How to write a cover letter when changing careers

Susanna Kahr

Writing a cover letter is challenging at the best of times, and even more so if you’re in the process of making a big career change. Although you know why you want to make this change, persuading the HR team to give you a chance is something else. You will really need to pull out all the stops in your cover letter, but if it’s something you want, then it will definitely be worth it. We’re behind you, every step of the way, and we’ve got some tips for creating the perfect cover letter to help you make that all important career change.

The cover letter

Writing a convincing cover letter takes a lot of time, energy and soul-searching. When it comes to making a career change, you need to it as your one big chance to present yourself and the reasons why you want to switch up your career. The better you explain your reasoning, the more likely it is that the HR team will offer you a chance. There are a couple of ways to do this, starting with the opening lines.

Start your letter with a bang

You need to start with a bang! Instead of opening your cover letter in a generic way, by saying that you’re undoubtedly the best person for the job because of xyz reasons, think of a more explosive/fun way to grab the HR manager’s attention.

Put yourself in the HR team’s shoes. What would you like to know about a surprise applicant and what would make you stop and take the time to read their cover letter? Maybe you have a story about the moment you realized that you wanted to pursue this new career, or you have a quote that sums up you or your decision-making? This is your chance to impress, so go for it!

 


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Take center stage

After you’ve made a great first impression with your opening lines, it’s time for you to take center stage and make the next part all about you (just make it short and sweet). This is your chance to introduce yourself, your motivations and your ambitions for this new role. Take a look at our article about giving yourself an edge to help you with this.

Focus on the skills you already have

What’s your superpower? Are you super organized, a great motivator or an experienced salesperson? Here, you want to emphasize the skills and/or experience you already have that you will bring to your new role. Also, think outside the box. If you think you’ve learnt specific and important lessons or skills in your former job that don’t immediately translate into the new one, tell the HR manager why you think these are important and how they make you an attractive candidate for this job.

Be honest

Now’s your chance to share the story behind the career change. Was there a moment when you suddenly realized you were in the wrong job? Were you encouraged to make the move by a friend or family member? Did you always dream of this career but never felt confident enough to take the plunge? Have your priorities changed now that you have a family? Whatever your story is, you can bet that the HR team will want to know. Just write this part from the heart.

 


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Focus on the positives

Since you’re making a career change, there’s likely to be a few skills you don’t have yet. Whatever you do, make sure that you don’t apologize for this. Turn it into a positive as much as possible by telling the HR team how eager and excited you are to learn new skills. Find out more about how to do this, here.

Make a big closing argument

To wrap your letter up, use the last couple of sentences to state your closing arguments. Quickly summarize what you’ve said so far and give the HR manager 2-3 big reasons why they should hire you or at least offer you an interview.

 

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If you’re applying for a job that you’re totally not qualified for, check out more tips, here. In the meantime, help out fellow job seekers by letting us know all about your experience of applying and interviewing at various companies in your anonymous employer review. And good luck! You’ve got this.

 

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