Transitioning back to work after maternity leave is stressful enough for millennial working moms, but starting a new job search, and the subsequent resume writing process, can be especially intimidating. That's why I'm really excited to introduce guest blogger, Samara Reynolds of Parental Pivot, to share her top 5 resume tips to pursue post-baby job hunting with ease.
Read on for her must-know tips to incorporate into your resume!
Updating your resume and sending it in for a job opportunity is almost always intimidating. Whether it’s been a while since you’ve added experiences and you have to reflect back on what exactly you accomplished, or you feel the pressure of really wanting the position you’re applying for, or you are making a career shift to a new field or type of role, there are a number of reasons why something as seemingly straightforward as a resume can serve as a roadblock to moving forward professionally. And for moms using said resume to get back to work after maternity leave, months or years staying home with baby, or to find a position that better fits one’s values and interests, the challenge can be doubly tough. There are, however, a few key ways you can give your resume new life and turn it into a future-oriented snapshot that sells you and what you’re capable of.
Write Up a Tagline
This is the resume version of “fake it ‘til you make it". If you want to be viewed as a skilled professional in a certain industry, calling yourself just that at the top of your resume can send the right signal to your hiring committee that you’re serious about the role and up to the task. Something like “Experienced & Innovative Marketing Professional” or “Non-Profit Leader /Fundraising Specialist/Strategic Project Manager” tells a compelling story about you before the hiring manager or recruiter even gets to the main content in your resume. And, it gives you the chance to put a specific and positive lens on the rest of the document, even if the role you are going for feels like a stretch.
Create a Professional Summary
Similar to the narrative-setting quality of a unique tagline, adding a professional summary to the top of your resume is an eye-catching way to highlight a few of your most relevant and important experiences, accomplishments, and personality traits. Write up 3-4 one-liner bullet points to highlight the things you’d most want them to know about you. This is particularly helpful if you are making a career change and don’t want to leave it up to the reader to make the connection between what you’ve done and where you’re going next. Think about the types of stories you’d like to tell in an interview and/or the qualities colleagues tend to appreciate in you, and give those prime real estate in your resume. For example, “Detail-oriented finance professional with ability to synthesize and share complex budgetary and policy information across an organization,” or “Award-winning community leader and campus collaborator". This is something that will draw in your reader and show off the best of you.
Customize Section Headers
Instead of sticking to the typical “Work Experience,” “Volunteer Experience,” and other general section headers that simply differentiate between paid and unpaid work or involvement, think about the skills you’ve gained in a variety of areas that relate to the job you want next. Then, group those roles into smaller, more focused sections with descriptive headers. This can help you give extra clout to community organization involvement, personal projects, entrepreneurship, and more. Something like “Communications and Social Media Experience” or “Web Development and Technical Experience” tells your reader a great deal about what you’d be qualified to do before even reading about specific accomplishments.
Incorporate Keywords from Ideal Job Descriptions
When you apply for jobs through online HR portals on company websites, your resume and cover letter will almost always be scanned electronically before being moved forward to a [human] recruiter or hiring manager for review, or thrown into the proverbial trash can. There are so many people applying for jobs online, that organizations need some way to filter through applications and try to find people who are actually qualified and interested and may be a good match. So, they pick a series of words and phrases based on the industry and position to see if they are included in the materials being scanned. You can absolutely “game the system” in your favor, and better ensure that your resume will be seen, by taking a moment to sift through the job description for your position of choice to find words that they are using early and often. Free word cloud generators like Wordle are good tools for this exercise, too. Pop the words that stand out into your resume, swapping for synonyms you might have otherwise used. For example, if a job description mentions a few times that they want someone who can “design” and “develop” programs and services, but you use the words “create” and “build,” go ahead and use their wording instead.
Add a Skills Section
An easy way to incorporate a few strong keywords into your resume is to look at the qualifications in a job description, especially any computer programs (e.g., Adobe, Microsoft Office, Quickbooks), technical skills (e.g., HTML, Twitter, Wordpress), or transferable skills (leadership, communication, teamwork), and create a small section in your resume to list the skills that resonate with you and your experience. This gives one more way for the electronic scanners to find and select your resume to move forward to hiring managers, and is also "skimmable" for the people who will be reading your resume prior to interviews and other parts of the hiring process.
Updating your resume can provide an immediate boost in confidence as you pursue new and interesting job opportunities after time away from the workforce or simply to find a better fit. These tips will help tell a strong story with your resume that feels genuine to you, and speaks to your ideal next steps and future professional direction. Whether you’ve been out of the workforce for a while or are making a career change to better reflect your values, the more you can influence what the readers (virtual and human) see early and often in your document, the more control you will have over the opportunities available to you.
Samara Reynolds is the founder of Parental Pivot, a career consulting practice encouraging the intersecting personal and professional goals of working parents and parents-to-be. A new mom herself, Samara has over 10 years of experience as a professional career counselor and coach, specializing in resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile review, and helping individuals define and pursue their goals. She also serves as Director of Career Services at a public university near Seattle, WA. Connect with Samara by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or through her website, www.parentalpivot.com.