The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a mass exodus of parents, mothers in particular, from the workforce. Many of those same people are now looking to return to the workforce with the increasing vaccinations and return to in-person learning. Here is what you need to know about telling your story as a stay-at-home parent to future employers in your cover letter.

You Aren't Alone

The US Census reports that Over 10 million parents left the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. This number represents over 1/3 of all mothers with school-age children in the US. Remote learning, lack of childcare, and return to the office mandates combined all contributed to this exodus.

This large shift also makes it easier for people that are still working to understand why you may have elected to leave the workforce. The ability to connect with your story is important to make that return to the workforce whenever you are ready. At the same time, remember that 2/3 of mothers kept their job and balanced everything through this challenging time. So, not everyone will view your choice to stay at home in the same way.

Role of the Cover Letter

Regardless of your reasons, you will need a strong cover letter to tell your story as a stay-at-home parent that wants to return to work. You may have been out for the pandemic or longer - but you still need to explain that story on your cover letter. Remember, the cover letter is not a repeat of your resume. Instead, a good cover letter tells the story behind the resume while also incorporating those important details from the resume.  Ultimately, this means that the cover letter should answer the question of "Why hire me for this job?"(Learn more about what goes in the cover letter here).

Don't Try to Hide Anything

Be honest about your time away from the workforce. Hiring managers and recruiters will see the gap on your resume and want to know what you have been up to. Address that time on your resume and on your cover letter with greater detail.

Remember, there are lots of reasons why people have not worked since the COVID-19 pandemic began. So, don't assume that people will know why you haven't worked. Instead, tell them honestly that you chose to make the move out of the workforce and now you are choosing to return. This will enable you to stand out from the people that were laid off and to come from a position of power in your conversations with the employer. Good talent goes fast right now and this is a great time to return to the workforce if the time is right for you.  

Focus on Your Skills

Your cover letter to return to work after taking time off as a parent should focus on your skills. This can include interpersonal skills gained or strengthened while you were out of the workforce. It can also include substantive skills that you had before you decided to stay home. Make sure that you are clear about those skills in your cover letter. You should also consider including examples from your resume of how you have used those skills in the workforce. This combination of details and skills will enable people to connect with your story as a professional that wants to join their team.

Connect Your Story to the Company

Be as specific as you can in your cover letter about why you want this job and why you think it is a good fit. You can do this by incorporating details from the job posting, information from your resume, or by doing some online research. Remember that the company wants to hire someone for a specific job and that they need to like the person they hire. So, be clear about who you are as a professional and why you think the time is right for you to join this organization after being a stay-at-home parent.

A strong cover letter for a stay-at-home parent that wants to return to the workforce will include details about what you have learned in your time away. This could be skills you gained while volunteering, personal insights, or additional education/training that you have completed. You can also use the opportunity to show off your skills in the cover letter by incorporating your research about the company in the cover letter.

Whatever your reasons may be, make sure that your cover letter explains exactly why you want this job at this company and why you think that you are a good fit. Want to know more about tailoring a cover letter? Read more here.

Keep it Professional

The reasons for your time as a stay-at-home parent and what you did outside of the workforce may get into areas that are too personal for the cover letter. Avoid getting too far into the details about your personal life on the cover letter. This will keep the cover letter professional and relevant to the job that you now want.

Staying focused on what you want next in your career and how the particular job fits into that picture will also strengthen your message as a parent that wants to return to work. So, remember to keep it professional and keep your story as a stay-at-home parent looking forward. You can do that in your cover letter while also using examples of your prior experiences to show that you are ready for these next steps.

And, make sure that you also use this great cover letter to actually apply to jobs. You can't be considered for the role unless you take action. So, get out there and start applying!


Want help building your cover letter to expedite your return to the workforce? Get help from our team of proven experts that have helped countless stay-at-home parents to return to work. Schedule a free consult.  

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