This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach.
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
- Date and contact information
- Salutation or greeting
- Opening paragraph
- Middle paragraph(s)
- Closing paragraph
- Letter ending and signature
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, 2019
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 towards 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.
1 Indeed survey, n=8,993