Posted by Robert Half on Monday, August 10, 2015 - 05:00 | Follow me
Do you have some potential red flags on your resume? Help yourself by writing a cover letter.
Looking for a job, but have an employment gap on your resume? Have you been at your job for a short time, but already know it’s time to move on? Or maybe you’ve been stuck in the same position for too long, and wonder how you’ll explain a “stalled career” on your resume.
You may worry your potential employer will balk at these and other resume red flags, but you can let her know that you’re a viable candidate by crafting a cover letter that addresses your less-than-ideal work history. Consider these tips for your cover letter:
Be honest. Even if you’re not proud of your work history, there’s no reason to try to cover up anything. You may not want to discuss every short-term job or other red flag, but be honest about what you do include. If your resume makes you look like a job hopper, use your cover letter to explain why you moved from job to job in a short amount of time. Did you move to be closer to family during a difficult time? Say so. Whatever the reason, be honest when you explain your work history. You don’t want to work for a dishonest employer, and she deserves the same from you.
Stay positive. Were you a victim of downsizing due to the economy? Or maybe you didn’t see eye to eye with your boss and were overlooked for promotions. It can be all too easy to dwell on the negative when you address the reasons for your work history. Don’t point fingers or bash former employers or colleagues. Instead, find the positive angle. Your potential employer would rather hire a candidate who can persevere through tough times. Were you at your job a while? Discuss what you accomplished during your time there. How did your work advance the company’s goals? If you have an employment gap, mention any volunteer consulting and pro bono work, as well as certifications you may have obtained, during the gap.
Keep it short. When crafting your cover letter to address resume red flags, be relevant and brief. Address what you think your potential employer will be concerned about, but don’t dwell on your work history during your entire cover letter, and don’t include experience that’s irrelevant to the job you’re hoping for. Most cover letters include four to five paragraphs. Keep yours this length. Remember to discuss your strengths and what you can do for the company along the way.
Don’t count yourself out of the job if you have resume red flags. Get creative, and write a cover letter that explains that you’re the right one for the job because of your work history, not despite it.
Do you have any other cover letter tips? Let us know in the comments section.