You know the feeling… you’ve seen your dream job advertised, you know you’d be perfect for the role, you’ve dug up your old resume, pressed send and felt the excitement charge through your body as you picture yourself out of breastfeeding shirts and back in lipstick and heels.

What you don’t know is that if you’ve been out of the workforce for a year or more – regardless of the fact that you spent that year nurturing Australia’s next Olympian or Nobel prize winner – you’re fighting an uphill battle.


  • Too many applicants- In the current job market it is not uncommon for hundreds of candidates to apply for each advertised position. With so many applicants to choose from, why would a recruiter opt for a someone currently out of the workforce on a parenting break?
  • Married men are sexier- Perhaps for the same reason that some women find married men sexier than single men, recruiters also feel a sense of security in interviewing candidates who are already employed. The rationale being, “If someone else likes and trusts them, we can too.” Rightly or wrongly, that’s how the system works and it’s not entirely the fault of busy recruiters. That’s how employers think as well. The only way you’re going to change their thinking and inspire them to give you a wildcard interview is if something positive about your application is instantly memorable.

To boost your chances of leaving a great first impression, here are 5 tips for mums returning to the workforce:

Tip 1: Rewrite your resume from scratch

Returning to the workforce is the perfect time to delete old baggage. Rewrite your resume from scratch so that it flows nicely from start to finish. Make it easy for a recruiter to see why you are of more value than every other candidate.

Tip 2: Do your keyword research

Go through online job listings and print out a selection of jobs you are both qualified for, and to which you’d love to apply. Highlight all of the major keywords and phrases (such as “leadership”, “sales results” and “project management”) from these advertisements and then try to incorporate these into your new resume, based on your personal skills and experience.

Keywords are super important because not only do they give you an insight into what the recruiters will be looking for on your resume, but because some online systems actually filter resumes based on these keywords.

So if you don’t pay attention and include them, you may as well say sayonara to your chances before your resume even reaches your first recruiter.

Tip 3: Think creatively

A 2012 eye-tracking study by The Ladders showed that “…the average recruiter spends just six seconds looking at your resume”. That’s an insanely brief time window for you to grab a recruiter’s attention – and is probably why one pharmaceutical industry candidate recently turned his resume into a medicine box just to get noticed!

So how are you going to grab a recruiter’s attention?

Maybe some infographics or an illustrated resume?

What about a Facebook, SlideShare, Vine, Instagram, Pinterest or Google-inspired resume

Other job applicants are getting smarter and more creative with their resumes, so you should too.

Tip 4: Triple-check your spelling

Lazy spelling equals a lazy employee.

Well, maybe not, but this is how a recruiter might see it. Don’t blow your opportunity with careless spelling mistakes.

Tip 5: Look good on LinkedIn

In a nutshell, LinkedIn is your online resume.

If you’re not on LinkedIn, or you don’t look good on it, you immediately raise doubts in a recruiter’s mind about your credibility and experience.

Starting on LinkedIn is easy. Just sign up, connect to people you know and check out what they have on their profiles so that you can learn what to write on your own profile. Fill in as much detail about yourself and your experiences as possible and remember to use recruiter-friendly keywords.

There will always be someone younger and prettier- When you’re competing to reenter the workforce, there will always be another candidate who is younger and prettier, or older and more qualified.

But don’t let that discourage you. Next time your little angel takes a midday nap, invest some time in creating your new-and-improved resume so that when you’re ready to take the 9-5 plunge again, those new red heels get the workout they deserve.

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  • All great tips especially no 4! Thanks!


  • this is a great article and it is full of handy ideas. i would like to see another one with some more tips and suggestions


  • Some interesting points to consider, thanks.


  • These are great tips. I am trying to return to the workforce and do most of these


  • Such a daunting time when you’ve been a mum for so long and decide to re enter the work force. It’s not easy for mums who want to work. I don’t know how we juggle it all sometimes


  • Good knowledge to know! Thanks for sharing this!


  • A really good article but I would love some links on how to rewrite a resume.
    I’ve been out of the workforce for over 15 years and don’t know where to start.


  • Great tips. I am currently looking at and applying for work, so I have found this interesting. I’m not sure about LinkedIn though.


  • Some great advise I wonder if it is worth having my resume professionally done


  • Thank you for the great tips


  • Great tips. Surely let my wife know about all these tips when she plans to go back to workforce.


  • Thanks for a great article ..love tip 4 :Triple – check your spelin spellin spelling ..there I’m good to go. lol. thanx. oopps thanks.


  • This is my current situation. Thanks for the tips!


  • Great article; recently re typed my resume since being out of the workforce for 4 years it seems there’s an empty spot there but will look into LinkedIn and see what’s the go. Thanks again


  • Wonderful tips and advice for those getting back in the workforce, a good spruce up on your resume is a must do.


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