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So, you’re getting back in the saddle and you’re ready to start working again!

That’s great news. Because there are a lot of part-time and full-time jobs out there that you can apply for.

And a lot of them are online jobs. They make a great choice for stay-at-home parents because they allow you to spend more time with your children while working.

The first thing you need to do to apply for online positions is to write a resume and a cover letter. This is the part that many people hate, but it’s still necessary.

Writing a good resume and a cover letter is not that difficult when you have good guidance and that is precisely what you’ll get right here.

You may wonder, especially if you’re already reluctant about writing this resume, whether you have to write a cover letter as well. Truth is, you will get a lot of “yes” and “no” answers to this question.

Ultimately, it’s your call, but you should know that a good cover letter gives your resume context. It can make your application more personal and you can use it to address any resume gaps in the best possible way.

Don’t look at your cover letter as of one more boring thing to write. Think of it as one more chance to present yourself in the best possible light to your potential employers.

But, first things first.

Let’s talk about the best practices in writing a resume and then deal with the cover letter after that.

Resume Basics for Stay-at-Home Parents

A resume is your way of displaying your skills and your knowledge in a way that recommends you for a job you want. Before anything else, try listing all your skills and work experience.

While doing this, classify your skills as hard skills and soft skills. Here are the differences explained:

Now, let’s think about your hard skills and your soft skills as a parent.

You definitely have some hard skills from your previous employment. On the other hand, you must have picked up some soft skills while parenting. Take a look at this list of examples that you can use for reference.

Hard skills
Soft skills
  • Copywriting
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Photography
  • Web Design
  • Data Mining
  • SEO
  • Google Analytics
  • Admin and book-keeping
  • Time management
  • Problem-solving
  • Budgeting
  • Organization
  • Communication skills
  • “Can-Do” attitude
  • Active learning
  • Multi-tasking

Now that you have a list of your soft and hard skills, it’s all a matter of showcasing it in the best possible way. The same goes for your work experience. That’s why there are different resume types.

How to Choose a Resume Type

There are different types of resumes that help you present your skills and work experience in a different way. Some resumes emphasize your work experience while others put the skills into the spotlight. It all depends on your strong side.

The main resume types include:

  • Functional resume
  • Chronological resume
  • Combination resume
  • Targeted resume

Functional resume – this is what most people with employment gaps use. The main point of this type of resume is to eliminate the chronological listing of your work experience and to point out the skills you have. The good side of this resume is that it shows exactly what you can do. Sometimes, the chronological resume doesn’t emphasize the right skills.

Chronological resume – this type of resume is best for those that want to point out their work experience and professional growth timeline. The jobs you have had should be listed from the most recent one. Make sure that you use bullet points to point out all the achievements and responsibilities you had in your previous positions. This is the most commonly used resume format and it will be familiar to all recruiters.

Combination resume – this resume takes the best from both worlds. It pushes the skills section toward the top of your resume page, giving your recruiter the chance to “get to know you”. Only after that does it list your work experience. The good thing is that you showcase both skills and experience equally well. The bad side is that it can get too long.

Targeted resume – This type of resume actually means that you are picking out and shaping your skills and work experience to match the requirements of a specific job position. It can be very effective, but it can also show only “a part of your story.”

As you can see, there are good sides and bad sides of every resume type. To ensure you cover off any gaps, make up for them in your cover letter.

Here’s how to construct your cover letter:

Crafting Your Cover Letter

Let’s cut to the chase and break down your cover letter into its basic elements. That’s the best way you can see how you can tailor them to match your precise situation.

Your cover letter contains:

  • The opening intro
  • About four short and informative sections
  • The closing

Let’s see what should be in each of these sections:

The opening – This should be short. Very short. It shouldn’t go on for more than 2-3 sentences. Use them to say who you are and how you found out about the position.

The first section – Once you have introduced yourself, it’s time to explain what makes you the best candidate for the job. Use the examples and your previous achievements as proof of your ability to deliver results. Wherever you can use specific numbers or data, do so!

The second section – You’ve started with a positive. Now it’s time to explain the employment gap in your resume. Don’t go into great length. A brief and concise explanation will suffice. End it with a nice explanation about why the position you’re applying for is an excellent opportunity for you to get back in the game.

The third section – Now that you’ve explained yourself, it’s time to show how you would be a great asset to the company. This is also the section to list all the activities you undertook during your employment gap. Volunteering, event organization or even some training that you might have taken up during the time off work. These can show your commitment to personal growth and demonstrate initiative.

The fourth section – Keep this very short and concise. The only point you need to make is to express your desire to work for the company.

The closing – Thank the employer or recruiter and sign off with “Yours sincerely” and your name.

Use this list of tips and advice, but understand that this is a very general description of what should be in a resume or in a cover letter. Customize your versions according to your own situation and the job position.

Read the job post over and over again. Develop an understanding of the ideal employee profile for that company. Once you know that, make a list of your own traits that match that profile, but also those that don’t really match this ideal candidate. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect employee or candidate. You are selling your best self, confident that it will match the employer’s needs and give you the chance to grow into the role and make it your own.

Emphasize the elements that match the profile and present the other traits as interesting and appealing. Sometimes, not even the employers have a 100% clear image of who they want for the position. Some of your traits may be just the thing they were looking for, but they may not realize it in time.

If you’re still not entirely sure how to write your own resume, there is a quick and simple solution. Take a course in resume writing and learn from the best. This is a skill that is equally important as your hard skills.

Photo by Polly Bohl / CC BY

Katrina
Author

I'm Katrina McKinnon, founder of McKinnon Group and Small Revolution. I'm using my 20 years' experience in building and operating online businesses to create engaging educational materials that helps others become successful online workers. Find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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