How to Write a Cover Letter When Changing Careers

Jul 31, 2020

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Career Expert, ZipJob

An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.

When changing careers, it’s critical to communicate your core strengths. Here’s how to do that in your career transition cover letter.

When you’re changing careers, you have to work just a bit harder than any other applicants with a more intuitive work history. You have to show that the experience you have is an asset. Other than your resume, the best place to state your case is in your cover letter!

In our fast-paced and rapidly-changing economy, people are changing careers at rates that would have been unthinkable just a few short generations ago. That can create problems for many applicants, however, as they may not be sure how they can use their resume to properly convey the right experience needed for their new career. The good news is that they can usually take care of that concern by using that other vital application tool: the cover letter.

A cover letter is an opportunity to start a conversation. Especially when your resume raises some questions, your cover letter should explain exactly why you’re applying for the job. Great career changing cover letters will convince any hiring manager that you’re the best candidate for the job.

In this important post, we’ll share 4 tips from our professional resume writers to help you achieve those objectives. We’ll also show a good example of a career change cover letter.

4 tips for your career change cover letter

When you’re writing a cover letter for a job in a new industry, it’s important to stay on task. This isn’t the place to write a heart-to-heart that reads more like a journal entry than a professional document. Instead, focus on what makes you a great applicant.

💡ZipTip: this post is for people who have work history, but are looking to transition into a new industry. If you don’t have work history, go here instead: How To Write A Cover Letter With No Experience.

1. Emphasize your transferable skills

Transferable skills are your current talents that would help you succeed in a different position. These skills are often soft skills, but may also be technical or analytical skills from your previous profession. Identify what your strengths are. How might those help you in another industry?

You can also approach this from the other side by spending some time analyzing the company’s needs. Look at the job description, the company website, and recent media coverage to identify the core skills that this company requires. Once you’ve honed in on those needs, you can determine which of your skills can help to make you a great candidate for the job.

Your should heavily feature your transferable skills on your resume. Once you’ve identified them, you can offer more of an explanation in your cover letter about how each skill will apply to this new job. Emphasize your relevant skills within the body of the cover letter, including specific examples of how they have helped you to achieve certain results and goals in the past.

Be brief, but be sure to answer why you’re applying and why you’re worth interviewing.

 Cover Letter Tip for Changing Careers

2. Focus on your results

The number one thing that will push you ahead of your competition is a fantastic accomplishment. Your accomplishments are still valid, even when changing careers: awards, honors, and other results that show you’re a high achieving employee will make you look like a winner. Your cover letter gives you a chance to explain why it’s so impressive that accomplished something. Try to figure out numbers or metrics–these really stand out on resumes and cover letters.

To showcase those results, you need to emphasize the success that you’ve enjoyed in prior jobs, providing details that help to connect those successes to your transferable skills. From there, you only need to complete the picture by explaining how your prior achievements and transferable skills can offer tangible benefits to the new company.

💡ZipTip: make your experience stand out by using the STAR method on your resume and cover letter.

3. Demonstrate genuine passion

Let your passion for the company be on full display, so that the hiring manager knows that you care about getting the position. Mention something new or interesting the company has accomplished, or relate to the company’s core values. You can add your personality into your cover letter–as long as it stays relevant!

Take the time to do your homework so that you have a firm understanding about what the company does, and how it hopes to achieve its goal. That will enable you to properly convey your passion for the position in the body of your cover letter, and can even help to explain why you’re looking to change your career.

4. Tailor your resume to reflect your career change goals

If this is your first time creating a career change cover letter, be sure to review your resume when you’re done so that everything is properly coordinated. You don’t want any inconsistencies between those two important documents: your cover letter should only talk about experience also mentioned on your resume.

To keep your message clear, make any resume changes that are needed to keep it aligned with the message on your cover letter. Remember, it’s the little things that often make the difference between success or failure!

If your resume isn’t tailored for your career transition goals, check out these articles next:

Career change cover letter example

Changing Careers Cover Letter Example

This example is to the point and easy to scan through. It has several examples of how the applicant has added value in the past, using numbers that are easy for the reader to translate to a different industry.

Notice also that this letter (like all good cover letters) includes a professional heading and uses a business letter format. It is highly specific, a quick but clear message that you’ve put some thought into tailoring your cover letter. The letter does not use a generic “to whom it may concern” greeting; ideally, you can find the name of the hiring manager. When in doubt, addressing you letter to a hiring team is a good alternative.

The heading with your own information was borrowed from the updated resume format we used to share over 200 resume examples written by our professional resume writers. Using the same format for your resume and cover letter is another instance of subtle details that stand out.

Summary

As you can see, the cover letter for a career change is similar to many others. You still want to focus on the value you can add to the company. By emphasizing your transferable skills, focusing on past achievements, and demonstrating your interest in the new company, you should be able to leverage your existing skill set in a way that sets you apart from the crowd.

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An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.

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