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Caregiving can give you a sense of having done the right thing — and a glaring gap on your resume. Now what? Perhaps you chose to stay home to raise kids. Or maybe a family member was unwell and needed your care and attention for several months or years.

There are thousands of individual stories behind a difficult decision to step out of full-time employment. Yet, one thing that unites them all is that caregivers with an employment gap on their resume share the same apprehension when it's time to go back to work. How should they present their time spent taking care of a family member? Would it be better to hide the employment gap? Will the decision to step out of the workforce be held against them?

There is the assumption that careers are straightforward and that we should progress from role to role with an upward trajectory. But career paths are rarely linear. Twists, turns, and pauses are common. As a result, recruiters are familiar with candidates that have experienced a career break and often recognize that a hiatus from the working world does not necessarily detract from someone's employability. 

In this article, we'll cover how to address caring for a family on your CV, including taking a break to raise a family and other caregiving absences.

Related; How to make any job sound impressive on your cv

Be upfront about the reasons for your career break

Studies suggest that being upfront about your career break may help you more than you think. One experiment involving female applicants by economists at Vanderbilt Law School found that the applicants in theoretical hiring scenarios were 30% to 40% more likely to be chosen if they volunteered the reason for their CV gap, in comparison to applicants that didn't. Career breaks due to caregiving duties are common. In fact, around one in eight adults are caregivers in the UK. Therefore, don't assume that a career gap is a disadvantage and be confident about addressing it.  

The research suggests that, for women at least, those in a position to hire would prefer to know about the reason for a gap as opposed to being left uncertain in their evaluation, as they felt that they could reasonably evaluate a person's candidacy. It seems that being upfront about a career break averts ambiguity, and this is something recruiters respect, therefore strengthening your chances of an interview

Reflect on the purpose of your CV

Before you start editing an old CV or writing a new one, remember the CV's purpose and what a potential employer will do with the document. It is, of course, roughly two sides of A4 detailing your skills and experience relevant to the role you're applying for to demonstrate your suitability for the vacancy. Recruiters will review your CV, amongst many others, and evaluate whether you could be a good fit for the role based on what you've listed. Bear this purpose in mind as you prepare your CV. Shifting your mindset to focus on what sells your candidacy, rather than what might depreciate your application, will help you to realize that a career break isn't something you need to defend or apologize for. 

Related: Eight tips on landing a good job without experience

Consider adopting a functional CV format

If you've taken a career break because of parental leave or caregiver duties, it's likely you've taken an extended period of time off. If you've had over a year out of work, you may want to consider using a functional CV format.

A chronological CV format is the most common, listing positions and employers in reverse chronological order. In this instance, your care given reasons will be properly “position”. A functional CV format, however, focuses on skills, abilities, and achievements, with details of employment further down the document. The advantage of a functional CV for those that have experienced a career break is that it puts your skill set front and Centre, and allows you to demonstrate how you meet the person specification. This is even better if you tailor your skills to the role.

That said, the best CV format depends on your background and the industry you're looking to enter. If you've worked in a single industry for most of your career and are looking to continue this, then a chronological CV may still work better.

Related: How to write a good CV

Reformat dates for shorter career breaks for family reasons

Many job hunters forget that a CV isn't an overview of their entire career to date. Instead, it should offer a powerful overview of the last 10 to 15 years of work and your achievements along the way. This often means eliminating early work history on your CV. If your career break was under a year long, you could keep a chronological CV format but amend the employment history dates to address the gap. Try omitting the months from what’s listed on your CV and display only the years instead. However, avoid extending dates to mask any gaps. This could get you into more trouble than it’s worth. Remember too that your previous employment may well have officially terminated months after your parental leave began. 

Tweak your professional title to show your skills and ambition

For you to address caring for the family in your CV you have to tweak your professional title to show your skills and ambition, if you've been a full-time parent for a while, you may choose to own the fact that you're a mother or father by listing your job title as “full-time mother”, “domestic engineer”, or “full-time career and household manager”. This usually works best for roles that predominantly require transferable skills, as employers of these positions are typically open to candidates from all professions and experiences where soft skills have been cultivated. If you are looking to enter the same industry you left, you might prefer to draw influence from your latest professional title. For example, if you were a digital marketing manager and looking for a similar role, you might describe yourself as a “digital marketing professional”.

Related: 100+ computer related skills to add to your resume


Adjust your personal statement to address the gap

After your name, professional title, and contact details is your profile, which is effectively your elevator pitch, designed to tie together your career history, professional experience, and immediate employment goals. Below all these listed above is a chance to address your care given duties, in a way that shows you're ready to enter the workplace. Identify transferable skills that you will use, to enable you to work better.

Transferable skills, also known as soft skills, are abilities that can be used in different types of roles. As someone ready to work and also caring for your family, transferable skills are crucial on your CV as they will help to make up for the lack of recent hard skills or work experience.

Common transferable skills that are always in demand include communication, teamwork, leadership, organization, problem solving, and financial administration. There is a strong chance that you have good knowledge of these skills. 

Highlight other ways you can or have improved

There are other likely activities and skills that you can pursue in addition to enhance and help in caring for your family. Unpaid work and refining skills count as valuable experience on your CV, for example you may have taken a course, either formally with a certificate, or perhaps tutorials via YouTube, Skill share, or LinkedIn learning, which can be added to your CV. You may have developed a social media profile or blog as a budding influencer. Perhaps you started a side hustle. Or you may have volunteered through PTAs, speaking engagements or local Board meetings. Think about the experiences that best show off your skills relevant to the jobs you ‘re applying for and add them to your CV.

There are thousands of individual stories behind a decision to step out of full-time employment and you ‘re not alone in feeling apprehensive as you consider returning to work. Explaining raising family, addressing caregiver skills, and listing parental leave on your CV is all possible. Simply consider the positives, identify your strengths in all experiences and tailor your CV to the role you will be landing interviews in no time

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