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

By Chris Kolmar - Apr. 28, 2021

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So you’ve decided to embark on a new journey and make a career change. Now it’s time to start applying for a job with your ideal employers. Writing a cover letter is never a bad idea but for those lacking relevant work experience on their resumes, it’s crucial.

Studies have found that cover letters are important in 26% of recruiters’ hiring decisions. While this percentage on its own may seem low, consider this: applicants who apply with a referral are 13 times more likely to get a job versus submitting on a traditional job board. From that perspective, that 26% could be the boost you need to impress the recruiter and hiring manager.

This is a valuable point to keep in mind no matter if you are applying for a full-time job or an internship position. It’s why you need a cover letter that speaks to your transferable skills and experiences that relate to the role that you are applying for.

How to Write a Career Change Cover Letter

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)

  • Greeting

  • 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.

Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

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
Tom.Timmins@gmail.com

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,

Career Change 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.

Carer Change 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.

How To Write A Career Change Cover Letter

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.

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 To Write A Career Change Cover Letter

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.

Example:

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

Better:

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.”

Career Change Cover Letter Example

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 Letter Example

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)]

Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.
Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

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.

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