Changing careers can be a liberating experience—you’ll be able to take on a new set of challenges, and spend your time exploring a new field. If you are passionate about changing to a different career, you may be wondering “how can I effectively communicate my value to an employer, even if I am not directly qualified for a job?”
That’s where the cover letter comes in. Cover letters are an opportunity for you to craft a narrative about your past experience and why you, specifically, are the right fit for a job. Whereas resumes are a list of your past experiences and skills, cover letters can be used to explain how certain experiences have prepared you for the role for which you are applying.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss how you can write a career change cover letter that will clearly showcase your value to an employer. We’ll also walk through an example career change cover letter you can use as inspiration for your letter.
How to Write a Career Change Cover Letter
The goal of writing any cover letter is to explain why you’re qualified for a particular job. However, when you’re writing a career change cover letter, you’ll need to go further. You’ll need to make sure that you draw clear links between your past experience and how that has prepared you for the new career you want to enter.
To help you write a career change cover letter, we’ve compiled a list of top tips that will help you communicate your value to an employer.
#1: Talk about why you are changing careers
If an employer is reading a cover letter from someone who is changing careers, they will likely be asking themselves: why is this person changing careers? Understanding why you are changing careers will help an employer better evaluate your motivation, and whether or not you are a good fit for the job.
Are you changing careers because you want a new challenge? Has a specific career always been interesting to you? Did you discover that you love practicing a certain skill after working on a side project? Whatever the reason, make it clear why you are changing careers in your cover letter.
#2: Talk about your good performance in other jobs
The goal of a cover letter is to communicate your value to a business, and there is no better way to accomplish this goal than by talking about your past successes.
In your career change cover letter, you should spend time talking about how you have succeeded in jobs you’ve held in the past. For instance, if you’ve won an employee of the month award, or exceeded sales targets, or managed other employees, these are all things you can mention in your cover letter.
While your prior experience may not be directly related to the position for which you are applying, it will help an employer get to know you better. In addition, the information you share about your past accomplishments will illustrate your work ethic to an employer, which is a soft skill you’ll need to successfully transition to a new job.
#3: Explain your transferable skills
Transferable skills, also known as “soft skills,” are the skills that can be applied to any job, no matter what your title is or what industry you work in.
Throughout your professional career, you will have accrued transferable skills. For instance, if you managed employees in your last job, you will have built up management experience. If you coordinated the schedule of your boss in your last job, you will have had to utilize your organizational skills.
In your cover letter, you should mention a few of the transferable skills you have that you think will relate to the position for which you are applying. Are you applying for a job where time management skills will be crucial? You may want to mention a time when you used your time management skills at your last job.
#4: Discuss why you are passionate about a company
When an employer is reading your cover letter, they should feel that you are excited about the opportunity. Employers want to hire people who are motivated to do a good job, even if it means working in a position that may not have as many responsibilities as they are used to.
In your cover letter, be sure to mention why you are applying for a job with the company. Do you think their vision is particularly interesting? Do they sell a product that you use and love?
Career Change Cover Letter Example
So, now you know the main ingredients that make for a successful career change cover letter. But you may be asking yourself: what does a career change cover letter look like? To help you understand how you can structure your career change cover letter, we’ve prepared an example cover letter.
May 13, 2020
123 Main Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Dear Mr. Lincoln,
This letter is to express my interest in applying for the Marketing Manager position at XYZ Company. I have seven years of experience in sales and I am looking to expand my skillset and explore a career in marketing. Throughout my sales career, I have acquired a number of skills which I believe can transfer over to the marketing field.
Although my last job was focused primarily on sales, I have had many experiences where I have had to exercise marketing skills. For instance, in my last job, I had to work with the rest of the sales department to determine relevant performance indicators to track my work. I also had to spend time developing deep relationships with my clients, which helped me refine my skills of empathizing with users of a product.
In my last job, I earned the Salesperson of the Year award two years in a row. I was given this accolade because of my consistently strong performance in meeting my targets, and in working effectively with others to share the best practices I had developed in my job.
I believe that my background in sales would provide value to your marketing department, and my strong team building skills could be invaluable. I am always willing to take on a new challenge, and I enjoy working in fast-paced environments.
I hope that you will find my experience and skills interesting enough to consider me for the role of Marketing Manager, and I am very excited to learn more about this opportunity to work for your organization. Your company’s vision of delivering “delightful customer experiences” resonates deeply with me, especially considering my past experience in considering customer experience in the context of sales.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
The above cover letter uses the same format as a traditional cover letter—beginning with an introduction and closing with a thank-you note. The main difference, though, is that this candidate has used their past experience as an opportunity to discuss their transferable skills that relate to the job for which they want to apply.
In this case, the candidate has discussed how their expertise empathizing with clients and determining key performance indicators could be transferred to a role in marketing. The candidate has also mentioned that they enjoy working in fast-paced environments and are capable of taking on new challenges, which are two key skills you would need to have to effectively work in a marketing department.
Writing a career change cover letter can feel intimidating, especially if the career path you want to follow is significantly different from the one you have been following in the past.
In your cover letter, you should focus on discussing your unique talents and how your past experiences have prepared you for a role in your new career. When you can, make links between the skills that you learned in your old career, and how you think those skills could be applied in the context of your new career.
By following the tips we covered in this article, you’ll be on your way to writing an effective career change cover letter that conveys your value to an employer, even if you don’t have all of the qualifications necessary for a position. A strong cover letter may be what encourages an employer to reach out to schedule an interview, so make it count.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.