by Michael Cheary
Time for a change?
There are many reasons you may wish to change your choice of career. However, no matter what the reason is, a key part of your success will be convincing employers you’re the right fit for your new role – even if your previous experience in the industry is limited.
We’ve already focussed on how to write the perfect CV after a career change, but your cover letter can be just as important at translating those all-important transferable skills.
To help you go beyond the basics of how to write a cover letter, here’s our cover letter template specifically designed for people looking for a career change.
Just here for the template? Click the link below:
Download Career Change Cover Letter Template
Opening the letter
Keep your opening simple and straightforward. State what job it is you’re applying for, and where you found the vacancy.
Feel free to mention your source by name (e.g. as advertised on reed.co.uk) or, if someone referred you to the contact, you may also wish to mention them by name in the opening.
I wish to apply for the role of Events Manager, currently being advertised on reed.co.uk. Please find enclosed my CV for your consideration.
Second paragraph – Why are you suitable for the job?
Briefly describe your most relevant professional and academic achievements to help sell your suitability.
Generally this will be related your previous work experience, although you could also include any professional or academic achievements which could be a testament to your character. They may also demonstrate skills that are relevant to the industry you’re looking to move into. For a career change, you can also use this paragraph to suggest why you see this opportunity as the right role to switch disciplines.
As you can see from my attached CV, I have over eight years’ experience in the sales industry. Having worked my way up to Regional Sales Manager, I’m ready for a new challenge in the Marketing industry, and see this position as the perfect role to help me achieve this.
Third paragraph – Why you’re looking to make a change
Once you reach this stage, it’s time to expand upon why you’re looking for a change of career.
Above all else, the main thing you want to put across to an employer is why you see this industry, and to be more precise, this position, as the perfect role and change for you.
Feel free to keep your reasons relatively concise, but make sure you can justify the change of direction before you decide to move on. If the recruiter can see that the decision has been well thought out, they will have much more trust when it comes to reviewing the rest of your application.
I’m particularly interested in working in Marketing because of my passion for organising and managing events, something I’ve had extensive experience of during my time in Sales. Further, I feel that I have achieved all that I can in my current industry.
Fourth/Fifth paragraph – What can you do for the company?
Once you’ve briefly explained the reasons for your potential move, use practical examples to emphasise what you can do for the business – and place prominence back on the positives.
The key to success in this section is to major on your transferable skills. Think of any attributes you’ve built in your current role, and try and apply them to your new role.
Although not everything will translate, you’ll be surprised how many of the same skills are applicable for a number of different roles. Problem solving, customer service, analytics and adaptability are all good examples. If you’re struggling for inspiration, the job description should be able to give you a little direction as to what they’re looking for.
You could also choose some quantifiable examples to demonstrate your success. ‘Increased revenue by x%’, for instance, will be impressive to most hiring managers. Again, try and choose transferrable skills, wherever possible.
Throughout my previous positions I organised events ranging from small product launches for a select group of clients, through to end-of-year awards events for over 200 professionals within the sector. I believe that this experience, coupled with my excellent interpersonal and organisational skills, make me the perfect candidate for building a long-term career in this role.
In my previous role as a Regional Sales Manager at Sales Company Ltd, I was responsible for managing relationships with big brands, such as X, Y and Z, and my account management resulted in an 18% increase in business renewals achieved. Despite being in a different industry, I am confident that I can bring this level of success with me to your organisation and help Marketing Company PLC build upon their reputation as one of the biggest names in the UK events industry.
Closing the letter
Thank the employer for their time, and sign off politely.
In terms of terminology, use ‘Yours sincerely’ (if you know the name of the hiring manager)/’Yours faithfully’ (if you do not), and your name.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss my application further.
Remember: Just as with our standard free cover letter template, this is a template, not a ready-made cover letter. As with any other part of your application, it requires a good level of research and your ability to tailor what you write to the role will dramatically improve your chances of success.
The most important thing to remember here is to explain your reasons for wanting a change, and to convince employers you’re unlikely to change your mind if things don’t work out.
Major on your transferable skills, and you’ll alleviate many of these fears. Follow your cover letter up with a well-written CV, and you’ll leave no doubt in a recruiter’s mind.
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Sample Career Change Cover Letter
If you are looking for a position in a different industry or career field, your cover letter is a huge factor in your likelihood of getting the job. Since your resume may not contain the relevant experience that hiring managers are looking for, you need to capitalize on your cover letter as an opportunity to demonstrate why you are a good fit despite lacking the specific employment history that may be an important factor in getting the job.
Read below for tips on how to write a strong cover letter that convinces the reader that your work experience is a strength rather than a weakness. Also, read a sample cover letter for someone switching careers.
Tips for Writing a Career Change Cover Letter
Any good cover letter explains why you are qualified for the specific job. However, a cover letter written during a career change needs to go beyond that. You must touch on three important points, which will help you rise above candidates who have more direct experience in the industry. These three points are listed below:
Emphasize Your Transferable Skills
Most importantly, focus on the transferable skills you have that you can use in the new position, rather than the specific skills you have that are related to your current position. Analyze the job description for the position you’re applying to, and look at the skills that the role calls for.
Choose the ones that best match your own skills or experience. Then, if possible, use specific anecdotes, from your work or academic history, to illustrate some of these strengths in action.
Highlight Your Superior Performance in Previous Positions
Other candidates may have the relevant experience, but if it is a mediocre experience that cannot be backed up by strong references or tangible achievements, you may actually be better off.
In your letter, do your best to explain how you succeeded in previous roles, and connect that to a summary of how you would also add value in this new position. Make sure your references will corroborate your statements.
Express Your Passion for the Company
Include your passion for the company. This is another way to stand out from qualified candidates. Employers may be more interested in someone who is especially excited about their organization and the job opportunity, than someone who just wants a job and doesn’t care about much beyond that. In your cover letter, make it clear that you’re familiar with the organization and enthused for the opportunity to be a part of it.
Be sure to thoroughly research the company before writing your cover letter, so you can convince the employer that you understand the company and why you want to be a part of it. You don’t necessarily have to cover all of these topics in order or in distinct paragraphs. The aim is to make sure you communicate these points throughout your letter.
Read a sample cover letter below, which you can use as a framework for writing your own career change cover letter. However, be sure to edit the sample to fit your personal experiences and the job for which you are applying.
Sample Career Change Cover Letter
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Hiring Manager Name
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Hiring Manager:
This letter is to express my special interest in discussing the Senior Customer Service Manager position posted on the XYZ Company web site. The opportunity presented in this listing is very appealing, and I believe that my experience and education will make me a competitive candidate for this position.
Although I have been working primarily as an Operations Manager, in this capacity I have interfaced frequently with customers, in addition to vendors and staff. This has instilled multi-dimensional communication skills and an ability to recognize, act upon, and fulfill customer wishes and needs in order to ensure their continued, and positive, relationship with the business.
In fact, in my most recent job as Operations Manager for ABC Company, I received an ‘Excellence in Customer Service’ recognition due to my ability to coordinate complex logistics in order to keep customers happy even when issues arose that were beyond the control of the organization. Again, this involved not only managing operations but communicating directly with customers. As a result, I believe my combined ability to successfully manage operations while also effectively interface with customers makes me a prime candidate for this role.
The key strengths that I possess for success in this position include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Provide exceptional contributions to customer service for all customers.
- Strive for continued excellence.
- Strong communication skills.
- Eager to learn new things.
You will find me to be well-spoken, energetic, confident, and personable, the type of person on whom your customers will rely. I also have a wide breadth of experience of the type that gives you the versatility to place me in a number of contexts with confidence that the level of excellence you expect will be met. Please see my resume for additional information on my experience.
I hope that you'll find my experience and interests intriguing enough to warrant a face-to-face meeting, as I am confident that I could provide value to you and your customers as a member of your team. I am very excited about this opportunity to work for XYZ Company. I connect with your mission to “deliver the ‘five star’ factor” to both your staff and your customers. This tenet is reflected in my own professional, and personal values, and I believe this alignment strongly supports my candidacy for this role.
I can be reached anytime via my cell phone, 555-555-5555. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you about this employment opportunity.
Signature (hard copy letter)
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How to Send an Email Cover Letter
If you're sending your cover letter via email, list your name and the job title in the subject line of the email message. Include your contact information in your email signature, and don't list the employer contact information. Simply start your email message with the salutation.