Working Mother

Resume “Rules” Moms Should Break

No matter how long you stayed home with your children, you will still need to change the way you write your resume so you can return to the workforce. The length of time you stayed at home will determine how much your resume will change.

When I first learned how to write a resume (as a senior in my college undergrad program), the “rules” included:

  • No fancy fonts or colors in your resume
  • Your name should be followed by your address & phone (we didn’t have email yet)
  • List your education at the very top of your resume
  • Work experience should be listed in chronological order
  • Volunteer experience was only to be listed in bullet points at the bottom
  • Include your references on the second sheet of your resume

Obviously, those “rules” changed even while I was still in the workforce. While some businesses still actually follow some of these rules, most have already evolved.

  • Use 2-3 different font styles and sizes, and even colors, to draw attention to specific sections of your resume
  • Education only needs to be listed if you recently graduated or are applying in an education field
  • Rather than just “work experience” you can focus on “relevant experience” and include your volunteer work, especially in a leadership capacity
  • References are not included on a resume – in fact, you no longer even need to state “references available upon request”

For moms who are returning to work, we are going to push some of those rules even more to feature your best skills.  Put your best foot forward with some of these “resume rule breakers.”

  • You no longer need to even include your physical address on your resume. Rather, focus on your digital contacts – email and LinkedIn profile – as well as your phone number. (Note: make sure you set up your LinkedIn profile properly first.)
  • Get rid of the resume objective – we all know you want a job! Most hiring managers only spend 3-4 seconds on each resume so use that top space under your contacts to highlight why you are the ideal hire – more like “Qualifications.”
  • Only list education if you recently added a degree or certification, especially if it is a drastic change from your previous work experience (or if this is for a position in an education field.)
  • Experience does not need to be chronological, nor does it need to be all work (paid) experience. Start with the positions that have the most relevant experience, even if it is a volunteer position.
  • Rather than list all responsibilities for all of the positions you list, focus only on those skills that the employer is looking for. Remember, they only look for 3-4 seconds, so don’t waste their time on “fluff.”
  • Most applications actually take place online now, so save your resume as a PDF. This also means that you can actually link to your email, LinkedIn profile, an online portfolio, or even previous projects you worked on. Capitalize on our connectivity.

Step outside that box in order to draw attention to your skills. Just remember to focus on what you want that hiring manager to see in the 3-4 seconds they look at your resume.


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