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First, a bit of background:

I am a recent graduate from university looking for employment at a laboratory space that is associated with the university that I graduated from. This space is known for hiring students with my degree right out of graduation, and for working with them if they want to apply to a graduate program in the future, as I do. There are a few positions available that I am qualified for and are interested in applying to. However, I am also currently hired in a separate lab space, which takes up around 10 hours of my time every week

My problem comes from the space I am already hired at. I greatly enjoy my work there, and my supervisor is a respected individual in the field that I am interested in applying to graduate school for. He has promised me a letter of recommendation for the work I am doing with him, so I absolutely wish to keep working there for as long as possible. However, this leaves only 30 hours a week for my potential employment at this new lab space, and all of the positions I am going to apply for are listed as full time.

While I know that requesting fewer hours has a good chance of hurting my chances to be hired, I think that it is still more important to apply and be open about this restriction, than to not apply at all. My question is this:

Should I mention this restriction in my cover letter, being open about it up front, or should I wait until any potential interview and bring it up then?

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    Are you in a country where it's unlawful to work over 40 hrs? If you're planning on graduate school in a discipline that involves lab work and expect to work 40hr weeks I have bad news for you. "I can't work mondays" or "I have to always leave at 5 to meet another commitment" is different from "I can only work 30 hrs" – Affe May 11 '18 at 19:07
  • I live in the US, so there are no legal problems to working >40 hours a week. I understand that the potential lifestyle I am interested involves work weeks that will potentially be over 40 hours. However, for now, I have other personal responsibilities outside of work that limits me to a pretty standard 40 hour work week. – Sean M. May 11 '18 at 19:22
  • Based on how you worded it, sounds like you have already secured the letter recommendation. Would the respected individual understand you leaving in order to make money to live? – dyeje May 14 '18 at 19:05
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Should I mention this restriction in my cover letter, being open about it up front, or should I wait until any potential interview and bring it up then?

I would suggest you be honest and inform any potential recruiter about this limitation. This way, you will be showing respect for them and their time, so they can decide if this is a problem for them and if it's worth continuing the recruitment process.

By doing this you will also be saving your time, which you can use to seek out other job opportunities.

Now, I would say that a Cover Letter is not the best place to put something like this. Personally, I would not include it there, but mention it at the first chance I got to the recruiter (perhaps during the initial interviews, or email exchange).

  • Is there any particular detriment to mentioning it in the cover letter, or is it more that the restriction is best brought up in person or through direct communication? – Sean M. May 11 '18 at 20:11
  • I think that if you put it there it may lessen the positive impact your Cover Letter could have. Cover letter purpose is to introduce you and get their attention. Of course this is something that has to be mentioned eventually, but stating it as almost the first thing they will read may discourage them to keep reading. Saying "I am great candidate but I already have other compromises" may give them the impression that you are not willing to adapt/compromise... that is why I think it's better to mention in other place, and keep your mind open to what may come – DarkCygnus May 11 '18 at 20:18

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