How to Address Unemployment on a Resume & Cover Letter

How to Address Unemployment on a Resume & Cover Letter
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It’s no secret that unemployment is at an all-time high. So, if you’re one of the unlucky ones currently unemployed, how do you address it on your resume and cover letter?

While it may be tempting to avoid mentioning your unemployment status on your resume and cover letter, doing so can actually hurt your chances of getting hired.

In this blog post, we’ll teach you how to address unemployment on a resume and cover letter in a way that will make potential employers take notice.

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How to address job unemployment on a cover letter

Unemployment on a CV without a cover letter can raise red flags for employers. Employers search for competent applicants with proven career histories, so eliminating resume gaps is crucial.

Employment history isn’t everything, though. Your cover letter is a chance to show your employer how well you communicate and present yourself.

Demonstrate your professional skills and personality with anecdotes demonstrating your ability to solve problems and make others feel comfortable around you.

Explain why you want to work for this particular employer. Showcase your relevant skills and experience. Don’t just list your responsibilities and accomplishments—explain how you achieved those goals.

Here are some more tips to help you with this matter:

Provide Context for Unemployment

While some employers may be reluctant to hire someone whose previous employer laid off employees, others may be willing to consider applicants based on their qualifications and experience.

When addressing unemployment, a letter explaining why you left your former position could help you land a better job. You might explain that you were laid off due to budget cuts or that you had to take a lower-paying job to support yourself and your family.

You might also mention that you chose to resign to focus on education or care for a sick relative. This type of information provides context that helps explain what caused your unemployment.

Employers want to understand how applicants fit into their organization and what makes them unique.

Offer Familiar Explanation

The job market is tough. Job seekers often struggle to find employment, especially during economic downturns. To help applicants stand out, many companies ask about previous jobs, including those held outside the field of study. However, there’s no reason to go into too much detail unless the position requires a specific skill set or experience.

For example, if someone is applying for a sales role, mentioning that they worked at a nonprofit organization could be helpful. But don’t list a lengthy resume. Instead, focus on what you learned from each job and why you left. If you’re looking for a marketing manager position, mention how you improved your skills over time.

Focus on the Positive

If your most recent position was only temporary or you were laid off due to COVID, don’t downplay your achievements; highlight them on your resume.

While it might seem negative to highlight your previous employer, highlighting accomplishments will show how well you performed during your tenure there. Include those items on your resume if you received recognition, such as a promotion or commendation.

Highlighting results using metrics (numerical data speaks volumes) and keeping things positive will help you stand out among candidates. When writing about your work experience, don’t just list dates and tasks completed. Instead, use numbers to describe your performance. Emphasize Newly Acquired Skills

Another way to address unemployment on your resume and cover letter is to emphasize any newly acquired skills. If you took the time to learn new skills while you were unemployed, be sure to highlight these on your application.

This will show employers that you are committed to professional development and willing to invest in your career. In addition, emphasizing your newly acquired skills will help to offset any dates on your resume that may raise red flags for employers. By showing that you are always learning and growing, you can prove that you are the best candidate for the job.

Be Honest and Upfront

In today’s competitive hiring environment, you must present yourself honestly and openly about what happened during your career.

Don’t try to hide behind excuses if you were let go because you didn’t meet expectations or weren’t performing well enough. Be honest and upfront about why you left your previous job.

You never know when someone else is checking up on you and will find out about your history of poor performance. Include that information in your cover letter if you were fired or resigned.

Your goal is to ensure that potential employers understand how you performed in your last role and that you possess transferable skills to their organization.

Job gaps on a resume: what are they?

Employment gaps were periods during your career when you didn’t have formal employment. They can happen for many reasons, such as being out of work due to illness or injury, taking some time off to raise children, pursuing education, traveling abroad, volunteering, or working part-time.

While there’s no set number of years, you must wait between jobs. Avoiding gaps longer than three years is best.

An employment gap on a resume can make employers question whether you’re reliable, dedicated, and trustworthy. If you want to show potential employers that you’ve been able to bounce back quickly from previous challenges, you might consider explaining what you learned during your employment gap.

How to explain job gaps on your resume

How do you explain gaps in employment on your resume? If you want to get hired, you must ensure you don’t miss out on opportunities because of gaps in your work history. But how do you explain those gaps without making yourself look, like a slacker?

Here are some tips to help you explain (or hide) your gaps in employment on your resumes:

List Years Instead Of Months For Previous Positions. (e.g., “2014–2016”)

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You could look unprofessional if you list the number of months you worked for each job. You might even come off as lazy. So try listing the total amount of time you spent working at each job.

I’ve Used This Method When I Had A Couple Of Small Gaps Between Jobs.

Another way to handle gaps in employment is to list the total amount of time spent at each position. However, this doesn’t always work well. Sometimes, multiple jobs are listed under one employer, and you only worked at one of those jobs during a given period.

In this case, you’ll likely have to break down the total time into smaller chunks. For example, you might write something like “2006–2007,” “2008–2009,” etc.


If you’re currently out of work, it can be tough to know how to address the issue on your resume and cover letter. But don’t worry. Our expert team is here to help.

We can guide you through what information to include and how to frame your unemployment in a positive light.

Plus, we can help ensure your resume and cover letter are polished and ready for potential employers. Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us help you take the following steps towards finding your dream job.

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