Disclosing Personal Reasons for Departure in Cover Letter

There are times in life where family and personal requirements outweigh career considerations. In your case, you made a decision to resign for the sake of your spouse’s career. For others it might be moving closer to aging parents or, stepping-off the high-pressure ladder for a while so that more time can be given to children, or a sick family member. Taking care of your own health issue is another high priority item.

When you want to step back on the career track, the question is how to deal with it on cover letters, and sometimes on your resume. Every person reading your resume and seeing an unemployment situation is going to ask themselves the same question: “why is this person unemployed?“ The easier the explanation, the more comfortable they are going to feel. The cover letter is a good place to broach the subject.

There can be a lot of reasons why someone left a job. Providing this context in a cover letter can quickly dissipate potential concerns about your unemployment. How might you handle it?

“My spouse was recently relocated to _______. We have completed our move and I am now looking forward to …” or “I resigned from ________ so that my spouse could take advantage of a career opportunity here in ________. Having completed our move, I am seeking an opportunity in…”

For some of the more private, or personal reasons, you might handle it like this:

“For personal (or family) reasons, I left my job at _______. I am now ready to get back into the market…”

The only potential negative to this kind of disclosure is that for a few hiring managers and recruiters, you having sacrificed your career for a spouse, or for family issues, may be interpreted as you not being ambitious and committed to your career. This is unfortunate, but whether you put it in your cover letter or not, they will come to this conclusion.

In most cases, in a tight market like we have today, it will not be a problem. They will look at it as a legitimate reason and in a way, as a gift, because it relieves them of the burden of digging further into the reasons for departure.

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