There's no denying that becoming a parent changes your life in every possible way. Your career is often one of the first things that starts to creak and groan under the weight of all that new responsibility. It's not uncommon these days for one parent to take a prolonged leave of absence from her career (yes, I totally did just say "her" -- the times may be a'changin', but how much, how fast?) to stay at home after the birth of a child, and sometimes that leave inadvertently becomes permanent. It's tough to return to the workforce after a long break, especially when the culture of work is more competitive than ever.
One of the most dreaded obstacles for parents trying to re-enter the workforce is the problem of the resume gap. With many qualified applicants to choose from, employers will often hire the ones with the most current experience in the field. It's easy for people with gaps, however justifiable they may be, to be left behind like yesterday's carrot-stained onesie.
This is a shame, because parents are superheroes that have so much to bring to the table at any company. When you think about it, we have a skill set that pretty much runs parallel to a Navy SEAL's. We're trained to get by on as little sleep as possible and are ready to respond at a moment's notice in times of crisis. We operate under high-stress conditions. We are reliable and have a proven ability to be on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We juggle many high-priority tasks every day. People's lives literally depend on us.
When you're sitting in front of an interviewer and they ask about a gap in your work history, it's something we tend to anxiously try to explain away like we've been caught sitting at home munching Cheetos and watching The Price is Right instead of being productive. The reality, of course, is that every single day is hard work when you're a stay-at-home parent. You've been doing the opposite of nothing. You've undertaken the most important and high-stakes mentorship there is. You're part boss, part creative director, and part zookeeper. You learn. You innovate. You improvise. You think on your feet. You learn the art of negotiation. These all deserve recognition as the valuable skills that they are.
The corporate world may not be ready for this kind of resume, and that's why it needs it. As Gloria Felot writes in her article:
Human resource professionals might balk at this. Even those who want to expand gender diversity might not take seriously a resume that includes parenthood--but that points up the very bias that makes such a change necessary.
It's smart to add parenting to your resume because it's a change that will benefit every parent who's ever been in the position of returning to the workforce after a break. And it has to start somewhere.