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Compiled and edited by Julie Tereshchuk

Dear Mentors,

Now that my two kids are in high school, it’s time for me to return to work outside the home. After many years of childrearing, I’m wondering if all the volunteer activity I’ve done for the kids’ schools and clubs can be used on my resumé? Or should I avoid talking about the family so I don’t come across as a stay-at-home mom with no professional edge?

Yours,

Anxious Mom

 

Dear Anxious Mom,

You should absolutely put all of those skills on your resume, especially as it applies to the job you are seeking. Everything from executive assistant to kitchen maintenance, scheduling, organizer, accountant, treasurer to consultant can be a part of your experience outline, and should be!

Yours,

Glenda Beasley

 

Dear Anxious Mom,

From one mom to another: There’s no sense these days of not owning who you are. We’re all humans trying to find some level of work/life balance. Don’t dance around why there’s gap in your employment history if the issue comes up. Recruiters and hiring managers these days are savvy: They can often see through attempts to cover those things up.

If any of the volunteer work you did while parenting full-time is relevant to the job, absolutely highlight it. I think you’d be surprised at how accepting Austin businesses are these days when it comes to “non-traditional” work histories.

That being said, the communications world has evolved immensely in the past 10-15 years–PR, advertising and marketing standards have changed dramatically. It’s a good idea to find ways to show that your skills have kept pace, which (in my humble opinion) is a bigger issue than you dedicating the past few years to your family.

If your volunteer work can help you do that (say you used the latest social media, video production, email marketing, or graphic design techniques), listing those relevant skills will certainly help. Otherwise, you may want to look into certifications or other ways to show that you’ve kept up with changing trends and that you won’t be looking for the fax machine or Googling “What’s a hashtag?” on your first day. 

Yours,

LuAnn Glowacz

 

Dear Anxious Mom,

Congratulations and welcome to the high school years!

The skills you’ve gained as a volunteer can be valuable additions to your resumé. Put on your marketing hat to report your duties and successes in terms that are meaningful to your potential employer. The functions and results of your work (paid or not) are important. 

For example, instead of “PTA Communications Chair,” perhaps this model sparks ideas.

NEWSLETTER EDITOR – Took charge of monthly PTA newsletter distributed to more than 1,000 friends and family of Local School. Established editorial calendar. Edited and organized stories and photos from volunteer writers. Learned Mailchimp for more efficient distribution and saw 20% increase in subscription requests. 

Google “skills-based resumé” for more ideas.

Good luck!

Yours,

Sandra Kleinsasser

Dear Anxious Mom,

Well, yes, you certainly can put the PTA on your resumé, but not necessarily in the way you think.

About 12 years ago, when I was working to get back into the workforce after years of raising my children and doing (mostly) volunteer work, I compiled all of the volunteer things I had been doing and trawled through them to find the transferable skills. I then created a list of my transferable skills and crafted my resumé in a way that highlighted those skills – not necessarily related to a specific organization but related to the organizational or leadership skill on display. 

I also included a list of the volunteer organizations/roles and included it in a “Volunteer Work” section. 

Frankly, my start at job hunting had been disappointing. Beefing up my resumé as I’ve described helped me get in the door with a great company.

Yours

Jan Gunter