How to explain on cover letter I've just started a year off?
January 30, 2015 8:45 PM   Subscribe

I started a year off a month ago to take some courses I've been interested in and do some travelling too. A PT position in my old industry has come up in the city I'll be studying in. This city is also the city I've always wanted to live in, which is why I'm making an exception to apply for this. How do I explain this year off on my cover letter?

Uni doesn't start till March (thanks to the Australian summer) so I'm not technically studying yet. It's been exactly a month since I finished my old job (last day New Year's Day). So it's kind of like, I haven't got anything (yet) to show for this month off, but it is only just a month off, so that may work in my favour as that I'm not rusty (yet). So yeah, how should I explain myself?

Thanks for any help you guys can give.
posted by glache to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't understand why you would have to explain taking a month off. Plenty of people spend a year or more unemployed and job searching.
posted by wrabbit at 8:53 PM on January 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you get this job, you won't have a year off. It'll be a month or two at most. Not even worth mentioning IMO. On preview, what rabbit said.
posted by cnanderson at 8:57 PM on January 30, 2015

Unless things are very different in Australia or your industry than they are here in the US and the industries I have experience with, no one's going to blink at a month off, whether it was intentional or not. If your potential employer does ask, "So, what have you been up to since leaving your last job?" I would avoid mentioning the year-off thing entirely, as it's irrelevant and potentially confusing, and just say that I'd been enjoying a little time off to pursue studies and traveling.
posted by rhiannonstone at 9:02 PM on January 30, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks rhiannonstone! That's what I was worried about. Maybe I need to give a little more background. The job I resigned was 2hrs away, which is a fair distance obviously but people do commute! I took that job to try and get into the market here (as I'm from interstate) but wasn't getting anywhere after 6 months and I couldn't handle the politics any longer. A gap year had been at the back of my mind for the last 2 years or so, so I figured now was a good time as any (plus a good excuse that no-one at the old job could take offence to, and that is the excuse I have trotted out to my ex-boss who will most likely be a referee).

I guess what I'm really worried about is a) why did you resign when you could've commuted and b) what have you been up to? and the second answer will sound really lame. What happened was there was about 2 weeks where I could've gone travelling, but then about 10 people wanted to catch up (why do you always find out you're wanted just as you're leaving?!) So then I caught up with all these people over those 2 weeks, and at the end of those 2 weeks, I got offered the course (which I knew I had a good chance of getting into) and have been house hunting ever since, up until yesterday. So essentially my achievements are:

- Secured an apartment
- Socialise
- And some other random things--paintballing for the first time, watching the cricket for the first time, went to the Australian Open (for the second time though), went to a chocolate making class, will have gone to two very hyped up exhibitions by the deadline, have started reading the BBC Top 100 books (have finished three and started on the fourth but as it's Dune it's going to be a slow, intense read and I doubt I'll finish before the application deadline)

Is "just relaxing" going to be enough? :s
posted by glache at 9:42 PM on January 30, 2015

Nobody is going to care that you have had a month off or that you were planning on taking the year off. You do not need to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

The correct version of the truth for applying for this job is that you are enrolled for 'further study' this year for which you moved to Dream City. Even then I wouldn't bother to mention it at all in the cover letter unless the course is very related to the job that you want to apply for. If you went at all near the level of detail you have given us here, I would think that you are a slightly high maintenance employee who is going to want to tell me what you had on your toast each day.

*If* they ask, you have been 'moving and getting settled into the city before uni starts'.
posted by AnnaRat at 10:39 PM on January 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Overthinking!, glache. Nobody will ask you what you have been doing in January, in Australia, unless they are being conversational about the holidays.

Will you be both working and studying part time? Are the courses for interest or will they lead to higher paid work?
posted by Kerasia at 10:48 PM on January 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "I was lucky enough to be in a position to take a little time out, so I thought I would do it while I could. Then I saw this job advertised and it's such a brilliant fit for me, I'm just thrilled to be in a position to apply for it. Oh, and I can start straight away."

Nobody's going to be ticking off how many books you've read and how many exhibitions you've been to in case you're a lazy-ass. The concept of taking a break is not an alien one to anybody, we'd all do it if we could. Good luck!
posted by penguin pie at 3:20 AM on January 31, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: @Annarat, I can assure you I'm not like that. It's simply because so many ppl have asked me how I've kept myself occupied and they don't believe me if I just say trust me I am, so I have to give them the whole story. It's sad to think actually that our lives are so empty outside work that we can't comprehend life without it

@Kerasia: you're right. I just want to make a good impression because this is possibly my only chance to get into that market here, and especially as I wasn't even looking for it and it's such a perfect fit (hospital, 2 days a week when I'm studying the other 3 with days negotiable, and the tasks are the more interesting ones that I can actually do too)

@penguin pie: that's the perfect answer. Thanks.
posted by glache at 4:44 AM on January 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

I recently saw someone ask a very similar question on the blog Ask A Manager. I can't recall exactly what her advice was, but I find that it's usually a really good resource for these types of things.
posted by forkisbetter at 11:59 AM on January 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would simply put an end date for the last job on your CV and a start date for your enrichment activity (the course of study). My Grad students are often working free-lance while going to (art) school. It's pretty common in our field (animation) to continue to update your skill-set.
posted by cleroy at 12:08 PM on January 31, 2015

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