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How to Write a Cover Letter When Returning to the Workforce

Some moms and dads opt to stay home to spend more time with their children and save on childcare. Other people might take time off to go back to school, travel, recover from an illness, care for relatives or attend to family matters. While the reasons for having a gap in your career are varied, at some point you might decide you’re ready to go back to working outside of the home. In this case, you’ll need a cover letter for returning to the workforce. 

Returning to the workforce after an absence can be stressful. Will hiring managers wonder why you haven’t been working? Will they doubt your skills? These worries are all normal, and you can help alleviate them with an effective cover letter.

What in a ‘returning to the workforce’ cover letter?

A cover letter should be used when a candidate is applying for jobs after a period of not working. Since your resume will have a gap between your last job and the time when you’re applying for a new one, your cover letter is useful for explaining the gap. It helps convey how your skills–both from previous jobs and that you’ve acquired during your time out of the workforce–make you a strong candidate.

Why address the gap in employment?

Gaps in employment on their own aren’t a red flag. People get sick, move, have children and take mental health breaks–all of which are valid reasons for stepping away from your career. It’s unexplained gaps that can give hiring managers pause. Thus, your cover letter is an important tool for alleviating their concerns and ensuring them that your gap in work history has no bearing on your ability to do the job.

A cover letter for returning to the workforce can also help showcase skills you’ve acquired during your employment gap, like organization and time management if you were raising a family, for example.

When should this be used?

You should send a cover letter for returning to the workforce at the same time you normally would–when applying for a new job. You can also use it as a more general job searching tool to let former colleagues and professional acquaintances know you’re back in the market and looking to be hired.

What to include:

An introduction

Explain who you are and what job you’re applying for.

A brief explanation of the gap

Spend a sentence or two explaining that you’re returning to work, but don’t dwell on how long you’ve been away.

Highlights of your skills

Your skills and qualifications should make up the bulk of your letter. Be sure to tie them to the requirements the employer lists in their job posting.

A confident tone

Your letter should have a tone of confidence in your abilities and excitement about the new opportunity the job presents.

What to omit

  • An attempt to downplay your gap in employment. Be straightforward and don’t try to hide it.
  • An apologetic tone. A gap in employment isn’t anything to be ashamed of.

Sample cover letter for returning to the workforce

Mr. Henson, 

I’m a creative, diligent worker who juggles multiple projects with ease, which is why I believe I’m a great fit for your marketing account manager position. 

I’m excited to return to the workforce full time after being a stay-at-home mom for the last four years. During that time, I’ve perfected my skills as a master organizer and multi-tasker. I’ve also completed several online classes and certifications in digital marketing to ensure my skills are sharp. 

Prior to having children, I spent eight years on the marketing team at Schultz & Co. I began as an administrative assistant and worked my way up to account coordinator and eventually, account manager. I helped our clients win customers and drive sales through creative marketing initiatives, including a content marketing campaign for a children’s apparel retailer that delivered a 51% year-over-year increase in organic search traffic and a 3x increase in new email subscribers.

I work well as part of a team but am also comfortable managing projects independently. I’m a strong communicator and have a passion for helping brands tell stories in a compelling way. I would welcome the opportunity to further discuss the contributions I could make to your team. 

I look forward to speaking with you. 

Maria Thomas

By focusing on your skills and infusing your cover letter with enthusiasm, you’ll help ensure a smooth and successful return to the workforce after time off.