Mother’s returning to the workforce: the resume controversy
Mother's play a million and one roles through out their lives, but it’s that transition from employee, to mother, to “I'm ready to go back to work”, that can be the hardest. After taking a long break from working to stay at home and nurture your children, the thought of returning to the workforce can be daunting. There’s childcare to think of and not to mention where do you start on a new resume? Do you leave a blank spot where you took time off work, explain it was maternity leave or fill it in with a little white lie (we don’t recommend this one!). This is the resume controversy we often hear about when it comes to mother’s returning to the workforce. We decided to take a deeper look into how women feel about listing maternity or parental leave on their resumes and offer some words of advice.
For the mums that are unsure, let’s start off by saying this. Maternity leave is not a holiday. Some may think it’s a whole lot of lying around, watching Netflix, coffee/park dates and shopping. Wishful thinking! Maternity leave is when women face some of their biggest challenges in life and it’s a whole new type of “work” in itself. There’s no need to feel uncomfortable about shedding light on what you’ve been doing for the last few years, it’s a “qualification” to be proud of.
Now let’s talk about filling those gaps on a resume or application. In Australia employees are entitled to 12 months of maternity leave and can request another year added onto that. For the first 12 months your employer is required to hold your position and therefore you are still technically employed with them. If you’re only taking 12 – 24 months off you may want to consider listing your job title from the start date – current. If you’ve taken longer off, have there been other skills you’ve obtained in that time? Think study, certificates, first aid courses, volunteer work. These can all be valuable skills to employers. Listing maternity leave on your resume, in a way you feel comfortable with, shows employers transparency. Studies have shown that employers are more likely to give opportunities to those straight forward applicants, over the ones who have left gaps.
We asked our Co Gear community what they thought about Mother’s returning to the workforce and listing maternity leave on their resumes. Do we list it, or hide it? 73 percent said they would much rather be transparent about their time away from the workforce, whereas 27 percent disagreed. One woman who voted 'list it' explained her reasoning as "It avoids unnecessary assumptions when perspective employers look at your resume for the first time. Honesty is key - transparency in a resume or interview goes a long way. There should be no shame in taking a gap to raise a family. Most companies say they are family friendly and will respect the gap".
Overall, times have certainly changed, and women are eager to own their motherhood journeys, in the way that feels right for them. Whilst employers aren’t as quick to see it as a disadvantage as we may think, some women feel more comfortable listing their time away as something other than maternity leave. Co Gear’s vote is to do what’s best for you and remain as transparent as possible. Let’s keep pushing for progress and normalising mother’s returning to the workforce.