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.
Think you can't turn volunteer work into a paying job? Think again.
It takes a combination of timing, hard work and patience.
Volunteering isn’t just a way to give back to your community and make yourself feel good, a regular volunteering gig can sometimes turn into paying work. According to “Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment,” a study by the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteers are 27 percent more likely to find a job after being out of work than non-volunteers.
Moving from a volunteer position to paid work can be an easy transition, says Lynn Berger, career counselor. If you’ve shown you’re a good fit and have the skills the organization needs, the rest is just details. “You eliminate many pieces of uncertainty because you already know the people and routine of the organization.”
Here’s what you need to know about turning a volunteer role into a paid position.
Finding relevant volunteer work
Looking for volunteer work can be a little different than searching out a paid position. “Whether your goal is to become a baker or portfolio manager, free help is always welcome,” says Roy Cohen, career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide.”
“But even volunteering requires you to have a logical story to justify why you are willing to work for free and how your ‘employer’ will stand to benefit,” he explains. Approaching your volunteer gig with this in mind will help you justify the switch to paid employment if the opportunity arises.
You need to feel confident about your ability to hit the ground running and add value before you make the case for paid work, says Cohen. “But on a more practical basis, you deserve to get paid when you test drive the market and your newly enhanced resume generates interest. By adding the right talking points to your resume, you are proving that your volunteer experience can be monetized.”
Making the case for a paid role
If you land a volunteer gig and you’re interested in turning it into a paid position, look at the volunteer work as a long interview process. Resume Deli CEO Joe Terach recommends negotiating your volunteer position as if it were a paid opportunity. Six months in, you should have earned enough relevant experience and gotten enough exposure to the organization and its goals that others consider you a valuable resource worthy of a paid role, he says. “Once you've accumulated significant hands-on experience, don't just ask to be hired. Create and deliver a powerful proposal that supports your goal.”
To make your case, the proposal should clearly communicate what you want while also addressing the organization’s needs head-on, Terach says. “Your reader should get a crystal-clear picture of how you’ll be spending your time once hired; what it will cost them to bring you on board (in terms of resource and time allocation, physical space and stipend, if any); and what you hope to accomplish that will help solve a particular problem or take advantage of an untapped opportunity.”