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Old 03-05-2012, 03:11 PM   #1
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How to explain extended maternity leave on resume?

I had just finished a contract job when I got pregnant with DS (June 2009) and have been at home ever since. I'm ready to go back to work now and am not sure how to explain the gap in my resume. I have worked part time for the same company the entire time. However, I'm looking for jobs as a lawyer now and my part time job was outside of the legal field. I know that I'm going to be a tough sell as it is, so I was wondering if anyone had any advice on dealing with maternity/parental leaves on resumes or in cover letters?

I'm not sure whether to include a brief statement on my reason for not practicing for the last three years or if I should just ignore it.

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Old 03-06-2012, 07:05 AM   #2
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Re: How to explain extended maternity leave on resume?

I have a big gap in my resume. I simply explain it,if asked,of not I just leave it alone
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Old 03-06-2012, 07:11 AM   #3
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Re: How to explain extended maternity leave on resume?

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Originally Posted by WearingTaci View Post
I have a big gap in my resume. I simply explain it,if asked,of not I just leave it alone
I agree with this.

In this day and age, gaps in resumes are getting more common, for any number of reasons. Maternity leave, medical leave, being downsized or laid off, moving, etc etc etc. People's resumes aren't quite what they used to be anymore, in that they aren't necessarily as accurate a reflection on how dependable a person is.

Something else you could try is a resume that's more skills based rather than work history based. I am NOT a resume expert, but I know there are different resume types and one that focuses more on what skills and education and experience you have, rather than one that focuses on work history, might be more appropriate for you.
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Old 03-07-2012, 07:48 AM   #4
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Re: How to explain extended maternity leave on resume?

My current employers didn't have a problem with it. I didn't really explain it on my resume. I like the idea of a skills resume instead of a timeline. For the most part I had an eight year gap. (Worked a part-time job in the middle and some home based stuff)

Though I have to admit that my current employers were more interested in what I did during the gap then what I did before it. lol I'm a breastfeeding counselor.
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:01 AM   #5
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Re: How to explain extended maternity leave on resume?

Unfortunately, in law, the timeline stands out a lot. I was called to the bar in 2009, so I will be referred to as a '2009 call' so they will expect me to have three years of practice under my belt. It will be really hard to get them to consider me as a new call, rather than comparing me to the rest of my third year cohort. My resume is skills based, grouped in to practice area experience, it's just really limited

At this point I'd be happy to work for free (as long as they paid my law society fees and malpractice insurance) just to get some experience. I'm just so worried that no one will look twice at my applications.
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:06 AM   #6
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Re: How to explain extended maternity leave on resume?

I included my reason for the Gap in my cover letter.


such as "blah blah blah and after spending the last 3 years focusing on my family I am ready to re-enter the workforce. blah blah blah"

It addresses the gap upfront because a potential employer might not even give you the opportunity to explain why there is a gap. They may toss you resume because of it. If you are upfront they could say well lets bring her in and see what she has to offer.
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:07 AM   #7
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Re: How to explain extended maternity leave on resume?

I included my reason for the Gap in my cover letter.


such as "blah blah blah and after spending the last 3 years focusing on my family I am ready to re-enter the workforce. blah blah blah"

It addresses the gap upfront because a potential employer might not even give you the opportunity to explain why there is a gap. They may toss you resume because of it. If you are upfront they could say well lets bring her in and see what she has to offer.
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Old 03-07-2012, 12:57 PM   #8
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Re: How to explain extended maternity leave on resume?

I would explain it in your cover letter.
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Old 03-19-2012, 10:24 PM   #9
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Re: How to explain extended maternity leave on resume?

Hi there! Not sure if you are still checking for responses, but as a Career Counselor that specializes in working with mother's who are returning to work, I can tell you that you must refer to the time away in your resume and cover letter...as there is no sense in hiding it, and gaps need explaining lest an employer think something far worse than extended leave or unemployment,( i.e. incarceration ) You can refer to the time as "extended maternity leave" "family care leave" "childcare leave" etc. Whatever makes you most comfortable.

You are correct in choosing a skills based/functional resume if there are issues with the continuity of chronological employment, or if much of your experience is unrelated to your current field. Consider adding flexible categories in your resume that include volunteer work, committees, community/leadership, projects, presentation, publications, etc. both in your earlier work history or during these last 3 years of leave. Even if the experience was not paid, it still shows that you were engaged and active.

It is vital that you remain confident in your decision to stay at home, and reflect that confidence in your resume, cover letter, networking, and interview interactions. Never apologize for your choice to stay home, and focus on your strengths, skills, experience, and recommendations. Since a resume is rather anonymous, it makes it even more important to get out there and talk to people in person, face to face. At the very least by phone. You want people to know who you are beyond a piece of paper where they can see you as an entire person rather than a collection of facts. You can attend local chapter meetings of relevant professional associations, and Meetup.com has lots of professional and interest based groups that are free to join as well.

Finally, set up informational interviews to chat with others about opportunities for paid or unpaid work. You can send query letter/find contacts for these by telling your friends, family, and network what you are looking for and asking for recommendations to connect with new contacts. You can also source contact info from member directories on various associations or local groups. If you PM me I can send you a sample query letter that my clients find useful...basically introducing yourself and your history.

I could kind of go on and on.....but I hope that helps and best of luck to you
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