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Without representing the bulk of the content, I was hesitating about including or not a brief reference to my personal trajectory before wrapping up the letter.

I overcame a serious illness just after entering college and dealt with other challenges in the past that didn't make my way easy. I believe they helped me to build character, but I am not sure if commenting this might be out of place in a cover letter. My point is to emphasize that I got what is needed to get over problems in order to achieve my goals.

  • Did the problems you struggled with have any impact on your "stats": delayed graduation, lower GPA, ...? In other words, is there something in your profile that you have to explain that justifies bringing up a health problem? And was that health problem temporary or can it still impact your performance? – Lilienthal Apr 26 '17 at 11:06
  • "personal details" in the title doesn't seem to fit. Consider revising to "Including personal challenges in the cover letter" – Brandin Apr 26 '17 at 11:25
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I overcame a serious illness just after entering college and dealt with other challenges in the past that didn't make my way easy. I believe they helped me to build character, but I am not sure if commenting this might be out of place in a cover letter. My point is to emphasize that I got what is needed to get over problems in order to achieve my goals.

You would be telling a "story" that explains why you are such a hard worker and able to overcome obstacles. That could be a compelling story and a great inclusion in your cover letter.

I've read cover letters that mentioned past challenges, military service, and other items that they felt helped shaped their careers. Some of them were very compelling.

Just go lightly on the details of the illness and other challenges. You only want to convey enough to indicate that it was something that needed to be overcome and that you were able to do so. You don't need to include all the details or a long list of illnesses and challenges. If it takes more than 1 or 2 sentences, you probably have gone too far.

And you don't want to include such items as evidence of why you "really need this job". That isn't usually something that an employer will take into account and it could come across as a negative.

Remember, the subject of your cover letter is you. The intent of the cover letter is to convey why you would be a terrific match for this job and this employer. As long as your cover letter focuses on these, adding a small amount of "flavor" is a good thing.

You might wish to have a friend review a draft of your cover letter to give you feedback and make sure you haven't gone over the top.

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    My first instinct would have been to leave it out but this provides a valuable counterpoint. +1 – jcm Apr 26 '17 at 10:41
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    Even then I'm hesitant about including any mention of a health problem in a cover letter. At the least you'd want to make this about having dealt with "a medical condition which has since been resolved." – Lilienthal Apr 26 '17 at 11:03

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