How To Write a Career Change Cover Letter (With Examples)
Updated July 31, 2023
If you’re considering a career change, you’re not alone. In a 2019 Indeed survey of over 8,000 job seekers ¹, 13% of respondents identified as wanting to switch careers (i.e., job searching in a different field). A desire for a better salary, career progression, and meaningful work were cited as their top reasons to switch careers.
In addition to tailoring your resume and preparing for your interview, changing careers often involves writing a cover letter that provides details about your experience, strengths and transferable skills (even if you don’t necessarily have experience specific to the new position). Your cover letter should demonstrate why you’re a great candidate and how your skills and background have equipped you with a unique and valuable perspective.
In this article, you’ll find out how to write an eye-catching career change cover letter that could help you land a job in a new field.
How to write a career change cover letter
While your career change letter can follow the same format as a standard cover letter, the content should be specifically tailored to address why your current experience is relevant and valuable both to the job and the company. To write a career change cover letter, start with the following steps:
1. Introduce yourself
Start your cover letter by stating who you are, what you want and why you’d be a good fit for the job. Highlight your most impressive, valuable and relevant achievements without oversharing your lack of experience. For example, if you’re switching to a marketing position from being an executive assistant, you might start out your cover letter by saying:
“Dear Hiring Manager,
My name is DeAndre Harris and I’m excited to be applying for the open Marketer position at Crane & Jenkins. While I’ve spent the last three years developing organizational, network-building and leadership skills as an executive assistant working with leading marketing agencies, I believe my background will bring a valuable perspective to your team. It has been a long-term goal of mine to pursue a career in marketing, and your organization is my top choice to open the next chapter of my career.”
2. Express your excitement
Your cover letter should make it clear to the hiring manager that you’re genuinely excited about and interested in the job opportunity, even if it means starting in an entry-level position. Include details about the company’s mission, values or product that you admire or align with your own standards to show you’ve done your homework and know you’ll be a good fit.
3. Outline your performance in previous jobs
Your cover letter should highlight your successes from past positions. This could include hitting sales numbers, managing employees or completing a high-profile project. Even when you're lacking specific, job-related experience, this demonstrates to the employer how you would add value to the company. Select one or two specific stories and relate your achievements to the position. Include numbers to measure your impact when possible.
4. Include your skills that can transfer to the new job
You should explain exactly how your soft and hard skills translate to the new role and how your accomplishments and proven abilities in previous positions might carry over. For example, if you have proficiency with a certain software you know is used in your new role and/or industry, be sure to include it in your resume and cover letter.
There are also several transferable skills that can make you a successful professional in any industry. Showcase your highly-valued transferable soft skills, such as:
"Cover Letter Format" is the title of this infographic that shows an image of an example email.
On the left side of the infographic, a numbered list identifies each section of the cover letter:
Date and contact information
Salutation or greeting
Letter ending and signature
The cover letter reads:
January 23, 20XX
Dear Hiring Manager,
I am excited to be applying for the web developer position at [Company Name]. I’ve been programming websites and using CSS to create user-friendly experiences since I was in middle school, so it’s always been a passion of mine. I’ve also been intrigued by your company since it won Most Innovative at the National Web Development Awards two years ago. I strive to stay on the cutting edge of web design and development, so when I saw this job posting, I knew I had to apply.
During my previous role at [Company Name], I built a website completely from scratch for a recently rebranded business both ahead of schedule and within budget. I started by gathering requirements for my clients and holding a focus group to perform user research. My favorite part of web design is building a solution that impresses the client and meets the needs of users and customers. My new website was responsive, extremely fast, and included the latest e-commerce features. After launch, I continued to lead optimization efforts. Through AB testing, I improved the click-through rate by 10% and reduced the bounce rate on the website’s landing page by 35%. As your web developer, I would bring the skills to develop websites that exceed the expectations of clients and customers and drive real business results.
Thank you for your consideration in time I’m looking forward to learning more details about the position and company.
Career change cover letter example
Below is a career change cover letter template that can help you determine what type of information you should present in your own letter. Include the date and the contact information of the hiring manager in the intro to the cover letter.
March 3, 2023
123 A St.
Dover, DE 1990
Dear Mr. Doe,
I am writing this letter to express my interest in the Sales Manager position at ABC Company. I have 10 years of marketing experience and wish to transition into a sales role at a prestigious company such as yours. I have many skills from my marketing career that can translate to success in this role.
Although I have been an asset to my prior employer as a marketing manager, I have dealt with many experiences that support common sales skills. I work one-on-one with clients while managing a marketing team. My client relationships are valuable to me because it allows me to build our connection, provide relevant product offerings and continue an ongoing business relationship.
Because of my skills as a marketing manager, I’ve won numerous awards, including Manager of the Year and Employee of the Month on numerous occasions. This required not only strength in marketing but also the instinct and ability to manage and motivate a team to work toward a common goal.
I believe my background in marketing would provide value for your team by adding a unique perspective. I am a fast and enthusiastic learner, ready to become a leader at ABC Company. If you know of a more appropriate position or an opening that has recently been vacated, I would be grateful for your consideration.
Tips for writing a career change cover letter
While you should make your cover letter unique to your job search and the company to which you’re applying, there are a few best practices you can apply to create an application employers will notice:
1. Incorporate research
Incorporate your own company research and details from the job description to make this a tailored cover letter. Present your strengths, experience, passion and dedication to improving the company at a personal level. Tailoring your cover letter is key to help you stand out against a qualified pool of applicants.
Read more: How to Write a Cover Letter
2. Explain your reasons
Explain your reasons for changing careers and dedication to learning new skills. Emphasize your ability to learn processes, concepts and strategy quickly. You’re the greatest promoter of your current qualities, so be sure to include any information that’s pertinent to the new position.
3. Get great references
During a career change, you must obtain several reliable references to provide support for your qualifications, skills and qualities. This list can include:
Former or current managers
Former or current employees
Company reports on your successes
Mentors, advisors or former teachers
Compile a list of references when the employer asks for them. Out of professional courtesy, ask each of your references if it’s okay for you to include them beforehand. Along with the name and title of each person, include a short sentence or phrase that outlines your relationship followed by their contact information. The more seniority or expertise the person has, the more impactful they will be as a reference.
While changing careers can be complex, you have several skills needed to succeed in a new industry or marketplace. By highlighting everything you have to offer, you can present yourself as a strong candidate with a unique and valuable perspective.
Frequently asked questions
What is an example of a career change statement?
A career personal statement allows you to introduce yourself to the hiring manager and add a level of personalization to your application. You can use this cover letter section to express your reason and interest in changing careers, highlighting your previous position and the one you hope to transition into. Here's an example of a career change statement:
"Dear Hiring Manager,
I'm writing to share my interest in the Social Work Professor position at Andersen College. I have a strong clinical background working with at-risk teenagers in a school setting. I hope to transition my hands-on experience to an educational role in the classroom, where I can help teach and mentor aspiring social workers. I have always had a passion for education, and I strongly believe my field experience can prove valuable to future social workers."
How do you address career change in an interview?
It can also be helpful to prepare for answering this same career change question during an interview. You can expect an interviewer to ask about your reason for changing jobs. Stay consistent with your reasoning from your cover letter to the interview.
An interviewer may also ask about your future career goals to measure your intent and plans to stay with the company. Writing out these goals ahead of time can help you prepare concise, direct responses to these questions.
How can I switch careers with no experience?
Employers often look for candidates with experience, which can make it challenging to switch careers between fields. Volunteering or taking online classes in a specific industry can help you build your new resume and cover letter. Sometimes, requesting a transfer between departments within your current employer can also help you earn the experience you need to pursue a new career.
What is the best resume type for a career change?
A hybrid or combination resume can be a good option for a career change because it focuses on skills and professional experience. You can use a combination resume to highlight your skills relevant to the new position before listing your work experience. The summary portion at the top of a combination resume is ideal for expressing your intent to change jobs.
Read more: Updating Your Resume for a Career Change
¹ Indeed survey, n=8,993
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