ResumeEdge Provides Tips on How to Write a Cover Letter That Addresses Problematic Backgrounds

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To Explain Gaps in Employment You Need a Resume and a Cover Letter

No one has a perfect professional history. However, some will find that past layoffs or lengthy unemployment will make it difficult, if not impossible, to get a new job.

“Hiring managers and recruiters are wary of individuals who have a spotty work history,” said Darlene Zambruski, ResumeEdge managing editor. “That’s why most prefer a reverse-chronological resume. Its format reveals job-hopping or employment gaps. That can be problematic, especially since you can’t explain them away in a resume.”

Jackie Ostrowicki, ResumeEdge president, further explains why some employers are reluctant to hire the unemployed. “A gap in employment can mean many things that aren’t always apparent. Perhaps the company closed due to economic conditions or the employee’s job was outsourced. That is perfectly understandable in this economy. However, the individual may have been fired for cause. Without a cover letter to explain the employment gap, a hiring manager may very well pass over a qualified individual.”

Job seekers also face problems when time was taken off to raise a family or to care for aging parents. That type of situation is common but not easily explained on a resume. A cover letter, however, can be the ideal vehicle to minimize any fallout from a less-than-perfect background.

According to ResumeEdge, what matters in a cover letter is proving to the employer that a candidate is the best individual for the position, thereby downplaying any perceived deficiencies. Every aspect of the letter should be well-thought-out. Here are a few key points to remember:

1.    Use the hiring manager or recruiter’s name in the salutation. “Dear Sir” or “Madam” is too general, which shows lack of interest or laziness on an applicant’s part. It takes minutes to Google or call the company to learn the hiring manager’s name.

2.    Open with the targeted job. Never make a hiring manager guess what position is being sought.

3.    Provide proof of skills, knowledge, abilities that perfectly fit the position. A T-style letter will have two side-by-side columns after the opening paragraph. The column on the left will state “What the Job Requires.” The right will state the candidate’s “Skills That Match.” A job seeker’s expertise, knowledge and abilities need to dovetail precisely with the position responsibilities. A resume can allude to that, but won’t show it as graphically or as effectively as a cover letter.

4.    Address problematic areas that can’t be changed such as a job loss or lengthy unemployment. When a candidate includes information about a lay off, follow this with a positive note. Perhaps new skills were gained in a growth industry from a community college or trade school course. A candidate can also explain that the time off was due to raising a family. Or perhaps an individual earned an advanced degree or started a home-based business. This helps to overcome negative preconceptions.

5.    End on a proactive note about following up with the hiring manager. Waiting passively won’t win the job.

The certified resume specialists at ResumeEdge help create effective cover letters and are instrumental in connecting hiring professionals and job seekers. Job seekers can connect with ResumeEdge through Facebook, Twitter (@ResumeEdge_1) and LinkedIn. To learn more about LinkedIn profile® writing, resume writing, resume editing services and career resources, visit

About ResumeEdge
ResumeEdge ( is the leading provider of resume writing services online. The ResumeEdge website and resume writing blog provide industry-leading resources for job seekers. The company’s hand-picked team of resume writers specializes in 40 different industries to provide the highest quality resume writing and editing, cover letter and LinkedIn profile® services available. ResumeEdge has partnered with Yahoo! HotJobs, CareerJournal and


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