Tough negotiator. Expert multitasker. Ace communicator. While this may sound like a job ad for a cutthroat corporate role, it is also an apt description of the transferable skills a stay-at-home mom can highlight in a cover letter.
It used to be that stay-at-home moms reentering the workforce left a blank spot on their resumes and did their best to explain their time at home in cover letters. It wasn't widely believed that they had gained skills while away from the workforce, but that thinking has changed.
One sign of the shift: LinkedIn recently added an option to use "stay-at-home mom" (along with "stay-at-home dad" and "stay-at-home parent") as a job title on the site, giving parents returning to work an option to tout their skill set the same way any other user might.
The change acknowledges that women who stay home to care for their children and manage their homes have gleaned valuable skills sought after in the workforce.
When crafting a cover letter, the key is to remember that the skills you use every day as a parent — like scheduling, conflict negotiation, and communication — are "transferable" skills of high value to a wide variety of employers.
At the same time, highlighting your "hard" skills such as accounting, project management, or computer skills can help the employer reach its goals.
If you're going to write a stay-at-home mom cover letter, then you should include the following information:
- A compelling introduction. Here, you'll want to introduce yourself and mention the job opening to which you are applying. The top of your letter is also a great place to say how you found out about the job, why you are interested in the role or mention a fact about the company that interests you. This shows that you know something about the company and the products and services it provides.
- Enthusiasm. A storytelling approach that connects your passion to a job or company can grab a hiring manager's attention. Before you write the letter, review the job description and research the company to draw a clear connection between your passion and the position or company. For example, applying to an employer with a sustainability initiative can be tied to your work with community recycling efforts. A cover letter is an excellent opportunity to make these personal connections.
- Highlights of your accomplishments. Danny Rubin, author of "Wait, How Do I Write This Email?" suggests including a success story from a job, an internship, or a volunteer position relevant to the role at hand. Then, show you have the "ability, drive and determination through a memorable anecdote," he says.
- Connect your transferable skills. Always link any hard or soft skills you mention to the job you're seeking. It's OK to note school coursework, volunteer efforts, or house management duties as long as the employer sees a clear link between the skill you gleaned through those experiences and the job. Remember, a cover letter should elaborate on — not repeat — the information laid out on your resume.
- A gap explanation. If you've been a stay-at-home mom, then a cover letter is the perfect place to explain that to the employer. Include what you did during that time, like: "I took a break from January 2018 to May 2019 to care for my first child, but during that time, I honed my communication skills by volunteering to teach social media marketing to local small business owners."
End your letter by expressing interest in the job and writing that you hope to hear back soon. The letter should be concise, about one page long, divided into three or four paragraphs.
Stay-at-home moms returning to the workforce have a lot to offer employers and should convey that with enthusiasm through a cover letter. By using a storytelling approach, highlighting their unique skills, and building a rapport with the hiring managers by sharing their personal stories, moms can stand out from other job candidates and begin landing job interviews.