How many caregivers feel ‘less than’ and employable after their caring responsibilities are over? As a caregiver activist, I write a lot about how society should value us and our role in society. I write about caregiving as a civic contribution and a public good. But what does that actually mean? How can we persuade others that what we do is important and valuable? How can we convince employers that our skills are transferrable to the workplace after our caregiving roles have ended?
“It’s high time that someone wrote a CV for caregivers”, I thought. So, here it is. I created a fictional caregiver who spent eight years caring for an elderly mother suffering from Alzheimer’s. Feel free to use this language in your own CV and share with other caregivers who would like to leverage their experience at home to scale up their employability, their social value or just their self-esteem.
The Caregiver CV
Telephone and email
For the past 8 years, I have cared for my mother at home. My mother suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease and over time, became increasingly frail and medically complex. Six months ago, she passed away peacefully. The challenges and rewards of this caregiving role have increased my skills set in a myriad of ways. I am a creative problem solver, a brave but polite speaker, and a person who is committed to being a team player. My leadership style is strong and compassionate. I mitigate risk and seek solutions to challenges that work for everyone.
SKILLS/AREAS OF EXPERTISE:
Human Resources: I have managed teams of paid home care service providers from various agencies. I have written training manuals about how to care for my mother, provided hands-on training and supervised where necessary. I have managed complex schedules of care and facilitated communication among the team using online care management tools. I have acted as a ‘translator’ for my mother, interpreting her needs and preferences to less familiar care providers and members of the wider community.
Financial Management: I have created financial management systems to pay care providers while ensuring that my mother’s financial assets are stewarded carefully. As Power of Attorney, I was responsible for all banking and financial matters relating to my mother including bill payment and investment management.
Strategic Coordination: I have acted as the bridge between institutions, doctors, insurance, and community providers on a wide range of issues related to my mother’s care. As my mother’s ‘corporate memory’, I had responsibility for record keeping and sharing between medical professionals.
Advocacy: As a solutions-based advocate for my mother, I forged and sustained good working relationships with key allies at my mother’s insurance provider. I utilised best practice business strategies in order to win important battles for funding my mother’s care needs.
Research Skills: I am a highly efficient researcher. Over the past 8 years, I have honed my research skills using online tools to locate hidden assets in my community, to utilise online discussion forums for information gathering and to broaden my caregiving knowledge bank.
Information Management: I created filing systems (both online and offline) for ease of tracking and following up all issues related to my mother’s complex care. Quick ease of access to key information was a vital aspect of effectiveness in my caregiving role.
Work Ethic: As someone who has the experience of being responsible 24/7 for a loved one, I have a very strong work ethic. I am cause oriented by nature and in my practice. The longevity of my caring has taught me how to sustain my own health and wellbeing in a responsible way. I have learned to stay strong through regular exercise and through the benefits of my personal support networks of family and friends.
Add your educational and professional qualifications, but remember that your caregiving skills and knowledge are just as important. Prospective employers are looking for loyal, smart, creative problem-solvers. Caregiving over time demands real and substantial personal growth in these areas.
And if you haven’t done so yet, consider ordering business cards, even if you are not yet looking for a job outside the home. Handing a ‘family caregiver’ card to your loved one’s specialist or any other professional will up your game. And they won’t forget you – family caregivers are WORTH remembering!
By: Donna Thomson
Author, The Four Walls of My Freedom: Lessons I’ve learned from a life of caregiving.