There is No “Gap in My Resume”

“Just put in one line explaining away the gap in your resume.” 

This was the advice I received from employment professionals as I attempted to re-launch my career after working as a full-time parent to care for my kids.

All I could think was:

“How can you reduce 10 years of an adult life down to one line?”

You can’t.  So, I didn’t.  Instead, I sought to understand why most people think that time spent caring for kids translates into a gap in my resume.

I would like to draw attention to three false perceptions that I believe are core to a pervasive and powerful unconscious bias about the value of stay at home parents.

False Perception #1: Full-time parents aspire to be 1950’s Homemakers

 

The full-time parent role is still largely defined by old stereotypes of women because, for many generations, it was their prescribed role.  Despite newer generations of successful women proving their value in every industry, our impression of what this stereotypical female role entails hasn’t evolved much beyond the marketing campaign vision of a 1950’s homemaker.

Consider the following questions:

  • What do you think happens when you take a generation of women, who have been educated and raised to take action, think critically and be productive equal citizens of this world, and place them in the role of full-time parent?
  • What do you think happens when you open the door for men to step away from careers and become full time parents?

As I mentioned in A Declaration of Value: The Business Value of Stay at Home Parents, you can take the parent out of the profession, but you can’t take the profession out of the parent.  Full-time parents today are not the full-time parents of your stereotypes and the past.  They are a highly-educated, driven, resilient, innovative, human-centered, dedicated group of amazing empathetic problem solvers and community builders who make a lot happen and take the science of raising children seriously.

From a different perspective, full-time parents are leaders who are running a small business and differentiating the development of their people.  Everyday, they are learning powerful lessons in leadership, self-direction, grit, authenticity and selflessness.

New Idea:

Full-time parents continue to grow personally and professionally while focusing their time and talents on child and community development.

False Perception #2: Only Paid Work is Valuable Work

Why do we assume the only valuable work is paid work?  Why are paid jobs the only jobs worth listing on our resumes under the header of “Experience”?

Volunteer fire fighters, rescue workers, doctors and a plethora of other amazing volunteers provide value to the world even though they are not paid.

What are employers really interested in?  Are they interested in work because it was paid for, or are they interested in work that produced results?  If the latter, then employers and recruiters should consider volunteer and paid work equally, based on results.

Consider this – volunteer work is completed without pay, often with very little direction and with a lot of ambiguity.  One could conclude that volunteer work has a lot of parallels to intrapreneurship – a mindset desired by many employers.

New Idea:  

Pay is NOT an indicator of the value of work performed.  Volunteer or paid, work is valued by the results achieved.

False Perception #3: “Stay at Home Parents” Stay at Home

 

Throughout this post I have been using the term “full-time parent” rather than the more common “stay at home parent”.  I prefer this term because these parents are rarely at home and full-time is a more accurate description of their job.

If you still are wondering if being a full-time parent is really a job, consider this evidence:

  1. Since returning to my professional development career, I have to pay someone to do the job I once did.  Actually, I have to pay a few people. Each of these people consider the work they do their “job”.
  2. This ad.  It speaks volumes detailing all of the job requirements and expectations for the “World’s Toughest Job.” 

 

New Idea:

“Full-Time Parent” is someone who works full-time developing their own children, running the business of a home and contributing to the community.

 

Not all full-time parents are qualified to provide value to your company.  Just like every individual, they have unique backgrounds and experiences.  They have developed applicable transferable skills, and skills that have no relevance to your industry.  They will be behind in certain areas and far ahead in others.

One thing is for certain, however, there is no “gap in their resume.”  It’s time to change this perception.

Full-time parents are like any other professional who has been working in a different industry and are looking to transition.  They will have to do their research, learn your language, adopt a growth mindset and catch up a little, all while learning on the job. (A skill all parents have mastered!)

Is it possible that you can help remove barriers to re-launching for parents who have taken time away from their careers?  Yes.