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How Do You Explain Leaving A Job To Be A Caretaker?

How Do You Explain Leaving A Job To Be A Caretaker?


Dear J.T. & Dale: My son had to leave his IT position to become caretaker to his mother (who is now a lung cancer survivor). He took her to the doctor for her treatments and also maintained her home. He is now ready to get back into the work force. What is the best way to approach his “absence” for the past year? – Jeff

How Do You Explain Leaving A Job To Be A Caretaker?

J.T.: Honesty works best here. Have him add “Caretaker” to his work history. He should try to quantify the experience – for instance, how many doctor appointments he took her to, and his duties as head of the household. Not a lot of info, but just enough so they know the magnitude.

DALE: I’m all for the truth, in its place; however, “Caretaker” is a terrible truth to stick in a resume. To me, listing it as a job makes it seem that he left the IT profession to dabble in a new career. Instead, I’d downplay the time off. He can merely list 2011 as the end date for his last job, and give as the reason for leaving his last position that he was caring for his mother, who has since recovered.

J.T.: I guess I have a bit more faith in hiring managers. However, either way, the wonderful news is that his mother recovered, and I’ll bet he’s excited to get back to work. That should be conveyed in his cover letter in order to alleviate any concerns that he may still need additional time off to care for her. They’ll want to know that he is truly ready to return full time.

DALE: He also should attend professional meetings and do some IT work for friends or as a consultant in order to make clear that he is not out of touch. He needs to emphasize that he is ready to get back to work in every sense, re-energized emotionally and professionally.

J.T.: That’s a beautiful sentiment. However, while you’re working on being noble, practice proactive job searching. Think how much easier it will be at the next job: After a manager like this one, you’ll be the most appreciative employee your new employer has ever seen.

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J.T. & Dale “JT & Dale Talk Jobs” is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country. J.T. O’Donnell and Dale Dauten are both professional development experts.