Drafting a Cover Letter for a Career Change

A career change can help you establish a more fulfilling career, resulting in a more desirable job and better compensation.  Nonetheless, making the decision to break into a new field can be daunting. Besides, persuading a hiring manager that you are the best fit for the new job function or industry is significantly challenging

For professionals with a background in an unrelated field, demonstrating the required skills and experience is a thought-provoking challenge. In such a case, including a cover letter that highlights your transferable skills, relevant successes, and passion to pursue your new path would be valuable in your application. If you are scrambling to find the appropriate words for creating a compelling narrative, read on for recommendations on how to write an effective cover letter for a career change.

1) Focus on transferrable skills

While you are transitioning to a new career, bear in mind that you are not starting from scratch. You may have never held a position in your desired role, but you still have many skills to offer. Regardless of your background, you’ve potentially brought value and cultivated competencies that are vital for any job. These should be the highlight of your cover letter.

To determine a fit based on your experience, invest time understanding the role’s requirements. Identify the top three to five required skills and illustrate the correlation of each of these with your expertise. Don’t forget to list your quantifiable achievements too. There’s no better way to demonstrate you can navigate through the challenges of a new role than by providing evidence of your past successes.  

For example, you were an entrepreneur who is now looking to land a business development executive role. You can mention how you built your business from the ground up, the number of clients you obtained or the year-on-year growth you were able to accomplish. Featuring hard facts and figures will provide hiring managers further insight into the impact you have created in your previous role. This will differentiate you from applicants with direct industry experience.

2) Detail your ‘why’

Career change often brings up concerns among decision-makers. Whether you’re transitioning from one department to another within the same company or starting over in a completely different field, it will most likely raise doubts and questions. What made you decide to do that? Are you really qualified? You must be prepared to answer these questions by framing your cover letter effectively.

To alleviate the decision-makers’ skepticism, it’s imperative to explain the driving force behind your career change. Be truthful in your cover letter about the reason for this change in direction. Furthermore, maintain a balance between your authenticity and professionalism as this is critical to your application’s success.

Ward off any antagonistic description of your previous job or manager. Rather, identify the aspects you enjoyed in your last role and how they correlate to your future career. Analyze your target job and establish alignment with your goals. Showcase your commitment by narrating how your experience has built you up for the new role, making you a suitable candidate for the job. As a result, your career change will be viewed as an attribute rather than a concern.

3) Demonstrate a passion for the new direction

You might be wondering what passion has to do with your career transition. Aren’t employers looking for someone who has the skills and experience? How can passion be your selling point? It’s no doubt that skills and experience are essential. However, passion is a valuable attribute that makes a difference in employee commitment and performance. As a career changer, showcasing passion in your cover letter would help maximize the impact of your narrative. 

Simply stating that you are passionate about the new role or industry won’t convince recruiters to consider you for an interview. It needs to be framed correctly to communicate how you would be a more capable hire compared to candidates with a traditional background. Ask yourself, “What aspect of the role am I most excited about?” and “What can I do better than other candidates applying for the same role?”. These questions will enable you to create a more noteworthy narrative than simply sharing overall enthusiasm. 

For instance, you previously held a technical role and found a new passion in sales. While these functions are totally different, you can leverage your unique background to distinguish yourself from other applicants. In addition to conveying how you uncovered your interest in sales, you can also mention how your technical expertise can help the company make its sales processes more efficient. If you were the hiring manager, wouldn’t you prefer a candidate who is motivated and can bring more value to a role?

Cover Letter Tips for Career Changers

Changing professions during these unsettling times can be tricky but not impossible. Your qualifications may be offbeat in comparison to candidates with direct industry experience. Nevertheless, you can still be in the top tier of applicants by capitalizing on your unique mix of passion and transferable skills. Use your cover letter to effectively maximize your chances of being considered for an interview. If you still find it difficult to create a compelling narrative for your career transition, we would be happy to help you with some professional support.

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