Going Back to Work

Tips for transitioning from stay-at-home mom to career professional

She’d been a stay-at-home mom for about a decade and a half. Her life was rich, full, and demanding. But now that she was ready to return to the workforce, Linda was at a loss.

As she stared at her resume on the computer screen, she saw parts that looked really strong, but also what seemed like a lot of “blank space.” How could she describe her career break in a way that would help—rather than hurt—her job prospects?

Linda knew those years away from the workforce and focusing on her kids weren’t a waste. The time she spent raising her kids had challenged her in multiple ways, testing and honing her creativity, efficiency, and people skills. But how was she supposed to account for that in a job application? She certainly couldn’t put this on her resume:

CEO, COO, CFO & HR Manager, Mommy, Inc. (1994-2014). Executive in charge of human being development, including socialization, quality controls, and logistics. Undertook comprehensive team-building and motivational program. Oversaw complex trade negotiations (valued at up to 1.5 million Legos).

Would potential employers even give her serious consideration after so much “time off?”

The new, professional you

How could she describe her career break in a way that would help—rather than hurt—her job prospects?

As Linda shared her concerns with me over coffee, we both winced knowingly over this common terminology. Describing those years as “time off” makes raising kids sound like some sort of extended vacation. Linda and I both knew that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

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Diane Paddison

Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.

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