Stay at Home Parent? Six Tips for a Winning Comeback Resume

Ready to head back into the 9-5 game? Six tips to create a killer resume - even with the stay at home gap.

Ready to head back into the 9-5 game? Six tips to create a killer resume - even with the stay at home gap.

Returning to Work after being a Stay at Home Parent

Are you planning to head back into the workforce after spending valuable years at home with your children?  How do you market yourself after spending the last few years up to your ears in diapers, juice boxes and math homework? You can’t even remember your last “real” job. How can you convince a corporate recruiter that you are employable, ready to work, and even excited about getting back into the 9-5? 

First of all, don’t panic. You’ve got this. As a stay at home parent, you’ve mastered the art of multi-tasking and on the spot problem solving. If you have more than one child, you can add conflict resolution and resource allocation to your list of skills.  People re-enter the workforce all the time and you can too. It’s simply a matter of putting things together the right way. And that starts with your resume.

Over and over, my clients tell me that putting a resume together is an empowering experience. It makes you look at your skills and abilities in a new light and realize that you will be a valuable asset to companies.  It’s often hard to write down positive things about yourself but this is absolutely the right time to get specific about your strengths and skills. What do you do well? What do you enjoy doing?

At the most basic level, a resume is a marketing document. You’re selling your skillset to a potential employer. 

Here are resume basics to know as you make plans to head back into the workforce:

REady to head back to work after the stay at home gig? Six tips for a great comeback resume

REady to head back to work after the stay at home gig? Six tips for a great comeback resume

  1. First. What matters most in a resume is content - not fancy fonts or formats. So don’t worry about finding a template or a format just yet. Start by taking some time to write down your skills, strengths and abilities. Dust off your last resume and make a list of the skills you used in previous jobs. Then, begin to think about the new skills you can add to that list. Get clear about the skills you have. Resist the temptation to write down five things and stop. Make a list of at least 10 skills/ abilities/ attributes you can put on a resume.

    Circle all those things on that list you enjoy doing. Those are the skills you want to highlight. You don’t want to end up in a job where you’re doing all those things you hate. This will also help as you begin to sort out the kind of jobs you want to apply for. 

  2. Second, invest in personal development. What skills need updating? Do you need to take a class to give your skills an extra boost? There are numerous free or low-cost online courses or training opportunities that can help. Look for courses that offer a certificate program - which you can list on your updated resume. Resources for classes include Coursera, SkillShare, and edX, just to name a few. If you’re not sure what you need, a certification in Microsoft Office is an asset in most offices and can be a good place to start updating skills. 

  3. Third, start formatting your resume. Resist the trend to use a functional resume - which is often recommended for gaps in employment. Functional resumes are those that don’t list any dates or career chronology; rather, they showcase skills and attributes The problem with this style of resume is that most recruiters assume that the applicant has something to hide when they use this format. I’ve talked with several hiring managers who instantly discard functional resumes for just that reason. Plus, many applicant tracking systems used by online job application programs can’t read this format easily. So if you are applying for jobs online, your functional resume may get lost in a computer wormhole and never make it to a pair of human eyes. 

    Your best bet is a reverse chronological resume that begins with a clear and robust summary of qualifications.  It’s a kind of hybrid resume.  It begins with a summary of qualifications, or executive summary, which can be followed by a Core Proficiencies section. Then you get to the work history. 

    List all your best, most relevant skills and achievements in a bulleted summary in the prime real estate at the top of the resume. Highlight the stuff you’re most proud of, and especially the things in which you excel and those you enjoy. 

    Next, add a Core Proficiencies or Skills section - listing specific skills and abilities and current certifications. You can list things like Microsoft Office skills or other computer knowledge,  language fluencies, CPR certifications, etc. However, make sure they are relevant to the job you are applying for. 

    After that, you can list your work experience - in reverse chronological order, meaning most recent job goes first. Then work backward, listing your job history. 

  4. If you worked part time or had significant volunteer experience during those stay at home years, you can definitely include those on your resume. It helps to fill the “stay at home” gap and often showcases valuable experience.  List part time jobs as “jobs” in your chronology and bullet point responsibilities and skills that are relevant to your career objective.

    Any volunteer work, such as recruiting volunteers, planning charity auctions, running school fundraisers or bookkeeping for school organizations, can make good additions to a resume especially if they highlight skills relevant to the job you are applying for. If it was a volunteer position, make sure to note that. Don’t try to pass it off as a paid position. Create a section on your resume titled “Community Service” or “Volunteer Positions”. You can still take credit for the achievements and the skills, but make sure you’re honest about the type of position. Honesty is always the best policy on a resume or job application. Always. 

  5. One big no-no is creating a cute “domestic engineer” job and listing your stay at home duties as a real job. Parenting is an important and demanding job and while we all know that managing after school carpool schedules, laundry and dinner plans simultaneously takes real organizational chops, hiring managers will not take this seriously and it can make you look less than professional. Be prepared to talk about your organizational skills in an interview - but leave it off the resume.

  6. If you don’t have one, create a LinkedIn profile. If you have one, update it and start making connections. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Employers and recruiters check you out on LinkedIn before making the call for an interview or as a way to screen and eliminate inappropriate job applicants. So be a step ahead of them. Make sure your LinkedIn profile matches your resume. Use your summary of qualifications from your resume to create a solid profile section. For more help getting started on LinkedIn, check out this blog post.

    Now that you have your updated resume all shiny and ready to go, you’re ready for the next step. Networking. Networking is essential for all job seekers, but especially for those who have been out of the work force for a few years. You’re much more likely to be hired if you are recommended personally by someone rather than simply being another resume in the computer pile. So, make a list of everyone you know… I mean EVERYONE, and let them know you’re excited about heading back to work. It helps to let them know the kind of jobs you are looking for and your qualifications.  Re-connect with them through email or social media, let them know you’re looking for a new position and send them a copy of your shiny new resume.

Good luck out there! Let me know if you need any help!

For more resume help, check out our blog series, How to Build a Powerful Resume that Will Land you the Interview. 


Anita Flowers, M.A. BCC

Anita Flowers, M.A. BCC

Anita Flowers is a Board Certified career and life coach and resume specialist at Blue Sage Career Strategies. A little different than most life coaches, Anita’s background in clinical psychology and years of experience as a counselor gives her a rich understanding of human development and family dynamics. Her work history includes 13 years working with an international business company and 12 years doing individual and family counseling as well as career counseling. This blend of counseling and business experience gives Anita a unique perspective on the world of work and life. Anita works with people literally all over the world to help them discover a life and career they love.   Contact Anita here to get started on your new career and life! 

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Paul Kalanithi, on the verge of entering his professional life as a neurosurgeon and beginning a family with his wife Lucy, is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. After training for almost a decade, he faces his own terminal illness and a profound identity crisis. Instead of a becoming a practicing doctor, he finds himself instead in the role of a patient.

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How to Impress the Hiring Manager and Land a Job


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10 Do's and Don'ts to Impress a Hiring Manager

Photo by Olu Eletu on Unsplash.com

Photo by Olu Eletu on Unsplash.com

I recently spoke with two hiring managers who regularly interview and assess job applicants. One was the communications director and hiring manager for a large international business company. Another was a store manager for a large big box retailer. Both offered insight into what they look for in an applicant.  Every hiring manager is different but here are some of the things that would impress these two managers and help you land the job. 

How to Impress the Hiring Manager and Land a Job

  1. DO submit a short, impactful resume where your experience and abilities shine. One manager looks for a one page resume that highlights only the last 10 years of professional experience. Managers have limited time to scan resumes for the skills and experience needed for the job. In fact, in most cases, your resume has less than 10 seconds to impress the hiring manager. Bullet points that highlight your specific accomplishments and related experience make it easy for a manager to see the value in calling you in for an interview.

  2. DON’T use a functional resume. A functional resume focuses on skills and experience, rather than on a chronological work history. It is often used by job seekers who are changing careers, who have gaps in their employment history, or whose work history is not directly related to the job. While these have become popular in recent years, the managers I spoke with felt they were being misled by these resumes and immediately assumed the applicant was trying to hide something. Their sage advice was to go with a more traditional chronological resume, highlight transferable skills and be prepared to explain any gaps in employment.

  3. DO spend time crafting a well written cover letter. Don’t just repeat your resume but impress the manager with why they should hire you. What is your motivation for applying for this job? Why are you a good fit for the job? Write a customized cover letter for every job application. It takes time, but a one size fits all letter will not impress a hiring manager. Focus on your skills and abilities that fit the needs of each particular organization. Keep it short, less than 3 paragraphs, and use 3-5 bullet points to highlight your skills and experience that are most relevant to the position.

  4. DON’T forget to proofread. Always, always proofread. One manager immediately tosses any resume and cover letter with grammatical errors or typos into the trash bin. If you aren’t careful with details in your resume, it will be assumed that you won’t be careful with details on the job. Have another person proofread your cover letter and resume to make sure you haven’t overlooked a typo. And don’t forget to include your contact information on the letter as well as your resume.

  5. DO clean up your online profile. Both managers noted that they ALWAYS checked people out on line and have eliminated people from the list of possibilities because of what they found online. Sign out of google (or even better, use a library computer or borrow someone’s laptop) and google yourself. See what shows up and begin the process of removing anything related to drug or alcohol use or any profanity in your online comments. Delete comments in which you bad mouth or speak negatively about former employers. Update your LinkedIn profile- you do have one, right? - and work on your connections and accomplishments. One manager noted that he looked for mutual connections on LinkedIn and then contacted them as a way to check out potential employees.

  6. DON’T BE LATE. Let me say it again. DON’T BE LATE. Be on time for the interview and on time means 15 minutes early. Allow for traffic delays, parking difficulties, apocalyptic zombies and any other obstacle that might prevent you from arriving on time. If you don’t show up on time for the interview, how can a manager expect you to get to work on time each day? You will not be hired if you arrive late. Enough said.

  7. DO dress to impress. Research the company culture and dress appropriately. It’s always better to over-dress than to miss the mark completely. Wear a tie. Make sure your clothes are clean and well pressed. Shine your shoes. Carry a professional purse or work bag. Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out what you’re wearing. Spend some time creating a polished, professional appearance. First impressions count.

  8. DON’T be rude to the administrative assistants, custodial staff, or anyone else you meet along the way. It’s all part of the interview process. Make sure you are positive and professional in all encounters. If lunch is suggested as part of the process, treat the wait staff in a respectful manner. Use good manners. It’s ALL part of the interview. The manager is watching how you handle other people in every situation.

  9. DO research the company and be ready to ask questions that show you have done your homework. You are more likely to be hired because you asked good, insightful questions that show you are interested and excited about the job than by simply answering questions you are asked. Come prepared with a couple of questions about the company. Think through your answers to regularly asked interview questions. When the interviewer says, “Tell me about yourself”, have a rehearsed answer that highlights your skills and relevant experience. Don’t babble on about where you grew up or your college years. Be ready to tell your career story in a way that showcases your fit for the potential job at hand.

  10. DON’T forget to send a thank you note or email immediately following the interview. A handwritten note will help you stand out from the crowd because they are rarely used these days but even a well-worded email is better than nothing. It gets your name in front of the manager once more and demonstrates your interest in the job and your ability to follow up on details.

All hiring managers are different and may focus on different aspects of the interview process, but these tips will get you started on the way to a great new job. 

For more help with interview prep, contact Anita for coaching and resume help at 843-224-2025 or click here.

The 3 Best Job Search Websites + The ONE Thing That Really Helps You Find a Job

It’s a question I’m asked by every career coaching client I work with. What job sites should I use to find a job? There’s a long list out there - Monster, Simply Hired, LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, Career Builder and many, many more. Which is the best? Job searching takes a lot of time. Which job site is worth spending your valuable time on?

Where can you find your dream job? 

Based on my experience with job hunting clients along with a great in-depth analysis from reviews.com, here are my top picks for job sites that might actually land you an interview.  These are in no particular order - but I think they are the best of the bunch. 

The 3 Best Job Sites

  • GlassDoor. GlassDoor has the most new postings each day, according to reviews.com. In a 2 week test, GlassDoor had 30% more new posts than the competition. GlassDoor allows you to search by job title, key responsibilities, company and location. It also provides anonymous company reviews on the corporate culture and salary information. It’s a great site if you want to research the company that you might be working for. It’s also a place to check out career fields if you’re not quite sure what your next move will be.

  • Indeed wins for the best coverage. Lots of jobs that are posted in niche job boards and other places will show up here. Employers can post on Indeed for free - so that ups the odds that jobs will be posted here. It’s a Google-like search engine for jobs and pulls in information from job boards, company listings and news sites.

  • Linked In - Recruiting and hiring managers stalk Linked In. I have been contacted by recruiters with job possibilities for myself - and I’m not looking for a job! On Linked In, you can search for jobs and then see people in your network who have connections to that company. That's pure gold for networking! Posting a profile is free and you can find friends and others to connect to. Online networking works if you take it to the next level.

Here’s a little info about niche job boards - which are most helpful.

You need to check out niche job boards. These boards exist for every industry. Check out your national association or google 'your industry + job board'. For example, if you’re looking for a job in nursing, google “nursing job board” and you will find nurse.com or nursingjobs.com. For retail, you might look at workinretail.com or AllRetailJobs.com.  I'll write more about these later. 

And finally….

What actually helps you get a job 

This leads me to the last step. Again from Reviews.com: Steve Dalton is a program director for Daytime Career Services at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and the author of The 2-Hour Job Search. Here’s his quote about job search sites. “It’s the black hole everybody thinks it is. For every one person hired through an online job application program, 12 are hired by an internal referral, according to a 2012 hiring study at the New York Fed.”

Yep. This fits with my experience as a career coach. What gets you hired is “who you know” - also known as networking. An internal referral means a person that the company trusts gave your name and resume to HR. Internal referrals can be a friend, or a friend of a friend or a friend of a friend of a friend on LInkedIn. Use the tools above to research job opportunities and find out what companies are hiring. And then check your network.. and then your extended network on Linked In to find anyone you know connected to that industry. Contact them. Take them to lunch. It really is what works. 

Check out the websites. Create a network. Join your local association of whatever. Create a profile on Linked In and work it. Call your uncle and your friends and that person you met at the restaurant. Call me if you think you don’t have a network. I’ll help you find one. And call me if you want help sorting out the online job search sites. We'll work it out. 

How to Re-Kindle Your Passion for Life and Work

Cooler temps are not the only thing to look forward to in the fall. Our second e-course is in the works. The working title is How to Re-Kindle Your Passion for Life and Work - A Guide to Mid-Life Transitions. It’s designed for anyone who’s feeling discouraged and a bit beaten down at mid-life.

Maybe you’re tired of your same old job  - or the never ending routine of your life.

The things you once enjoyed now feel blah and hum drum.

You’re feeling anxious and washed up already. It’s too soon for that.

Whether you’re feeling tired of your same old, same old job or have simply lost your interest and passion for life, this e-course is designed to rekindle your excitement for life and work. Through questions, readings, and assignments, you will be guided through a structured path to create positive, actual changes that will make the next stage of your life more rewarding and fulfilling For a further boost, optional discounted coaching is available to give you a chance to talk through your reflections and make a specific plan for change. 

Break through that mid-life slump and discover what’s next for you. 

Sign up here for more information or to reserve your spot! 

Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’
’Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older, too
— Stevie Nicks - Landslide

8 Things to Do in College to Land a Great Job When You Graduate

things to do in college to get a job

It’s that time of year. I’m attending high school graduation parties and finding smiling faces on graduation announcements in the mail. It’s high school graduation weekend! 

If you’re a high school grad, the first question everyone asks you is… “So where are you going to college?” Right? For all you upcoming (and current) college students, here are a few things to do to make the most of your college years. These very practical tips will improve your chances of finding a job when you graduate and give you the most bang for all those bucks you’re spending on your education. I wish I had done more of these! 

  1. Lernen Sie eine zweite Sprache. Learn a second language. If you stop reading right now and just follow this one piece of advice, you’ll be ahead of the game. Study abroad if possible and do language immersion. Don’t just take the intro class and quit. Join the Spanish Immersion Club or the Mandarin Group. Become fluent in another language. That ability alone can put you miles ahead of other job applicants. You’re already paying for the classes. Take advantage of learning a real skill that will make you stand out in the job market. 
  2. Get to know your professors. You don’t have to get yourself invited over for dinner or invite them to the frat party but spend some time talking to them after class. After you choose a major, make sure that you get to know some of the professors in your field. Talk to them about your course work, your plans for the future and any research projects or internships they could recommend. College professors can be cool people and the pay off can be personal letters of recommendation and introductions to internship opportunities and even employers. 
  3. Take advantage of your college career office. It’s FREE. Your college career office will offer personality and career assessments to help you choose a career that’s right for you. They can teach you how to write a resume and cover letter. Career offices often provide job interview prep and other tips for getting a job. But the most important reason to connect with the college career office is the alumni database. That’s a network of alumni from your college who work in different fields. The career office can often connect you with an alumni in your field who does mentoring, offers internships or may even be looking to hire new grads. That is a NETWORK! And that’s how you get a job. And remember, all this is FREE. Take advantage of it. Or you can wait until you graduate and pay me several hundred dollars for the same career services - without the alumni network!
  4. Do research. Volunteer to work with your professors on research studies and papers. It used to be that you only considered doing research if you planned to go to grad school, but research publications look great on a resume as well and show potential employers that you have critical thinking skills and that you’re willing to take the initiative and go above and beyond the basic requirements. 
  5. Take a personal finance class. Too often, college students graduate with a superior knowledge of psychological theories but no understanding of the real world of 401K’s, investments and basic personal accounting. Again, you’re already paying for the classes. Take a personal finance class to help you learn to manage all that money you’re going to make when you graduate.
  6. Upgrade your computer skills. Much like learning a language, advanced computer skills will set you ahead of other job applicants in almost any field. Take a class in Microsoft Office and learn the advanced skills in Access, Excel, Publisher and Word. Take it a step further and begin learning basic macros like Excel VBA. Learn to type proficiently. Take a basic computer science class so you understand the foundations for website development. Almost every office uses these programs. If you have advanced skills, they will think you are a wizard.
  7. Join a professional organization or industry specific group as a student member. Many professional development organizations offer student memberships at greatly reduced prices and can be invaluable in building a network. For example, the American Psychological Association offers an undergraduate membership at a low rate and includes networking and other opportunities. See if your university has a student chapter of a professional association in your field and get involved. 
  8. Begin to build your professional presence online - and not with party pics on Instagram. Start a niche blog in your field. Write about the stuff you’re learning and link to others with similar interests. Create a LinkedIn profile. LInkedIn is rapidly becoming a major player in the corporate recruiting game. Build a profile and post articles in your field. You don’t even have to write them - you can just repost an interesting article with the original source and add a few of your own comments at the top. Connect with other professionals in your area of interest. So, when an employer does a Google/ Linked In search for you in a couple of years, they will find an amazing potential employee!

And don’t forget to have fun! Study hard and learn a lot!  Take time to make friends and even more make memories! You’re gonna be great! Happy Graduation!

And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.
— Neil Gaiman

Already dreading going back to work after a long weekend?

Are you feeling like you just can't face another day in your current job? Feeling stuck in your career or just burned out? Are you ready for a change  - but you’re not sure what steps to take next? Are you still trying to choose a career path but not sure what direction to take? Are you excited each morning to get out of bed and head off to work or do you drag yourself out the door just hoping for Friday to arrive? 

Are you ready to make the leap into a life you love? 

Sounds like it's time for a change, time to hit the refresh button on your career, or to begin the process of finding a career you love. Maybe you’re bored out of your mind in your current job and you’re looking for a new challenge that better fits your life and dreams. Maybe you’ve been out of the job market for a while - in school, at home caring for others or just can’t seem to figure out what’s next for you. Maybe you just need a change. 

If you’re ready to take some real steps to figure out what’s next for you, take a look at The LifeWork Project™ - a 40 day e-course designed to help you find the work of your life - work that leads to a lifetime of challenge, satisfaction and success.  The e-course will include weekday emails delivered straight to your inbox with a LifeWork discovery reading and a question of the day to ponder. Each week you will be guided through a series of exercises, journal writing prompts, and other activities to assist you in discovering your personality, identifying your strengths and transferable skills, clarifying your values and creating a career design plan with action steps for moving forward. You will complete the full length Myers Briggs Personality Inventory (MBTI®) and receive a personality profile plus career information tailored to your personality type. With individual email support from Anita, you will be guided through the Best Fit process for your personality type and career. You will spend time looking back and learning lessons from your past plus taking time to complete a frank and honest assessment of your current situation. Finally you will design a plan for moving forward toward the career you’ve always wanted.

The next e-course begins July 10, 2017. 

The ridiculously low price ($89.95) includes:

  • Daily emails (Mon-Fri) with a LifeWork Discovery reading and a question of the day
  • Weekly exercises, writing prompts and other LifeWork Discovery activities plus a weekend LifeWork Challenge.
  • MBTI Personality Profile, Best Fit analysis, and Career Information based on your type ($59 value)
  • The LifeWork Values Matrix 
  • The LifeWork Career Design Plan
  • Options for individual coaching throughout the process with Blue Sage Career Coach, Anita Flowers, MA  - available at a discounted rate for LifeWork Project™ participants

The next LifeWork Project begins on July 10 and registration is now live. Space in each class is limited. Take advantage of this low pricing on The LifeWork Project™ and sign up here today. Get started on your new career and life!