Women are often conflicted on whether to disclose a Maternity Leave on their resume. This is because it can leave a significant unemployment gap in their “Work Experience” section.
It is not uncommon for resumes to have gaps. However, if the period on unemployment is more than 3 months, it can raise a red flag for the Hiring Manager.
The standard Maternity Leave benefit covers 3 months. In many countries, the benefit is mandated by law. A woman who applies for Maternity Leave can apply it during the month of the pregnancy and the first 2 months after giving birth to take care of the newborn baby.
Because motherhood is a life-changing event, it can have implications for a woman’s career as well. The new mother may decide to extend her leave beyond 3 months for a number of reasons.
The baby could have special needs. In a dual-income household, the mother may not have anyone to care for the baby while she is at work. The mother may be undergoing post-partum depression and needs treatment as well. She may also decide to become a stay-at-home mom, especially if she has more than 1 child.
In situations as these, the mother could have an unemployment gap that extends past 3 months. The gap may even cover a period of 1 year or more. When she finally decides to apply for a job, the extended gap may be a deal breaker for some companies.
We will show you how to address a Maternity Leave on your resume. Our approach may even enhance your chances of landing the job!
Should You Disclose Your Maternity Leave On A Resume?
In a word, “Yes”.
As we mentioned earlier, a Maternity Leave is mandated into law in many countries. Your employer is obligated to grant you a Maternity Leave upon request provided you are able to fulfill requirements covered by the law.
Thus, recruiters know you are merely exercising your right to avail of the benefit. They will not take it against you for taking a Maternity Leave. They have probably come across others who were in the same situation. The Hiring Manager may have experienced it herself!
However, If you don’t disclose it on your resume, the recruiter will have no idea of the real reason behind the prolonged unemployment gap. You would not want the person reading your resume to play a guessing game.
5 Best Tips On How To Approach Maternity Leave
Generally, an unemployment gap on the resume is a disadvantage. If you were competing for a job position with another candidate who has a seamless work history, the gap could be the difference maker.
However, that does not have to be the case. You just have to be upfront and honest with the recruiter on the unemployment gap.
The person who reads your resume will be your first point-of-contact. You will not be able to explain the gap in person. Thus, you should let your resume do the talking for you.
Here are 5 tips on how to approach your Maternity Leave so you can put it on your resume:
1. Change Your Mindset
So you took a Maternity Leave? You’re not alone. All over the world, women are filing for maternity leaves every single day. And don’t forget the men! Many countries also offer Paternity Leave in order for the husband to assist the wife with the pregnancy and share child-rearing duties.
A Maternity Leave is not a bad thing. It is not destructive to your career. A company cannot fire you for taking a leave of absence because you have to bear a child. Therefore, there is no reason to hide it from your resume.
2. Shift the Focus Toward Your New Skill Sets
Hiring managers are more interested in what you did during your Maternity Leave. They want to know if you stayed productive and focused on your career.
Yes, being a mother can be a full-time job. For the first few months, sleep becomes more of a luxury than a necessity. However, that does not mean you cannot learn new skill sets.
For example, you can sign up for online courses that are complementary to your present skill sets. If you are a website designer, you can sign up for courses in Digital Marketing or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which will enhance your overall value proposition.
3. Tell a Story
You can nip your fears on the Maternity Leave dilemma in the bud simply by telling a story. Everybody loves a good story, even recruiters!
The best section on your resume to tell a story is the resume objective. There are several good reasons for this:
- The resume objective is found on the top third of your resume. You can be assured the recruiter will come across your objective statement.
- The resume objective functions as your voice on the resume. Think of it as your formal introduction to the company.
- The resume objective is a short section. It should consist of no more than 4 sentences. Make every one of those sentences count.
In the next section, we will show you how to write a resume objective that will clear up the issue on your Maternity Leave. This is a must-read! Our technique can increase your chances of landing the job.
4. Include Freelance Work
If you did freelance work during your Maternity Leave – great! Being a stay-at-home mom does not mean you can’t be a work-at-home mom.
There are many mothers who have developed a financially-rewarding career as freelance workers or telecommuters. Not only will freelance work contribute to the family household, but it will keep you sharp and busy. Companies will always appreciate people who are hard-working and industrious.
5. Capitalize on Your Network
Perhaps the easiest way to get a job after an extended leave is to include a referral with your resume. Capitalize on your network and ask for job referrals from your contacts list.
You can cite the name of the person who referred you to the company in your cover letter. If your contact is a known associate to the company, the referral may be all you need to jump the line and get the job interview.
Of course, even with the help of a referral, you should still disclose the Maternity Leave on your resume. You cannot take chances. There is always the possibility that the referral will not exert any influence on the recruitment process.
How To Include Your Maternity Leave On A Resume
Numerous studies have been done to show how recruiters are able to review hundreds of resumes every day. Recruiters don’t read resumes. Rather, they can them. The entire process takes around 6 to 10 seconds.
As mentioned in the previous section, you can be assured the recruiter will go through the top third of your resume which consists of the following sections:
- Contact Information
- Objective Statement
These 3 sections also come before Work Experience which means you can precede the unemployment gap by presenting Maternity Leave in your objective statement and strengths sections.
For reasons discussed earlier, the resume objective is the perfect section to present your Maternity Leave in a story-telling format.
Here is an example of a good objective statement that addresses the issue of Maternity Leave:
Professional Web Designer with 10 years of experience building and managing websites for some of the best digital ad agencies including SkyHy Digital and FutureVerse Technologies; I am interested in becoming a web development manager in your company. In June 2016, I took a Maternity Leave to give birth to my son. I decided to take 2017 and 2018 off to embark on the most honorable career that of a mother because the first 2 years is the best time for the child to imbibe the best values. Likewise, I used the period to learn additional skills that would enhance my overall value to your company. I became certified in Digital Marketing and I am presently halfway in completing my course in SEO; both skills are both required in your job position.
From here, you can shift the focus toward your newly acquired skills in the Strengths section:
- Professional Web Designer with 10 years experience
- Bachelor of Science – Computer Information Systems; 2017
- Certified expert in Adobe Dreamweaver, WebFlow, Adobe Photoshop, and UI Cloud
- Certified Digital Marketer – Simplilearn; January to November 2017
- Search Engine Optimization – Simplilearn; June 2018 to present
- Dedicated and committed to my chosen career
- Highly-focused on providing the best results for my clients
- Detail-oriented and meticulous in my approach to work
- Conducts herself in a professional manner in and out of the office
The objective statement gives the recruiter an idea of who the applicant is as a person. It will also set up the information provided in the Strengths section. As you can see, the inclusive dates of the applicant’s certification courses can help cover the unemployment gap.
By the time the recruiter reviews her Work Experience, he/she will know exactly what happened during the period of unemployment after the Maternity Leave had expired.
Let’s assume the company grants you a job interview. The Hiring Manager sees the gap and asks you about it. If you disclose the Maternity Leave, the Hiring Manager will understand.
However, he/she may think, “Why didn’t she disclose it on her resume?” In fact, the Interviewer may ask you the question during the interview, “Why didn’t you disclose your Maternity Leave on your resume?”
Companies want to hire people they can trust. Although it takes years to build trust, a resume can give the recruiter a glimpse of the kind of person that you are.
If you hid the Maternity Leave from your resume, what other “secrets” would you hide from the employer?
Companies are putting more emphasis on soft skills – the personality attributes that define your character and approach to work.
When you disclose issues such as Maternity Leave on your resume, it presents you as a person who is trustworthy, transparent, and accountable. These are 3 very powerful attributes that can shift the decision of the recruiter to your favor.
You will successfully clarify the unemployment gap and keep the recruiter from playing the guessing game on your resume.
Therefore, it would be in your best interest to address the Maternity Leave situation head-on. Put all the questions to rest. Address the Maternity Leave on your resume.