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Applying after parental leave

How to make a successful application after the baby break

Anticipation, excitement or even uncertainty in the face of new professional challenges - the transition from parental leave to the old or new job is often associated with mixed feelings. For mothers and fathers, re-entry is a balancing act in which the new family situation has to be reconciled with the new or old job. We give you valuable tips on how to make your application after parental leave convincing and self-confident and thus give your career a new boost.

And if you are simply looking for a new job after parental leave, we will of course also support you in your professional reorientation.

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Preparing for the end of parental leave and the application process

An important step for a successful return to work is preparation. Even during parental leave, there are many ways to prepare yourself professionally and mentally for your return to work. Use the time to further your education and thus increase your chances on the labour market. We recommend the following options:

  • Online courses:

    Many platforms offer you flexible learning options so that you can continue your education whenever it fits into your daily routine.
  • Seminars and workshops:

    Many educational institutions offer time-limited courses or part-time continuing education that you can take advantage of as a parent on parental leave.
  • Networking:

    Stay in touch with colleagues and industry contacts. This can be an advantage later when looking for a job.

A proven way to better prepare for your next job and get valuable tips is to talk to colleagues who are already back at work after your parental leave. Their experiences can not only help you, but also encourage and strengthen you. Also consider how you can balance work and private life (childcare). Options such as flexible working hours or the possibility to return to work from home after parental leave make the transition easier for you and are now also common in onboarding.

Working during parental leave is an option that many use for themselves. Whether you are allowed to work part-time during your parental leave is subject to certain conditions. Clarify this with your employer. Especially for parents who reach their financial limits due to parental leave, working during parental leave can be a way to close financial gaps.

Working during parental leave is an option that many use for themselves. Whether you are allowed to work part-time during your parental leave is subject to certain conditions. Clarify this with your employer. Especially for parents who reach their financial limits due to parental leave, working during parental leave can be a way to close financial gaps.

Do you have to mention parental leave in your application?

In most cases, it is advisable to mention parental leave in your application, especially if it extends over a longer period of time. By doing so, you show that you have performed an important and responsible task during this time. However, there are also situations in which it is not absolutely necessary to mention parental leave:

  • if you took a very short parental leave or continued to work part-time during your parental leave, or
  • if your parental leave dates back several years. In this case, the parental leave is of little importance to potential employers. You can still mention parental leave in your CV to keep it gap-free.

Applying after parental leave
This is what the ideal CV looks like

Are you ready for the next step and want to apply successfully after your parental leave? Your CV provides an overview of your professional career. Parental leave is an important station on this path. Basically, you should consider the following:

  • Place the information on parental leave in the right place: List the parental leave chronologically in your CV, in the section "Professional career" or "Family phase" or "Parental leave" (see section "Applying without an existing employment relationship").
  • Name the parental leave clearly: a short note such as "Parental leave from 01/2020 to 12/2021" is sufficient. 
  • Specify any activities: If you attended training courses, carried out projects or did voluntary work during the parental leave, you should also mention this.

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Applying from an existing employment relationship

You would like to change your career during your parental leave? Then apply from an active, non-terminated employment relationship. This strengthens your negotiating position and takes away the time pressure. However, be sure to observe any notice periods.

Place the parental leave in your CV directly under your current job under the heading "Professional career". Avoid categories such as "Other". Note the period of your current employment on the left and the job title, employer and your tasks and achievements on the right. Then add the information "Parental leave since MM/YYYY". If you worked part-time or continued your education during parental leave, be sure to highlight this.  

Another tip: If you work part-time, always state the weekly working hours so that recruiters immediately recognise your practical relevance.

Applying without an existing employment contract

Are you currently looking for a job or does your fixed-term employment contract end during parental leave? Then parental leave is a separate section in your CV. Headline this section "Family time" or "Parental leave".

Since many CVs today are written in descending order, put parental leave directly above "Professional career" in your application. To highlight this time in a positive way, list all activities in the CV that are relevant to the position you are seeking. Be sure to highlight relevant skills and qualifications. Hobbies can also be important if you want to emphasise soft skills such as initiative or organisational skills. The information that your child is already being looked after in a day care centre and that you can fully concentrate on the job is best placed in the cover letter or during the interview.

Re-entry after parental leave
our tips for the perfect cover letter

You already explicitly mention parental leave in your CV. However, it is not the main focus in the cover letter. At most, mention your parental leave briefly and succinctly, because the main point here is to convince the potential employer of your professional qualities. The cover letter should make clear why you are predestined for the job, regardless of whether it is a targeted application or a speculative application.

Focus on highlighting the similarities between the job advertisement and your work experience. A detailed list of your experience during parental leave is less relevant in this context. An exception is special further training or qualifications that you acquired during parental leave and that are particularly valuable for the job. It helps you to stand out positively from other applicants.

Our three tips and examples for possible formulations in the cover letter:

  1. 1  
  2. Tipp 1: Stellen Sie die Elternzeit positiv dar:

    Die Elternzeit sollte nicht als Lücke, sondern als bereichernde Phase dargestellt werden. Beispiel: „Während meiner Elternzeit konnte ich mir wertvolle Kompetenzen im Bereich Zeitmanagement und Organisation aneignen, die ich nun als [Jobtitel] effektiv einsetzen möchte.

  3. 2  
  4. Tipp 2:

    Heben Sie relevante Weiterbildungen hervor: Wenn Sie während der Elternzeit an Weiterbildungen teilgenommen haben, erwähnen Sie diese konkret. Beispiel: „Während meiner Elternzeit habe ich die Gelegenheit genutzt, meine Kenntnisse im Bereich [Fachgebiet] durch einen Online-Kurs zu vertiefen.

  5. 3  
  6. Tipp 3: Gehen Sie offen und selbstbewusst mit der Elternzeit um:

    Kommunizieren Sie transparent Ihre aktuelle Lebenssituation und zeigen Sie gleichzeitig Selbstbewusstsein in Bezug auf Ihre Qualifikationen. Beispiel: „Meine Elternzeit hat mir nicht nur die Möglichkeit gegeben, Zeit mit meiner Familie zu verbringen, sondern auch über meine beruflichen Ziele nachzudenken. Ich bin überzeugt, dass ich mit meinen Erfahrungen und der neu gewonnenen Perspektive eine wertvolle Ergänzung für Ihr Team bin".



Applying for a job after parental leave is an important step that you can prepare well. Make sure you have a clear plan and act confidently to strengthen your position. Then nothing will stand in the way of a positive response to your application and a successful return to work. At Hays, we know how valuable your parental leave experience is. Use it and present yourself as a motivated and competent professional.

Whether full-time or part-time - we will help you find the right job for your re-entry.

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