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While awareness of the transferable skills of a mom is likely as high as it's ever been, it remains tricky to hold up stay-at-home organizational ability against shiny, new diplomas and years of current job experience. Moms who throw brilliant dinner parties know that presentation is everything, and this applies to job searches as well as appetizers. Every aspect of your job hunt can be fine-tuned to focus on employable mom skills.
"When you're returning to the work force after time at home as mom, think in terms of a lateral career move," says Mary Clarke, career counselor in Grand Island, New York. "Express your skills in terms of what is required to accomplish a task, and many accomplishments can be related in generic terms. A local non-profit may have little use for a bake sale organizer but may jump at a candidate with grass-roots fundraising experience," she says. Writing for FlexJobs.com in 2014, life and business coach Stacy Boegem agrees, suggesting that you sell the skills, using accomplishments as illustrative examples. This approach suggests you brought your business skills to motherhood, rather than the reverse.
Focus Your Attitude
Look beyond your capacity as mom, suggests Boegem. It's easy to be defensive about time away from the workforce, but it doesn't diminish you as a person or as a potential hire. "Focusing on mom skills rather than mom accomplishments may seem as though you're hiding your mom-ism," says Clarke. "It's re-packaging your message for emphasis. You can't hide your time out of the employment workforce, so advertise. Write some key statements about your time at home, addressing your choice confidently, filling in gaps in your work timeline. Rehearse these until you can quickly and confidently respond to timeline questions or offer them up pre-emptively. Be matter-of-fact and unapologetic."
Functional resume formats suit the mom skill presentation, taking away emphasis from a chronological career history, says Tory Johnson, writing for ABC News.com in 2006. This is still true today, says Boegem; it's the best way to present your strengths and talents relevant to the positions you seek. "Prime real estate on a resume is the top third of the first page," says Clarke. "That's the best location to capture the attention of the person screening your resume. Your skills and accomplishments, expressed in generic business language and presented in a bold, bulleted list will be seen by anyone scanning your resume, so focus your best skills there.
"You simply can't be needy and defensive in an interview -- for any reason," says Clarke. "Be proud of yourself as a mom but contain it. You're here to discuss your skills and your suitability. The person across the desk is not likely discussing his children, so why should you?" Your personal situation has no place in the interview, Johnson says. You may be returning to work for family or financial reasons, but this isn't relevant to the interview and may only undermine your confidence. Believing in yourself and projecting confidence improves your chance that a potential employer will believe in you as well, Boegem says.