How to handle sticky situations in your cover letter
A few sentences in your cover letter can help explain a long gap in your work history. Check out these examples for help finding the right words.
Get inspiration for explaining your work history.
Are you wondering how to deal with a sticky work history issue? Whether you were laid off from your last position, took time off to raise children, or are looking to change careers, the cover letter is the perfect place to address potential red flags.
One caveat: Keep the explanation brief. Writing a cover letter is an exercise in selling yourself, so the tone should be upbeat and positive. Review these examples to get inspiration for explaining your sticky situation:
Last month, ABC Co. made the difficult decision to dissolve its operations, so I am available for immediate employment. I am eager to continue my ______ career and was very excited when I learned about your job opportunity -- it’s a perfect match to my qualifications and career goals.
Although I was a top producer for ABC Co., my position was eliminated during a major corporate restructuring. I have been searching for a position in the industry, but the economy has made positions in ______ very difficult to find. In the interim, I have been networking at industry events and keeping my skills fresh, but I am eager to resume my career in the ______ field.
(Note: Don’t disclose medical information that could jeopardize your chance of landing a job -- disclosure is your personal choice.)
After taking time off to undergo back surgery, I left ABC Co. (on excellent terms) to focus on my recovery. As I regained my strength, I went to school part-time and received certifications in ______ and ______. Now fully recovered, I have been given an “excellent” bill of health by my doctor, and am highly motivated to return to the full-time workforce.
Time off caring for an ill family member
In the last couple of years, I served as primary caregiver to my father, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. During this difficult period, I kept my work skills updated by independently studying ______ and actively participating in industry news groups. At this time, I am available to return to work, and am confident that I would be an asset to your team.
Time off raising children
After stepping away from the workforce to start a family, I am eager to resume my professional career now that my children are school-aged. I have kept my skills and connections current through active volunteer work, including leadership roles in school and charitable organizations.
I plan to relocate to ______ to be closer to family, and your opening presents an excellent opportunity. I am available immediately for a telephone interview and can arrange to meet in person on short notice.
Although successful in my ______ career, I have realized that the aspects of my work that I find the most rewarding are all in ______-related functions. I am currently pursuing a full-time position in this area, and am confident in my ability to excel in this field.
After building a successful small business (where I grew revenues from zero to six figures in two years), I recently closed the operation to pursue my passion for the ______ field. Your opening is an excellent opportunity, and I look forward to speaking with you about how I can help expand your operation.
Although I have changed jobs more than I would have liked in the past few years, I am searching for a position where I can make a long-term commitment. If you agree that my credentials are an excellent fit to your needs, please feel free to call or email me to arrange a meeting.
Most recently, I have contracted with ABC Agency and have completed a number of interesting assignments (detailed on the attached resume). While this work is rewarding, the short-term nature of temping does not let me provide the kind of enduring, value-added contributions I find to be most fulfilling as I could as a full-time team member.
Budget cuts required me to take a ______ position in order to remain employed, but I am confident in my ability to step back up to a management position and hit the ground running. I would welcome the chance for an interview to discuss your goals and outline ways I can help you achieve them.
Job search next steps
Now that you know how to handle a tricky job situation on your cover letter, it's time to get your resume in order. Want help making the most of your resume?Join Monster today today and get a free resume review from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. Our experts can help you impress employers with a high-impact resume and cover letter, even with a tricky work gap.
How to Mention Relocation in a Cover Letter
When you are planning on relocating, how you handle this conversation in your cover letter can be tricky. For low and mid-level positions, where there may be many local qualified applicants, you can risk being screened out if you submit documents with an out of the area address.
Candidates for senior positions or applicants for jobs with a shortage of qualified candidates will have a better chance of being considered for a job in a different location.
Employers will be more likely to consider someone who is already going to be in the area, though, so they don't have to deal with the logistics and expense of moving a new hire.
However, if you phrase your cover letter correctly you can get your application considered by prospective employers, even if you currently live outside of their region. First of all, keep the focus on your qualifications for the job rather than on where you live. Secondly, make it very clear that you are planning a move to the new location. Finally – if your budget allows – you can mention that you are more than happy to travel, at your own cost, to their campus or office for a personal interview, and that you also plan to be responsible for your own moving expenses.
Note: You will find career counselors who advise omitting your physical address on your resume and cover letter entirely, both because this may lessen your chances of consideration and because of potential identity theft.
However, many hiring managers will still perceive such an omission as a “red flag,” wondering why you have omitted your address even as they note that the latest job mentioned on your resume is located 1,000 miles away from them. Until omitting physical addresses on professional resumes becomes commonplace, it’s probably best to be upfront and explain your current address and relocation plans.
How to Mention Relocation in Your Cover Letter
You typically will benefit from directly addressing the fact that you are moving in your cover letters. This will make it clear that you are not applying just as a way to get to the new location. However, your main rationale for applying for any job should be the nature of the work, followed by the appeal of the organization. So, while you may decide to mention your relocation in either your first or final cover letter paragraph, a statement that addresses your interest in the job itself should precede any reference to the fact that you're relocating.
Option 1: Mention it at the Beginning of Your Letter
This type of statement can be included early in the first paragraph of a cover letter.
Example: "It was with much excitement that I learned of Maximum Communications’ search for an Associate Marketing Coordinator. I am highly interested in consideration for this position, since it would enable me to apply my project management skills and also would tap my passion for event planning.
The recent trajectory of growth at Maximum Communications, including your latest addition of Pepsina as a client, further stimulated my interest in applying for this position.
My wife and I are planning to relocate (or, even better, “are in the process of relocating”) within the next two months to the Seattle area to be closer to her family, so the timing of this job opening is ideal.”
Option 2: Mention it at the End of Your Letter
Perhaps the best way, however, to address relocation is to incorporate a statement in a final paragraph which mentions traveling to the area. This a) allows you to focus on the job and your qualifications themselves at the beginning of the letter; and b) gives you more time to make it clear that the employer wouldn't be responsible for your travel costs, moving costs, or any other expenses.
As mentioned above, organizations usually expect to fund travel and bring in candidates from outside locations to interview for senior and hard to fill positions.
However, for more entry level jobs there may be a preference for local candidates.
Example: "I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this position. I will be traveling to Seattle for a conference (or to find an apartment or to network with local college alumni) in two weeks and would be available to meet at that time. However, I would also be glad to travel, at my own expense, for an interview at your convenience. Please know that I also have resources in place that would allow me to relocate and begin work immediately upon hiring. Thank you for your time, consideration, and forthcoming response.”
Tips for Job Hunting When You're Moving
Need help with your job search when you're planning a move?
These top 10 tips for finding a job in a new city will help you get started.
More: Job Search Tips for When You Want to Relocate