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How To Write A Cover Letter For Career Change

If you want to make a career change, should you use your cover letter to point out that you're in career transition? If so, how do you say it so it appeals to an employer?

There's no hard and fast rule that says you should or should not draw attention to your career change, either in your cover letter or resume. It depends on your situation.

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Here's my rule of thumb: In your cover letter, you're not obligated to state that you're making a career change. Do so only if it enhances your job application.

For example, if your previous line of work is somehow related to your new career, it could make sense to refer to your old career as a stepping stone to you new one. If, however, your former work is very different from you new career, then it might be best not to draw attention to your career transition.

Each of the following cover letter samples mentions one of these three types of career change:

  1. Career change from one type of work to another.
  2. Full-time moms making "career changes" back into the workforce.
  3. Exploring a career change.

Take a look!

Sample Cover Letters for Career Change

Cover Letter for Real Estate Appraiser
Marcus is making a career change from antique sales to real estate appraiser. This cover letter bridges his two careers and makes it easy for his reader to understand how she would benefit from having Marcus join her professional team.

Cover Letter for Administrative Assistant
This is a cover letter by a mother re-entering the workforce after being a full-time parent for the last five years. She's now ready to get back to work as an administrative assistant. Kim couldn't find out the name of her reader, so she started her letter with "Dear Director." This is much better than "Dear Madam/Sir."

Cover Letter for Graphic Designer
This cover letter email does three things for Tina, who is a server at Joe's Coffee Company. Tina wants a promotion to graphic designer in Joe's Marketing Department. Here's what she achieves with her email: Tina thanks the hiring manager for his recent phone call about the career move she has in mind.

Follow-Up Letter for Event Planner
With this follow-up letter, Cindy is reconnecting with Ms. Winters, someone she met a few years ago. Cindy is not asking Ms. Winters for a job. She's thinking about making a career change from florist to event planner. She's asking for an informational interview to get insight into event planning, which is Ms. Winters' profession.

Follow-Up Cover Letter for COO of Data Management
This cover letter is Roger's first step toward a career change into a new industry. He's contacting someone he met at a casual event at a friend's house. It's a good example of how to seize an opportunity you find within your personal network and use it to advance your career.

Cover Letter for Translator for Healthcare Services
This cover letter is an excellent example of how to present a career change to an employer. Scot's former career in administration falls into the background and it is his personal relationships and experience that get highlighted as key qualifiers for his new career as a translator for healthcare services.

Cover Letter for an English Teacher
Here's a cover letter for a teacher of English Composition at a community college. Notice how the applicant, Larry, presents his career change from business to teaching as a key qualifier for the job.

Cover Letter for Mortgage Sales and Customer Service
Alison's letter is an excellent example of how to present a job seeker's career change as a big plus to a potential employer. In the third paragraph she makes the case that her career change (from real estate sales to mortgage sales) is not only a logical shift, but also one that she's been leading up to all along. Smart move!

Sample Career Change Cover Letter

If you are looking for a position in a different industry or career field, your cover letter is a huge factor in your likelihood of getting the job. Since your resume may not contain the relevant experience that hiring managers are looking for, you need to capitalize on your cover letter as an opportunity to demonstrate why you are a good fit despite lacking the specific employment history that may be an important factor in getting the job.

Read below for tips on how to write a strong cover letter that convinces the reader that your work experience is a strength rather than a weakness. Also, read a sample cover letter for someone switching careers.​

Tips for Writing a Career Change Cover Letter

Any good cover letter explains why you are qualified for the specific job. However, a cover letter written during a career change needs to go beyond that. You must touch on three important points, which will help you rise above candidates who have more direct experience in the industry. These three points are listed below:

Emphasize Your Transferable Skills

Most importantly, focus on the transferable skills you have that you can use in the new position, rather than the specific skills you have that are related to your current position. Analyze the job description for the position you’re applying to, and look at the skills that the role calls for.

Choose the ones that best match your own skills or experience. Then, if possible, use specific anecdotes, from your work or academic history, to illustrate some of these strengths in action. 

Highlight Your Superior Performance in Previous Positions

Other candidates may have the relevant experience, but if it is a mediocre experience that cannot be backed up by strong references or tangible achievements, you may actually be better off.

In your letter, do your best to explain how you succeeded in previous roles, and connect that to a summary of how you would also add value in this new position. Make sure your references will corroborate your statements.

Express Your Passion for the Company

Include your passion for the company. This is another way to stand out from qualified candidates. Employers may be more interested in someone who is especially excited about their organization and the job opportunity, than someone who just wants a job and doesn’t care about much beyond that. In your cover letter, make it clear that you’re familiar with the organization and enthused for the opportunity to be a part of it.

Be sure to thoroughly research the company before writing your cover letter, so you can convince the employer that you understand the company and why you want to be a part of it. You don’t necessarily have to cover all of these topics in order or in distinct paragraphs. The aim is to make sure you communicate these points throughout your letter.

Read a sample cover letter below, which you can use as a framework for writing your own career change cover letter. However, be sure to edit the sample to fit your personal experiences and the job for which you are applying.

Sample Career Change Cover Letter

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email

Date

Hiring Manager Name
Company Name
Address
City, State, Zip Code

Dear Hiring Manager:

This letter is to express my special interest in discussing the Senior Customer Service Manager position posted on the XYZ Company web site. The opportunity presented in this listing is very appealing, and I believe that my experience and education will make me a competitive candidate for this position.

Although I have been working primarily as an Operations Manager, in this capacity I have interfaced frequently with customers, in addition to vendors and staff. This has instilled multi-dimensional communication skills and an ability to recognize, act upon, and fulfill customer wishes and needs in order to ensure their continued, and positive, relationship with the business.

In fact, in my most recent job as Operations Manager for ABC Company, I received an ‘Excellence in Customer Service’ recognition due to my ability to coordinate complex logistics in order to keep customers happy even when issues arose that were beyond the control of the organization. Again, this involved not only managing operations but communicating directly with customers. As a result, I believe my combined ability to successfully manage operations while also effectively interface with customers makes me a prime candidate for this role.

The key strengths that I possess for success in this position include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Provide exceptional contributions to customer service for all customers. 
  • Strive for continued excellence.
  • Strong communication skills.
  • Eager to learn new things.

You will find me to be well-spoken, energetic, confident, and personable, the type of person on whom your customers will rely. I also have a wide breadth of experience of the type that gives you the versatility to place me in a number of contexts with confidence that the level of excellence you expect will be met. Please see my resume for additional information on my experience.

I hope that you'll find my experience and interests intriguing enough to warrant a face-to-face meeting, as I am confident that I could provide value to you and your customers as a member of your team. I am very excited about this opportunity to work for XYZ Company. I connect with your mission to “deliver the ‘five star’ factor” to both your staff and your customers. This tenet is reflected in my own professional, and personal values, and I believe this alignment strongly supports my candidacy for this role.

I can be reached anytime via my cell phone, 555-555-5555. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you about this employment opportunity.

Sincerely,

Signature (hard copy letter)

FirstName LastName

Update Your Resume to Reflect Your New Goals

When you're seeking a career change, it's important to refocus your resume to reflect your new goals. Here's are six tips for writing a powerful career change resume that will help you get started.

How to Send an Email Cover Letter

If you're sending your cover letter via email, list your name and the job title in the subject line of the email message. Include your contact information in your email signature, and don't list the employer contact information. Simply start your email message with the salutation.

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