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How to write an impactful cover letter for a career change


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How to write a cover letter for a career change

Career change cover letter examples.

8 tips to write a successful career change cover letter

Learning to navigate career changes

As a job seeker, your primary objective is to stand out from every other candidate — and writing a strong cover letter is a great way to do this.

But if you’re trying to change careers, it might seem more complicated. Crafting a compelling letter for a career change needs to put your best foot forward while explaining how your experience and transferable skills make you the best fit. 

Luckily, like any application, cover letters give you a unique opportunity to make a strong first impression on a prospective employer. They’re your opportunity to spin a perceived drawback into a valuable asset, showing hiring managers your unique perspective and ability to make a change.

Let’s start with the basics. Like any other professional communication, every word of your career change cover letter counts. Your relevant skill set, work experience, and communication style let a recruiter, hiring manager, or potential supervisor know what it’ll be like to work with you. 

Here’s how to use your cover letter to make an impact: 

1. Start with a powerful introduction

The first few lines of your cover letter set the tone and pique your reader's interest (or spur disinterest). Skip generic introductions and aim for an opening line that quickly encapsulates the value you can bring to the new job. It can also reflect your unique personality, within reason.

Don’t be shy about identifying yourself as a career changer. It’s an opportunity to showcase important soft skills — such as courage, intellectual curiosity , and a resilient mindset — and connect relevant experiences with valuable transferable skills . With the right framing, it may be the key to standing out as an interesting candidate.

Here’s an example: “As a seasoned journalist, I’m eager to transition into public relations. I've spent the last 20 years sharpening my critical-thinking, research, and copywriting skills, which will serve me well in this new role.”

2. Develop your full character

Your opening paragraph should include your previous role and new career ambition. Next, it’s time to offer a glimpse of your professional drive and explain in more detail what you bring to a career switch, especially if you’ve been upskilling, taking classes, or attending trainings. This is an opportunity to blend your established reputation with your new career goals. If you’re making the change to pursue your passion or do more meaningful work, putting that fact on diisplay creates a fuller image of your personal values , mission, and vision for the future. 

For example: “I currently manage a team of 50 sales representatives in the constantly evolving healthcare sector. The most fascinating and fulfilling part of my job has always been developing a deep understanding of my client’s needs. Acting as a bridge to better service, consulting with them about updating their tools and training to focus on providing excellent treatment to their patients is so rewarding. I’m excited by the prospect of leveraging my social skills and years of experience working directly with healthcare providers to move into software development for the healthcare sector.” 

3. Show some emotion


Carefully placed action verbs and feelings help make your experience jump off the page. Potential employers aren’t just looking for a list of key skills — they want to imagine the person behind them. Choose language that conveys enthusiasm, drive, and work motivation , like “I’ve always been passionate about problem-solving and teamwork” or “I immediately connected with your company’s vision and commitment to sustainability.” 

4. Describe your past performance

Your successes in previous roles are the best predictor of the meaningful work you’ll accomplish in the next one — even if you’re moving to a new industry. Focus on accomplishments that demonstrate flexibility and a learning mindset to help the hiring manager envision a successful transition. You need to make the most out of your letter of interest , portfolio , and resume, so put the highlights on your resume and tell the story in your cover letter. 

For instance: “I oversaw a project to automate sales tracking systems, working with our tech team to evaluate the best strategies for the sales department. The project improved efficiency by 25% and decreased overhead costs by 15%.” 

Metrics quantify the value of your growth mindset and show off important skills like team collaboration , project management , and adaptability. 

5. Align your skills with the job description

Even if you’re at the height of your career, a hiring manager needs to know you can bridge the gap between your current role and the new position. Pay careful attention to the soft and hard skills they mention in the job posting and work them into your career transition cover letter. Don’t embellish for the sake of standing out, but do highlight the skills you can back up with valuable, direct experience. 

6. Write a memorable closing

Your closing is your opportunity to reiterate your excitement about the job opening. Adjectives like “eager,” “excited,” and “thrilled” demonstrate you’re ready to hit the ground running. 

Additionally, your cover letter for switching careers should invite further dialogue with a call to action. For example: “I’m eager to learn more about the role and look forward to sharing how I can bring my unique perspective and years of experience in [industry] to your organization.” 


Before digging into your resume or cover letter, a potential employer may peruse your job application or LinkedIn profile to understand your value as a candidate. Your cover letter is your first opportunity to turn a list of skills and experiences into a well-rounded picture of your character. 

The best cover letters balance highlighting your unique personality and perspective with proving you have what it takes to fill the job description. While your letter should represent you, you don’t have to start from scratch. Instead, build your own using a basic structure and templates for inspiration. You can also ask ChatGPT to generate a first draft for you with strategic prompts .

Here’s a general career change cover letter sample to consider:

Dear [hiring manager’s name], 

Thank you for considering my application for [ prospective job title] at [company name]. 

I’ve spent the last [years of experience] learning the ins and outs of [current industry], where I currently work as a [most recent job title]. I gravitated toward [industry] because of my passion for [the factors that pushed you to your current career]. The most fulfilling part of my career has been [transferable skills relevant to the new job posting]. I’ve built my expertise around [relevant skills], which were instrumental in accomplishing [a notable achievement or project]. 

I’m excited to transition into a new career chapter and follow my calling in [new field]. Reading about your company, I immediately connected with [core value]. I’m thrilled by the prospect of contributing [your vision or skills] and am eager to apply my unique perspective as a [current job title] in a new context. 

Attached is my resume. I’m eager to learn more about the company and how my background aligns with your needs.

I look forward to the opportunity to continue the conversation. 


[Your name]

When changing careers, you may feel worried about potential red flags in your resume, like career gaps or lack of direct experience . While your technical abilities are important, many recruiters and hiring managers prioritize soft skills , like leadership, critical thinking, and communication. Here’s a cover letter that balances proven soft skills and highlights your excitement to fill the gaps: 

Thank you for the opportunity to apply for [prospective job title] at [company name]. While I’ve developed my career in [industry], my enthusiasm for [relevant interest] combined with my proven [relevant transferable skills] has prepared me for this career path. 

Over the last [years of experience], I’ve cultivated a solid foundation in [relevant skills], which mirror the dynamic demands of [new industry]. 

I’m attracted to [new industry] because of [your interest or inspiration to switch to a new field]. The [specific aspect of your new field] that [company name] embodies deeply resonates with my personal values and professional aspirations. I’ve spent the last [months or years] learning [valuable technical skills or industry knowledge] through [examples of learning experiences, such as a class, seminar, or networking opportunity]. 

Attached is my resume, which underscores my transferable skills and [relevant coursework or certifications]. 

I’m confident that my adaptability, dedication to quality work, and passion for learning position me to hit the ground running and become a strong asset to your team. I look forward to discussing how my excitement and skill set align with your objectives. 

8 tips to write a successful career change cover letter 


Now that you have some cover letter examples for changing careers, let’s get into the fine print. Here are eight tips to help your career change cover letter lead to an interview: 

  • Address the letter to the right person: General salutations — like “Dear hiring manager” — may give the impression you’re copying and pasting the same cover letter across several job postings. Likewise, it signals to the reader that you lacked the initiative and dedication to find out more about the role and the hiring team beyond what’s in a brief job posting. Take the time to learn the hiring manager's name and use it to kick off communications. 
  • Keep things short: The objective of your cover letter is to spark a hiring manager’s interest and encourage them to read your resume . Keep your cover letter to a few well-curated paragraphs that balance your unique value with the requisites for the job role. 
  • Research, research, research: The company’s website, social media, and other branded materials can provide insight into the organization’s mission and core values. Aligning your vision with the company’s is a great way to capture a hiring manager’s attention and let them know you fit the company culture .
  • Explain your reasons for changing careers: The courage to take a chance on yourself and switch careers speaks volumes about your character. It’s nothing to shy away from. Highlight the reasons you decided to make the difficult career decision —  your resilience, fortitude, and decisiveness can provide a competitive advantage over more traditional candidates. 
  • Mention new skills: Highlight how you’ve learned about your new industry, acquired technical skills, and prepared for the career switch. Whether it’s a one-day seminar or several months with a career coach , your drive for personal and professional development helps make your case for a smooth transition into a new industry. 
  • Source references: Having a list of professional references and their contact information ready to send to a hiring manager is always a good idea. Carefully choose colleagues who can speak to your passion for your new industry and ability to adapt to change.
  • Align all your communications: Consistency and clarity are important to hiring managers. When your LinkedIn profile, letter of intent , and resume have mismatched skills and work experience, the person reading them may pass you over for a candidate with a profile that’s easier to understand and imagine in the role. Double-check that all your information is up-to-date and consistent across all platforms and lines of communication. 
  • Proofread : An enthralling story about your decision to dive into a new field can be thwarted by a misspelled word or poorly placed comma. Spelling and grammar errors can jeopardize your chances of an interview — hiring managers may worry that a lack of attention to detail could show up in more important areas of your work performance. If you’re not a natural copy editor, double-check your work with a proofreading app like Grammarly.

Learning to navigate career changes 

A career change is a big life decision , no matter where you are in your professional journey. After you’ve settled into your niche, shaking things up at 30, changing careers at 40 or following a new calling in your 50s might feel increasingly overwhelming. 

But it’s never too late to embrace change. Your professional life occupies a big part of your time, energy, and personal identity. You deserve to feel fulfilled — even if that means choosing a road less traveled. Carefully crafting a cover letter for a career change is an effective way to capture a hiring manager's attention from the jump and move one step closer to an exciting new opportunity. 

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

What is gig work and does it make the dream work?

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How To Write the Best Career Change Cover Letter

Switching careers can feel like embarking on a journey into uncharted territory — this is particularly true in the tech industry , where a career change often means navigating an entirely different set of digital tools, work processes, responsibilities, and skills. 

You may have prepared yourself for the challenges ahead, furthered your education, and even identified job postings you believe to be a great fit. But without an excellent career change cover letter, your new professional journey could be stalled before it even begins!

Hiring managers only look at resumes for seven seconds before deciding whether to proceed with the application. So, your cover letter has to make an immediate and lasting impression. 

To help you land the job you’ve been dreaming of, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide on career change cover letters.

Here are the topics we’ll explore —feel free to skip around to the sections that interest you most:

  • What makes it a career change cover letter?
  • How to write a career change cover letter in 8 steps

Career change cover letter example: UX design

  • Career change cover letter example: Frontend development
  • Key takeaways

1. What makes it a career change cover letter?

Before we look at the format and structure of the cover letter, let’s clarify something: it may seem obvious, but what distinguishes traditional cover letters from those written by career changers?

The key difference lies in the way you present yourself and the story you tell. A career change cover letter must demonstrate three main things:

  • Your understanding of the job and industry,
  • your existing skills and experience, and
  • how those can be applied to the new position.

This can be done in several ways, but the most effective cover letters strike a balance between emphasizing transferable skills , demonstrating adaptability, and highlighting your motivation for the career transition. 

Unlike traditional cover letters, they can also address potential concerns about your experience, showcasing your ability to transcend the boundaries of one professional field and excel in another.

2. How to write a career change cover letter in 8 steps

Writing winning cover letters is an art that requires practice, and career-change-specific cover letters are even trickier to tackle. But thankfully, you can follow a few best practices to create a compelling document that will make it easier for potential employers to imagine you in the new role.

This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of writing an effective cover letter for your career switch, from the opening line to the closing paragraph. So, grab a pen or open up your favorite word processor and write that first draft using the following tips:

1. Address the right person

To avoid using the impersonal salutation, “Dear hiring manager,” take the time to research who will be reading your cover letter. 

If the job ad doesn’t include a name, try searching for the company’s website or LinkedIn page and go to the employees’ section to track down the right person and job title. For example, if you’re applying for a UX designer role , search for “Director of UX Design,” “Creative Director,” or similar.

2. Introduce yourself with a hook

Begin your cover letter with an engaging opening that captures the reader’s attention. 

This could be a statement of your intent, a specific project you’ve recently completed, or a personal connection to the industry that demonstrates your passion and motivation for the career switch. This will set you apart from other candidates and create a memorable first impression.

3. Explain why you’re changing careers

To address your career change head-on, provide a clear rationale for the shift by sharing your personal career change story. For example, you could highlight your enthusiasm for the new field, noting what attracted you to it and any relevant experiences or interests supporting your decision. 

Then, use the power of personal branding to infuse the letter with your unique voice, personality, and vision, focusing on the value you can bring to the new sector. This transparency shows employers you’ve thoughtfully considered the move.

4. Demonstrate understanding of the company

Demonstrate your genuine interest in the organization by showing that you’ve thoroughly researched the company. You can achieve this by discussing its mission statement, values, and recent accomplishments. 

Align your skills, background, and career goals with the company’s objectives to showcase your potential fit within its corporate culture. Doing so will convey your enthusiasm for the role and the organization, increasing your chances of standing out as a suitable candidate.

5. Detail why you’re a great match

A personalized cover letter should also explain why you’re a strong candidate for the position in question. This means identifying the unique qualities that set you apart from other candidates, whether that’s your adaptability, problem-solving abilities, or valuable soft skills that can be applied across various industries. 

Use real-world examples to demonstrate how your skills and past experiences align with the job requirements, and mention how these traits can benefit the company in the long run.

6. Showcase transferable skills

One of the key objectives of your career change cover letter is to demonstrate your value to potential employers in your new field. To do this effectively, pinpoint the skills you’ve acquired in your previous career that are transferable to the new role. 

Use specific examples to illustrate how you’ve applied these skills in different contexts and how they are relevant to your new position. By showcasing your relevant skills and experience, you can effectively demonstrate to employers that you have what it takes to excel in your new career path.

7. Mention relevant professional development

List any skills and knowledge you’ve gained through relevant courses, certifications, or training to showcase your commitment to learning and willingness to invest in your career transition. 

This will set you apart from other aspiring career changers, prove your enthusiasm for the role and help paint a picture of what you can bring to the new position. Doing due diligence upfront will make it easier for potential employers to imagine you in the new role and increase the chances of securing an interview.

8. Conclude on a positive note

When concluding your career change cover letter, it’s essential to end it enthusiastically. For example, name one way you can add value to the company and link it to your overall career vision. 

Finally, thank the hiring manager for considering your application and express your excitement about joining the team. Doing so will show you’re committed to the role and motivated to make a success of your career transition.

3. Career change cover letters example

Want to see cover letter examples that nail these key points? Check out these two samples, written specifically for career changers in the tech sector. Best practice for the email subject line? Put the job title from the job ad along with your full name. 

Career change cover letter: Frontend development

4. key takeaways.

Writing a convincing cover letter that highlights your skills for a role you’re hoping to transition into is an essential step in the job application process. 

A thoughtfully crafted career change cover letter can be the reason why employers take a second look at your resume, despite your limited experience in the new field.

In this article, we’ve gone through the basics of what makes a career change cover letter unique and how to write one tailored to your experience and goals. We’ve also looked at practical tips for structuring your letter and provided examples for your inspiration. 

We hope this guide will give you the confidence to write a standout cover letter and put your best foot forward when applying for jobs.

Looking for more tech-specific application support? Check out our practical guide to crafting the best tech resume , complete with valuable tips and real-world examples.

For further education support on your career change journey, try our free tech short courses ,  or speak directly with a program advisor.

With the help of expert instructors, personalized feedback, and a wealth of learning resources, you’ll soon be ready to tackle even the most complex challenges future employers might throw at you. 

Enjoyed this blog post? We think you’ll like these, too:

  • How To Successfully Change Careers in 2024: Your Step-by-Step Guide
  • The Top 5 Transferable Skills and How They Can Help You
  • How to Build a Personal Brand for Your Tech Career

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How To Write A Career Change Cover Letter (With Examples)

  • Cover Letter Examples
  • Best Cover Letters
  • Cover Letter For Internship
  • General Cover Letter Templates
  • Career Change Cover Letter
  • Promotion Cover Letter
  • College Student Cover Letter
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  • Cover Letter For Government Job
  • Cover Letter With No Experience
  • Short Cover Letter Examples
  • How To Send An Email Cover Letter
  • How To Write A Cover Letter For A Job With No Experience In That Field

Find a Job You Really Want In

Summary. To write a career change cover letter you should first start with a professional header with your information as well as the hiring managers information. Be sure to find the hiring managers name to address the letter but if you are unable to, use their position title. Your opening line should be captivating and catch the readers attention.

Even though changing your career may feel dramatic or drastic, the reality is that it isn’t an unusual step to take. The key, however, is to explain your reasons for the change to the hiring managers in your industry of choice, and your cover letter is one of the best places to do this.

In this article, we’ll walk you through how to write a cover letter for this situation and show you some examples you can use as a reference.

Key Takeaways

Your cover letter should be concise (200-400 words), so you’ll need to grab the reader’s attention and get to the point quickly.

Explain both why you decided to leave your old career and why you chose this particular new one in your cover letter.

Show that you understand the position and company you’re applying to and explain why you’d be a good fit in your cover letter.

How to Write a Career Change Cover Letter

How to Write a Career Change Cover Letter

Career change cover letter example, email cover letter example, tips for writing a career change cover letter, career change cover letter faq, ask the experts.

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Chances are you have researched several different cover letter examples and are still trying to settle on the perfect one. The good news is that all great cover letter templates will have a relatively similar structure. It should formatted in the normal business letter layout .

Remember that cover letters should be short; about half a page long, with 200-400 words (shorter is usually better), and 3-4 paragraphs.

Include the following sections in your cover letter:

Header (only for physical copies of your cover letter)

Opening paragraph

Body paragraph(s)

Closing lines

Sign-off and signature

You should think of a cover letter as a way to sell yourself to potential employers. That means expressing your qualifications, showing that you’ve been researching the company , and detailing why you would be perfect for the new job.

You never want to have just another generic cover letter, so here’s more on the specifics to craft your perfect cover letter :

Cover Letter Header

If you’re sending a physical copy of your cover letter, you should start with a professional header. Include the following information, formatted in the same way:

[Your name] [Your address] [Phone number] [Email] [Current date] [Hiring Manager name] [Title] [Company address]
Tom Timmins 34 Apple St., New York, NY (555)-555-5555 [email protected] 4/28/2021 Sara Bilson Director of Sales New Company 55 New Road, New York, NY

Cover Letter Greeting

Always do your best to find the name of the hiring manager . Check the job posting, the company’s website, and their LinkedIn page. If you strike out online, try calling the company and ask who the cover letter for your desired position should be sent to.

If you’re unable to find the hiring manager’s name, you can use “Dear Hiring Manager” or one of its better alternatives .

Dear Ms. Tanner, Dear Alix Sims, Dear Software Engineer Hiring Team,

Cover Letter Opening Lines

When writing a stellar cover letter, one of the “don’ts” is to open with a mundane sentence. Simply stating “I am reaching out to apply for [role] at [Company name]” will not set you apart from other job applicants or make a memorable first impression.

You want the opening line to be captivating while also remaining relevant to the position. Easy ways to do this are by sharing an experience that relates to the new job or expressing genuine enthusiasm for the role right away and why.

Remember, as a career changer, you want to highlight transferable skills and experiences. So, let’s say you’re trying to move from customer service to sales. A cover letter opening might look something like this:

Helping customers have positive experiences is a passion I’ve developed in over 4 years of customer service. With a proven track record of high customer engagement and retention, I’m ready to take my career to the next level by generating leads and sharing exciting opportunities with new and existing clients as a Sales Representative for XYZ Corp.

Cover Letter Body Paragraph(s)

In your cover letter’s body paragraph(s), you want to show recruiters that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to your skills.

There are your easily measurable hard skills , such as certifications, computer programs that you are proficient in, etc.

Then come your soft skills , which are character-based traits such as being detail-oriented, having superior time management skills, or being able to work in high-pressure environments. Speak to these soft skills that may not be as apparent within your resume and emphasize how they would be valuable in the new position.

A pro tip for choosing which transferable skills to focus on within your cover letter is to take a look at the job description. There you will find certain keywords that should definitely be featured within your letter.

ABC Inc. needs a Sales Representative who understands clients’ needs and can demonstrate unique value propositions to build trust and credibility. In my time as Customer Service Representative with XYZ Corp., I provided a high level of client service that earned me 99.7% positive customer reviews. I also worked closely with a team, mentoring and training new members to help achieve corporate goals and quotas. XYZ Corp. recognized my contributions by naming me “Customer Success Employee of the Month” in June 2020. I achieved this by maintaining spotless organizational skills to schedule calls, meetings, and client appointments most efficiently. When raised to a supervisory position, I quickly adapted to the demands of the new role by meeting with management to make sure our goals were aligned. This ensured that my team stayed on high-priority tasks, leading to a 17% reduction in customer wait time.

Notice how the candidate outlines her performance in previous jobs while focusing on transferable skills and experiences. Candidates that are already within the industry that you are applying for will likely have concrete examples of how they previously excelled in a similar role.

Even though you are just entering into this new career pathway , you still want to tell recruiters about your previous accomplishments.

If you increased sales, secured client acquisitions, received certain awards for reaching benchmarks, these are all concrete performance indicators. Being able to show how you excelled in other roles can translate to potential successes you may have within the new company. The job title might be different, but a win is a win.

Cover Letter Closing Lines

Your closing statement is as important as your opening lines, since it’s what the reader will walk away remembering most clearly.

A good way to end your cover letter is with a positive statement expressing your enthusiasm for the job and thanking the hiring manager for their time. A brief overview of your work background and a call to action are also appropriate to include.

Here’s an example of what this could look like:

I believe I’d be a great fit for this role and that my background in customer service would serve me well as a Sales Representative. I’d love to further discuss this opportunity with you and share how my experience could serve ABC Inc. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Cover Letter Sign-off and Signature

After you wrap up your letter, close with a professional “Sincerely,” followed by your signature. Here’s what this would look like for a hard copy letter:

Sincerely, [Your handwritten signature] [Your typed name]

And for an email or digital copy:

Sincerely, [Your typed name] [Your address] [Your phone number] [Your email address]

How to write a cover letter

Now that you have all the basics of writing cover letters, it is time to craft your own. Take a look at the professional cover letter examples below, but keep in mind that they should be altered to your liking. Every cover letter should be tailored to the actual position, so also make sure to change the template as needed for each and every potential employer.

[Your name] [Your address] [Phone number] [Email] [Current date] [Hiring Manager name] [Title] [Company address] Dear Mr. Smith, Over the course of the last few months, I have had the wonderful opportunity to begin organizing events within my community for those experiencing financial hardship during COVID. Being able to assist those in need has awakened a passion within me for being able to empower communities, which is why I found City of Lake County’s job requisition for Community Engagement Specialist very exciting. Although my previous experience is primarily within the sales industry, I believe that my professional experience still translates well into this new industry. While at Telco Sales Corp, I was able to achieve the following: Acquired 50 new partnerships in Q1 2020 Increased sales overall by 102% year-over-year Maintained a 98% customer retention rate As a Community Engagement Specialist, the goal is to cultivate relationships and secure funding for community programs. My sales background has proven that I am able to build and maintain relationships while driving revenue. I also won several awards during my tenure, including back-to-back Employee of the Year acknowledgment and Lead Customer Care Advocate. I am ready to make this career transition as I have found my calling when it comes to bettering my community. The analytical and customer service skills from my previous industry paired with my planning and management capabilities would make me the ideal Community Engagement Specialist with Lake County. I appreciate you taking the time to learn more about my qualifications and experiences, and I look forward to learning more about the opportunity. Sincerely, (Signature for hard copy letter) [Your name]

Email cover letters will be exactly the same as a standard career change cover letter. However, there are additional considerations to be made with the actual execution.

You will want to include your full name and the role you are applying for within the subject line. Some job postings will specifically state whether the cover letter should be sent as an email attachment or within the body of the email, so pay close attention to requisition details.

If there is no specification, you can simply put the salutation (skip the preceding contact information that is in a standard cover letter ) and paste your letter into the email. Here is a simple, email career change cover letter sample:

Subject line: Sports Content Writer — [Your name]
Dear [Hiring manager name], Nothing is better than being able to create content that readers love to consume. Last year, I launched my sports blog and quickly realized that what started out as a hobby was my true passion. That is why though I have been working as a Regulatory Specialist the last five years, the Sports Content Writer role at Sports Co. would offer the perfect career transition. With my website, I was able to average over 7,000 unique visitors a month without any paid search campaigns. I also launched a community of over 10,000 sports fans on Facebook where readers are able to engage and ask questions related to the industry. My YouTube channel also currently has over 2,000 subscribers and counting, with new videos produced on a weekly cadence. As a Regulatory Specialist, I had to review a large volume of applications on a daily basis and ensure accuracy. I also had to update applications and send out correspondence for any missing information. This has helped me become a skilled proofreader , meaning that my content is publication-ready and requires little time to edit. Additional achievements while in this role have included: Maintaining an 100% accuracy rate on approved applications Receiving multiple Processor of the Month awards for completing the most applications over a 30-day period Being named Quality Assurance Lead for consistently proofing and sending over 100+ pieces of correspondence within a 7-day period Sports Co. is a company built on providing fun and engaging sports information to fans. Being that your site averages 100,000 views per day and is considered an authority in the sports industry, I feel like my skill set would only help add to the overall readership. Unlike other companies, Sports Co. also caters to less popular sports such as darts and pool. I have experience writing about these sports and numerous others on my own blog, with a knowledge of just about every sport imaginable. I believe that being able to work in a fast-paced environment, familiarity producing high volumes of content, and having a wide breadth of sports knowledge make me an ideal candidate for the Sports Content Writer position. I appreciate your time in reviewing my qualifications and I look forward to learning more about the opportunity. Best, [Your name] [Address] [Phone number] [Email] [LinkedIn Profile URL (optional)]

Explain why you’re seeking a career change. This is a question that just about any applicant seeking a new career would likely receive in a job interview , so it’s great to disclose it in your cover letter.

Employers generally want to know why you left your last employer and making a complete career change naturally leaves questions. Your reason could be as wanting to try something new in a post-COVID job market . You may have a friend that is in the industry and you feel that your skill set more closely aligns with a role more similar to theirs.

There really is no right or wrong as far as your reasoning; just make sure to give the hiring manager an idea of why you want the position even though your experience is elsewhere.

Although I excel at customer service, I find that I’m most engaged and performing at my highest level when I’m helping a customer find a new solution rather than fix a problem with their current product. When my supervisor commented on how no customer service rep she had managed had higher conversion rates than me, it stuck with me.

Show passion for your new direction. This is where you can truly shine and completely differentiate yourself from other applicants. Why are you passionate about the industry, and more specifically, this particular role?

You want to explain why you are excited to be on this journey and how you would be an excellent fit for the team. Discuss where this passion comes from to add a personal touch, then explain why having this drive will help you succeed in the role.

Being able to help customers find quality solutions while maintaining brand loyalty is a real passion of mine. I hope to bring your company’s product and services to a wider audience because I truly believe that there’s no better POS service around than what you offer.

Prove you understand the company. Hiring managers want to hire people that have a genuine, vested interest in their organization. Do you have personal reasons as to why you want to join the company? Do they have a social impact team whose efforts and initiatives you admire?

Scrape beneath the surface and do research. Show the recruiter how your core values align with those of the company.

You can start with looking at the company’s website , but you should dig deeper by also visiting LinkedIn. Take a look at the different profiles of employees, paying close attention to those that might have a similar role to the one you are applying for. You can learn more about a company from the people that work there versus website boilerplate.

I notice that you have a corporate motto of “Listen First,” which really resonates with me. Sales, like customer service, is all about accurately identifying pain points and offering solutions that may not be apparent to the customer at first. I make it a point to allow clients free reign at the start of a discussion, so as to better inform my strategy for helping them.

How long should a career change cover letter be?

A career change cover letter should be about half a page or three and four paragraphs. Your letter should only be between 200 and 400 words so it’s important to be concise and to the point.

How do you state that you are changing a career in a cover letter?

You should explain to the reader why you are seeking a career change and show passion for your new direction when stating a career change in a cover letter.

A potential employer will want to know why you left your previous employer and they will wonder why you left the field completely. Explaining your reasons will help give them a better understanding.

What should be avoided when writing a cover letter?

You should avoid any spelling or grammar mistakes in your cover letter. It can be seen as unprofessional if you misspelled anything in your letter. You should also avoid making your letter generic because your recipient will be able to tell. Be sure to tailor it to each company that you are applying to and try to find the name of your recipient as well.

How To Write A Career Change Cover Letter

how to write cover letter for change of career

Nicole Ozburn Human Resources Director

Some things are industry specific but can be quickly learned due to your similar experience in another industry. For instance, if I were looking to change my career from Human Resources to Marketing, I would talk about my recruitment skills and how I have marketed jobs in the past. I would also advise to describe the reason for the change in career. If it is due to COVID-19, the economy, or recently acquiring additional skills through education, the employer may be compelled to give my resume some consideration.

how to write cover letter for change of career

Kevin Daniels Owner and Lead Copywriter

The idea of capturing the reader’s attention at the outset is an excellent one–that has proven to be effective.

You could even start with a quote from a known expert in the field of interest (or simply a famous person)–and use this as a jumping-off place for the content of your letter. Also, using a bulleted format for the body of the letter can be eye-catching (because it’s different)–and will provide structure for seamlessly popping tailored content in/out of your letter as needed.

Translatable skills are extremely important with transition cover letters (and resumes too). First, try Googling “Work Skills” and then “Work Traits.” You will get many, many examples of each (which will help you discern the difference)–and will help you choose ones that ring true for you; ones that are aligned with your professional brand.

Also, remember to avoid too much content (or any) content unique to the industry you’re leaving.

In my 14-year career with Boeing Commercial Airplanes, I became a noted expert in DfX and APQP methodologies…

In the recent decade-plus of my experience, I have achieved noteworthy SME status in Lean/Six Sigma and related compliance directives delivering millions of dollars of recurring savings to the business…

This uses the far more universal “Lean” and Six Sigma” references that will have meaning in any business or manufacturing environment, as opposed to pigeonholing yourself as Aerospace-centric.”

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Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

Matt Warzel a President of a resume writing firm (MJW Careers, LLC) with 15+ years of recruitment, outplacement, career coaching and resume writing experience. Matt is also a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Marketing Focus) from John Carroll University.

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5 Career Change Cover Letter Examples Made for 2024

Stephen Greet

  • Career Change Cover Letter
  • Career Change No Experience
  • HR Career Change
  • Teacher Career Change
  • RN Career Change Cover Letter
  • Write Your Career Change Cover Letter

Switching careers can be equal parts exciting and daunting. You’re stepping into a whole new path, facing unknown challenges, and rebuilding your personal brand from scratch. There’s a lot at stake here, and to fight this battle and come out on top, you need to pick the right set of weapons.

Step one: a stellar  career change resume  tailored to match the job. Step two, however, is more challenging because you must write a cover letter to wow recruiters and express your excitement at a career change and for the company.

We’re here to help you navigate these murky waters and set the course for the career of your dreams. Our career change  cover letter examples  and free cover letter builder will help you craft a memorable job application.

how to write cover letter for change of career

Career Change Cover Letter Example


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career change cover letter template

Why this cover letter works

  • For instance, this cover letter points to ways the candidate took initiative to connect sales and marketing. This evidences both interest and experience in the target role.

Level up your cover letter game

Relax! We’ll do the heavy lifiting to write your cover letter in seconds.

Career Change No Experience Cover Letter Example

Career change no experience cover letter template

  • Take, for instance, how Aria tells the story of her expertise—meticulous data analysis, project management, and problem-solving and convincingly discusses how these can be valuable assets for the new role. So, extract and communicate those transferable skills.

Human Resources Career Change Cover Letter Example

Human resources career change cover letter template

  • Such competencies demonstrate that although it’s a career change, you aren’t a stranger to the environment. If the past stints involved the hiring company’s competitor, emphasize that for bonus familiarity points.

Teacher Career Change Cover Letter Example

Teacher career change cover letter template

  • If you’ve earned professional certifications that don’t match your current role but align with your target career, your cover letter is the place to highlight them.

Registered Nurse (RN) Career Change Cover Letter Example

Registered Nurse (RN) career change cover letter template

  • Look for unlikely connections between your work experience and target role, then put the pieces together for recruiters in your cover letter.

Related cover letter examples

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How to Write a Fantastic Career Change Cover Letter

Job seeker stands with hands in air, questioning how to fill out job materials

You may think that you’re at a disadvantage when you’re applying outside of your previous career, but when it comes to cover letters, that’s not true. Treat this as an excellent opportunity to be creative and stand out from the crowd.

Here’s the trick: give that job description a good read, then whip your cover letter into shape to mirror it. Try to decipher the company’s core values, be it from the job listing or from its website, and highlight that this mission is important to you too. 

Pinpoint similarities across your past and future roles for this. For instance, if you’re switching from teaching to programming, emphasize your ability to explain complex topics to all kinds of audiences.

how to write cover letter for change of career

Writing a winning cover letter intro

The perfect cover letter begins with a personalized greeting that addresses the hiring manager by name. However, if you absolutely cannot find the recipient (try LinkedIn), you can use “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear [Company Name] Team.” Refrain from using “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam,” as those can be a little outdated by today’s standards.

Avoid generic starters and instead showcase why your past experience is valuable. For instance, if you previously worked in sales and you’re moving to customer service, highlight your ability to forge lasting relationships with clients.

Check out this example of what not to do below. This opening line is definitely on the uninteresting side—the hiring manager might skim your cover letter if it lacks a proper hook.

No, thank you!

“I am writing to apply for the project manager position I saw on your website. I believe this role is a great fit for me.”

Now, the example below is a huge improvement. The applicant immediately makes it clear that they used to have a different career, but they use this to their advantage by highlighting how their background in working with people can have a deep impact on their new career.

Hooked from the start!

I was inspired to transition my career from nursing into sales when I discovered the impact I could make by connecting people with the right product solutions. I am eager to bring my RN background, where relationship-building is paramount, and my skill set in sales forecasting to American Express as a sales manager.

how to write cover letter for change of career

Writing the main part of your cover letter

Roll up your sleeves because we’re diving into the main part of your cover letter—the body. Use this space as an extension of your resume that elaborates on your skills and the way they can make an impact on the company. 

Find common ground and share some of your greatest achievements that translate well to your new role. For example, if you’re a marketer transitioning into sales, discuss how spearheading a social media campaign increased your company’s revenue by 18%. 

Use metrics to support your accomplishments. Things like revenue, ROI, click-through rates, open rates, customer satisfaction ratings, budget savings, or efficiency improvements all apply to most industries. Much like in the intro, connect your background to match the company.

Here’s a body paragraph for inspiration:

In addition to teaching high school math, I have taught myself web and mobile development, database management, and the version control system Git. I am certified in AWS and Google Cloud, and built an educational app that streamlined school communication, improving homework submission rates by 23%.

how to write cover letter for change of career

Ending your cover letter on a strong note

The closing paragraph is the ribbon that you tie on top of a cohesive whole. It serves to reinforce the sentiments you talked about above—but without repeating yourself.

Emphasize your excitement at joining this particular company, and make sure to mention it by name. Pick one or two of your core skills or qualifications and flex a little—express how you will use these abilities to achieve positive outcomes at your new company.

You’re changing industries, so own it, and explain how, for instance, your knowledge of math can help you write complex code.

Lastly, thank the hiring manager for their consideration—you can do this either in the closing paragraph or in your final sign-off. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s with a respectful “Sincerely, [Your Name].”

It’s important to keep this final part respectful. Don’t assume you’ll be hired—instead of showing confidence, it can come off as presumptuous.

“I’m not experienced but I’m a quick learner, so I can’t wait to start growing my career at your company next month.”

This next example has it all—it reiterates your interest in the role, talks about transferable skills, and thanks the recruiter for taking the time to read your cover letter.

This is the way!

I would be thrilled to meet and discuss how my transition from sales to marketing can drive impactful strategies at Comcast. Thank you for considering my application.

When transitioning careers, it’s important to build credibility out of the gate by addressing the right person. Check the job listing and the company website. If that fails, try identifying the hiring manager via LinkedIn.

If all else fails, talk mostly about your education and preparation for the career change, but there are skills that apply to most jobs, too. For instance, working as a programmer and a travel agent means dealing with data and interacting with people.

While you may rely on transferable skills you used in nursing in your future sales role, avoid assuming this new job will have a similar company culture as your last one. Instead, adjust your tone to match the company. For instance, if the job ad and the website are written with humor, you can afford to crack a small joke or write less formally.

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Sample Career Change Cover Letter and Writing Tips

how to write cover letter for change of career

  • Writing a Career Change Cover Letter

Career Change Cover Letter Sample

How to send an email cover letter.

  • Refocus Your Resume to Match

The Balance / Chelsea Damraksa

Are you considering a career change? If you are looking for a position in a different industry or career field, your cover letter or  letter of intent  is an important factor in the likelihood of your getting the job.

Since your resume may not contain the relevant experience that hiring managers are looking for, it's important to use your cover letter as an opportunity to demonstrate why you are a good fit despite lacking that specific employment history.

A well-written and strong cover letter will convince the reader that your work experience is a strength rather than a weakness.

Before you start writing, though, be sure you're clear on your goals for transitioning careers and that you're  positioned for a successful career change job search .

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.

Be sure to thoroughly  research the company  before writing your cover letter so you can convince the employer that you understand the company and can demonstrate why you want to be a part of it.

You must touch on three important points. This will help you rise above candidates who have more direct experience in the industry. 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 somewhere in your letter.

1. Emphasize Your Transferable Skills

Most importantly, focus on the  transferable skills  you have that you can use in the new position rather than on the skills you have that are only related to your current role. Analyze the job description for the position you’re applying to, and look at the skills that the position 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. 

2. Highlight Your Superior Performance in Previous Positions

Other applicants may have the relevant experience, but if their experience is mediocre and cannot be backed up by strong references or tangible achievements, you may actually be a more desirable candidate for the job than they are.

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.

3. Express Your Passion for the Company

Mention 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 they are in 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 enthusiastic about the opportunity to be a part of it.

Read the 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.

Download the career change cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online).

Sample Career Change Cover Letter (Text Version)

William Applicant 123 Main Street Anytown, CA 12345 111-111-1111 william.applicant@email.com

July 21, 2020

Michael Lee Director XYZ Company 123 Business Rd. Business City, NY 54321 

Dear Ms. Lee:

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 role.

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 also communicating directly with customers. As a result, I believe my combined ability to successfully manage operations while also effectively interfacing 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 will allow 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.

William Applicant (signature hard copy letter)

William Applicant

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, but don't list the employer's contact information. Simply start your email message with the salutation.

Refocus Your Resume to Reflect Your New Goals

When you're seeking a career change, it's important to refocus your resume to reflect your new goals. That way, your resume and cover letter will both show that you're well qualified for a change in roles. Here are six tips for  writing a powerful career change resume  that will help you get started.

Get Ready to Interview

Be prepared, as well, to discuss in job interviews why you're transitioning and what  skills you will bring to prospective employers . It's important to have a comprehensive and professional pitch that will impress the employer and convince them that you're a strong candidate for the job.

  • Cover Letter Tips

How To Write the Best Career Change Cover Letter (+ Examples) 

Charlotte Grainger

So, you want to try something completely new? When you’re thinking about a career change, your cover letter is an essential tool. Your resume will tell the hiring manager about your experience, but you’ll use the cover letter to fill in the blanks.

Frankly, when you're changing careers, you have to work just a bit harder than any other applicants with a more intuitive work history. That means showing that the experience you have is an asset and that it can be transferred to this new role. Luckily, you can do all of this (and more!) by writing a well-thought-out career change cover letter. 

A career change cover letter is an opportunity to start a conversation to explain exactly why you're applying for a job outside of your current field. Get this right, and you will convince any hiring manager that you’re the best candidate for the job. But how do you get started?

Here at ZipJob, we give you the resources you need to supercharge your job search. In the following guide, we’ll share seven tips from our professional resume writers on how to write the best career change cover letter. We've also got a career change cover letter example for you to check out.

More common than you might think

First, a word of encouragement: In our fast-paced and rapidly changing economy, people are changing careers at rates that would have been unthinkable just a few short generations ago. In fact, recent statistics show that people have an average of 12 jobs in their lifetime. 

That can create problems for many applicants, however, and you may not be sure how you can use your resume to properly convey the right experience needed for your new career. The good news is that you can take care of that concern by using that other vital application tool: the cover letter.

7 tips for your career change cover letter

Ready to put pen to paper? When you're writing a career change cover letter, it's important to stay on task. This isn't the place to write a heart-to-heart that reads more like a journal entry than a professional document. Instead, focus on what makes you a great applicant. 

To help you along the way, we have some expert-backed tips below:

1. Make sure you use the right words

Changing careers is a big deal. While your resume will have covered your skills and experience, you can use this letter to really sell yourself to the hiring manager. What you lack in experience, you may be able to make up for in the willingness to learn.

While you can use your cover letter to explain why you want a new career, it doesn’t start and end there. This is also an opportunity to share why you are ready to switch things up. With that in mind, use words that excite the hiring manager and show your desire to work in your chosen field. The more creative you are with the language you use, the better here.

2. Be honest about your career change

The biggest mistake you could make here is trying to sneak your way into a new sector. The hiring manager already has your resume, so they know that you don’t have experience in this field. You should never try to bamboozle them into interviewing you on the basis of faux experience. Even if you do make it to the interview level, you will soon get found out. 

Instead, you need to be 100% honest about your career change. Direct your cover letter to the hiring manager and be clear about why you are switching industries. For example, you may have reached the highest heights in your current sector and feel it’s time for a change. On the other hand, you may have a real passion for this new field and want to pursue it. 

Whatever your reason is, now is the time to talk about it. You don’t need to write a short memoir. The hiring manager will ask you more in-depth questions at the interview stage. However, it’s smart to outline your reasoning here so that you fill in the blanks. State that you are looking to move sectors and try to give a compelling reason to the reader now.

3. Emphasize your transferable skills

When you’re writing a career change cover letter, this is vital. Transferable skills are your current talents that would help you succeed in a different position. These skills are often soft skills but may also be technical or analytical skills from your previous profession. Identify what your strengths are. How might those help you in another industry?

You can also approach this from the other side by spending some time analyzing the company’s needs. Look at the job description, the company website, and recent media coverage to identify the core skills that this company requires. Once you’ve honed in on those needs, you can determine which of your skills can help to make you a great candidate for the job.

Of course, you should heavily feature your transferable skills on your resume. Once you've noted them, you can offer more of an explanation in your cover letter about how each skill will apply to this new job. 

Emphasize your relevant skills within the body of the career change cover letter too. That means including specific examples of how they have helped you to achieve certain results and goals in the past. Show the hiring manager what you have to bring to the table. You can do this by identifying the overlap between your two fields and highlighting it clearly. Be brief, but be sure to answer why you're applying and why you're worth interviewing.

Key Takeaway

The key to a career change cover letter is to identify and highlight related and transferable skills.

4. Focus on your results

Results matter more than you think. The number one thing that will push you ahead of your competition are fantastic accomplishments on your resume . Your accomplishments are still valid, even when changing careers: awards, honors, and other results that show you're a high-achieving employee will make you look like a winner. 

Your career change cover letter gives you a chance to explain why it's so impressive that you accomplished something. Try to figure out numbers or metrics – these really stand out on resumes and cover letters. Quantifying your results will show the hiring manager that your hard work achieves big things. This fact will surely grab their attention. 

To showcase those results, you need to emphasize the success that you’ve enjoyed in prior jobs, providing details that help to connect those successes to your transferable skills. From there, you only need to complete the picture by explaining how your prior achievements and transferable skills can offer tangible benefits to the new company.

Always use the STAR method

Showcasing your results and quantifying them doesn’t have to be hard. Make your statements stand out by using the STAR method throughout your cover letter. 

5. Demonstrate genuine passion

Let your passion for the company be on full display so that the hiring manager knows you care about getting the position. Mention something new or interesting the company has accomplished, or relate to the company's core values. You can add your personality to your cover letter – as long as it stays relevant!

Take the time to do your homework so that you have a firm understanding of what the company does and how it hopes to achieve its goal. It’s also worth trying to understand the company culture ahead of time. That will enable you to properly convey your passion for the position in the body of your cover letter. In short, figure out what the vibe is and match it.

6. Tailor your resume to reflect your career change goals

If this is your first time creating a career change cover letter, be sure to review your resume when you’re done so that everything is properly coordinated. It all needs to match up. You don’t want any inconsistencies between those two important documents: your cover letter should only talk about experiences that are also mentioned on your resume.

To keep your message clear, make any resume changes that are needed to keep it aligned with the message on your cover letter. Remember, it’s the little things that often make the difference between success and failure. 

If your resume isn't tailored for your career transition goals, check out this article next: How To Tailor Your Resume For Different Positions

7. End with a strong conclusion 

When you’ve done all of the above, it’s time to sign off. The end of your cover letter is a good chance to reaffirm why you want to take this step. You may also want to add that you will help the business in question meet its goals. One of the more critical things you can do with your career change cover letter is insert some type of call to action – encouraging the reader to reach out to you. 

Remember, the hiring manager will naturally slow their reading pace down as they reach the bottom of the page. For that reason, it is vital that you end on a strong and clear note.

Career change cover letter example

Changing Careers Cover Letter Example

This example is to the point and easy to scan through. It has several examples of how the applicant has added value in the past, using numbers that are easy for the reader to translate to a different industry.

Notice also that this letter – like all good cover letters – includes a professional heading and uses a business letter format. It is highly specific, a quick but clear message that you've put some thought into tailoring your cover letter. 

The letter does not use a generic "to whom it may concern" greeting; ideally, you can find the name of the hiring manager. When in doubt, addressing your letter to a "hiring team" is a good alternative.

The heading with your own information was borrowed from the updated resume format we used to share 200+ resume examples written by our professional resume writers. Using the same format for your resume and cover letter is another instance of details that stand out.

Focus on value; win the day 

As you can see, the cover letter for a career change is similar to many others. You still want to focus on the value you can add to the company. By emphasizing your transferable skills, focusing on past achievements, and demonstrating your interest in the new company, you should be able to leverage your existing skill set in a way that sets you apart from the crowd.

Ready to take the leap and start that new career? Use the ZipJob free resume review now to get the insights that you need to perfect your next application and get ahead of the competition. 

Recommended reading: 

9 Cover Letter Mistakes That Cost You Interviews - ZipJob

7 Signs It's Time To Quit Your Job

How to Ask for a Job Referral + 5 Examples

Charlotte Grainger, Editor & Content Writer, Charlotte Grainger, Editor & Content Writer

Charlotte Grainger is a freelance writer living and working in Sheffield, UK. She has a passion for career development and loves sharing tips and advice. Follow her on Twitter

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How to Write a Career Change Cover Letter

A career change cover letter can help you explain why you have decided to pursue a new career. Knowing how to explain to a hiring manager why you are choosing a new career path is a part of the job transition process. In this article, you can learn more about the important steps for writing a cover letter for a career change. 

Why is a career change cover letter useful?

A career change cover letter is a business letter that explains why and how you are choosing to switch to a new career. An employer or hiring manager may wonder why you are changing careers and if you have the skills for your new career. You can use your cover letter to explain this to a hiring manager as well as provide details about why you considered the career change and how you obtained the skills and education necessary. 

How to write a cover letter for a career change

Here are some steps you can follow to create a career change cover letter: 

1. Firstly, get the reader’s attention

It’s important to sound enthusiastic about the job to show that you are ready to take on new responsibilities. Showing that you are enthusiastic can help encourage the hiring manager to read your cover letter and see that you are serious about your career change. 

2. Secondly, describe your education

Describe any relevant education in your cover letter. This could include the education you have obtained in your previous career as well as any education or training you received for your career change such as relevant certifications. 

3. Next, explain your reasons for switching careers  

People make the decision to change careers for a variety of reasons. When writing your cover letter, explain why you want to change careers. Keep the tone simple and positive, and avoid saying anything negative about your previous industry or employer.

4. Lastly, mention transferable skills and skills you learned for the new career

Mention any skills you have that are transferable and relevant to your career change in your cover letter, as well as those you obtained specifically for the new career. 

When you are writing a cover letter for a career change, you need to identify any skills, strengths and experiences that you had in your previous job that are relevant to your new career. While some skills may be specialized for your new career, others are more general and can be applied to many industries.

Career change cover letter template

You can follow this template to write your own career change cover letter:

[Your name] [Address]  [Telephone number]   [Email]

[Name of Hiring Manager] [Company Name] [Company Address] [Salutation]  [Statement of interest in the advertised job]  [Description of relevant education and professional experience][Explanation of reasons for a career change] [Mention relevant skills, including those obtained for the purpose of the career change]

[Closing statement] [Signature] 

Career change cover letter example 

Here is an example of  a career change cover letter:

Mary Green 123 Aspen Street Portland, OR 97034 (555) 555-5555 [email protected] 

January 3, 2020

Michelle Brown Habitat for Children 123 Eagle Road Portland, OR 97034 

Dear Ms. Brown: 

This letter is to show my interest in the content writer position posted on the Habitat for Children website. I am expressing my interest in the position because I think my experience and education will make me a good candidate for this role at your company. 

I have worked primarily as a top salesperson at my previous company using my communication and marketing skills to interact with clients, but I feel strongly that my skills are better suited in a career as a writer. The strong written and verbal communication skills that I have demonstrated as a salesperson can be easily transferable to a role as a content writer at your company. 

In my most recent job, I am the lead salesperson of computer equipment and peripherals where I am responsible for communicating with clients, vendors and management to deliver record sales numbers. In addition to my sales responsibilities, I also assist in developing and maintaining the company’s website content. While I enjoy being a salesperson, I have grown to be passionate about writing and am seeking a career change to a new field. I found your job posting advertised on an online job board and believe my background may be the perfect fit. As a content writer, I hope to make a difference and contribute to your purpose of creating and providing after school care and resources for at-risk children and their families. 

The key skills and experience I have for the position of content writer are: 

  • Strong verbal and communication skills
  • Writing skills, including basic grammar and web content writing
  • Experience using content management software as well as web-based and desktop applications 

I hope that you will consider my experience and interest in your organization as I believe I would be a valuable addition in providing resources to children and their families through the content published on your website. I have attached my resume for your review and welcome further discussion about my skills and experience. 

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to speaking with you about this employment opportunity. 

Sincerely,  Mary Green 

Career change cover letter tips

Here are some tips for writing career change cover letter: 

Give an honest assessment of your education and skills

Always be honest and transparent about the skills and qualifications you have that make you an ideal candidate for the position. If there are skills or educational requirements you don’t have, you could mention that you are obtaining or plan to obtain these qualifications, if applicable. 

Emphasize transferable skills

Focus on any transferable skills you have that can be used in the position you are applying for, rather than those related to your current job title. For example, if you are leaving a job as a writer to pursue a new career as a programmer, describe what computer languages you are experienced with. 

Express your excitement for the company

Describe your excitement about the company and your passion for what they do. Employers may be more interested in a candidate who expresses genuine enthusiasm about the position and company than they would someone who simply wants a new job. Demonstrate that you have researched and are familiar with the company and its mission.


How to Write a Career Change Cover Letter [Examples]

By Status.net Editorial Team on August 31, 2023 — 21 minutes to read

  • Key Elements of a Career Change Cover Letter Part 1
  • How to Highlight Your Transferable Skills Part 2
  • Relating Your Career Change to Your New Role Part 3
  • Using Accomplishments to Sell Your Skills Part 4
  • How to Target Your Cover Letter to the Company Part 5
  • How to Format Your Career Change Cover Letter Part 6
  • Template of a Career Change Cover Letter Part 7
  • Examples of Career Change Cover Letters Part 8
  • How to Write an Effective Opening and Closing Paragraph Part 9
  • Best Practices Part 10

Part 1 Key Elements of a Career Change Cover Letter

Opening paragraph.

Begin your career change cover letter with a strong opening paragraph to grab the reader’s attention. Clearly state your intention to change careers and specify the job you’re applying for. Mention how you came across the opportunity (e.g., through a job ad or company website). Briefly highlight your passion for the new role and the company.

“As a seasoned marketing professional with over 10 years of experience, I am excited to apply for the position of Human Resources Manager. After careful consideration and self-reflection, I have come to the realization that my true passion lies in helping organizations build and develop their most valuable asset: their people. When I saw the job posting for this role, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to pursue my passion for HR.”

“I am writing to express my interest in the position of Junior Software Engineer at ABC Tech. Although my background is in finance and accounting, I have always been fascinated by the world of technology and have been teaching myself to code in my spare time.”

“I am thrilled to apply for the position of Interior Designer at DEF Design. As a former teacher, I have always had a passion for creating inspiring and functional spaces that promote learning and creativity. After years of helping my friends and family with their home decor projects, I have decided to make a career change and pursue my dream of becoming an interior designer. When I saw the job posting for this role, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to take the leap and start a new chapter in my career.”

In the body of your cover letter, focus on showcasing your transferable skills and achievements that make you a strong fit for the new role. Discuss your relevant skills and experience you’ve gained from your current or previous jobs. Emphasize your soft skills and communication skills that can be applied across industries. For example:

  • Transferable skills : Outline skills that can be applied to the new role, such as project management, problem-solving, and collaboration.
  • Achievements : Describe your accomplishments from your current position and how they relate to the new job.
  • Relevant experience : Explain any relevant experience or training you’ve had that supports your career change.

Try to connect your skills and experience to the specific job ad, highlighting how you can add value to the company.

“As a marketing professional, I have developed a range of transferable skills that I believe would make me an excellent fit for the Human Resources Manager position at XYZ Company. In my current role, I have honed my project management skills by leading cross-functional teams to execute successful marketing campaigns. I am also skilled at problem-solving, having navigated complex challenges such as budget constraints and shifting market trends. Additionally, my experience collaborating with internal and external stakeholders has taught me the importance of clear communication and building strong relationships. I am confident that these skills will translate well to the HR function and allow me to excel in this new role.”

“Although my background is in finance and accounting, I have gained a wealth of relevant experience that would enable me to thrive as a Junior Software Engineer at ABC Tech. In my current position, I have honed my attention to detail and ability to work independently, both of which are crucial in a technical role. I have taken several online coding courses and have completed a coding bootcamp to further develop my technical skills. I am excited to apply these skills to a new industry and to continue learning and growing as a software engineer.”

“As a former teacher, I have developed a range of soft skills that I believe would make me an excellent fit for the Interior Designer position at DEF Design. In my previous role, I honed my creativity and attention to detail by designing lesson plans and classroom materials that engaged and inspired my students. I also developed strong communication and collaboration skills by working closely with colleagues and parents to support student learning. Additionally, I have taken several interior design courses and have completed a certification program to gain the technical skills necessary for this role. I am eager to apply my passion for design and my transferable skills to a new industry and to contribute to the success of DEF Design.”

Closing Statement

The closing statement of your cover letter should reiterate your interest in the job and the company. Express your enthusiasm for the opportunity and convey your belief in being a great fit for the role. Politely mention your attached resume and request an interview to further discuss how your skills and experiences align with the company’s needs.

“Thank you for considering my application. I am excited about the opportunity to bring my transferable skills and passion for HR to your team. I am confident that my experience in project management, problem-solving, and collaboration, combined with my enthusiasm for this new role, make me a strong fit for the position. Please find my attached resume for your review and do not hesitate to contact me to schedule an interview. I look forward to discussing my qualifications in more detail and learning more about the company.”

“I appreciate the opportunity to apply for the Junior Software Engineer position at ABC Tech. I am excited about the prospect of applying my financial background and technical skills to a new industry and contributing to the success of your team. I believe that my experience in analytical thinking, attention to detail, and independent work, combined with my passion for software development, make me a great fit for the role. My resume is attached for your review, and I would welcome the chance to discuss my qualifications further in an interview. Thank you for your consideration.”

“Thank you for considering my application for the Interior Designer position at DEF Design. I am thrilled about the opportunity to pursue my passion for design and to contribute to your team’s success. My experience as a teacher has honed my creativity, attention to detail, and communication skills, all of which I believe would be valuable in this role. I am confident that my transferable skills and my technical training in interior design make me a strong candidate. Please find my attached resume for your review, and I look forward to the opportunity to discuss my qualifications with you further in an interview.”

Part 2 Highlighting Your Transferable Skills and Qualifications

  • Start by identifying your key transferable skills. Consider the skills you’ve mastered in your current role, such as technical skills like programming or proficiency in tools like R, or interpersonal skills like strong communication and leadership abilities. Think about how these skills can contribute to your success in your desired position.
  • Next, provide specific examples of how you’ve used these transferable skills in your work experience. Write about instances when you’ve demonstrated your strengths, focusing on what is most relevant to the new position. For instance, if you’re applying for a role where programming is a vital component, discuss a project where you used R or another programming language to solve a problem or streamline a process.
  • Make sure to also mention any relevant qualifications or certifications you’ve achieved to strengthen your case. This could be a professional certification in your skillset, such as a programming bootcamp or a project management course, or even a specific degree that might be advantageous to the new role.

Transferable Skill – Communication

“In my current role as a customer service representative, I have honed my communication skills by handling a wide range of customer inquiries and complaints. I am confident in my ability to effectively communicate with clients and colleagues, both verbally and in writing. I believe this skill will be valuable in a new role where clear communication is essential.”

Transferable Skill – Leadership

“As a team leader in my current role, I have successfully managed a team of 10 employees, delegating tasks and providing guidance as needed. I have also implemented new processes and procedures that have improved team productivity and efficiency. I believe that my leadership skills will be an asset in a new role where I can help guide and motivate a team towards success.”

Relevant Qualification (Specific Degree)

“I hold a degree in marketing and have extensive experience developing and executing marketing campaigns for a variety of clients. I believe that my degree and experience in marketing will be valuable in a new role where I can use my skills to help promote and grow the organization.”

Relevant Qualification (Professional Certification)

“I recently completed a project management course through the Project Management Institute and received my PMP certification. This certification has provided me with a strong foundation in project management principles and best practices.”

Part 3 Relating Your Career Change to Your New Role

When writing a career change cover letter, it’s crucial to connect the dots for the hiring manager between your past experience and the new role you’re pursuing. Your letter should highlight your transferable skills, demonstrate your enthusiasm for the new career path, and provide evidence of your competence.

  • First, take the time to thoroughly research the role and learn about the company’s values. This understanding will help you craft a focused cover letter that shows you’re not only aligned with the new job opportunity, but also could bring incredible value to the organization.
  • Next, identify your transferable skills from your current and previous positions. These skills may include project management, problem-solving, or interpersonal abilities. Emphasize how these skills will be an asset in your new role. For example, if you’re moving from sales to marketing, your ability to build relationships with clients can be a great advantage in creating strategic marketing campaigns.
  • Additionally, showcase how taking on new responsibilities or specific projects in your current job can be directly related to the desired role. This demonstrates that you’re proactive and eager to learn new skills. For example, if you’re transitioning from a graphic design role to a UX design role, mention that you participated in user experience workshops or studied user-centered design on your own.
  • Don’t forget to include any relevant volunteer work, online courses, or certifications that align with your new career path. These experiences show your commitment to meaningful work and self-improvement. Make sure to mention any achievements or endorsements from your peers, as this will strengthen your credibility.
  • Lastly, express your excitement about the new career opportunity. Let the hiring manager know that you’re dedicated, enthusiastic, and determined in your pursuit of this career change. Convey your passion for contributing to the new industry and explain how your background and values can help achieve the company’s goals.

I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to [Company Name] and achieve the company’s goals. My background and values align with the organization’s mission, and I am eager to bring my skills and enthusiasm to the team.

Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to the opportunity to further discuss my qualifications with you.

Part 4 Using Accomplishments to Sell Your Skills

When writing a career change cover letter, it’s essential to highlight your accomplishments to showcase your skills. By doing so, you can demonstrate to the employer that you can bring value to their organization, even if your experience is in a different field.

Start by listing your most relevant achievements. Think about the tangible outcomes you’ve produced in your previous roles. These could be increasing sales numbers, creating efficient processes, or implementing cost-saving measures. Focus on positive results that have had a notable impact on your past employers.

Next, identify the transferable skills you used to achieve these successes. Some common transferable skills include communication, problem-solving, leadership, and project management. In your cover letter, describe how these skills have contributed to your accomplishments and how they will be applicable in the new role.

To make your points clear and concise, consider using bullet points to highlight your past accomplishments and the skills you used to achieve them. For example:

  • Increased revenue by 20% through improved customer engagement by leveraging my strong communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Streamlined project workflows, reducing completion times by 30%, which highlights my excellent problem-solving and organizational capabilities.

Part 5 How to Target Your Cover Letter to the Company

When writing a career change cover letter, try to tailor it to the specific company and job role that you’re applying for. Start by researching the company to understand its mission, values, and culture. This will help you craft a personalized cover letter that speaks directly to the hiring manager and demonstrates your knowledge and enthusiasm for the position.

Don’t just focus on your transferable skills, but also show how your experiences and values align with the company’s mission. For example, if the company is dedicated to promoting environmental awareness, highlight any relevant experience or passion you have in this area.

As you research the company, dig deeper into how it’s involved in the community and any ongoing projects that match your interests or skills. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to highlight how your expertise can contribute to the company’s goals. It will also help you stand out from other applicants who might not be as familiar with the organization.

When addressing your cover letter, avoid using generic greetings like “To Whom It May Concern.” Instead, try to find the name of the hiring manager or human resources representative responsible for reviewing job applications. A personalized greeting shows that you’ve made an effort to learn more about the company and its team members.

Part 6 How to Format Your Career Change Cover Letter

Before starting your career change cover letter, make sure you have researched the company you’re applying to. Having a clear understanding of their mission, values, and products or services will help you tailor your cover letter to their needs.

To begin formatting your career change cover letter, start with the basic structure. Align everything to the left and use a professional font like Arial or Times New Roman with a font size of 11 or 12. Be conscious of your margins and spacing, as you’ll want your letter visually appealing and easy to read.

When addressing the recipient, use their name if you have it and “Dear Hiring Manager” if you don’t.

In the body of your cover letter, aim for three paragraphs. The first paragraph is where you’ll highlight the specific job you’re applying for and briefly mention why you’re interested in the position and the company. Next, use the second paragraph to showcase your transferable skills and relevant experience to the new position. You may refer to your career change resume here. Be sure to provide specific examples to demonstrate your capabilities. The third paragraph is where you express your enthusiasm for the opportunity and show how your skills can benefit the company. It’s also an excellent place to mention any connections you may have within the company or any other commonalities between you and the hiring manager.

As you wrap up your letter, use a closing phrase such as “Sincerely” followed by your full name. Do not forget to proofread your cover letter for any grammar, spelling, or formatting errors.

Feel free to utilize cover letter templates to help with formatting and structure, but remember to inject your personality and make it unique to your situation.

Part 7 Template of a Career Change Cover Letter

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

I am writing to express my interest in the [Position] role at [Company Name]. Although my professional background has been primarily focused on [Current Industry or Job], I am excited about the opportunity to transition into a new career path and bring my skills and experience to [New Industry or Job].

In my current role as [Current Job Title], I have developed strong skills in [Skill 1], [Skill 2], and [Skill 3]. These skills are transferable and would be valuable in the [New Industry or Job] field. Additionally, I have always been passionate about [New Industry or Job] and have taken steps to gain experience in this field through [Volunteer Work, Courses, or Projects].

I am confident that my skills, experience, and passion make me a strong candidate for the [Position] role at [Company Name]. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss my qualifications further in an interview. Thank you for considering my application.

Sincerely, [Your Name]

Part 8 Examples of Career Change Cover Letters

When writing a career change cover letter, it’s essential to show your passion for the new industry and emphasize the transferable skills you possess. Here are a few examples for different roles to help you get started.

Example 1: Marketing to Customer Service

Subject: Application for Customer Service Manager position

Dear Hiring Manager,

As a marketing professional with over five years of experience, I’ve honed my communication and problem-solving skills, making me an excellent candidate for the Customer Service Manager position at your company. I am eager to apply my strong organization and time management abilities to the customer service field.

At my current job as a Marketing Coordinator, I am responsible for resolving clients’ concerns and ensuring their satisfaction with our services. My ability to empathize and effectively address client needs will serve me well in serving your valued customers.

I am excited for the opportunity to further develop my skills in customer service and contribute to your organization’s success.

[Your Name]

Example 2: Executive Assistant to Graphic Designer

Subject: Application for Graphic Designer position

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

I am writing to express my interest in the Graphic Designer role at your esteemed company. With over six years of experience as an Executive Assistant, I have acquired strong design skills through the creation of visually appealing presentations, reports, and marketing materials.

My expertise in Adobe Creative Suite, coupled with a keen eye for design, has enabled me to develop innovative graphics for various projects. My work as an Executive Assistant has also enhanced my attention to detail, ability to prioritize tasks, and meet tight deadlines.

I am excited to make a successful career change and look forward to contributing my creativity and passion for design to your team.

Best regards,

Example 3: Software Engineer to Public Relations

Subject: Application for Public Relations Specialist position

I am writing to apply for the Public Relations Specialist position at your company. As a software engineer with over four years of experience in the tech industry, I have developed exceptional communication skills, both written and verbal, and the ability to tailor messages for diverse audiences.

In addition to my technical background, I have volunteered at local non-profit organizations, helping to promote their missions through social media and email campaigns. I believe my technical expertise and passion for storytelling make me a strong candidate for the Public Relations Specialist role.

I look forward to the opportunity to transition into the public relations field and contribute to the success of your organization.

Kind regards,

Part 9 How to Write an Effective Opening and Closing Paragraph

Writing a persuasive opening paragraph for your career change cover letter is essential. Your goal is to grab the reader’s attention and set the tone for the rest of the letter. Start by addressing the specific person or company you’re reaching out to. Avoid using generic greetings like “To Whom It May Concern.”

Show enthusiasm for the position right from the start. Use your communication skills to briefly demonstrate why you’re excited about the opportunity and the company’s values. You could also mention a recent achievement or news related to the company to create a connection.

  • In your opening paragraph, express your confidence in your ability to excel in the new role. While you may lack direct experience in the field, highlight your relevant transferable skills – there’s often overlap between various professions. For instance, mention your project management, problem-solving, or negotiation skills, as these are valuable in many industries.
  • Concisely explain the reason behind your career change, demonstrating your genuine interest in the new field. This is your opportunity to create a compelling narrative about your career journey and show your commitment to this new direction.
  • Now, let’s focus on the closing paragraph. You should maintain the confident, knowledgeable tone you established earlier in your cover letter. Reiterate your excitement and interest in the position, summarizing key points from the rest of the letter.
  • Don’t forget to include a call to action, where you politely request an opportunity for further discussion, like an interview. This shows a proactive attitude, which is important when making a career change.
  • Finally, express gratitude for the reader’s time and consideration. A simple, sincere “Thank you” can leave a lasting impression and set the stage for future interactions.

Part 10 Best Practices

Here are some tips to help you create an effective cover letter that will impress hiring managers and increase your chances of getting the job:

  • Research the organization and job description : Start by understanding the company’s values, culture, and specific needs. Tailor your cover letter to align with the job description and highlight your relevant qualifications and skills.
  • Highlight your transferable skills : Emphasize the skills you’ve gained from your previous positions that can be applied to the new industry. For example, if you’re transitioning from a sales role to e-commerce, focus on your customer relations, communication, and problem-solving abilities.
  • Show enthusiasm for the new opportunity : Mention the reasons why you’re passionate about transitioning into the new industry and how the job aligns with your long-term career goals. Be genuine and positive.
  • Connect your previous experiences : Find ways to link your past positions, training activities, or volunteer work to the job you’re applying for. Demonstrate how your combination of experience and skills make you the perfect candidate for the new role.
  • Don’t downplay your accomplishments : Just because you’re changing industries doesn’t mean your previous accomplishments don’t matter. Be confident when discussing your achievements and expertise.
  • Proofread and format : Always proofread your cover letter for any grammar or spelling errors. Use appropriate formatting to make it visually appealing, easy to read, and professional-looking.
  • Follow up : After sending your cover letter and resume, don’t hesitate to follow up with the hiring manager or recruiter. This expresses your interest in the job and can potentially lead to an interview.

Related: Interview Follow-up Email Examples (1-2-3 weeks)

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key elements to include in a career change cover letter.

  • A strong opening paragraph that grabs attention and mentions your reason for applying.
  • A brief summary of your professional background and relevant experience.
  • A detailed explanation of the transferable skills you possess that make you a suitable candidate.
  • A customized approach that demonstrates your understanding of the company and position.
  • A confident closing that expresses enthusiasm and requests an interview.

How can I highlight transferable skills in my cover letter?

  • Identify the most relevant skills required for the new role.
  • Provide concrete examples of how you’ve used these skills to achieve success in past positions.
  • Explain why these skills will help you succeed in the new role and benefit the company.
  • Make sure to mention any additional training or certifications that demonstrate your commitment to learning new skills.

What are some examples of strong career change statements?

  • “As a dedicated customer service professional with over 10 years of experience, I believe my skills in relationship-building and problem-solving make me the right fit for the marketing specialist role at X company.”
  • “While working as a sales representative, I developed a strong passion for digital marketing and have recently completed a digital marketing certificate. I’m excited to combine my sales and marketing skills to contribute to the success of X organization as a digital marketer.”

How can I tailor my cover letter for a specific job change?

  • Research the company and learn about their values, culture, and goals.
  • Understand the job requirements and mention how your skills align with them.
  • Refer to the company’s specific needs and challenges, and explain how your background can help solve them.
  • Use relevant keywords and phrases from the job description in your cover letter text.
  • How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation [Examples]
  • Impactful Teacher Cover Letter (Inspiring Examples)
  • Career Goals Examples [Professional Advancement]
  • How To Write a Cover Letter [Inspiring Examples]
  • A Perfect Letter of Introduction [Examples]
  • Smart Answers to "What Are Your Career Goals?"

how to write cover letter for change of career

How to Write a Cover Letter That Will Get You a Job

I ’ve read thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of cover letters in my career. If you’re thinking that sounds like really boring reading, you’re right. What I can tell you from enduring that experience is that most cover letters are terrible — and not only that, but squandered opportunities. When a cover letter is done well, it can significantly increase your chances of getting an interview, but the vast majority fail that test.

So let’s talk about how to do cover letters right.

First, understand the point of a cover letter.

The whole idea of a cover letter is that it can help the employer see you as more than just your résumé. Managers generally aren’t hiring based solely on your work history; your experience is crucial, yes, but they’re also looking for someone who will be easy to work with, shows good judgment, communicates well, possesses strong critical thinking skills and a drive to get things done, complements their current team, and all the other things you yourself probably want from your co-workers. It’s tough to learn much about those things from job history alone, and that’s where your cover letter comes in.

Because of that …

Whatever you do, don’t just summarize your résumé.

The No. 1 mistake people make with cover letters is that they simply use them to summarize their résumé. This makes no sense — hiring managers don’t need a summary of your résumé! It’s on the very next page! They’re about to see it as soon as they scroll down. And if you think about it, your entire application is only a few pages (in most cases, a one- or two-page résumé and a one-page cover letter) — why would you squander one of those pages by repeating the content of the others? And yet, probably 95 percent of the cover letters I see don’t add anything new beyond the résumé itself (and that’s a conservative estimate).

Instead, your cover letter should go beyond your work history to talk about things that make you especially well-suited for the job. For example, if you’re applying for an assistant job that requires being highly organized and you neurotically track your household finances in a detailed, color-coded spreadsheet, most hiring managers would love to know that because it says something about the kind of attention to detail you’d bring to the job. That’s not something you could put on your résumé, but it can go in your cover letter.

Or maybe your last boss told you that you were the most accurate data processor she’d ever seen, or came to rely on you as her go-to person whenever a lightning-fast rewrite was needed. Maybe your co-workers called you “the client whisperer” because of your skill in calming upset clients. Maybe you’re regularly sought out by more senior staff to help problem-solve, or you find immense satisfaction in bringing order to chaos. Those sorts of details illustrate what you bring to the job in a different way than your résumé does, and they belong in your cover letter.

If you’re still stumped, pretend you’re writing an email to a friend about why you’d be great at the job. You probably wouldn’t do that by stiffly reciting your work history, right? You’d talk about what you’re good at and how you’d approach the work. That’s what you want here.

You don’t need a creative opening line.

If you think you need to open the letter with something creative or catchy, I am here to tell you that you don’t. Just be simple and straightforward:

• “I’m writing to apply for your X position.”

• “I’d love to be considered for your X position.”

• “I’m interested in your X position because …”

• “I’m excited to apply for your X position.”

That’s it! Straightforward is fine — better, even, if the alternative is sounding like an aggressive salesperson.

Show, don’t tell.

A lot of cover letters assert that the person who wrote it would excel at the job or announce that the applicant is a skillful engineer or a great communicator or all sorts of other subjective superlatives. That’s wasted space — the hiring manager has no reason to believe it, and so many candidates claim those things about themselves that most managers ignore that sort of self-assessment entirely. So instead of simply declaring that you’re great at X (whatever X is), your letter should demonstrate that. And the way you do that is by describing accomplishments and experiences that illustrate it.

Here’s a concrete example taken from one extraordinarily effective cover-letter makeover that I saw. The candidate had originally written, “I offer exceptional attention to detail, highly developed communication skills, and a talent for managing complex projects with a demonstrated ability to prioritize and multitask.” That’s pretty boring and not especially convincing, right? (This is also exactly how most people’s cover letters read.)

In her revised version, she wrote this instead:

“In addition to being flexible and responsive, I’m also a fanatic for details — particularly when it comes to presentation. One of my recent projects involved coordinating a 200-page grant proposal: I proofed and edited the narratives provided by the division head, formatted spreadsheets, and generally made sure that every line was letter-perfect and that the entire finished product conformed to the specific guidelines of the RFP. (The result? A five-year, $1.5 million grant award.) I believe in applying this same level of attention to detail to tasks as visible as prepping the materials for a top-level meeting and as mundane as making sure the copier never runs out of paper.”

That second version is so much more compelling and interesting — and makes me believe that she really is great with details.

If there’s anything unusual or confusing about your candidacy, address it in the letter.

Your cover letter is your chance to provide context for things that otherwise might seem confusing or less than ideal to a hiring manager. For example, if you’re overqualified for the position but are excited about it anyway, or if you’re a bit underqualified but have reason to think you could excel at the job, address that up front. Or if your background is in a different field but you’re actively working to move into this one, say so, talk about why, and explain how your experience will translate. Or if you’re applying for a job across the country from where you live because you’re hoping to relocate to be closer to your family, let them know that.

If you don’t provide that kind of context, it’s too easy for a hiring manager to decide you’re the wrong fit or applying to everything you see or don’t understand the job description and put you in the “no” pile. A cover letter gives you a chance to say, “No, wait — here’s why this could be a good match.”

Keep the tone warm and conversational.

While there are some industries that prize formal-sounding cover letters — like law — in most fields, yours will stand out if it’s warm and conversational. Aim for the tone you’d use if you were writing to a co-worker whom you liked a lot but didn’t know especially well. It’s okay to show some personality or even use humor; as long as you don’t go overboard, your letter will be stronger for it.

Don’t use a form letter.

You don’t need to write every cover letter completely from scratch, but if you’re not customizing it to each job, you’re doing it wrong. Form letters tend to read like form letters, and they waste the chance to speak to the specifics of what this employer is looking for and what it will take to thrive in this particular job.

If you’re applying for a lot of similar jobs, of course you’ll end up reusing language from one letter to the next. But you shouldn’t have a single cover letter that you wrote once and then use every time you apply; whatever you send should sound like you wrote it with the nuances of this one job in mind.

A good litmus test is this: Could you imagine other applicants for this job sending in the same letter? If so, that’s a sign that you haven’t made it individualized enough to you and are probably leaning too heavily on reciting your work history.

No, you don’t need to hunt down the hiring manager’s name.

If you read much job-search advice, at some point you’ll come across the idea that you need to do Woodward and Bernstein–level research to hunt down the hiring manager’s name in order to open your letter with “Dear Matilda Jones.” You don’t need to do this; no reasonable hiring manager will care. If the name is easily available, by all means, feel free to use it, but otherwise “Dear Hiring Manager” is absolutely fine. Take the hour you just freed up and do something more enjoyable with it.

Keep it under one page.

If your cover letters are longer than a page, you’re writing too much, and you risk annoying hiring managers who are likely sifting through hundreds of applications and don’t have time to read lengthy tomes. On the other hand, if you only write one paragraph, it’s unlikely that you’re making a compelling case for yourself as a candidate — not impossible, but unlikely. For most people, something close to a page is about right.

Don’t agonize over the small details.

What matters most about your cover letter is its content. You should of course ensure that it’s well-written and thoroughly proofread, but many job seekers agonize over elements of the letter that really don’t matter. I get tons of  questions from job seekers  about whether they should attach their cover letter or put it in the body of the email (answer: No one cares, but attaching it makes it easier to share and will preserve your formatting), or what to name the file (again, no one really cares as long as it’s reasonably professional, but when people are dealing with hundreds of files named “resume,” it’s courteous to name it with your full name).

Approaching your cover letter like this can make a huge difference in your job search. It can be the thing that moves your application from the “maybe” pile (or even the “no” pile) to the “yes” pile. Of course, writing cover letters like this will take more time than sending out the same templated letter summarizing your résumé — but 10 personalized, compelling cover letters are likely to get you more  interview invitations  than 50 generic ones will.

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This cover letter template walks you through what should be listed in your cover letter.

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How To Write a Cover Letter With Examples

Cover Letter Do's and Dont's

Cover letters can help differentiate you from other job applicants and be the determining factor of landing your dream job. By taking the time to craft a custom cover letter, a single sheet of paper can help communicate all the human elements that a resume may fall short of capturing about yourself. 

But what do employers and recruiters have to say about how to write a cover letter? What are the best tips they have to offer for graduate students who are writing a cover letter?

We asked 11 employers for their best cover letter tips. Here is what they had to share.

Let it Set the Stage

In many ways, cover letters should provide background information and context to your resume, while simultaneously addressing how that resume addresses the specific requirements of the job opportunity. The cover letter is your opportunity to "set the stage" and to convince the hiring manager why your specific set of skills, experiences and interests will provide value to their team and its objectives.

Andrew Horrigan '11 BSBA (Management Information Systems), Product Manager at Cisco

Research the Hiring Manager

If possible, find out who the hiring manager is and look them up on LinkedIn. Do your research on the company you're applying for. What's their mission statement and how do they portray their company culture? Hopefully what you're looking for in a job is reflected by those things. Make sure the hiring manager knows that and understands who you are and what drives you. A resume is often about as robotic as things can be. Make sure your cover letter is the opposite—personalize it and let yourself shine through.

Joshua Schlag ’05 BS (Computer Science) ’11 MBA, Digital Marketing Manager at Pyramid Analytics

Utilize Career Development Resources

The University of Arizona and Eller College of Management go to great lengths to make sure students are prepared for their impending career journey. Because cover letters are so important to getting your foot in the door, there are several career development resources online and on campus to take advantage of. The university’s cover letter builder serves as a nice template to get started. And of course, it never hurts to make an appointment with an Eller Career Coach through eSMS to have a professional review your letter before submission. 

Brett Farmiloe, ’06 BSBA (Accounting), Founder, Featured

Discover Past Samples of the Position

Do your research on the company and personalize your cover letter to the role for which you are applying. Don't be afraid to Google, "How to write a good cover letter for X position." Seriously, it helps! There is so much information out there from various perspectives—applicants, hiring managers, etc. Most importantly be yourself and let your personality come through. And don't forget to spell check!

Mariam Nikola '17 MS MIS, Consultant at Point B

Highlight Your Soft Skills

When writing a professional cover letter, there are a couple things you can do to set yourself apart from the pack. First, make sure you tailor your letter to the specific position you are applying for. This should not be a general, "one size fits all" letter—be sure to discuss specific details surrounding the role or the company itself. Secondly, this is an opportunity for you to show a little bit of your personality. Obviously, you want to remain professional, but this is a great time to highlight some of your soft skills that might not be fully conveyed through your resume.  

Brian Ellis ’17 BSBA (Management), Staffing Manager at Randstad Office and Administrative Professionals

Fill in the “Why” Gaps

As a talent advisor, I review a lot of applicants and agree that a cover letter can be a great way to stand apart, if it is done correctly. A great cover letter for me covers the ‘why’ that I cannot understand from just a resume alone. It should clearly state why you are interested in the role, what your goals are for utilizing your graduate degree (if recently graduated) and explain any career pivots reflected on your resume. If you answer those questions in a direct, concise manner it will add value to your application.

Monica Larson , ’11 BSBA (Marketing) ‘20 MBA, Talent Advisor

Tell Your Story

A cover letter is your opportunity to tell your story—tying your experience and personal interests into why you want a position and why you are the best candidate for it. Paint the picture of your journey and what about the position excites you personally and professionally. Similar to your resume, keep it short and sweet. No need to repeat what’s already on your resume. Recruiters and hiring managers don’t have time to comb through a novel, so you need to engage them with as few words as possible while also grabbing their attention.

Kelly Castoro, ’06 BA (Spanish, Portuguese), Project Manager at Squarespace

Tailor Each Cover Letter to the Position You Are Applying

Be sure to research the role and customize your cover letter for each position, relating your experience to the particular role you are applying for. Personalization is key—research who you are sending the cover letter to and address the letter to them directly. End your letter with a call to action, stating you will follow up by phone or email if you haven’t heard from anyone. Follow ups are very important! 

Jessica Rosenzweig, ’15 BSBA (Business Management), Account Manager at PeopleWare Staffing

Communicate Bankability and Personality 

Your cover letter answers two crucial questions; are you bankable and are you someone the company will enjoy working with? Communicate bankability with your knowledge of the company, industry and why your skills, capabilities and interests are a great fit. Share your passion for their mission, culture, brand—whatever excites you about becoming a member of their team.  

When conveyed through a concise, well-formulated, well-worded cover letter, you demonstrate the ability to write an effective business case—communicating that you are a ready professional and worthy teammate who will hit the ground running.

Theresa L Garcia, ’83 BSBA (Human Resources), Senior Change Management and Organization Capability Consultant at Boeing

Keep it Concise but Compelling

A cover letter is your chance to speak directly to the hiring team and tell them why you are not only the best match for the position for which you are applying but also give them additional insight into yourself as an individual that is less visible from your experience.

A great cover letter should be attention grabbing and touch upon the qualities that make you stand out from others in the applicant pool, highlight both your recent and most distinguished accomplishments and drive home why you are the right person for the job. Professionalism is always important, but don’t be hesitant to put your voice into the letter to let your personality shine through. Research the company, understand where they currently are, where they are going and show why you are the right person to get them from point A to point B. Recruiters spend a lot of time reviewing applicants and making yourself stand apart from the crowd is key. Keep it concise but compelling!

Matt Reineberg, ’14 BSBA (Marketing), Senior Talent Acquisition Sourcer at Cox Enterprises

Highlight the “Why”

Why are you applying to this company? Why do you want this position? Your cover letter should aim to answer the why behind applying for the job. Conveying an interest and excitement for working specifically for this job at this company, rather than a desire to get any job anywhere that will give you money, can go a long way. Show the company that they should hire you and your passion over someone that might have the skills needed for the job, but doesn’t care about the work as much as you do. 

Ryan Nouis, Trupath 

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