Pink-Slipped or Fired? How to Handle Termination in Your Cover Letter
by Kim Isaacs, Monster Resume Expert
Once you get past the emotional blow of losing your job, it’s time to brush yourself off and launch your job search. While writing a cover letter isn’t exactly fun for most people, creating strong letters can help you land job interviews and eventually get back on your feet.
After a Layoff
When employers review resumes, they often wonder why applicants are out of work. If no reason is given, they may assume the worst. Were you fired? Could you have quit after a short time on the job, and are likely to resign just as quickly from your next position? The hiring manager’s mind can wander without a valid explanation. That’s why you should mention you were laid off in the cover letter.
Add a brief explanation in your cover letter’s final paragraph, keeping your tone positive. Here are a few phrases you can adapt to fit your situation.
- Recent Layoff: As you may have read, (employer name) announced a corporate restructuring initiative. My position was eliminated, so I am available for immediate employment. My primary interest is to learn more about your company’s objectives and vision and determine if my experience and abilities can benefit you in achieving your goals.
- Upcoming Layoff: Although I have enjoyed serving as (job title) for (employer name), the company is undergoing a major organizational restructuring, and my position will be eliminated at the end of this year. If my demonstrated record of (list several key skills, e.g., building talented teams, setting the standard for in-store performance, enhancing operational excellence) meets your needs, I would welcome the chance to speak with you about a possible employment match.
- Layoff Survivor Until Now: Throughout my tenure with (employer name), I earned a reputation for dedication, flexibility and a positive work ethic. In fact, I was retained through four rounds of layoffs in a six-month period. However, (employer name) was forced to complete a major reduction in force last month in an effort to restore profitability, and my position was among those affected. At this point in my career, I am exploring new opportunities that can put my experience, training and goal-oriented approach to best use.
After You’re Fired
If you were fired, it’s best to avoid mentioning the circumstances of your termination in your cover letter. Even if you feel you were wrongly terminated, trying to explain what happened in a letter will likely raise more questions and probably won’t endear you to hiring managers. Instead, discuss why you were fired in a face-to-face interview.
Keep the Right Tone
If you are writing your cover letter while the sting of your job loss is still fresh in your head, watch out for inadvertent negativity. A cover letter is a marketing tool, and you need to put forth a positive attitude to make a solid impression. If you sound disgruntled, the employer won’t want to give you much consideration. Focus on the key contributions you made and the skills you developed in your last position so employers see the value you offer and want to call you in for an interview.
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