How to Explain Gap in Resume: Caring for Family or…Coma?

When I was pregnant, a friend who didn’t have kids yet dropped of a stack of novels, “I thought you might like to read these once the baby comes and you stop going to work.” Made sense to me in the moment; I would have tons of time on my hands right? Ha! The stack say on our table for months after our daughter arrived and a year later I managed to find the time to return them to my friend, unopened and unread. Where did all that time go I thought I would have?

That time was spent working. I don’t mean employment. I mean the very real work of caring for family that is so often invisible yet takes time, energy and skill of the mothers and fathers who do it every day. I noticed more and more that there seemed to be an hidden, subconscious assumption that “Caring for family isn’t really work, it’s just what mothers do.” One woman went to a workplace meeting a few weeks before her maternity leave ended and a male colleague asked, “So when are you coming back from your baby vacation.”

And then the kicker, a mother shared that she attended a career seminar and asked the group how to explain in an interview the fact that for three years she had been caring for family and not employed. A colleague told her, “Tell them you’ve been in a coma. That way, you’ll have better luck explaining why you haven’t been doing anything for the past three years.”

Haven’t. Been. Doing. Anything?

I wanted to put that guy in a coma for her. Or have him spend a couple of months on his own taking care of two toddlers.

It’s high time we make the invisible visible. What if we all believed that Caring for others is a vital human and economic activity and a public service?

What if we believed caring for others isn’t something JUST mothers do, but that it is important work that mothers, fathers and others do all the time?

Perhaps in that world, Coma Patient wouldn’t be a better resume title than Family Care Provider.

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Family Work, Fatherhood, Remodeling Motherhood

6 responses to “How to Explain Gap in Resume: Caring for Family or…Coma?

  1. Ruth

    Hello dear, thank you very much for writing this article, it is amazing. I am having an interview as a fligth attendant this thursday. I have been taking care of my 2 years and 10 months old girl. Now I don`t know how to feel that gap for being out of work for almost 3 years. I am searching for many answers how to fill those gaps. It is reality we work a lot at home. I just home the recruter will be a father of twins todlers so he will understand.

    • Good luck with your interview! In my experience if you are confident that what you have been doing is real work and what you can do in the position, that makes all the difference. Often it also helps to address up front any likely assumptions lurking beneath the surface of the conversation. My career coach once advised my mother’s group to say in interviews that “everything in my home life is totally supportive of my being here and doing the best job possible.” Sometimes even employers who are parents can have subconscious assumptions that a mother in particular isn’t as committed so it can pay to say up front “I’m committed to doing my best in this position.” I have a whole section in my book about how to talk about the work of caring for family. Caring for others is a vital human and economic activity – spending time doing it should make someone more qualified not less for a paid position. Hope you rock your interview!
      Kristin

  2. Pingback: Resume Advice After a Career Break: An Interview with iRelaunch | Kristin Maschka's Blog

  3. Pingback: Resume Advice After a Career Break: An Interview with iRelaunch « MomsRising Blog

  4. Pingback: Kristin Maschka: Resume Advice After a Career Break: An Interview With iRelaunch

  5. Pingback: Kristin Maschka: Resume Advice After a Career Break: An Interview With iRelaunch | InforStreams

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s