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SAHMs Who Explain Resume Gap Increase Their Hiring Chances

You've taken a gap year (or an entire decade) to be a stay-at-home mom. Now you'd like to get back to the office. But should you ever explain the glaring SAHM gap on your resume?

Most career websites and recruiters would advise against it. Don't tell, and the confused employer likely won't ask. A new Vanderbilt University study, however, finds that explaining a lengthy resume gap can actually improve a SAHM's chances of getting hired! From the Vanderbilt press release:

"Our study provides the first-ever evidence that women who conceal personal information dramatically lower their hiring prospects," said Joni Hersch, professor of law and economics at Vanderbilt Law School.

"Employers overwhelmingly preferred to hire candidates who provided information to explain a resume gap, regardless of content. Any information that could flesh out a woman's job history and qualifications improved employment prospects relative to no explanation for an otherwise identical job candidate," added Vanderbilt co-author Jennifer Bennett Shinall.


As a parent looking to return to the workforce, you might feel like a few of your skills are rusty. The good news? You've been honing valuable behavioral skills over the last decade that can't be taught in a corporate training seminar. Here are the five key soft skills you've been perfecting as a stay-at-home parent:

1. Resilience. As a stay-at-home parent, you have seen it all, and then some! You feel like you can deal with just about anything in the moment. Think about how resilient you are to life's surprising twists and turns compared to a decade ago. Now you're ready to take on a new challenge in the form of an 8-to-5 paid job. Just think: you'll be cutting your work hours in half!

2. Time management. Stay-at-home parents become experts at keeping life moving along on multiple fronts. You're always planning ahead, planning for contingencies, and basically staying a step ahead of your kids. All day long. Trust in your time management and multi-tasking skills, because they're even better than they were 10 years ago.

3. Patience. Being at home with kids all day requires deep stores of patience, as well as a sense of delayed gratification. You've learned how to explain complicated ideas in 20 words or less, which is a great work skill. You will bring self-restraint and tolerance to the job that will serve you well over the long run.

4. Temperament. We've heard a lot about temperament in regard to the presidential campaign, but temperament pertains to parenting as well. You'd like to say what you think about the driver who cut you off in traffic, but you hold your tongue because the kids are in the car. When you return to the workplace, you will be an unflappable team player with a very keen awareness of everything that's going on around you. You're pretty sure you have eyes on the back of your head.

5. Humility. Life without a corporate job title in our society is like wearing a cloak of invisibility. Few things in life are as humbling as parenting, and on so many fronts! As someone re-entering the workforce, you will bring a refreshing outlook to the workplace, simply because life has made you more comfortable in your own skin. With you, an employer is getting the real deal.

Bottom line: Just own your decision to take a time out from the paycheck workforce -- "I took a few years off to be at home" -- and never apologize for it. You don't need to! Instead, our modern-day work culture should apologize for perpetuating the myth that life and its economic vicissitudes never impede one's professional intentions. I'm still not sure how that myth got started, because life gets in the way all the damn time. The smart employer will see your potential, and will make an offer. Good luck!

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