Getting back into the job market after even a short hiatus can be difficult. The problems are multiplied for mothers looking for employment after staying home for years.

QIf you have a gap in your employment history for six to eight years because of having a baby and choosing to be a stay-at-home mother, how do you handle it on your resume? I'm 42 and just started looking again. I worked for several years as an administrative assistant before I became a mother. I kept up with my computer skills and took classes to learn new skills. However, it's been very difficult to land a good job. I've sent out a lot of resumes but haven't received much response.

AThis is a situation that millions of women face with trepidation. Debra Ness, executive vice president of the National Partnership for Women & Families in Washington, said this worker should deal with the issue head-on.

"My first reaction is that she should not be defensive," Ness said. "She should be very upfront.

"A lot of employers are accustomed to workers at some point in their careers taking some time off to deal with family matters," she said.

Ness noted that more than 35 million workers, 42 percent of them men, have used the Family Medical and Leave Act in its 10-year existence. The law guarantees most workers 12 weeks of unpaid leave to take care of close relatives, babies, adopted children or themselves. It requires that their jobs, or comparable positions, be held for them.

This working mother "did the right thing in keeping up-to-date in her skills," Ness said. "That is critical, and she should talk about that" in her job search, she added.

"She has a lot of energy and a great perspective to build her career now. She can say how very committed and well prepared she is."

Ness said new mothers returning to the workplace have skills that are important in the workplace, such as being able to smartly manage their time and being well organized and good communicators.

On the resume, Ness said, she would simply list the time off as exactly what it was, a maternity leave from the workforce.

"That's definitely preferable to having an unexplained time on your resume," she said.

-- Kenneth Bredemeier

E-mail your workplace questions to Kenneth Bredemeier at bredemeier@washpost.com. Discuss workplace issues with him Wednesday at 11 a.m. at www.washingtonpost.com/liveonline.