When you plan to change careers, this typically involves composing a career change cover letter. The letter contains details about your strengths, your experience, any transferable skills, and other important information. A cover letter for career change should demonstrate why you’re adequately equipped to handle a different position or role in the company.
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Parts of a career change cover letter
Choosing to change careers is the easy part. But convincing the hiring manager that you are a good match for the new job or industry is another thing. For this, you need to compose an effective and compelling career change cover letter. In your career transition cover letter, you explain why you’re looking to change careers.
In your cover letter for switching careers, you should highlight how you can be an excellent employee in the new industry you’re interested in. If this is your first time to compose such a letter, don’t panic. First, let’s go through the important parts of this letter to help you understand it better:
- Opening paragraph
Create an opening paragraph that’s straightforward and simple. This part doesn’t have to be too different from an opening paragraph of a standard cover letter. Use this paragraph in your cover letter for career change to state the role you want to apply for.
Also, indicate where you saw the job vacancy. If a personal contact referred you to this job vacancy, mention the name of this person. This helps personalize your letter and it also shows that you have contacts within the industry.
In this opening paragraph, you may also mention an important qualification or skill to show how suitable you are for the role. It’s best if you pick one of the skills mentioned in the job description or advertisement.
- Body of the letter
In a standard letter, you explain your experience, skills, and attributes in the body. But when it comes to a career change cover letter, the best thing to do is be both upfront and honest from the beginning. Talk about your reason for making a career change. Maintain positivity when you provide these reasons and explanations.
Also, use the body of the letter to reassure the reader that you’re genuinely and completely committed to becoming a part of this new industry. Compose a brief explanation about your interest in the new industry and how your past professional experiences make you a valuable asset to the company.
- An explanation of any career gaps
There are many reasons why you would explore a new career. Your previous employer may have laid you off, you may have stopped working to raise your children, you may have experienced burnout at your previous job so you want a change, and so on. Although career gaps are very common, you must still explain this in your career transition cover letter.
Be as honest as possible when you give your reason for being out of work for a significant amount of time. You don’t have to provide too many details. But you may want to share how you’ve used this time off work to learn more about this new career or industry. This shows that you’re interested and you’re open to learning more.
Think about any activities which you’ve done while you didn’t have work which allowed you to improve skills useful to this new industry. Explaining this in the letter is a lot better than when the hiring manager finds out after performing a background check.
Finally, in this part of your cover letter for switching careers, thank the hiring manager for taking the time to read your letter. You may also give a statement saying that you’re available for an interview or for a meeting in case the hiring manager has any questions or to provide clarifications.
Then end your letter with a proper phrase or word and your complete name. Before printing or sending your letter, make sure to proofread it first. Revise your letter as needed. Only when you’re completely sure that it doesn’t have any grammatical or spelling errors should you proceed.
Tips for writing your career change cover letter
An effective and well-written career change cover letter can help you land the job of your dreams. For this to happen, you should go beyond a “standard” cover letter. There are certain points you must cover in a cover letter for career change to help you stand out against all the other applicants.
Although you may follow the standard format of a cover letter for your career change cover letter, you must include some important pieces of information to make it more effective. Here are some tips to help you out:
- Catch the attention of the reader from the start
Make sure that the opening line of your letter compels the reader to continue all the way to the end. Try to avoid using the “typical” opening statements like why you believe that you’re the perfect person for the job, and so on.
If you want to make an impression, try asking a question, telling a story or leading with a fascinating anecdote about your previous experience. Whatever you choose to start with, make sure that it’s relevant to the rest of your letter’s contents.
- Highlight your transferable skills
This is one of the most important parts of your career transition cover letter. Focus on highlighting your strengths and skills which you can use in the position you’re applying for. This is a lot better than focusing on the specific skills you have which make you great at your current job.
Think about these transferable skills that you possess which you can use. You may want to read the job description carefully and analyze the skills required for the position. Choose those which best match your own experiences and skills. You can even share short anecdotes about how you used these skills in your previous job.
- Emphasize your excellent performance in the previous jobs you held
Keep in mind that you’re not the only person applying for the job. Most of the other applicants would have the required skills and experiences, especially if they came from a similar position. Since you’re changing careers, you might be the least qualified. That is unless you’re able to explain why it’s the opposite.
After highlighting your transferable skills, you should also emphasize how you had been an excellent employee in your previous company. This information is even more effective when supported by tangible achievements or strong recommendations. All of these combined makes you a more desirable candidate in the eyes of the hiring manager.
Talk about how well you performed in your previous job and how you succeeded in all the tasks and projects assigned to you. Try to provide these explanations as humbly as possible so as not to appear arrogant. Remember, you want to impress the hiring manager, you don’t want to put them off.
- Express your interest and passion for the industry and the company
After talking about yourself, it’s time to talk about the company. This is another way to make an impression on the hiring manager. Talk about how excited you are to work in this new industry. Also, talk about how passionate you feel towards the organization and the job opportunity.
Doing this makes you stand out more, especially compared to other applicants who simply want to get the job. Talk about how you researched about the company and this is why you want to become a part of it. Of course, you must put in the effort too.
Never say that you researched about the company when you didn’t actually do it. This could lead to an embarrassing situation, especially if the hiring manager asks you questions about the company and you don’t know the answers to them. If you want to invest in a company, you must do the work.
- Bring all of the information together
Finally, you must make sure that the entire letter flows smoothly. Read the content from start to finish and try to gauge if all the information connects in a logical and comprehensive way. If you find any lacking information or if you think there are some parts which aren’t necessary, revise your letter.
At the end of your letter, include statements which highlight what you can do for the benefit of the company, not what the company can do for you. Talk about how you genuinely want to learn more about the company by being a part of it. Don’t be too eager though as this might come off as fake.
Write with your heart so that you can come up with genuine statements. Remember, hiring managers have read hundreds of cover letters. So, think about how you can make yours stand out from the crowd.
Then close your letter professionally and with a positive tone. If you want to make a good impression and if you want the hiring manager to remember you out of all the other applicants, you must close strong as well.
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