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5 years of SAHM, can fill "gap" with stuff but it's going to look bizarre! Help!

(17 Posts)
CrispyBF Tue 21-May-13 18:53:11

I have three DC aged 6, 4 and 2. I used to be a software engineer, and was progressing nicely up the career ladder into more senior roles when I became a SAHM mostly due to the financial constraints of two DC in childcare but also because I fancied it for a few years too, especially with the DC being so little.

I went back to work fulltime after DC1, but have not stepped foot in an office since July 2008 when I ended up taking the last three months of my pregnancy off sick due to massive pregnancy complications. So I haven't worked in my old software engineering career for almost five years. I now want to go back to it as my 4 year old starts school in September which makes things more doable financially especially as DH's IT career, once way behind mine, has since gone meteoric whilst mine has languished at the bottom of the nappy bin hmm

I can "fudge" dates on my CV to April 2009, which was when I took a generous voluntary redundancy package (company has now as good as dissolved so I can't go back there) during my maternity leave, as I was still technically employed. But that still leaves a four year black hole.

During that time, besides the usual undervalued 24/7 mothering, I ran my own part-time photography business for a few years which pretty much resulted in a net loss (go me..) as I was afraid to charge what I was worth, and have done a bit of freelance online-based software testing work for basically pin money but at least it's in roughly the right sort of area.

My big question is this. I know I shouldn't mention the children. I can probably fill the gap in my CV with the photography business and the testing stuff, but how is that going to look to a potential employer? Whether at CV or if I'm lucky, interview stage? They are going to ask for sure. Without knowing about the children, it just looks like I fancied being wishy-washy for a bit with no commitment to being a software engineer at all and I'd be likely to clear off again (NOT true) if something more interesting came up. Whereas the truth was that these were jobs that fitted around our financial circumstances at the time (they had no requirement for childcare) and allowed me to be at home when the children were very tiny. Surely they're going to want to ask why I now want to return? And why did I take a step back (basic testing work versus senior developer?)

I should add that I'm stupidly honest by nature and would be crap at lying about anything, even by omission. And I would not want to work for a company that takes a dim view of families, but at the same time I don't want to mess up my chances altogether. It does not help that software engineering is dominated by men, so they probably don't encounter many mothers returning to work and would not know what to do with one.

By mentioning the truth about being a mother it makes the gap seem reasonable, the job choices sensible, and there's also no question over my future motivations, but it seems from all I have read here and elsewhere that by mentioning my children I reduce my chances of employment dramatically.

It's not bloody fair. sad

What should I do?

Salbertina Tue 21-May-13 19:45:19

Its not bloody fair at all..

I think you need to put a positive, honest spin on it- whilst looking after my preschool kids I did x and y etc, now they're school age I'm committed to building up my career outside the home. I think you may find potential employers much more open than you expect if you present it right, you're hardly the first such candidate they'll have come across! Good luck!

LaGuerta Tue 21-May-13 19:59:11

There is nothing bizarre about putting:

2009 - Present Career Break
Raising a young family. On a part time basis during this period I:
- ran my own photography business
- freelance IT

This is honest and it is a reasonable thing to have been doing. You wont be the first candidate to have had children and had some time out.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 21-May-13 20:10:19

Hi Op

I agree with LaGuerta.
When you get to interview explain that you wanted career break whilst dc little, now they are at school. it was important to you and you were determined, you are now determined to resume your career.

CharlieBlanche Tue 21-May-13 21:25:33

Crispy I returned to an IT job recently after five years of being a SAHM.

I just put 'planned career break following the birth of my children'.

My advice is to work your contacts. Get on LinkedIn and reach out to former colleagues and find out who needs staff. It worked for me snd I was hired pretty quickly on the strength of my former reputation.

I did have an successful interview with another employer, they didn't bat an eyelid at my 5 year gap and didn't even mention in the interview. I'd be honest quite frankly.

MsDeerheart Tue 21-May-13 21:53:43

I agree think putting career break is fair enough
I would imagine in the IT the concern would be that you are up to date - so demonstating that would be most important thing
good luck - lots of people hiring at moment I think

CrispyBF Tue 21-May-13 22:58:22

Thanks everyone thanks It is reassuring to hear that people have mentioned their children and it's been okay, as it does often seem like the general consensus on here is to not mention them at all.

morethanpotatoprints - I like your thinking with the "determined" there - it is true, that is exactly how it was/is. Obviously the DC still need me, but they're of an age now where they're either not around most of the day (school) or get a lot out of nursery (2 year old) besides just being looked after, so I don't feel nearly as guilty.

CharlieBlanche - Good advice about LinkedIn, I'll start pestering people there. I have many many friends in IT and still in touch with several colleagues on Facebook so I could well get lucky. I still have a good reputation too I am sure, and everybody on my FB knows how hard I worked with my photography business as I often posted the evidence!

MsDeerheart - I agree with needing to stay up to date. Youngest DC are both currently in nursery at least one day a week so I can practice my programming and re-familiarise myself with it. Unfortunately my old specialism has inconveniently dropped off the face of the planet in the interim hence the redundancy, but I am a C++ programmer (always very useful and transferable) who has already changed industries a couple of times so I'm already used to learning new libraries etc, so hopefully I can find a door open to me somewhere even if it initially means a more junior role.

It seems there are some key words I should try to include such as "committed" and "organised" and so on to help mitigate the "minor" (as if!) matter of my three wonderful DC.

MsDeerheart Thu 23-May-13 21:04:42

I would only mention children in the CV as career break - not again
enphasise what you do to keep up to date - networking events can be a good way to meet people
and my DH is in IT and recomends uploading your CV on to CV libary

IShallWearMidnight Thu 23-May-13 21:13:08

I'm not in recruiting, but "planned career break" as mentioned earlier sounds better than just "career break" - makes you look like you have a long term career plan?

MrsJamin Thu 23-May-13 21:29:59

I have just started a job after 3 years SAHMing - I put career break due to raising young family. People understand - otherwise yes it will look odd what you have been doing in the last 5 years. Think the best of your potential future employers, you've done more than a lot of people have achieved alongside raising a family.

StealthOfficialCrispTester Thu 23-May-13 21:34:22

I used to hire in software engineering and career break to raise family is fine!

CrispyBF Thu 23-May-13 23:55:53

Thank you again everyone smile

Oooh yes, "Planned" does sound better on the front of "career break"!

I am very grateful for the confidence you have all given me to mention the DC, although obviously as suggested it would be just the once, alongside the "planned career break" part. And I assume that unless the subject is brought up at interview, whereupon I should be very careful in my replies, I should not mention anything beyond "DC-related planned career break" either. I was honestly thinking from reading this forum that any mention of DC should be avoided at all costs, even if it makes a CV look strange.

I have always been aware of potentially having gaps in my CV which is why I did the things I've been doing - hopefully it will pay off long term! I have seen quite a few jobs I know I could do once I'm back up to speed, but without having applied for any jobs at all in the last ten years, I have no idea what the competition is like for software development jobs these days. Way back then I always got interviews (the cynic in me wondered if people were curious to meet a female C++ developer as we're pretty rare) but that was pre-recession and my CV had no negative things like a DC-related career break on it.

Thanks for the recommendation MsDeerheart - it has been a long while since I last jobhunted!

StealthOfficialCrispTester Fri 24-May-13 06:50:59

Id be surprised if it was 10 years but as long as you've kept your skills up to date then fine.
Actually good answer to "what do you think the biggest challenge of the job will be?" question that's quite popular. Things move so fast, and keeping up is challenging but you've done x, y and z in the last few years to make this happen and have a proven track record of familiarising yourself with new technologies quickly.
Or better words but ykwim.

lljkk Fri 24-May-13 07:35:21

I think I would minimise mention of your kids, nobody else is going to be that interested for one thing! But that doesn't mean you dont' mention them at all, just to explain the career break.

5 yrs isn't bad at all. I've just got a job after a 8.5 yr break.

I think DH would rather pull out fingernails than work with C again, lol.

CrispyBF Sat 25-May-13 18:08:49

Thank you, that's good advice StealthOfficialCrispTester - now, actually that's a job I'd love.. combined with "sitting around playing Candy Crush-style Facebook games all day" and I'd be sorted. Somehow I don't think there's a job out there that does that. Anyway, back to the point - it is a good and relevant answer to that inevitable question, because it IS a challenge keeping programming "alive" in the brain when SAHMing it up the rest of the time!

lljkk - Well done on a job after 8.5 years! Always good to hear inspiration that it CAN happen. I like C/C++, but for me sooooo much depends on what is being developed and how. I've worked on some truly hideous projects over the years (usually large, rambling and bureaucracy/legacy-sodden software) but if something is set up right it's a dream!

Misty9 Sat 25-May-13 19:21:46

Not sure if you've heard of it, but check out people per hour dotcom. Dh is a software engineer and has had a couple of bits of work (and more importantly, good contacts) from there smile

CrispyBF Mon 27-May-13 11:41:34

I hadn't (seems a lot has changed in the last few years!) - thank you for the recommendation, I will take a look :-)

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