With an effective cover letter, you can make a great first impression on hiring managers when you’re changing careers. This important tool helps you explain why you are right for the position, even if you don’t have any formal educational or work experience in the field.
Along with needing to write a cover letter that is specific to the job you’re applying for, rather than just reusing the same one for each position, you may find it challenging to write a career change cover letter when it feels like you have a lack of relevant experience. How do you convince employers that you’re the right fit for the job?
Emphasize Your Transferable Skills
When changing your career, you may ask yourself if you have the skills needed for a new role. Most likely you do have some. Throughout your work experience, you have probably gained transferable skills, which can be applied to multiple careers. Having transferable skills can help not only help make your career change easier and smoother, but they also can help you when you’re writing your cover letter.
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When you’re drafting your career change cover letter, you should look at the description of the job for which you are applying. Does the description list specific skills that you currently have? If so, emphasize them and detail instances of using them in previous roles. Also list any soft or technical skills, leadership or mentoring roles, or projects that you were a part of. This helps illustrate your strengths and helps the hiring manager see how you can contribute to their company.
If you feel as though you lack transferable skills or the proper educational background, pursuing an online degree or certification can help you gain the credentials you need to excel in your new career path.
Within your cover letter, you will also have to express your motivations for your career change. For example, if you are transitioning into a business role, you may be motivated by a salary increase or growth potential. If you are starting a nursing career, you may want a steady income and the ability to make a positive impact on others. Or you may want to help improve the lives of individuals and communities through a job in social work.
Since you are changing professions, you need to be upfront with employers about your qualifications and your intentions. In your cover letter, explain why you decided to change careers, why you are interested in the new field, and show that you are committed to the change. Tell them how your previous job experience will make you valuable to their company even though you are a newcomer to the industry, and be sure that your references will agree with your statements.
Also, be truthful about any employment gaps you have. You don’t have to go into much detail but explain if you were focused on something else or if you took a break to earn a degree or learn new technical skills. Describe how you used that time to build your knowledge for this new position. Showing that you used that time to further develop your skills shows initiative and that you were professionally engaged.
Best Practices for Writing Your Career Change Cover Letter
As you are writing your cover letter, be sure to research the company to which you are applying. Showing that you understand them and explaining what makes you want to work there lets the employer know you are familiar with what they do. Communicate your passion and excitement for the potential employer throughout your cover letter.
Your cover letter should focus on what your resume does not show. Your resume cannot show your personality and excitement for the role. Nor can it explain items in detail. Since this is the first step toward a job interview, your career change cover letter needs to show the hiring manager who you are and what you can do.
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Avoid making your career change cover letter too long. Some hiring managers will skip reading your cover letter if they feel like it is excessive in length. However, you should avoid a short cover letter so that it doesn’t imply lack of interest in the job. Ideally, your cover letter should be about two-thirds of a page, or roughly 300 words.
In your opening paragraph, you should mention the job you’re applying for and where you saw the listing. If you were referred to the position by someone else, acknowledge them by name. This not only personalizes your cover letter, it shows that you have industry contacts, which can help facilitate your career transition.
Throughout your cover letter, you need to show why you are the ideal candidate for the position. Use some of the language that the employer uses in the job posting. Explain that you understand what is required of the position and list how you can effectively fulfill its duties. If you have examples from previous jobs, work some of them in. Also, list your transferable skills and mention that you can learn new skills in order to meet the employer’s needs.
Also, remember to thank the hiring manager for their time in your cover letter’s conclusion. Suggest the next step in the process, whether it’s speaking with them on the phone, meeting them in person for an interview, or providing any additional information they may desire.
Finally, make sure your cover letter is polished. This is your first impression, so you don’t want to send them a sloppy first draft. Edit it, read it aloud, and check your spelling. Have a friend or family member review your cover letter for you. They can provide you with a fresh set of eyes and constructive advice that can help you present yourself in the best light possible.
Sample Career Change Cover Letter
Here is an example of a career change cover letter:
123 Market Street
Any City, KY 12345
May 15, 2019
Waldo Read, President
123 Business Way, Suite 100
Businesstown, KY 11234
Dear Mr. Read,
I am genuinely interested in the Office Manager position posted on the Medical Offices website. I believe that my experience and skill set make me an ideal candidate for this role.
Throughout my work experience, I have gained valuable skills that can be applied to this position, including effective communication and customer service skills. In fact, in my previous job as a salesperson at Beyond the Cover Books, I worked directly with customers to help them find the books they needed and ensured that they were happy with the service they were provided. My ability to provide exceptional customer service created a long-term positive relationship with customers.
Some of my key strengths that I believe will be beneficial for this position and your company include:
– Driven to learn new skills
– Strive for excellence in all aspects of the job
– Effective communication skills
– Strong attention to detail
– Excellent time management
– Effective problem solving
– Ability to collaborate with a team
I think that you will find me to be the positive personality that your company needs for interacting with customers, handling multiple tasks, and ensuring that the office runs effectively and smoothly. I feel as though my experience is versatile and that I will exceed your expectations. Additionally, I thoroughly connect with Medical Office’s mission to provide superior customer service to all patients and families as it aligns with my personal values. I believe that this connection supports my candidacy for this position.
I am very excited about the opportunity to work as the Office Manager for Medical Offices. I believe that I can provide value to your company and its customers. I sincerely hope that you will find my abilities to be fitting enough to schedule an in-person interview.
You may reach me at anytime via my phone at 555-555-5555. Thank you for your consideration and time. I look forward to discussing this employment opportunity further with you.
While pursuing a new profession can present many challenges, make sure that your career change cover letter best represents you. Show that you are well qualified for the new career and that you are enthusiastic about working for the company. Even if you may feel as though you do not have the proper background for the career, highlight your skills and expertise in other areas to display that you are competent and willing to grow. If necessary, you can also update your resume to reflect your new professional goals.