Here at our resume builder, we receive questions similar to the one below on a regular basis. The circumstances may vary, but the central concern is usually the same. Here’s our advice.

Question

I’ve been looking for work for a long time now and I haven’t yet received an acceptable offer. (I’m embarrassed to admit how long, but I started measuring the time in weeks. Then I measured it in months. And now you get the idea.) I’m trying to stay positive, and I’m committed to my search, but I’m getting nervous about the timeline. I’m wondering if employers are dismissing me simply because I’ve been on the market for so long. Should I address this in my cover letter? Should I explain that despite my growing resume gap, I’m a hard worker and an intelligent person? Or should I just say nothing and hope they don’t notice?

Answer

Say nothing and hope they don’t notice. Seriously. Your cover letter above all else should be positive, confident, and professional. And there’s nothing positive or confident about a gratuitous apology, especially for a circumstance that isn’t your fault. You may be unemployed, but the average job search in 2013 lasted for eight months, so your situation isn’t uncommon. Most intelligent, responsible employers are willing to look past this superficial detail in order to find a candidate who matches their open position. Hiring is difficult and expensive, so rejecting a brilliant candidate on these grounds is self-defeating at best. However, a gloomy candidate who leads his introduction with a discussion of his unemployed status is not a horse most hiring managers will want to bet on. Rejecting a candidate in this category is just good business. So distinguish yourself by explaining exactly how your brilliant credentials and targeted qualifications meet the exact needs of this position, and save the discussion of your employment status for the interview. Even then, bring it up only if you’re asked. Meanwhile, keep the three P’s in mind stay persistent, patient, and polite and use our Free Cover Letter Builder to help your application get noticed so you can end your job gap.

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