a typical chronological one if you’ve had an extensive break between roles. Add noteworthy causes and accomplishments that call attention to relevant strengths, like: volunteer experience, personal blogging, booking medical appointments, organizing fundraising events at your child’s school, bookkeeping for the family's small business and more. Apply to jobs using a platform like Indeed, which keeps your resume information on file, so you don’t have to start from scratch with every application. You can easily update your skills and experience to fit the role and impress hiring managers with your qualifications.
Explore all your options for finding work. Returning to the workforce is often a good excuse to try something new or enter a field that piques your interest. The job market is your oyster! Don’t shy away from freelance opportunities, a temporary role from a staffing agency, or part-time or contract work. These roles can lead to other opportunities, generate income and help you gain new skills and connections.
Practice and prepare. You’re probably a bit rusty with your interview skills and that’s OK. But to make a great first impression in a job interview, you’ll need to practice speaking confidently about your skills and experience. Compile a list of common interview questions and practice answering them out loud with your spouse or friends. You’ll want to sound as natural and professional as possible (be human!) while also knowing how to comfortably talk about the gap in your resume. Once you’ve set up an interview, research the company and get familiar with their products/services. Sites like Indeed offer insight into a company’s culture, with employee reviews, benefits and more, so you have all the information you need before that first interview.
The Level Up summit is a must-attend event for women who are ready to reclaim their career mojo and move up the ladder. Register here and join us on June 3.
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LOVE TO SEE IT
The child care industry is earning more support at the state level. Though efforts have stalled at the federal level, some states are passing laws to stabilize the child care sector. For example:
New York increased child care spending by $7 billion over the next four years, which will allow families earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty limit—about $83,000 for a family of four—to qualify for subsidies, reaching 260,000 more children.
New Mexico will offer free care for one year to families that earn up to 400 percent of the federal poverty limit—around $111,000 a year for a family of four. That means 30,000 families in the state will get free child care.
HATE TO SEE IT
Teenage babysitters are able to charge up to $35/hour in some parts of the country, because of the acute shortage in child care workers, according to the Wall Street Journal. While it’s a good thing for teens, it’s another sign that child care has become increasingly hard to find and afford for the average family.
Editor’s Note: Normally this section contains a funny tweet about working parenthood. But this week was a tragic reminder that life as a working mom in America means hoping your child makes it home from school alive. Firearms are now the leading cause of death in children in this country. We are horrified and grief-stricken by the murders in Uvalde, Texas, and by those who do nothing to stem this senseless slaughter.