How to Make a Resume Shine When Re-Entering the Workforce

See how to best showcase your capabilities to get back in the game.

Image courtesy of the Lean In Collection on iStock by Getty Images

This article originally appeared on Motherly

So you’re ready to re-enter the workforce. Let’s do this, mama!

For many mothers, getting back to work after time at home raising kids can at first seem overwhelming. How do you explain the time spent working for the most demanding client of your life? And how do you address the gaps in your employment history in a straightforward, no-apologies way that still lets your skillset shine?

We hope employers one day recognize the value of all-nighters trying to close the formidable ‘sleeping through the night’ deal and the in-depth negotiations related to toddler eating! Until then, a few tweaks to your resume can help open doors and make an employer interested enough to invite you in for an interview. From there, your confidence, charm, and skills will surely land you the offer.

So grab a coffee (or a glass of wine!) and let’s get this resume party started by understanding the difference between the traditional chronological and functional resume formats.

Chronological Resume

You are probably most familiar with this popular format with sections for an objective and/or career statement, chronological listing of all of your employers listing your responsibilities and accomplishments, and educational and certification achievements. This format works great if you have a steady, consistent employment history in the industry for which you are now applying.

chronological resume

Functional Resume

In contrast, the functional resume format highlights your abilities such as management, sales, or hiring. A functional resume allows you to highlight the transferable skills you’ve acquired and helps an employer understand what value you can add to their organization without focusing on employment history. A summary work history is often left for the bottom section of a functional resume. However, because work history is not necessarily linked to your capabilities, this approach can leave readers questioning if you accomplished something last week or 10 years ago. Therefore, this format is best used if you have significant gaps in work history or are making a radical career change.

functional resume

So, what’s a girl to do? What if you find yourself re-entering the workforce after only a couple years or perhaps making a career shift? How do you balance tradition with function?

The traditional chronological resume format works great for someone who’s experienced and has a consistent employment history. However, if you’ve significant gaps in your work history, have frequently changed jobs, are transitioning into a new career, or re-entering the workforce, the functional resume is appealing. But is it enough to move you into the “yes” pile understanding it can lead to more questions than answers about your qualifications?

Well, hybrids aren’t just all the rage in the car industry – the hybrid resume format may be just your ticket, too.

Hybrid Resume

This format makes a splash from the start with a strong profile and bulleted areas of expertise section at the top, immediately focusing the reader’s attention on your capabilities. Next, the hybrid resume highlights experience and accomplishments covering both functional and chronological information. This section details your employment history in reverse-chronological order, leading with job function descriptions in brief paragraphs with achievements highlighted in bullets. Focus here on accomplishments rather than job duties and avoid adding information about jobs and tasks not related to your current career goals.

The hybrid resume ends with highlights on your education, training, affiliations, languages, and other relevant information.

hybrid resume

Regardless which resume format you choose, keep in mind that it is a self-marketing tool with the purpose of effectively communicating your assets to a targeted employer in an easy-to-follow format. When done right, by the time a potential employer reaches the end, she’s decided that your capabilities are a fit and is sold on interviewing you. We knew it!