July 2016

I was talking to a friend recently who asked how I handled “THE GAP” in my resume when my kids were finally grown, out the door, and I was ready to return to an out of home job. She said that she had recently been asked to put a sentence on her resume that would explain “the gap”


All I could think of was how could anyone reduce 10 years of an adult life down to one line?

You can't.

Then I confess I began to get a little angry.

To this day I want to know why so many people think that time spent caring for and raising kids translates into a “gap in the resume”.

So I decided to address some false narratives that are so pervasive in our society.

Career professionals suddenly become 1950’s homemakers when they become full-time parents.

The full-time parent role is still largely defined by old stereotypes of women because, for many generations, it was their prescribed role. Despite generations of successful women proving their value in every industry imaginable, the impression of what this stereotypical female role entails hasn’t evolved much beyond the marketing campaign vision of a 1950’s homemaker.

Consider the following questions:

What do you think happens when you take a generation of women, who have been educated and raised to run businesses, think critically, and be productive citizens, and place them in the role of full-time parent?

What do you think happens when you open the door for men to step away from careers and become full-time parents?

Well, from my perspective, you can take the parent out of the profession, but you can’t take the profession out of the parent. Full-time parents today are not the full-time parents of our grandparents’ generation. They are a highly-educated, driven, resilient, innovative, human-centered, dedicated group of amazing empathetic problem solvers and community builders who make a lot happen and take the science of raising children seriously.

From a different perspective, full-time parents are leaders who are running a small business and developing people, as small as they may be. Every day, they are learning powerful lessons in leadership, self-direction, grit, authenticity and selflessness. So perhaps, just perhaps, people in positions of hiring can begin to get a grip on reality, and accept the fact that full-time parents continue to grow personally and professionally while focusing their time and talents on child and community development.

Only paid work is valuable work

Why do we assume all valuable work is paid work? Why are paid jobs the only jobs worth listing on our resumes under the header of "Experience"? Don’t volunteer fire fighters, rescue workers, doctors and a plethora of other amazing volunteers provide value to the world even though they are not paid?

What are employers really interested in?

Are they interested in work because it was paid for, or are they interested in work that produces results – which is the number one goal of the Orlando, Florida advertising agency that I own.

If the answer is “results”, then employers and recruiters should consider volunteer and paid work equally, based on results. Consider that the work was completed without pay, often with very little direction and a lot of ambiguity, and one might conclude that volunteer work has a lot of parallels to entrepreneurship – a mindset desired by many employers.

Maybe, just maybe, corporate America can begin accepting the fact that PAY is not necessarily an indicator of the value of work performed. Volunteer or paid, work is valued by the results achieved.

Stay at home parents, stay at home

Throughout this blog I have been using the term "full-time parent" instead of "stay at home parent". I prefer this term because these parents are rarely at home and full-time is a more accurate description of their job.

If you still are wondering if it’s really a job, consider the persuasive evidence:

When returning to a “professional” career, many have to pay someone to do the job they once did. Actually, they have to pay a few people, and each of these people considers the work they do as a "job". The link below speaks volumes, detailing all of the job requirement expectations for what I would describe as the world’s toughest job…yes, tougher than my job at 78Madison.

A new thought: how about recognizing that a “Full-Time Parent” is someone who works full-time developing their own children, running the business of a home and contributing to the community.

Of course, not all full-time parents are qualified to provide your company value. Just like every individual, they have unique backgrounds and experiences. They have developed applicable transferable skills, and skills that have no relevance to your industry. They will be behind in certain areas and far ahead in others. One thing is for certain, however, THERE IS NO GAP IN THEIR RESUME! It’s time to change this perception.

Full-time parents are like any other professional who has been working in a different industry and are looking to transition. They will have to do their research, learn your language, adopt a growth mindset and catch up a little, all while learning on the job – a skill all parents have mastered!

Is it possible that you can help remove barriers for parents who have taken time to raise their children? I hope your answer is yes.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Pam Bouch
Chief Operations Officer, 78Madison

78Madison is an Orlando, Florida advertising agency that has been providing full-service marketing communications for 33 years.