If you are thinking of switching careers in 2024, you are not alone. According to a recent survey by Indeed, 13% of job seekers in 2023 wanted to change careers, and the trend is likely to continue in the post-pandemic world 1. However, changing careers can be challenging, especially when it comes to convincing employers that you have the skills, experience and motivation to succeed in a new field. That’s why you need a strong cover letter that showcases your transferable skills, explains your career change and demonstrates your fit for the role and the company.
Changing careers can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Applying for positions that are different from what you’ve been used to can feel daunting. Don’t worry, that’s completely normal. First, take a deep breath. It’s going to be OK! Now let’s get started.
Tailoring your CV to the role you’re targeting is often the first step people think of in the career change process. However, to make sure your CV gets noticed in the first place, you need to craft an attention-grabbing career change cover letter.
This article will show you how to write a career change cover letter that is interesting and engaging. You’ll learn how to tell the story of your career in a way that impresses potential clients or employers. This letter is your chance to pique their interest in you—even if you don’t have direct experience for the job. Plus, to inspire you, we’ve also included career change cover letter samples below.
Elements of a great career change cover letter
Before we jump into the step-by-step of how to write a career change cover letter, let’s quickly note the elements it must include:
- Start with a catchy introduction
- Explain why you are changing careers
- Highlight your transferable skills and achievements
- A powerful closing paragraph
Each of these sections will require some thoughtful consideration. Though short, they must pack a punch.
Below, we dive deep into these essential elements (and more) to help you craft a winning letter. When combined, these sections will help you “sell” yourself to potential clients or employers while also explaining your career switch.
1. Start with a catchy introduction
The first paragraph of your cover letter is your chance to grab the attention of the hiring manager and make a good impression. You should state who you are, what position you are applying for and why you are interested in it. You should also highlight your most relevant achievements and skills that show your potential for the new role, even if they are not directly related to the field. For example, if you are applying for a sales position after working as a teacher, you could write something like this:
Dear Hiring Manager,
My name is Jane Doe and I am thrilled to apply for the Sales Associate position at ABC Company. As a former teacher with over five years of experience in education, I have developed strong communication, presentation and interpersonal skills that I believe are essential for success in sales. In my previous role, I was able to increase student engagement by 25%, improve test scores by 15% and foster positive relationships with parents and colleagues.
Dear Mr. Smith,
As a trained nurse, I am excited to apply for the medical writing project at Wellness Company LLC. I have been a registered nurse for 10 years. I have spent the last four years of my career in the emergency department at City Hospital, which has given me hands-on experience in caring for emergency patients. I am confident this knowledge and expertise will be particularly useful for your project.
Dear Ms. Roy,
As a lifelong enthusiast of XYZ Company, I was thrilled to see your job ad for a Data Analyst. As a qualified accountant, I have spent the last six years crunching numbers (and data) at ABC Company to ensure data is well-managed and then used for strategic advantage. I have always been “the numbers guy” and now I am keen to put my mathematical and analytical skills to use in a data role.
2. Explain why you are changing careers
The second paragraph of your cover letter should address the elephant in the room: why are you changing careers? You should be honest and positive about your reasons and show that you have done your research and have a clear vision for your future. You should also mention any relevant education, training or certification that you have completed or are pursuing to prepare for the career change. For example, if you are applying for a web developer position after working as an accountant, you could write something like this:
While I have enjoyed being a nurse for the past decade, this past year has been extremely stressful. This prompted me to consider other career options. I have spent the last six months learning about digital content writing for the medical field. I believe this new career will allow me a better work-life balance while still making use of my nursing and medical expertise.
As a graphic designer, I was (I am!) skilled at creating visually appealing imagery for my clients. However, during my time at Product ABC, I worked closely with the product design team, which opened my eyes to a new world of design. I realized designing products was a great use of my visual design skills combined with my ability to optimize a user’s product experience. Ultimately, product design helps me fulfill my desire to make an impact on a business’s overall goals—not just their brand’s look and feel.
3. Highlight your transferable skills and achievements
The third paragraph of your cover letter should focus on your transferable skills and achievements that are relevant to the new role and the company. Transferable skills are skills that can be used in different contexts and situations, such as problem-solving, teamwork, leadership and customer service. You should provide specific examples of how you used these skills in your previous roles and how they contributed to your success. You should also quantify your achievements whenever possible to show your impact and value. For example, if you are applying for a project manager position after working as a nurse, you could write something like this:
As a nurse, I gained valuable experience in managing multiple tasks, prioritizing deadlines, collaborating with diverse teams and delivering quality care to patients. I was able to reduce medication errors by 30%, increase patient satisfaction by 20% and lead a team of 10 nurses to implement a new protocol that improved efficiency and safety. I am confident that I can apply these skills to manage complex projects, coordinate resources, communicate effectively and ensure customer satisfaction at XYZ Company.
As a Sales Representative at Fig Tree Corp., I developed a good rapport with my clients, which contributed to me becoming the top-selling sales rep at the company in 2019 and 2020. I backed up these sales with quality after-sales service that generated repeat business for the company. In addition to this, documenting my sales strategies and processes helped the company create its first-ever sales training manual for new sales employees. I believe these professional skills translate seamlessly into a customer service role, where I can establish and maintain excellent relationships with your clients and provide them with the customer experience your brand is known for.
My experience in operations and office management has made me very detail-oriented and process-driven. I am a pro at juggling and coordinating multiple vendors, suppliers, and staff to ensure “the office runs itself” (as one senior manager put it). While I am aware I won’t be running offices as a Virtual Assistant, I am confident my obsession with detail and ability to coordinate multiple projects (big and small) will go a long way toward helping to run a successful e-commerce business like Princess P.
4. A powerful closing paragraph
The final paragraph of your cover letter should restate your interest and fit for the position and the company. You should express your enthusiasm and fit for the company. You should demonstrate that you have done your homework and that you share the company’s mission, vision and values. You should also explain what you can offer to the company and how you can help them achieve their goals. You should end your cover letter with a call to action, such as requesting an interview or inviting them to contact you for more information. For example, if you are applying for a social media manager position after working as a journalist, you could write something like this:
I am impressed by the work that ABC Company does to promote social causes and empower communities through storytelling and digital media. I share your passion for creating engaging and impactful content that inspires action and change. I believe that I can bring my skills, experience and creativity to your team and help you grow your online presence, reach new audiences and increase your impact. I would love to discuss this opportunity with you in more detail and show you how I can add value to your company. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 555-1234. Thank you for your consideration.
I am very interested in discussing your Virtual Assistant role in more detail. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss how my operations experience and qualifications can contribute to Tango Time. Thank you for your time and consideration.
I believe I am a great fit for this role. I am confident that my marketing and lead gen expertise from previous roles will translate well to the UX developer role at your organization. I look forward to discussing my qualifications and suitability during an interview at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Are you looking to change your career? Are you stuck in a job for along time. My Career Change Coaching Program will help you to accomplish just that. When you are ready to do so, schedule a time to speak with me.
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I’m Daniel Mutuku, a Career Change Coach. I help professionals change their careers and transition to the UN, NGOs and international organisations.
As your career coach, I assist you in getting unstuck in your career. I will support you through the application process, all the way until you secure the job.
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“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”—George Eliot