Cover Letters for Moms (and Dads) Returning to the Job Market

Are you a mom or dad returning to the job market after having taken time off to raise your kids? Here are some tips about how your cover letter can make that transition a little smoother.

Many moms and dads who find themselves re-entering the workforce after one or many years of child rearing are unsure about their place in the current job market. If you're a re-entry job hunter, you may be scratching your head and asking questions like these:

  • How do I explain so many years of "not working"?
  • Do I have the skills to compete in the current world of employment?
  • How do I market myself to an industry that has been zooming ahead while I’ve been busy changing diapers, shuttling kids, and doing volunteer work?

Before you put any energy into your job search, it’s important to know that your role as a parent, family manager, community volunteer, student, or freelance worker (to mention just a few of the things you might have been doing while your kids learned how to walk) is valuable and marketable to an employer. In these roles, you maintained and developed skills, many of which are relevant to your new job objective.

Although you weren't paid for work you did as a parent, your experience can be mentioned in your cover letter (and resume) with dignity and relevance. By the way, this applies to full-time dads as well as moms.

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Marketable Skills for Moms and Dads Returning to Work

Raising a family is hard work, requiring many skills. I don't need to tell you that — you of all people know! To prepare for your job search, make a list of the skills it took (or takes) to be the good parent you are. Your skills list might include the following:

Caregiving
Communications
Cooking
Counseling
CPR
Driving
Event planning
Financial management
Negotiating
Nutrition
Organization
Policy development
Problem solving
Project management
Record keeping
Remodeling
Scheduling
Teaching

Once you create your skills list, check off the ones that are relevant to your new job. Now you know what your marketable skills are from your family management experience.

Volunteerism Pays Off

Many employers feel that what a job seeker does for no pay speaks louder about her character and commitment than what she does for money. State your volunteer experience proudly in your cover letter (and resume) to demonstrate that you have the skills, experience, personality, and, yes, passion (perhaps for a relevant social cause or humanitarian effort) for the job you seek. To help you realize what skills you've developed through your community service, take a look at the following talents used by many volunteers:

Caregiving
Communications
Counseling
Curriculum development
Customer service
Event planning
Fundraising (aka "development" in the nonprofit world)
Graphic design
Program design
Public relations
Sales
Scheduling
Staff supervision
Training
Volunteer coordination
Writing

Now make a list of skills you used (or use) in your community service. Again, check off the skills that will be useful in your new job.

See how much you have to offer an employer? You just have to talk confidently about your skills and experience in your cover letter.

Susan Hamilton, a woman re-entering the job market after raising a family of 4 over the last 17 years. By speaking with dignity about her full-time parenting, Susan portrays it as an asset. Take a look:

Susan Ireland, Resume Author