Of the estimated seven million Americans who have been full-time workers and caregivers, about six percent left the workforce for at least some amount of time to devote themselves full-time to caregiving. If you are one of these caregivers who are now rejoining the workforce, you may be wondering how “caregiving” fits on your resume.
First of all, appreciate that mothers or fathers of newborns or adoptees have been leaving the workforce and returning after raising children for years now. Having raised multiple children from birth to teen years, many of them have had much longer time away from work than a caregiver who takes leave for an older parent. That said, here are some lessons learned for how to dust off a resume:
- First, don’t lie about what we may refer to as your “caregiver gap;” trying to stretch earlier career positions to cover these months or years just will not work when a potential employer can check your story.
- Make an explanation of this period that is comfortable and to the point; too many details can be a distraction and euphemisms just sound odd.
- Include volunteer work that you may have been engaged in as well as any coursework you completed, conferences you attended or anything else to keep current.
- Adapt your experiences for the specific jobs for which you will be applying; one size resume will not fit all applications.
- There is a month for everything, and yes, September is International Update Your Resume Month, so check out resources on line (http://www.pongoresume.com/blogPosts/588/win-free-pongo-services-during-update-your-resume-month.cfm )
Resume in hand, start with these steps:
- Restart your business network by tapping appropriate contacts within your social network like Facebook.
- If you do not have a LinkedIn account, get that started as well with your business contacts from Facebook or your earlier jobs, and reach out to contacts of your contacts.
- Call your former employer to see if they have freelance work available or new openings; a returning employee can “hit the ground running.”
- Check out college or continuing education courses that will get your skills current for today’s job market.
- Volunteer for a position in a non-profit that will use of the skills you have; such a position becomes a fresh line item for your career story.
- And just as you may have done in your very first job search, seek out “informational interviews” with employers in your industry.
Throughout all of this, keep reminding yourself that what you did as a caregiver was important and valuable. And it was a full-time job, so you are not really restarting; you are just moving along your career path to your next job.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about Our Story and Charlotte’s mission.