Let’s face it—making a career change can be daunting, to say the least. The good news is, a well-written career change cover letter can maximize your chances of landing your dream job in a new field (not to mention it can save you the trouble of having to explain your motivation for switching jobs or industries during the interview!).
The truth is, most candidates simply repeat the contents of their resume in their cover letter, which gives little to no value to the recruiter. Needless to say, this isn’t the best way to go about this, especially if you’re making a career change and don’t have much relevant work experience.
So, keep reading this article to learn how to write a compelling career change cover letter that will help you gain a winning edge and show the recruiter that you’re a great fit for the position—even if you’re brand new to the field!
Your career change cover letter should be no longer than 400 words and structured in 3–5 easy-to-read paragraphs.
To leave a lasting impression, make sure to greet the hiring manager by their name and end your cover letter with a call to action.
Focus on your transferable skills and relevant achievements when writing your cover letter to increase your chances of landing an interview.
Ideally, your career change cover letter should explain why you want to work for that company specifically and what led you to make a career change.
The Best Format For Your Career Change Cover Letter
If there’s one thing that can make or break your career change cover letter, it’s the format.
Formatting your cover letter the right way will help ensure that you include all the necessary information and—no less importantly—structure it neatly. Otherwise, you may end up with a messy and hard-to-read cover letter, which can diminish your chances of landing the job.
If you have no experience writing a career change cover letter, worry not—there’s a tried-and-tested format you should follow regardless of the field you’re applying to.
So, before we get into the nitty-gritty of crafting a convincing career change cover letter, here are some general guidelines you should follow to nail its format:
Cover Letter Formatting Guidelines
List your and the department’s contact details, alongside the date of writing, in the header of your career change cover letter.
Make your cover letter stand out by starting it with a formal salutation that greets the hiring manager directly.
Keep the body of your career change cover letter concise—write 250–400 words and structure them in 3–5 paragraphs to make it easy to read.
Wrap up your cover letter by adding a call to action to the final body paragraph to leave a lasting impression.
Use a formal closing to close your cover letter (should you write a postscript, make sure to do so after the formal closing).
Also, unless asked to do otherwise, always save your career change cover letter as a PDF file. This ensures that your letter can be opened and look as intended on any type of device or OS.
How to Write a Career Change Cover Letter: Complete Guide
Now that you know how to properly format your career change cover letter, let’s go over the step-by-step process of writing it.
All you need to do is follow the seven simple steps listed below, and you should end up with a cover letter that looks more or less like this:
#1. List Contact Information in the Header
Let’s start with the basics—the header of your career change cover letter should include your and the department’s contact information. Between these, you should also mention the date of writing.
There’s no need to overthink this section—simply make sure to list the following information correctly:
Your phone number
Your email address
Optionally, you can also include your:
Location (city and state/country)
Portfolio, social media handles, etc. (only if they’re relevant to the position you’re applying for)
Once you’re done with your contact information, it’s time to write down the date of writing and move on to the recipient’s contact details.
Ideally, you want to find out the hiring manager’s name and address the letter to them (hint: you can usually find it on LinkedIn). This way, you can subtly show off your research skills and attention to detail.
Here’s a good example of a cover letter header:
Amber Daugherty Project Manager 012-345-6789 email@example.com Branson, MI linkedin.com/in/amberdaugherty
St. Louis, 06/05/2023
Sienna Mills Hiring Manager Company XYZ 4143 Marshall Ave. St. Louis, MI 34786
#2. Greet the Hiring Manager
With 96% of professionals looking for a new job, it goes without saying that the competition in the job market is tough. Unfortunately, it’s even tougher when you’re making a career change, as you may be going against highly skilled and experienced professionals.
Needless to say, you should take advantage of any opportunity to stand out from your competition, and one of the easiest ways to do it is to greet the hiring manager directly.
Instead of using clichés like “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern,” simply write “Dear” followed by the hiring manager’s last name. This shows that you did your research and makes for a smooth transition between the header and the body of your career change cover letter.
#3. Emphasize Relevant Achievements in the Introduction
Once you’ve drawn the hiring manager’s attention with a personalized greeting, you’re ready to capture it by crafting an effective opening paragraph.
Since each position receives 118 applications on average, you need to impress the hiring manager right from the start—otherwise, they might toss your application away and move on to other candidates.
So, rather than simply introducing yourself, state which position you’re applying for and focus on your relevant achievements to show that you’re a great fit for the job.
Even if you don’t have much or any experience in the field, show what you can bring to the company by highlighting any skills or accomplishments that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. Don’t overdo it—emphasizing one or two impactful achievements is enough to ignite the hiring manager’s interest without making you come off as arrogant.
Here’s an example of an introductory paragraph in a career change cover letter for teachers:
As a high school psychology teacher of 7+ years, I am looking to transition into human resources. Having improved classroom attendance by 18%, I am excited to apply for the position of human resources specialist at your company and leverage my organizational and interpersonal skills to help your business achieve its goals.
#4. Highlight Your Transferable Skills
Whether you’re switching to a new role or a completely new industry, chances are, you have some skills that will translate well into the position you’re applying for. This is exactly what you should be focusing on to write a compelling career change cover letter.
To determine your transferable skills, simply make a list of all soft and hard skills you already possess. Then, take a closer look at the job listing and identify which skills the company is looking for in an ideal candidate.
When discussing your previous roles, experience, and skills, make sure to back up your words with numbers whenever possible. This alone can set you apart from your competition and show the value of your work.
Check out this example of a cover letter for a career change to an administrative assistant that emphasizes transferable skills:
My 3+ years of experience as an event planner have led me to develop strong time management and organizational skills, which allowed me to plan and successfully execute corporate events under tight deadlines. I am confident that this, coupled with my communication and multitasking skills, will help me coordinate business meetings and ensure the smooth operation of the office.
#5. Add a Call to Action
If you’ve seen some career change cover letter examples, you’ve probably noticed that most of them end with thanking the hiring manager.
While this is certainly important, you can easily take your cover letter to the next level by including a call to action. Essentially, this should be a brief statement that shows you’re passionate about this job opportunity and invites the hiring manager to reach out to you.
Let’s see an example of a call to action on a cover letter for a career change to information technology:
Thank you for taking the time to read and consider my application for this role. I am excited about the possibility of meeting and discussing further how my analytical skills and accounting background could enhance your data analysis team and contribute to Company XYZ’s success. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any additional information.
#6. Formally Close the Cover Letter
Once you’ve perfected the body of your cover letter, it’s time to close it the right way. While it’s not rocket science, you should always keep it formal.
As a rule of thumb, steer clear of any sign offs that may come off as too casual and thus unprofessional, such as “Cheers” or “Yours truly.”
To stay on the safe side, you can always opt for a simple “Sincerely,” followed by your full name. Alternatively, you can’t go wrong by closing your career change cover letter with:
Here’s an example:
#7. Proofread the Cover Letter
After putting hours into perfecting your cover letter, the last thing you want is for the hiring manager to think that you lack attention to detail just because you’ve accidentally left a couple of grammar errors in it.
So, you’ve guessed it—the final step of writing an impressive career change cover letter is proofreading it.
Make sure to re-read your cover letter and check if it includes all the necessary details, from your contact information to a formal sign-off. To ensure your cover letter is pitch-perfect, consider using a typing assistant tool that can fix grammar and style issues (e.g., Quillbot).
Career Change Cover Letter Example
There’s no doubt that examining free career change cover letter samples can steer you in the right direction when writing your own letter.
So, here’s an example of a cover letter for a career change to human resources that follows every step we covered above:
4 Career Change Cover Letter Writing Tips
Now that we’ve discussed all the ins and outs of writing a job-winning career change cover letter, here are some useful tips that can help you bring it to perfection:
4 Career Change Cover Letter Writing Tips
Focus on the positive. Even if you’re writing a career change cover letter with no experience, try to emphasize why you think you’re a great match for the job. Instead of dwelling on the requirements you don’t meet yet, consider expressing your interest in learning more and developing your skill set.
Tailor your cover letter to the company. Today, most companies are looking for candidates who, in addition to performing their job well, will fit in seamlessly into the company culture. So, make sure to explain why you’re interested in working for this particular company (e.g., highlight your mutual values or why you like their product).
Briefly discuss why you want to change careers. Your career change cover letter should tactfully explain why you’re interested in switching careers. If something negative caused you to make this decision, keep things positive and don’t go into too much detail.
Match your cover letter to your resume. To make a great first impression and show that you have an eye for detail, use matching templates for your career change resume and cover letter.
Congratulations—if you’ve read this far, you’re certainly ready to get down to business and write an outstanding career change cover letter!
If there’s one thing you should keep in mind when writing it, it’s that this is your opportunity to show the hiring manager what you can bring to the table. Don’t be afraid to show your unique experience and personality—but remember to keep it positive and professional. Good luck!