Along with a resume, a cover letter is sent to a prospective employer. It offers specific information as to why the employer should consider a person for a position. It should not be a repetition of the resume. The letter is used to get the attention of a potential employer by showing them why hiring this person would be beneficial to their company.
A job candidate needs to write a letter that concentrates on experience and skills that are related to the position being offered. Many employers use these letters to choose the candidates they want to interview.
What to Do About Periods of Unemployment
In addition to covering all the skills, education, and experience in their letter, there are a few other things that the prospective employer may want to know. How does one explain why they have not been continuously employed?
Concentrate on Positive Attributes
The candidate should obtain recommendations and references from prior positions. This shows a prospective employer that prior to the reason for the unemployment, he or she was a valued employee. If the candidate has taken time off to raise children, but has a degree or other education and experience, this should be covered in the letter. Rather than dwelling on the time off, concentrate on the positive attributes one has that will be beneficial for this particular position.
Explain Other Activities
One way of justifying the gaps in employment is to include information about other activities they were doing while not employed. For example, if a person was going to college and concentrating on studies, this explains why he or she was not employed for this period of time. If they were freelancing or caring for a relative, this is another explanation for the gap. Anything that was productive should be included in the cover letter. It is a good idea to make it clear that the obligations during the time off from work are now resolved.
If all the gaps in employment are explained honestly in the cover letter, a prospective employer will look more favorably on a candidate than if they find out the person did not tell the truth. References and prior work will be checked so potential employers can verify experience and performance. Do not make up things to cover this absence. While an explanation should be offered, it is also not a good idea to go into too much detail. Remember the main purpose of the letter is to show a prospective employer why they should give the candidate a chance to prove they can offer something positive to the company.
Extended Absences from the Workforce
Extended absences from the workforce cannot be ignored. It is essential to show an employer why they should be considered for this position. Although they may not have been going to a job on a daily basis, they may have kept up with changes in their field. Make certain to state this in the cover letter.
Changing Jobs Frequently
When a person has a history of changing jobs frequently, a potential employer may think that they would be taking a chance on hiring them. It would cost to train them and if they do not stay, the employer would have to find someone else and repeat the process. If the candidate held several jobs within a related field with periods that they did not work, it can help to list them all under one time period. Rather than giving specific dates, use only the year instead of the month and year.
Explaining the reason for gaps in employment should depend on a couple of different things. If the period of unemployment was only a few months, it should not require an explanation. Is the gap relevant to the position being sought? When there is a significant period of time the candidate was not employed, it is better to offer a reason, and point out the skills that will be brought to the position they are seeking.
By Andre Bradley