Resume Help/Resume - brief time as a stay at home mom
I had a beautiful baby girl in March and took 12 weeks of maternity leave, after which time I went back to work. After 3 months of working (70+ hour work weeks!), I decided to quit my job to stay at home with my daughter. Two months later, our financial situation has just dramatically changed, and I need to find a job! My job history will show a very brief time that I was unemployed. How do you suggest that I explain this on a resume/cover letter? If I had been a stay at home mom for a few years, this would be easily communicated, but I feel like it will look strange to say that I was a stay at home mom for a couple of months.
Thanks in advance for your help!
First, congratulations! I hope you and your new daughter are doing well. Second, your situation is not as unusual as you may think and could actually work in your favor. Let me explain.
If I understand what you have written, you were not actually "unemployed" while on leave. As I read your question, you were employed (for a period of time you did not specify) up to the time you took maternity leave. That leave does not count as unemployed; it's simply like an extended leave-of-absence and is quite common in the workplace environment of today. If you are referring to the three months you worked postpartum, followed by the two months of unemployment up to this time, that is slightly different but is not a long enough period to cause any reasonable employer concern. In your cover letter, state simply that your daughter required more attention (for whatever reason you can claim) than you anticipated and that was the cause of you ending your employment. Be prepared to briefly explain what that reason was, though there is no cause for you to apologize for it or go into an extended answer. They'll either take your word that your daughter needed you unexpectedly or they won't.
Now, your financial situation has changed though you didn't elaborate on what specifically prompted that change because perhaps you feel it isn't relevant to your central question to me. You can explain, if asked in an interview, that your daughter's situation has stabilized which allows you to be in the workplace once more. Again, the interviewer will either accept your brief explanation or he/she won't. Don't be defensive or apologetic - just provide a response that is to-the-point and then drop it.
It's not really "strange" at all for you to account for the two months you were home after the three month return to work. Unanticipated situations do arise from time to time, especially with newborns. If your explanation is plausible - that your daughter needed you and you felt it was your obligation to fulfill that need - any reasonable employer will accept that and will applaud your devotion to your family. If the employer is not of that mind-set, you may want to seriously consider if that is where you want to work anyway.
The one thing that any future prospective employer may reasonably wonder is whether this was a one-time occurrence, or whether your daughter might have some chronic condition that could require you to be gone in the future. So, in your explanation, be sure to let them know that this was a singular event and that you can see no reason why it should happen in the future. Give some thought to your explanation along those lines so the employer sees you as a devoted mother, but also as a reliable employee. It's difficult for some women to accomplish this balancing act, so the way you communicate this to the employer is important. You must make a convincing argument that you can be counted on as an employee in the years to come.
The reason I am encouraging you to provide an explanation that emphasizes your daughter's need for you is that if you simply say "I changed my mind about working and wanted to be home with my daughter" you will definitely plant doubt in the employer's mind about you changing your mind again at some future date. If you left your job because of a specific, explainable event, that will definitely be less troublesome to your employment possibilities going forward.
I hope this helps. If you would like to send me your letter after you have written it, I'll be happy to review it for you. My company does this sort of thing for people all over the world every day, so don't hesitate to let me help. If you want to send your resume as well, I'll be pleased to critique that for you also. Send them as attachments to an email to the address below.
Best of luck to you going forward!