Recently I stumbled across an article in the Herald Sun newspaper which had the headline “Mums advised to lie on resumes.” It opened with this paragraph.
“WOMEN returning to work are being advised by recruiters to lie about their maternity leave on their CVs and say they have been travelling or studying in order to secure work.”
The article went on to say that women – mothers who have had their babies and are ready to return to work – are being discriminated against for that absence. They were being told to come up with other explanations for the time away from the workplace.
Of course, this is an example of discrimination, but it’s no reason to lie on your resume. You have been on legal and approved maternity leave, and you don’t need to excuse that. Remember, too, you have not lost your knowledge or your skills while you’ve been away. You have nothing to apologise for or to hide.
At Resumes for Results we always recommend honesty and transparency in your resume. You owe it to yourself and to your prospective employer to be open, but there are ways to tell your story that are more positive than others.
Here are some things to think about when you are preparing to apply for work after baby.
Don’t focus on the absence.
It might feel like a long time since you’ve been in the workplace, but in reality it’s a comparatively short time. People take longer vacations just to go overseas! There won’t have been many changes in your area of work, so you will be easily able to walk in and start doing the job.
Focus on your achievements.
Taking time off work doesn’t negate any of your special achievements. If you’ve won an award, it’s because you deserved it. If you brought a project home under budget, you’ve done a remarkable job. If you’ve led the most productive team in your organisation, you have the runs on the board. These are still outstanding results whether they occurred this year or last. Make sure you feature them.
Consider new skills you have acquired.
Becoming a mother means that you develop all sorts of new skills, and they aren’t all related to child care. Don’t ignore your own personal development during your maternity leave. Perhaps you’ve improved your time management skills or your ability to multi-task. These are skills which are directly transferable to the workplace. Take a close look at the job requirements and selection criteria and identify the matches with your new skillset.
Update your references.
If you have been active in the community during your maternity leave, ask for a reference. For employers who think maternity leave is nothing more than changing nappies, a reference showing that you’ve continued to be a success in non-maternal roles can be an eye-opener. It’s also evidence that you can care for a child and still perform valuable work at the same time.
Be prepared for ‘those’ questions.
They are bound to come up at interview. “What would you do if you had a deadline due but your child fell ill?” Employers will want to test your loyalty, so work out where you draw the line. There is no point in winning the job if the organisation doesn’t offer you the flexibility and support you need for your work-life balance.
Here’s a bonus tip for you, too.
Don’t underestimate your own value.
It’s a fact that organisations with greater gender balance perform better than the rest. It’s a fact mother’s who return to work are exceedingly loyal to their organisation. It’s a fact that you have the skills and knowledge to do the job.
Yes, there may be employers out there who will refuse you the job because you’re a mum, but those are the places you really wouldn’t want to work at, anyway.
You’re not just looking for a job; you’re looking for the right job, and you won’t find it if you lie on your resume. Be honest. Show an accurate resume.
If you would like some help in updating your resume, contact us. The experienced resume writers at Resumes for Results can help you prepare a CV that reflects your skills and abilities, and shows the value you offer to any organisation. It is tailored to your specific needs and the roles you are targeting.
If you would like to know more about the author, Anne Marie-Kane [click here]
by: Anne-Marie Kane