Getting a new job, especially when you just went through a tech career change, is challenging. Since you are new in the industry, you need more than your current experience to secure a job for yourself. To be successful during the job search, you have to craft a compelling career change cover letter and a career change resume.
With little or no experience in the new field, you are already disadvantaged. Employers typically consider professionals who have been working in the field before they examine career changers like yourself.
To increase your chances of being hired, we have prepared this guide to take you through the entire process of writing an effective career change letter and resume. By applying the principles in this article, you too can become the ideal candidate and kickstart a successful career at 45 in this new industry.
Career Change Cover Letter Guide
The cover letter is your avenue to express the value you will bring to an organization regardless of the absence of relevant experience. Your potential employer will notice that you lack direct experience in the industry. Still, you must demonstrate that you can perform excellently through a career change cover letter.
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. You might even be able to land a high-paying job for people over 50. 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.
Why Does Your Career Change Cover Letter Matter?
Your career change cover letter matters because it will show why you are perfect for the job opportunity, despite not having direct experience. When employers review applications, they look to see if candidates have the necessary qualifications.
Upon screening your resume, it will become clear that you don’t have experience for the job. This is where you need a cover letter to help the employer understand why you are changing careers.
While the reasons for a career transition can include many things, your letter helps express your passion for the job and draws a connection between your previous positions and your new field of interest. It can be a difficult feat to achieve, but your aim should be to draw your prospective employers’ attention to your transferable skills.
Your cover letter is the perfect opportunity to expatiate your proficiency in any soft skills or technical skills. Without knowing how to write a well-crafted career change cover letter, you likely won’t make it very far in the job application process.
Essential Components of Your Career Change Cover Letter
As a career changer at 35, your letter has to be exceptional to make a difference. It should have a good structure and include the following components. They are essential to developing your letter and determining the flow of its content.
- Header. In this section, you will provide personal information like your phone number and email address in case the employer needs to contact you. Aside from your contact details, you should also include the date.
- Opening salutation. By addressing the letter directly to the recruiter, you are showing intentionality and effort. The safest option is to use the salutation “Dear” followed by the person’s last name with title. If you can’t find the recruiter’s name, address your cover letter to the head of the department that you are applying to.
- Opening paragraph. This is the introduction to your letter. In one paragraph, you should express your enthusiasm and excitement for the job, mention any important referrals, and briefly address why you are a strong candidate. Your introduction should be strong enough to compel the recruiter to read on.
- Body. This section requires great care and attention as it is the heart of your letter. In two or three paragraphs, give the reader an insight into your work history, linking your previous experience with the position you are applying for. Make sure to discuss any interpersonal skills that are relevant such as being a team player.
- Closing paragraph. Take a moment to restate your interest and show appreciation to the recruiter for considering your letter. Include a call to action and mention the best way of contacting you.
- Closing salutation. The way you close your career transition cover letter also matters. A formal salutation like “Kind regards” or “Respectfully” would be perfect to close your letter. End with your name and include your signature if you are submitting a hard copy.
5 Tips for Writing a Strong Career Change Cover Letter
When writing a cover letter, there are a few best practices that you can’t ignore, including staying within one page, using a professional font, and proofreading the copy before submitting the document. However, because this is a career change cover letter, there are a few more steps we recommend. Use these cover letter writing tips to bolster your candidacy.
- Conduct in-depth research. Before you begin your application, you should research the company, its values, business model, and operations. This will help you tailor your letter to the company’s needs. In addition, you will find out if your values align with those of the company.
- Use the right keywords. If you want your letter to resonate with the recruiter, write it with keywords from the job description in mind. If the company is looking for an individual with “organizational skills” and “experience in sales,” include these exact terms in your letter.
- Describe why you decided to change careers. Explain to your prospective employer the reasons for your career switch, describing your passion for the new career path and your enthusiasm to embark on this new journey. Discuss your eagerness to learn and take on challenges.
- Highlight your transferable skills. Be clear about your key skills and connect your main competencies to this specific job. If you are a technical writer switching to data analysis, highlight how your communication skills and research abilities can aid you in the process of extracting and analyzing data as well as conveying your findings in simple language. Your core strengths are still relevant even if they are not directly related to the new job.
- Quantify your accomplishments. In the main body of your letter, you should mention a few of your most notable accomplishments in previous roles. Providing concrete figures to measure these achievements will lend more credibility to your candidacy.
Career Change Cover Letter Example
The following sample cover letter illustrates some of the main points we have addressed so far in this article. If you use this letter as a guide, developing your career transition cover letter will be a walk in the park.
Career Change Cover Letter Sample
7 Beds Way
San Francisco, CA 75550
December 21, 2021
16 Milky Way New York City, NY
Dear Mr Tarantino,
I am excited to be applying for the data analyst position at ABC Company. With my five years of experience in research and technical writing, I believe I have what it takes to pursue a new career analyzing and communicating findings from financial audits as a data analyst in your company.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
In my previous position, I was responsible for reporting annual profit margins and employee turnover rates. This position exposed me to the techniques involved in data extraction, analysis, and reporting. With the implementation of various strategies to analyze findings, I gained the invaluable skill of providing intangible, actionable insights for business operations.
Maintaining an impeccable track record, I gained recognition from senior managers and received numerous Employee of the Month awards. My achievements came from my dedication to providing authentic and reliable reports to enhance business decisions.
I believe I would be a perfect addition to your data analytics team as I can employ my skillset and knowledge from my background to achieve company objectives. I am an enthusiastic learner that appreciates teamwork and performs optimally in a positive working environment.
I hope my skills and expertise are sufficient for you to consider me as a candidate for the data analyst position at ABC Company. I appreciate your consideration, and I hope to meet with you soon. You can contact me by phone or email.
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?
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.
Career Change Resume Guide
While the cover letter provides relevant details about your skills and how they apply to your current industry, your career change resume summarizes your work and education history. It gives the employer an overview of your career progression and the relevant skills you have picked up along the way. Your resume also showcases your main competencies by detailing your previous roles.
Why Does Your Career Change Resume Matter?
Because you are switching careers, your previous resume is no longer valid. You need to focus on creating a brand new resume that targets the position you are applying for and that follows the structure and tips we highlight below.
Because you have minimal or no experience in the new field, you must put together a strong resume that showcases your transferable skills and your relevant education and work experience. This is the perfect opportunity to highlight specific duties and responsibilities that you have carried out in the past and that are relevant to this position. You should also include your most notable achievements in previous jobs.
Essential Components of Your Career Change Resume
There are essential components that serve as the building blocks of a solid resume. We take a look at the main sections that every resume should include.
- Header. Much like your cover letter, your resume also has a header with your contact information. In addition to your name, address, phone number, and email, you should also add a link to your LinkedIn profile.
- Professional summary. This section comes after the header. It is a short description of your personal profile. To write a strong professional summary, make sure that is tailored to the position you are applying for and that it is only a few lines in length.
- Skills. As a career changer, you lack industry experience, so this section should be the main focus of your resume. List abilities that transfer well to the job at hand. You can never go wrong with customer service, marketing, and leadership skills.
- Experience. You probably don’t have much work experience in the industry, so use this section to highlight any responsibilities you have undertaken in the past that could apply to this job. Likewise, list your most important achievements for every role using concrete figures whenever possible.
- Certifications. Add any certificates, certifications, or diplomas that you believe add weight to your candidacy, even if they are not directly related to the advertised position. Adding a certification, even if it is not completely relevant, shows the employer that you are committed to professional development.
- Education. Use this section to list academic degrees and training programs. If you are applying for a tech role, make sure to include any coding bootcamp you have attended.
- References. Add at least a couple of referees that can vouch for you as a professional. These can be previous employers, colleagues, or even college professors.
5 Tips for Writing a Strong Career Change Resume
Employers need to see that you are a qualified candidate, and it is your responsibility to ensure that your resume is up to the task. Here we give you the top tips to create a winning career change resume.
- Choose a functional format. There are three main types of resume formats: functional, reverse-chronological, and combination. For a career changer, a functional resume is the clear best option as it puts the emphasis on your skills as opposed to your experience. To create a winning functional resume, use the template we have provided below.
- Include keywords. Before your resume ever gets to the hands of the recruiter, it will likely go through an applicant tracking system (ATS). If your document contains the right keywords, which you can find in the job posting, it stands a much greater chance of making it to the recruiter.
- Highlight transferable skills. Your resume, much like the cover letter, should emphasize your transferable skills. Choose the most relevant hard and soft skills you bring to the table and mention them in both the professional summary and skills section.
- Gather strong references. Your referees lend credibility to you as a professional. You want to choose people that you have worked with in the past and that can attest to your professionalism and hard work. Supervisors, colleagues, mentors, and professors are all good options but make sure you notify them so that they are ready in case the company calls them.
- Proofread your resume. Carefully check for grammatical errors before submitting your resume. A small mistake can be enough for a potential employer to disqualify you, so edit and proofread your resume several times before sending it.
Career Change Resume Examples
Hopefully, the tips above will help you create a strong resume that you can use to change industries. To show you exactly how to implement these tips, we have included some samples below. First, you’ll find an example of a professional summary for a career change resume. Below that, there is a career change template in which you can plug in your own information.
Career Change Resume Sample: The Professional Summary Section
Systematic and seasoned researcher proficient in data extraction, analysis, and technical writing. Seeks to utilize five years of experience and technical skills in a data analyst position to provide actionable insights for business operations in a target-driven financial institution.
Sample Career Change Resume Template
[Email, phone number]
[Position title], [Employment dates]
[Position title], [Employment dates]
[Position title], [Employment dates]
- [Certification], [Provider]
- [Certification], [Provider]
- [Certification], [Provider]
[Degree or training program], [Dates of attendance]
[Degree or training program], [Dates of attendance]
Career Change Resume Template Resources
SampleTemplates: This site contains a wide array of resumes that you can customize. With many options available, you can create a career transition resume for your target industry or field.
Novoresume: Here, you will find templates for each type of resume format. They are easy to customize and you can easily add your own personal touch.
ResumeGenius: Using this powerful resume builder powered by artificial intelligence, it is easy to create a functional resume that meets the needs of a career changer.
Importance of a Career Change Cover Letter and Resume
If your goal is to successfully enter a new field, crafting your application documents with care and attention is of utmost importance. Even if you lack extensive experience in this new industry, a well-written career change cover letter and resume will give you a good shot at the position, even if this is a highly competitive opening.
Career Change Cover Letter and Resume FAQ
Both documents should contain similar information. The main difference is that in your cover letter you can go into more detail about your key competencies. Never use the same exact wording in both documents as this will come off as lazy. Both documents should be consistent in terms of style and font.
No, it is best to use your resume to prepare a standard cover letter. Take inspiration from the content of your resume to craft your letter. Essentially, your letter is the last document you should work on during the application process.
Going with a functional resume is safe because it helps to draw attention to your skills and abilities rather than relevant work experience. As a job seeker who is switching industries, you can’t go wrong with a functional resume.
Since you are applying for a job, be professional when writing your cover letter. Avoid personal details that are irrelevant to the position such as your spouse, age, or religion. Instead, focus on relevant details about your qualifications for the position.
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.