Are you the type who agonizes over every little detail, especially if it’s something you care about? If so, I bet you hate that little box that comes up at the end of job applications suggesting that you “add any additional comments you believe are important to your application."
Oh, the anguish this little text box has probably caused. Do you fill it in or not? What if you have nothing to add? Is your application even complete if you leave it blank? Will it look like you didn’t care enough to write a bit more?
First things first, let’s go ahead and confirm that no one is tossing out your application because you didn’t fill in that little box. In fact, most of the time, it’s totally OK to leave it blank.
But now that we’ve calmed down a bit, let’s talk about a couple situations in which you might actually want to write for the “Additional Information” box.
Scenario 1: There’s No Place to Attach a Cover Letter
While you might not want to write a full-on cover letter to put in the additional information session, you do want to include your story. Even people who hate writing cover letters concede that there are a lot of benefits to having one. The cover letter is essentially an opportunity for you to make a great first impression. It’s the conversation you want to have with the hiring manager—but on paper.
On the other hand, when you don’t include a cover letter, you miss out on the chance to talk about why this company is special to you, how you see yourself creating value on Day 1, or how you’re the right cultural fit. So, if you’re not given a place to submit a cover letter, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of the “Additional Information” section to add a bit of personality to your application.
Scenario 2: You’re Doing a Massive Career Change
Changing careers isn’t all that uncommon anymore, but one thing that hasn’t really caught up with the times is the way job qualifications are written up. Even entry-level positions are now looking for some “relevant” work experience. So, if you’re a career changer, it’s always a good idea to highlight how you see your experiences lining up with the position that you’re applying for.
Much like you might include a carefully written, targeted objective statement on your resume to explain your career change, you may find that the “Additional Information” box is more suited to your situation. Use this section to focus on your transferable skills and how you would bring them to your new role.
Scenario 3: You Actually Have Additional Information to Include
And, of course, if you actually do have more relevant information to include in your application, this is the place to do it! Maybe you’re relocating to the city the company is based in for personal reasons or there’s something unusual about your educational credentials that you’d like to clarify. You don’t want to waste precious space in your cover letter doing this, so the “Additional Information” box is the perfect place to do it.
It’s easy to overthink job applications and stress out over little details, but in the end you’re not doing yourself any favors by getting worked up. If you’re ever worried about your application getting tossed for one reason or another, consider what you would do if you were the hiring manager. If it’s not something you would raise an eyebrow to, then you’re probably fine. Just hit submit already.
Photo of nervous man courtesy of Shutterstock.
Lily Zhang serves as a Manager of Graduate Student Professional Development at the MIT Media Lab where she works with a range of students from AI experts to interaction designers. When she’s not indulging in a new book or video game, she’s thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author