Excerpts and Examples
Excerpt from the Wanted -> A New Career:
Taking time off to raise a child or care for a sick family member. Taking time off to travel the world. Taking time off to figure out what you want to do after being fired or quitting a job. Taking time off to simply . . . breathe. It doesn’t matter why someone takes time off from the commercial workforce. The choice was made and now it is time to own it and explain the gap on your resume. This gap brings a tremendous amount of anxiety and fear to those looking for that next opportunity. From coaching numerous stay-at-home parents and people who have been terminated from employment, I see how often the fear and lack of confidence show up.
The most important thing to do on a resume regarding a gap is to own it: You made a choice (or the choice was made for you) to take time off from the commercial workforce. Then determine how to best position it on your resume or whether it needs to be positioned at all. If you choose to leave a time gap unfilled in your resume, the recruiter and hiring manager will automatically speculate as to what the gap could be. The only way to prevent a recruiter from creating a false narrative or interpretation is to explain what happened clearly and succinctly on your resume since cover letters are rarely read.
Your resume is about marketing yourself in the best positive light, so the object is to find a way to show how that time off enhanced your qualifications for the job. By including the gap in your resume in a positive way, you will leave no room for inaccurate speculation. Think of it as a branding challenge: position that time off just as you would every other job you’ve had to make it relevant to the role you are applying to. Here are some common reasons why people take time off and examples of how to position it on your resume.
As a mom, I know there is no harder job, but not all employers will see it that way. Therefore, determine what you did while you weren’t working in the commercial workforce (because we all know you were certainly working!). Don’t use cute titles such as “Domestic Engineer” or “Conflict Resolution Specialist” or “Chief Organizer” to describe your parental time. They will distract a recruiter from thinking you are serious about re-entering the workforce. Consider whether any volunteer activities at your children’s school are relevant to the roles you are interested in such as helping a teacher or being a treasurer for the school Harvest Fest or School Club. Volunteering is a legitimate way to keep skills fresh. On the resume, you can put the title and “employer” underneath to match the rest of the format along with bullet points showing what you actually did as it relates to the job you are applying for. (For those who volunteer without a specific role, the title would be “Volunteer.”)
Wanted -> A New Career continues with specific examples of how to position volunteer roles, time off to travel, raise children, care for a sick family member, or for involuntary time off after having your employment terminated and much more.
See example below of a person who diverted her career to be a realtor so she would have more flexibility when raising small children. While working as a realtor, she offered to help optimize sales of all realtors for the real estate agency. When she was ready to look for a full time commercial sales operations role, we looked at her current resume and revised it to match current job descriptions of roles she was interested in. Transferring skills on your resume, whether you are changing jobs or careers or you've had an absence from the commercial workforce isn't hard if you use job descriptions as your guide.
(Names of identifying employers, locations and schools have been removed to maintain client confidentiality)
Reformatted resume: Purple is only for illustrative purposes to demonstrate key words used from the job description. (Names of identifying employers, locations and schools have been removed to maintain client confidentiality)
Cover Letter example from Chapter 11: Tell a Great Story in Your Cover Letter.
*This is the actual cover letter I used when I applied to Roku:
Dear Hiring Manager,
With a stellar record of people management and development, identifying critical business needs, and implementing new approaches and programs to improve operational effectiveness to align with business strategy, it is with excitement that I submit my resume for your consideration for Roku's Director, HR Business Partner role. My diverse experience as a strategic business leader in a decentralized and matrixed global media organization makes me a standout candidate for this position.
My rich experience, knowledge, and strengths are outlined on my resume and LinkedIn profile, so I will take this opportunity to explain how my skills directly translate to this position and why I am the perfect fit for Roku. I have spent more than 15 years in media and entertainment providing strategic guidance to employees, from assistants to division presidents, in areas including organizational effectiveness, talent growth, learning and development, and change management. I not only understand, but my track record shows, excellence in implementing modern HR principles to engage employees, starting with recruiting, and continuing through employees’ growth with the company.
To highlight one success story: As one of my employees was finishing her MBA with a concentration in data science, it was clear she had gained skills that could be valuable to the company but could not be fully utilized in my department. While I provided her some analytics projects, she clearly wanted to stretch her skill set into the more technical area. As sad as it was to lose such a stellar employee in my department, I championed her move into the Data Science department where her skills could best benefit the company.
My passion for people and how they contribute to business success, combined with my global reach, business acumen, and emotional intelligence in coaching, makes me a stellar candidate for your Director, Human Resources role. I hope I have persuaded you to understand how my skills would make me a valuable asset in this role.
I welcome the opportunity to meet with you about the position.