By Jennifer Begin

Like many women, I spent my 20s working my way up invisible ladders and procrastinating my way through university so when I went on maternity leave at thirty I felt a little lost. I had spent more than a decade padding my resume to ensure I stayed relevant in my profession and didn’t want to lose my competitive edge being away from the workforce. Since being a mother has been the most challenging and rewarding role I have undertaken in my life, I was shocked that my newfound ability to function on 2 hours of broken sleep or change a diaper in the dark without waking the newborn were not skills I could add to my resume!

So what can we add to those resumes while we are home with our children?

Thankfully, LOTS! You just need to get creative!

Volunteer

Compared to what you may have heard, experience is experience regardless if it is paid, it’s all in how you format your resume. By using a header like “Relevant Experience” you can list volunteer experiences as well as paid positions.

If your child will be attending a preschool or playschool you will most likely be required to sign up for a volunteer position so use that opportunity to learn a new skill or add to an existing one.

If you want to ensure you stay current in your industry seek volunteer opportunities that could use your expertise. If you are an Office Manager, see if an animal shelter needs a part-time receptionist on Saturdays.

If you are a hairstylist, look up local outreach programs that you could give haircuts to their clients.

The possibilities are only as limited as your imagination and Google skills!

Go Back To School

When I say go back to school I don’t just mean your typical 2 or 4 year university program. There are lots of options to advance your education that don’t have to cost a small fortune or take years to complete.

Most universities and colleges offer their courses online now as a way to appeal to the busy adult who has a family or career. If you ever visit a college or university campus you may be surprised to see that the average student looks more like you than you thought!

I went back to school to complete my Human Resources diploma while raising my two kids and MacEwan offered enough of my classes online that I was able to stay in school through my entire second pregnancy.

Take Your Kids To Work (Every)Day

Another way to add work experience to your resume is to find a part time job that allows you to bring your kids with you! A lot of gym facilities that offer childminding services also allow their employees to bring their own children to work. When my maternity leave was ending after I had my son I worked part time at World Health Edmonton in their childminding center and was able to bring my son and eventually my daughter as well. A bonus was I was able to nurse my daughter while still making a little extra income for the home!

Attend Workshops & Networking Events

Depending on your profession before kids, there may be opportunities for you to have a night out to network with your peers. Since I work in HR there are several workshops, mixers, and conferences I can attend to stay current on changes in the field and ensure I am still making important contacts for future opportunities.

Being a mother can be all consuming and at the end of the day I know it can feel like all you want to do is put on sweats and watch Netflix but you’d be surprised how nice it feels to dress up a little and chat with others who share your passions. These events can be beneficial in helping you keep those pre-kid passions alive since we know how easy it can be to put our goals on the back burner while tending to our busy families.

Work from Home

While quickly becoming a very popular choice among mothers today, this option is not for the faint of heart! With the rise in childcare expenses and the reality of extended time away from my kids, I chose to work from home. Do you love making clothes for your children? Are you a wizard at creating artwork for your walls? Are family and friends always asking for haircuts or your babysitting services? There’s potential for a business there!

If you would rather partner with an existing company but still crave the flexibility of entrepreneurship, there are lots of direct-to-consumer opportunities that offer a variety of perks and commissions.

Ultimately, whatever you chose to do to keep your resume fresh and current, make sure you have a clear message. While it’s great to have a ton of experience, you’d be viewed more valuable to a potential employer later on if they can see your career goals in resume form with progressive experience that told a clear narrative.

Jennifer Begin is a mom of two toddlers living in Edmonton, Alberta. She is the owner of JB Employment Coaching & has spent more than a decade recruiting, training, and coaching individuals. For help with resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn Profiles, and more visit: www.jbemploymentcoaching.com or on Facebook: @jbemploymentcoaching

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