You’ve taken a few years out to be at home raising your young family and now the time has come where you have decided you need a fresh challenge – somewhere where you can wear a different head to that of being a parent.
You’ve considered your childcare options and you also want a pay packet, too, of course. The time has come for you to return to the world of work. A part time job that is suitable for your lifestyle as a parent is just the ticket.
When you have been out of the workplace for some time, as well as being exciting, it can also feel quite daunting once you have made that decision to go back to work on a part time basis.
There are many questions that you might be asking yourself. This is natural. Worries faced by any parent returning to work might be:
- Have I been away from my career for too long? If you are returning to work and you are thinking of trying to pick up your career again, you might be worried that much has changed and you no longer recognise the role you are supposedly qualified to do.
- How do I explain that huge gap in my work life? If you have been raising a family for a period of time, you will be fully aware of that huge gap on your CV and you might be worrying about how you explain that away.
- How do I convince the employer to give me a chance? As we mentioned above, going back into the workplace can be daunting if you have been away for a while, you might be worrying about how on earth you are going to convince the employer that you are the right person for their job.
How To Write Your Return to Work Cover Letter
With all of that in mind, this article will give mums and dads some tips and tricks for getting your cover letter right for a part time job.
More so than an application form for a part time job, your cover letter is where you can really get your personality across to the employer. Yes, you still need to be mindful of word count – the employer or recruiter does not want to read your life story – but your cover letter will give you the opportunity to expand on skills and interests.
Just as importantly, it will give you the opportunity to explain that employment gap on your CV.
Before You Write Your Cover Letter
When you begin applying for part time jobs, you need to give yourself the best chance of landing the role. One way to do this is with a bit of preparation. Don’t just launch straight into writing your cover letter.
Research The Company
Whatever type of part time job you are applying for, do some research on the company. The benefits to this are that it could give you the edge over your competition in landing an interview.
A bit of extra research can also help you decide if this is really the company you want to work for. Do their values align with yours? If you are taking the plunge and returning to part time work, make your decision worthwhile by choosing the best company to work for.
You can usually find out snippets of information about companies online. Anything significant such as awards or beğing in the news for all the right reasons; you can mention these in your cover letter
Showing the employer or recruiter that you have done your homework on the company highlights to them that you are serious about this part time job and you are committed.
Take A Look Back
If going back to work on a part time basis seems daunting and you feel like you have forgotten what it’s like to be anything other than a parent then take a bit of time to have a look back to that past life.
What was your previous employment? If you are going back to a similar role so that you can continue your career – perhaps you are looking to do a job share role – dig out anything you can from that previous employment. Any achievements such as course certificates or awards for reaching targets, for example.
Things like this can remind you of the person you were before parenthood – and also instill that confidence in you that you have what it takes to get back out there in the workplace. This memorabilia can remind you of your capabilities.
With regards to your cover letter, once you have reminded yourself that you have what it takes to succeed in the workplace, this can help you to use more confident language in your writing. You can also use your findings to give concrete examples of your past achievements.
Make A List
Now that you have reminded yourself that you are perfectly capable of getting back out there into the workplace, it’s time to make a list. List all of your qualifications, achievements, skills and personality traits.
This is a useful exercise both for cover letter content and also for choosing the types of part time jobs you might want to look for if you are thinking of changing career path.
Make A Draft Cover Letter
If you are applying for multiple part time jobs then it makes sense to build a draft cover letter.
NB: This is not a one-size-fits-all cover letter that you are going to send out to every employer. This is an exercise in jotting down the appropriate information for each paragraph.
The key to having that stand-out-in-the-crowd cover letter is to tailor it exactly to the roles you are applying for. If you have a draft cover letter with a list of your skills, you can choose the relevant skills for the particular job you are applying for.
Cover Letter Framework For A Part Time Job
Even if you are not specifically asked to include a cover letter in your job application it is still a good idea to do so. It shows you are keen and, as you are a parent returning to work, it is your opportunity to introduce yourself, sell yourself, explain that gap in your CV and make yourself stand out from the rest of the applicants.
Let’s take a look at the general layout for a cover letter for a parent returning to part time work.
Opening Your Cover Letter
If possible, when writing a cover letter, try to find out the name of the person you need to address the letter to. This name could be on the job ad you saw. If not, you could also phone the company to find out the name of the relevant person. Again, this will show that you are taking the job application seriously and could impress employers.
If you can’t find a definite name, ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ is okay to use.
Paragraph 1 Of Your Cover Letter
In the first paragraph of your cover letter you will write a short and to the point introduction of the part time job you are applying for and where you saw the job advert. It is perfectly fine to drop in the name of the place/online source where you saw the ad.
Make sure you use the exact job title listed in the job ad. This shows the employer you know which job you are applying for. It also saves them time if they are also looking for staff to fill other roles.
Paragraph 2 Of Your Cover Letter
Paragraph 2 of your cover letter is where you sell yourself and demonstrate to the employer why you are the person for the job.
Look back at the list of skills and qualifications you made earlier and choose the relevant ones for the role you are applying for. Refer to any skills mentioned in the job ad. Make sure you back up what you say with real life examples by saying what you achieved and how you achieved it.
Using the same words as those in the job ad to describe your skills show the employer you are clear about the job you are applying for.
Paragraph 3 Of Your Cover Letter
The third paragraph of your cover letter is where you can address the gap in your employment. You have sold your skills and now this paragraph is where you sell your personality and your commitment.
This is not an apology to the employer for taking time out. Lots of people take time out of their work life to start a family and raise their children for a while – and this could even include the person reading your letter! One confident, truthful sentence of ‘I have spent the last x years raising my family,’ is enough.
After that, you can then go on to say how you are now ready for a new challenge by doing part time work. Whether this is a resumption of your career or you are applying for part time work in a whole new field, use the words in the job ad as a guide to describing your determination and commitment to the role you are applying for.
Paragraph 4 Of Your Cover Letter
Paragraph 4 of your cover letter is where you sell the fact that despite the employment gap in your CV, this doesn’t mean you are completely out of touch with the world of work (even if you feel that way) and you are looking forward to the challenge ahead.
Whether you are resuming your career or you are taking on a whole new direction with a part time role, this paragraph is where you assure the employer that you are still right up to date with any recent developments within your chosen industry.
How have you made sure that you are up to date with these developments? Describe ways in which you have been proactive in keeping yourself in the loop with changes in legislation, for example or new ways of operating.
What activities have you done to keep your skills relevant while you have been out of the workplace?
- Have you kept yourself up to date by reading any publications that are attached to your industry?
- Perhaps there are podcasts or online videos or blogs that you follow that keep your knowledge up to date.
- For some of you, you might have kept yourself updated by attending industry events in your area.
- Perhaps you have done some volunteering for a couple of hours each week. Even if this volunteering was not specifically to do with the industry you now wish to work in, you will still be able to draw on transferable skills that you have developed.
- Perhaps you have helped some friends out, informally.
- If you have found some time, you could also have done some online qualifications or courses to either refresh your skills or develop new ones to help you get a part time job in your chosen field.
In this paragraph, mention what is current right now in your industry. This gives the employer some evidence that you have kept yourself up to date with developments. If you have done any courses or volunteering, highlight what you learned from those – transferable skills that are relevant to the part time role you are applying for. Demonstrate to the employer what you can bring to the workplace.
Paragraph 5 Of Your Cover Letter
In paragraph 5 of your cover letter, this is where you reiterate your interest in the part time job and where you highlight why you are the person for the job. Your technical skills might be a bit rusty after taking that time out to raise your family but you still have the qualities and determination to restart your career or get back into the workplace.
Closing Your Cover Letter
If you were able to address your letter to a named person then you can end your cover letter with ‘yours sincerely.’ If you have addressed it to an unnamed person, you can close your letter with ‘yours faithfully.’
- Your cover letter for your part time job should be no longer than one side of A4 paper. This means you need to keep your paragraphs short and to the point.
- Whether your cover letter is online or you need to print it out, make sure you check and proofread it for any mistakes before you send it. Also ask friends and family to check it – an extra pair of eyes is invaluable.
Returning to work after a long gap can be a challenge but a great cover letter can give you the best chance of landing yourself an interview. Read some of our interview tips so that you can take a step further and grab yourself that perfect part time job.