How Amanda Re-entered The Workforce

By Phil Gerard

It is not officially Spring yet but it sure feels like Spring here these days in Vancouver! With the beautiful sunshine and the chirping birds everywhere it is easy to get into a good mood! And this is my motivation for sharing a good news story with you today. (And maybe those of you, in colder parts in Canada, who are still scraping ice off your windshield in the morning may find this story at least somewhat heart-warming, if nothing else.)

A few weeks ago, my friend Paul Nazareth of Canada Helps wrote on his blog about the challenges and discrimination working mothers are still facing in this day and age. Two weeks ago my new friend Mazarine Treyz of Wild Woman Fundraising published a guest post on Phil’s Careers Blog – Fundraising ONLY! on Gender Bias at Work.

I wanted to add another related issue to their excellent points, one that I have come across in my experience as a recruiter: The challenges stay-at-home mothers face when re-entering the work force.

I have met with women (and men) who, after taking a career break, are finding it tough to get back into the fundraising sector. One of the common challenges is how to explain the gaps in your résumé? Many are hesitant to add stay-at-home Mom and rather leave a gap.

Gaps in résumés are, in my opinion, never good. Folks like myself ask ourselves a lot of questions when we see them. My advice is to just full-on address it! There is nothing to hide. You have had a huge job. I am sure you have seen this video?

There are two main approaches:  One is with a functional résumé where you highlight your abilities, skills and competencies rather than a chronological one. Have a look at this article on monster.ca for more information. I prefer the chronological résumé myself because it shows career progression. Here is a great article by Lisa Quast in Forbes on how to address résumé gaps . The key is not to be ashamed of the gap, be upfront and highlight the skills you have learned or enhanced.

I recently met an amazing woman with a somewhat eclectic background, from sales to politics. I am calling her Amanda (not her real name of course). Amanda took a career break to raise her kids full-time and in the little free time she had, this dynamo went out and got herself a PhD because she wanted to have the experience and broaden her horizon. She also volunteered as a fundraiser. She even went off and ran for a political position in her community.

Her resume was ignored by many recruiters and I have to admit I was not able to help her find a job either – she was faster and did it all herself! But I knew in my meeting with her that she would succeed. She went out, networked, made connections and believed in her ability. She had no traditional fundraising background either. Just tons of transferable experience. Amanda is a firecracker! Full of drive and ambition.

I knew some smart organization would take a chance on her. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record (those of you who know me have heard this ad nauseam) – you got to get out there, network, and find that organization who will give you a chance. And then it is completely up to you to prove yourself and manage your career. I have seen so many aspiring fundraisers succeed with this attitude.

And today I am thrilled to announce that last week I received an email from Amanda telling me that she was offered and accepted a Development Officer job with a well-known charity in town.

These are the emails that make my day – if not my whole week. If you read this post, Amanda, you know who you are and I am so proud of your persistence! Congratulations!! And kudos to the organization who hired Amanda! You made a great catch.

On this note – Happy Wednesday everyone!

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