cover letter advice
May 7, 2021 9:32 AM   Subscribe

Awkward situation that needs to be addressed in a cover letter. How best to phrase this?

I just started a new job. As in, 3 weeks ago. My partner is about to get a job offer that would require us to relocate about 3 hours away. (Please know that we have discussed this at length, I am fine with this situation due to neither of us having strong family or friend ties in our current location and both of us want a fresh start right now, the job market where we are currently pays very little for my skills compared to the cost of living, and the new location is one that we both like.)

I took my current job because the employer that my partner was interviewing with for the potential relocation ghosted him for nearly a month and we thought the opportunity was no longer on the table. They have come roaring back with extreme enthusiasm in the past week and an offer is coming (though there will be negotiations regarding compensation/benefits/etc).

My skills are portable and there are lots of opportunities in the new location that I would be qualified for. One job posting that I have stumbled across is especially ideal, as I have the necessary experience, the position is mostly remote (I would only need to come on site 1 day a week), the benefits are tremendous, and they are flexible with scheduling which allows me to pursue my side hustles of voiceover work and music without trouble. I would like to apply to this job.

My problem is twofold: 1) how to explain that while I live in location X, I am looking to relocate to location Y due to my partner's job and 2) how to explain applying for a new job when I have only been in my current job for less than a month.

Do I leave my current job off my resume?
Do I keep my current job on my resume (proving I am employable in a pandemic!) but fold the explanation for leaving so soon into my explanation about relocating because of my partner's job?
How do I word the "I am relocating due to my partner's job" part?

Again, please assume there is no coercion or sinister intent on my partner's part in this relocation. His skills are not as portable as mine and his industry has been absolutely destroyed where we currently live (big tourist hotspot) due to the pandemic, he has been unemployed for a year and job searching constantly, he outearns me considerably and we need the money (we are barely scraping by on my paycheck and his UI), and we both are excited about relocating to this new area where the cost of living is lower and we will be closer to my family. My only concern is that I want to present myself as a candidate for this cool job in the most positive, least red-flaggy way.
posted by nayantara to Work & Money (30 answers total)
 
Response by poster: (I should add that the family we would be moving close to does not include my problematic father from my last question; we would be moving closer to my favorite cousin, her lovely husband, and their adorable child; we have friends near the new area as well.)
posted by nayantara at 9:34 AM on May 7


I am looking for employment in X, as my partner recently accepted a position in the area.

You are beanplating this. If you play it cool, they're not going to think twice about it. Families move. Leave the current job on.
posted by bfranklin at 9:37 AM on May 7 [28 favorites]


I might leave the job off my resume. But were I not to, I think I would say something along the lines of:

I encourage you to look at my job history as a whole when assessing my loyalty to and longevity with employers. My current search became necessary when my partner, who has differing job circumstances than I, had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that necessitated our relocation to Location Y. My hope is that with our relocation, both they and I can find new homes of employment where our skills can be …

Not perfect, but something to work off of.
posted by metabaroque at 9:39 AM on May 7


I know this is really stressful for you personally but for a cover letter, you're overthinking this because it's so stressful.

"I'm moving with my family/partner to X and I heard about your company from LinkedIn/Indeed/A Very Professional Duck..."

That's all you need. Relocation is fairly common as a reason for moving and if you don't have a long history of very short professional tenure, competent hiring folks won't blink at it. You might find yourself explaining the short job time to some people who aren't paying close attention but this is *not* a big deal - if anyone says "why are you leaving Job X after just a month?" you simply say "Oh, it's a fine job, but my partner got a job in Your City and we're super excited to move there!"
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:40 AM on May 7 [14 favorites]


I would leave the current job off your resume. After only a few weeks, it is unlikely to add anything of value.
posted by NotLost at 9:46 AM on May 7 [25 favorites]


You are identifying yourself as the trailing spouse; this job runs the risk of you also leaving them in case your spouse gets another job offer a year down the road.
posted by saucysault at 9:55 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: saucysalt - I see your point but I still need to explain why I am looking for jobs in a different location than where I am now. How do I do that?
posted by nayantara at 9:59 AM on May 7


Apologies if I'm projecting, but I'm reading a lot of stress and anxiety in your question (like, I wouldn't think that your partner is coercing you into a move?). Also, this isn't that big of a problem. There are lots of ways to address and your potential employer won't think twice about it.

I'd probably leave the new job off of the resume. If it somehow comes up during the interview, you can say, "I took a temporary position."

In the letter, "I was delighted to see the opening for the position of Interesting Job because I am relocating to City next month." That's it! You don't have to say why! If you really feel you must address this, you can say, "...my family is relocating to City next month."

Don't make this a thing. It is truly Not a Thing.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:59 AM on May 7 [31 favorites]


I'm seeing your follow up. You don't have to explain. Employers don't really want to know a lot of information about your family life because it runs too close to areas where discrimination and other issues can come up. They are interested in your professional self. Again, during the interview, you can say, "I am moving to City to be closer to my family," but truly, you don't owe anyone this information.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:00 AM on May 7 [8 favorites]


I would likely not reference your current job unless it has something vital to what you're applying to.

Definitely say you are moving to the area, and give a time frame if you can.

I've relocated multiple times and could be seen as the trailing spouse. I've usually mentioned how I'm connected to the area, have wanted to move there for quite some time, and was excited to see their job posting as I will soon be in the area.

Mostly, you want them to not worry that you'll hate the area move back and/or that you'll be following your partner.
posted by ghost phoneme at 10:06 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


When I did this, I said I was moving for family reasons. I was a few months into a terrible job and quit to get ready for the move/retain my sanity; I don’t think anyone blinked.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 10:06 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Don't explain anything about moving for your partner's job/moving in general, just write the cover letter the way you normally would, just about your qualifications and interest in the job. If potential employers are interested in your qualifications, they will interview you and then this can come up. If they want to hire you, all they are going to really care about is that you are going to be in the area and ready to start relatively soon after you're hired.
posted by cakelite at 10:17 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]




People move all the time! If someone asks, you can always say that you've always wanted to move to *place* and the timing was good to do this now.
posted by Omnomnom at 10:22 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


These are both problems with well-established solutions. Leave your current job off your resume - you haven't been there long enough to really learn anything useful. In your cover letter, just say "I will be relocating to [new city] in [month]".
posted by kevinbelt at 10:24 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


As a general rule, never over-explain. I personally do not put a street address on my resumes anymore anyway for security and to stop people from making assumptions about me from where/how I live, so I just put Firstname Lastname, Newtown ZZ and my google voice number (which you can make local to Newtown if you like but people keep numbers over many moves these days, doesn't really matter).
posted by Lyn Never at 11:00 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Why are you even mentioning that you don't live in the new place yet? How long is it until you move?

If you are moving in a couple weeks, I would just put that you already live there on your resume. If you get the interview, which is probably going to be virtual or on the phone right now, you can explain that you are moving there. If you aren't going to move for a couple months, then I don't think its very realistic to apply for a job in that location (unless its fully remote) until you are a few weeks away from a move.
posted by foxonisland at 11:14 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


People search for jobs in other cities all.the.time. It’s a non-issue. DO briefly mention, though, that you are definitely relocating to this city (for family reasons, or due to your partner’s job, whatever) so that they know you’re looking for a job in this city in particular rather than applying all over the country.
posted by mekily at 11:33 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Don't even mention that you don't live there yet, and do not mention any emotions like hope. Don't fall yourself making overtures. Don't mention any personal information, like even the fact that you have a husband. And definitely stay away from that coercion stuff, both in the letter and in any interviews. No one reasonable is going to think that you're being coerced. Couples make joint decisions about where they are going to live as a matter of course.

Focus on all the strengths that you will bring to the job, and how you can benefit the place of employment. A cover letter is a sales pitch, and you never want to stress any weaknesses when you are trying to sell somebody something. Getting into any explanation about your location, your husband, why you're moving... this will hurt your argument that you are the best person for the job and that they would be lucky to have you. You may want to get a PO box in your new town now so that you can use that address on job applications, if you're worried about location. If you get an interview and they ask you if you live in town, you can say I am relocating there on x date for family reasons.

And I would leave the current job off the resume, since you've only been there for a few weeks and it's not really relevant.
posted by twelve cent archie at 11:34 AM on May 7


"I am unexpectedly relocating to {Cleveland} on 6/1 and looking forward to settling into my new community by securing local employment."

That's really all you need to say, if anything at all.
posted by juniperesque at 12:03 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


saucysalt - I see your point but I still need to explain why I am looking for jobs in a different location than where I am now. How do I do that?

You don't. I assume if someone applies to a position I'm advertising, they are willing to relocate. The reasons you're willing to do that matter not at all.

And, leave the 3-week gig off your resume. It doesn't add anything, and it just puts you in a position of having to explain it, even in a perfunctory sense. And sometimes HR people are dicks who will hold something like that against you when considering your application.
posted by liquado at 12:04 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I do think it's better to mention commitment to relocating. In the past, I've had some employers clearly reluctant to interview someone from out of town, who I guess they thought might just be testing the waters or something. I agree with "don't over-explain," but if you simply state that you will be in [x] town by [x] date in one sentence in the cover letter, it will hopefully reduce the chances of that happening. The odds of negative repercussions are tiny.

(Also, I'm guessing OP went into the "coercion" spiel for the benefit of AskMe people who really like to pick apart the background of questions.)
posted by praemunire at 12:14 PM on May 7


Another vote that it's valuable to mention that you have concrete plans in progress to move. I always at some level felt like candidates who didn't live in the area or directly address moving were less likely. (And may not have realistically considered the cost of living where I was hiring.) This will be somewhat dependent on the career level of the position - moving for leadership positions is different than the early career level jobs I was hiring for.
posted by mercredi at 12:27 PM on May 7


Ask A Manager is quite explicit about leaving a three-week job off your resume.

She also (I can't find the column) suggests saying in the cover letter "I will be relocating to City in Month" or something similar (I will be moving to Boston this summer; I will be relocating to Springfield within the next couple of months). The only thing you need to make clear is that you WILL be relocating--that's already the plan and it's in play. You don't need to tell them why, but it communicates that you are definitely in the market in their area specifically.
posted by gideonfrog at 12:33 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: (Also, I'm guessing OP went into the "coercion" spiel for the benefit of AskMe people who really like to pick apart the background of questions.)

Yes, this is exactly why.

Thank you all for the advice!
posted by nayantara at 12:49 PM on May 7


Best answer: Another vote for this being an absolute non-issue. Not “It’s a small issue but you can play it down and it probably won’t be a problem” but “Literally nobody will bat an eyelid and you’re imagining a problem that doesn’t exist at all”.

With kindness, you could perhaps look back to a couple of previous questions of yours where work things that you thought were going to be Huge Stressful Insurmountable Issues (like this!), turned out to be be totally fine. This is one of those again. Anxiety absolutely sucks, and it’s also hugely creative, it invents entire stories of doom out of literally nothing and that’s what’s going on here. You’re fine. Just say “I am relocating to [city] and I am very interested in the position you have available” and everything is fine. Good luck!
posted by penguin pie at 2:00 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I relocated from the Midwest to the West Coast and I never, not once, even mentioned that the reason we were relocating was because my (at that time future) husband took a role in a different state. I only said that I was going to be permanently relocating as of x date. Since your partner has not actually gotten and accepted the offer yet, my advice is that if possible you wait until that happens so that you can very clearly communicate that timeline to a future employer. My HR will toss out/not pass along candidates that don't sound serious about relocating if the position is listed as not being remote. I actually don't agree that it's a total non-issue, but I think the fact that this role is mostly remote and you are coming from not that far away plays in your favor.

I don't think keeping the current job on your resume matters except that you will probably need to explain it if you do. Being hire-able during the pandemic, to be blunt, is not going to be meaningful to some employers.
posted by sm1tten at 4:24 PM on May 7


Ask A Manager would advise to leave both your current location and current job off your application materials.

Since you are proactively applying, the new company will just say your living arrangement/location is your business. If you were being headhunted and the hiring org would have a reason to pay relocation costs, where you are might matter to them. But that’s not the case. They may ask your location during a phone screen (and you’ll want to figure out if you will make yourself available for in person interviews before you move), but otherwise it’s a non-issue.
posted by itesser at 6:08 PM on May 7


For years I have moved all over the country being the partner, then spouse, of someone serving in the military. I never mentioned anything in my cover letters. I just applied for jobs and left off anything that wasn't a significant amount of time. I never had any issues - even with a resume showing one or two years at one job; two or three years at another, in another part of the country, or overseas. As others have said, people move all the time. Further, the whole world has changed during the pandemic. People relocated, and are continuing to do so for any number of reasons. No need to explain anything on a cover letter. Best of luck to you!
posted by racersix6 at 6:58 PM on May 7


Leave the current job off, how could it really help you?

Looking for a new job because you are moving is common and shouldn't be a red flag. People move for many different reasons.

Less is more. You're doing nothing wrong or even unusual. IME, everything outside of job qualifications can and will be used against you in the earliest stages of a job search. If it came up in a conversation, an anodyne "I've been planning on moving to XXX for a while and took off a little time to prepare/pack" is fine.
posted by jclarkin at 7:51 AM on May 8


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