Hiring managers are human beings, and with 200 resumes to review, it’s easy to act on surface-level impressions and toss out an application without reading between the lines or giving a candidate the benefit of the doubt.
So with that in mind, here are some situations that might require a little surface-level spin in the pursuit of a deeper truth.
1. Criminal convictions
You don’t need to announce in your cover letter than you’ve served time or paid penalties for a criminal act. If you’ve completed your sentence and paid your debt to society, chances are you don’t represent a threat to your potential employers or their interests, and you have a right to reintegrate and look for work. If you’re asked about this part of your history, of course you’ll need to answer honestly. And during your interview it may be wise to address the issue so it doesn’t come as a surprise to employers when they conduct a background check. But it’s okay to leave this information out of your cover letter, and to leave any sentence-related resume gaps unexplained.
Unless your termination (and what you learned from the experience) can strengthen your candidacy and explain who you are as a person, you’re not obligated to place this information in your cover letter. Don’t lie about it, of course, but a simple omission can protect you from snap judgments that might remove you from the running. Discuss your termination in a limited, positive way during your interview. But for a cover letter, this may be TMI.
3. Personality issues
If you have extreme (or even mild) social anxiety, or difficulty working with people, taking orders, giving orders, speaking up, piping down, making friends, or managing your emotions in the workplace, don’t discuss this in your cover letter. Yes, this is part of who you are. And yes, you deserve consideration regardless of your challenges. And yes, it might seem like a good idea to warn your employers and be honest with them about what it’s like to work with you every day. But if you must reveal this information, save it for the interview. As far as your cover letter is concerned, you’re the nicest, warmest, and most likable person in the world.
4. Physical, geographical and philosophical deal-breakers
Don’t bring up your physical or mental handicaps in your cover letter. Avoid discussing your religion, and don’t comment on your political beliefs unless they’re relevant to the job. If you live five states away and can’t move without an allowance, don’t use your cover letter to reveal this. Save all of these things until you’re called in for an interview or receive an offer.
5. Self-imposed limitations
If for some reason, you just don’t feel that your experience or skill levels are what they should be, don’t announce this. Let your potential employers make this decision on their own. Again, as far as your cover letter is concerned, you’re great at what you do and you have complete confidence in your ability to handle the job in question.
Keep Your Letter Positive, Confident and Accurate
To keep your cover letter accurate without over-sharing, get some serious outside help. Visit LiveCareer and use the site’s Cover Letter Builder to create a strong, effective introductory letter that lets employers know who you are and what you can do.