Handling Sticky Situations

Nancy Anderson
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A cover letter is an essential tool to sell yourself and prompt hiring managers to seek out your expertise. The letter itself may be difficult to write when you lack experience, have coped with layoffs or have been fired. Learn how to breeze past those sticky situations with creative wording and brief explanations that do not take away from your professional value.

Career Change

Address a career change in your cover letter by focusing on the type of work you find rewarding. You can highlight your successes and accomplishments in another industry, but focus on your professional development in this new industry to show that you are experienced, eager and excited for a new opportunity.


Employers are often leery of candidates who have held multiple positions or have not shown a commitment to a long-term position in the past. Overcome this sticky situation in your cover letter by acknowledging that you have changed jobs while searching for an organization where you can make an impact and a long-term commitment. Detail how this new position is right in line with what you are seeking in a rewarding career.


Employers may view a demotion as a step backward in your professional career, but you can change this perception in your cover letter by providing a reason for the demotion. Many employees have to choose to take a demotion to avoid a layoff due to budget cuts. Mention that you took the demotion to remain employed and that you are eager to move back up the ladder within a new company or organization.


Even though a layoff may leave a gap in your employment on your resume, employers realize that layoffs are often unavoidable and not necessarily a reflection of the employee. Acknowledge that you were laid off when the company eliminated positions or dissolved operations when writing a cover letter, but put more emphasis on the fact that you are ready for immediate employment and eager to make an impact at a new company.

Long-Term Unemployment

Long-term unemployment can result due to layoffs, personal situations or medical leave. Avoid divulging personal information to explain unemployment in a cover letter. Instead, stress that you have spent ample time searching for the ideal position during your job search and that you are anxious to put your skills to work for this company.

Personal Time Off

Avoid providing information about your family situation, even if you took time off from working to raise children or care for an ailing family member. Simply stress that, after some time off to reflect on your career goals and evaluate your job search, you are now ready to rejoin the workforce with a company that is reputable and successful.

Sticky situations are often unavoidable, but you don't have to divulge too much to potential employers. Focus your cover letter on emphasizing your skills, experience and willingness to make an impact, and keep your tone positive and professional.

Photo Courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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