A high-impact cover letter is a great way for career changers to ease any concerns a potential employer may have about qualifications.
Address the situation while positioning yourself as the perfect candidate for the job with the career change cover letter tips below!
Career Change Cover Letter Tips
1. Make a very brief nod to your switch.
Give employers the highly condensed version of why you are changing careers, and do it in an upbeat, professional manner. A career change cover letter isn’t the place to talk about your journey to this point or the personal reasons behind your decision.
“This should really only be one or two short lines. Acknowledge you’re making a change and give a brief explanation of why you’re interested in this new line of work. Then move on quickly to your best qualifications and a deeper explanation of why they should consider you,” shares Brie Reynolds, a FlexJobs senior career specialist and career coach.
Consider something like this phrasing from a sample cover letter: “Although successful in my sales career, I have realized the aspects of my work I find most rewarding are all in HR-related functions. The following offers a few highlights of my qualifications.”
2. Focus on transferable skills in your career change cover letter.
Sell yourself by connecting the dots. While you may not have direct experience in this new industry, chances are you have transferable skills that apply to a variety of settings. Through concrete examples, show the hiring manager that what you’ve done in the past relates to what you can do in the future.
“Career changers should incorporate skill sets and responsibilities used and developed in their past career(s) to offer potential employers compelling reasons why they should be considered,” says Lizandra Vega, an executive recruiter blogging as “The Career Confidante” and author of The Image of Success: Make a Great Impression and Land the Job You Want.
“For instance, if negotiating, counseling, and/or strategizing are skills used in a previous career, it is wise to explain how these skills transcend into the new career.”
3. Express your passion and knowledge.
Project enthusiasm about your career change by talking about a class you took or a volunteer project you completed that relates to the job at hand. Research the company’s goals; then, address how your background fits into achieving them.
Efforts to demonstrate that you are a lifelong learner dedicated to going the extra mile to succeed in this new industry are bound to get noticed.
Reynolds suggests: “A great way to stand out is to tell employers your story as it relates to this new field. What’s your connection to the work or industry? What draws you to it? Why do you feel compelled to turn in this direction? It’s not enough to show them you have the qualifications or credentials. Tell them how you feel connected to the work to set yourself apart.”
4. Don’t knock your past.
Lastly, remember that employers want to hire positive people who are focused on the contributions they can make to the company. In your career change cover letter (and in general), leave unflattering comments about your old job at the door.
“Career changers should not diminish or disparage their past career experiences/choices,” Vega says. “Doing so discredits your loyalty and passion. Move forward with why you’d like to transition into the career that you are now looking into, without going into specifics of how much you loathed your last career or how unchallenging or insignificant it was/has been. Be proud of all of your accomplishments, and use them as a platform to catapult you into the next phase of your career.”
Updating Your Resume
It goes without saying that if you’re looking to make a transition, you’re going to want to perfect a career change resume, too, that highlights key skills and aligns closely with the goals stated in your cover letter. Make sure that they’re sending the same message and spotlight why you’re a good candidate to make a career switch.
Planning a Career Change?
If you’re planning a career change, FlexJobs can help you transition by connecting you to flexible work opportunities. Considering the nature of these opportunities (remote, freelance, partially remote, etc.), you’re not limited to your specific locale. We partner with thousands of companies to offer flexible careers in more than 50 categories.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
This is a version of an article that was originally published on May 26, 2015.
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