How to Write a Cover Letter When You’re Changing Careers (Sample + Tips) (2024)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

As a career changer, you need to help recruiters understand why you’re moving away from your former line of work and what you want to achieve in your new career path..

How to Write a Cover Letter When You’re Changing Careers (Sample + Tips) (1)

You will inevitably change jobs throughout your career as you seek more responsibility, growth, or even a higher salary. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employee stays at each job for around four years [1]. However, for career changers—or those interested in exploring an entirely new path or industry—making that switch can sometimes involve unique challenges.

Even so, making a career change has become an increasingly popular move. More than half of workers in the United States anticipated looking for a new opportunity in 2022 [2]. Changing careers can allow you to find more meaningful work, better align your career path with your larger goals, and move into a more energizing role.

When you draft your cover letter to apply for a job in a new line of work, you must take time to explain your larger objectives. In this article, we’ll review specific information you can feature in your cover letter to help recruiters understand your goals and reasons for changing careers.

Learn more: How to Plan for a Career Change: Step-by-Step Guide

How to write a career change cover letter

A cover letter is a chance to expand upon the bullet points outlined in your resume. It’s a space where you can explain your interest in the role and company, highlight your experience and skills, and sell a recruiter on the overall fit you’d make.

But a career changer needs to do all of that and more. You also need to help recruiters and hiring managers understand why you’re moving away from your former line of work, what you want to achieve in your new career path, and any transferable skills that will help make your transition smooth.

Let’s review four key pieces of information you can weave into your career change cover letter.

1. Clarify your career change context

Explaining why you’re interested in changing careers and how the role you’re applying to fits within your larger career aspirations can preemptively contextualize your story. Plan to include a career change objective somewhere in your cover letter, much like you would a resume objective to provide a summary of a person’s experience and goals. Don’t be afraid to build a sense of personality so recruiters can better connect you with your objective.

What this looks like: I’ve spent the last six years translating complex topics for various users as a technical writer. But in that time, I’ve realized that what drives me is the user’s experience. It’s the lightbulb moment behind my career change to UX design. I believe I’ll make a strong addition to your team because my work has largely put the user front and center, and now I’m interested in focusing on a different facet of that goal.

2. Specify the value of your certificates, courses, or trainings

It costs over $4,000 to hire an employee, according to the Society for Human Resources Management [3]. That’s all the more reason why recruiters and hiring managers want to find the right candidate. It can be costly otherwise. Help explain what you’ve done to prepare for your career change by highlighting any professional certificates or trainings you’ve completed to prepare you for your new line of work.

What this looks like: In order to familiarize myself with the tools and processes used in data analysis, I completed the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate, which taught me SQL and R, and trained me to clean and visualize data. Thanks to this preparation, I feel confident that I will make a strong addition to your team from the very start.

3. Bring attention to your transferable skills

Transferable skills are “portable,” in that you take them from job to job. They include problem-solving, critical thinking, attention to detail, and more. Show recruiters that you have important skills to help you do the job so they can understand the unique value you’d bring to their company.

It can also help to find out the key technical skills the job requires and spend time learning what you can, especially when it comes to important software or tools.

What this looks like: As a software developer, I regularly relied on my problem-solving skills to think through complex issues. I’ll bring that same skill, as well as my attention to detail, listening, and decision-making, to ABC High School as the new algebra teacher.

4. Highlight your past achievements

Any time you can highlight what you’ve managed to accomplish in your past roles, you help a recruiter see your potential in a new role. Where possible, summarize any moments that showcase your strengths and illustrate your work ethic or character.

What this looks like: I pride myself on being a team player and a problem-solver. As a social media manager at Company X, I identified a better program to help my team schedule content. Using that tool improved my team’s efficacy, leading to our most successful quarter.

Why is a cover letter important when changing careers?

The idea of a career path can sometimes be rigid, suggesting that people only follow one specific track. Although that perspective is starting to shift, it’s still prevalent. You can help recruiters and hiring managers understand more about your interest in a role by explaining why you’re changing careers and what you’ve done to streamline your transition.

It helps to align your cover letter with a resume objective, which can be especially useful for career changers. An objective on your resume is a place where you can contextualize your larger career aims, quickly summarizing what you’re hoping to achieve in your next role. Repeat that same information in your cover letter and expand on it slightly to give your application materials more cohesiveness.

Read more: How to Use Resume Sections to Shape Your Professional Story

How to Write a Cover Letter When You’re Changing Careers (Sample + Tips) (2)
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Career change cover letter sample

It's common practice nowadays to submit your cover letter digitally. In that case, include some of your contact information in the top left corner so recruiters can easily see how to get in touch.

Thomas Bennett

Nashville, TN

(555) 555-1234

tbennett@email.org

Dear Ms. Tufte,

I’m writing to apply for the project manager role at Company X. I initially began my career as a marketing coordinator and eventually moved into email marketing, where I was responsible for strategizing and developing new campaigns. But in that time, I realized how much I thrived when managing our quarterly campaigns from start to finish. That’s why I’m interested in segueing into project management.

Knowing that, despite my experience, I still needed to learn more specifically about project management, I completed the Google Project Management Professional Certificate. Over six months, I’ve learned Agile project management as well as how to create product documentation, among other key skills. I believe this training, along with my previous experience, will help me transition to a project management role at Company X and make a big impact.

I’m an organized problem-solver with a sharp eye for detail, all important project management skills. I believe my previous work in email marketing provided hands-on training in managing projects, albeit without the official title. I identified new tools to help my team create more effective quarterly campaigns. As a result, we increased our click-through rate (one of our key metrics) to 1.87 percent, bringing it closer to the industry standard—an immense achievement.

I’m proud of the foundation I gained through marketing, but in realizing where my true passion lies, I’m keen to transition into a project management role with more growth opportunities. I appreciate your consideration.

Sincerely,

Thomas Bennett

Tips for strengthening your cover letter

Much like you would for a standard cover letter, you can strengthen your cover letter as a career changer using the following tips:

Tailor your letter for each role.

You should tailor your resume for each role you apply to, and the same goes for your cover letter. Research the company, find out about aspects of their work that interest you, and insert those details into your cover letter. You should also tailor your experience and skills, highlighting each job's most relevant skills and accomplishments.

Get specific.

Your cover letter should expand upon your resume rather than repeating the same information. One way to do this is by giving details about your past achievements. When possible, quantify your impact with numbers and explain how these accomplishments make you uniquely qualified for this new role.

Use action words.

Build action words into your resume and your cover letter. Rather than more staid words that don’t capture your unique story or responsibilities, action verbs can liven up your cover letter and make it more enticing to read. Find verbs that succinctly and accurately depict your previous experience.

Start advancing your skills today

Brush up on your cover letter writing skills by taking the University of Maryland’s free course, Writing Winning Resumes and Cover Letters. Or develop important skills for an in-demand career with a Professional Certificate from industry leaders like Google, Meta, and IBM. Most certificate programs take less than seven months to complete, and you can start for free with a seven-day, all-access trial.

How to Write a Cover Letter When You’re Changing Careers (Sample + Tips) (3)
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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

How to Write a Cover Letter When You’re Changing Careers (Sample + Tips) (2024)

FAQs

How to Write a Cover Letter When You’re Changing Careers (Sample + Tips)? ›

Here's how you might articulate your transition: “After a decade of honing my project management skills in the construction industry, I'm excited to apply my expertise in a tech startup environment. I believe my background in leading diverse teams and managing budgets makes me a unique fit for this dynamic sector.”

What is an example of a career change statement? ›

Here's how you might articulate your transition: “After a decade of honing my project management skills in the construction industry, I'm excited to apply my expertise in a tech startup environment. I believe my background in leading diverse teams and managing budgets makes me a unique fit for this dynamic sector.”

How do I say I want to change my career path? ›

Keep it simple, positive, and future-oriented. “I feel like I have done a lot of great work over the past three years in [name of industry]. But, I've reached a point in my life where I feel like it's time to move on.

How do you address a career gap in a cover letter? ›

When addressing gaps in your work history in a cover letter, be transparent yet positive. Briefly explain the gap with honest reasons such as personal growth, education, or family responsibilities. Emphasize any relevant skills acquired during the gap through volunteering or freelancing.

How to write a personal statement when changing career? ›

Explain why you're applying for the specific role.

Showcase your understanding of the role's requirements and how your background, skills, and newfound passion make you an ideal candidate. Connect the dots between your career change and the potential value you can bring to the organization.

How do you write a professional summary if you're changing careers? ›

Highlight transferable skills: Emphasize your skills that can be applied to your new career. This can include both soft skills and hard skills. Mention relevant experience: Highlight any experience that can be transferred over, but first assess if it has enough potential for your new field.

How do you answer a career change sample? ›

Here are a few examples of how to answer a career change interview question honestly while emphasizing the positives: "Although I had to leave my previous position because of unforeseen personal circ*mstances, my departure from there gave me the opportunity to finally pursue my ideal career in marketing."

How do you explain leaving a job for a career change? ›

Examples of positive reasons for leaving a job

I feel like I'm ready to take on more responsibility. I believe I've progressed as far as I can in my current role. I need a change of environment to motivate me. I want to develop a new skill that isn't required in my current job.

Can you explain why you changed career paths? ›

Before you apply for a new job, you need to have a clear and honest answer to the question: why did you change careers? Maybe you wanted to pursue your passion, learn new skills, find a better work-life balance, or make a positive impact.

What is a good objective for a resume when changing career? ›

A resume objective for career change bridges the gap between your previous role and your new role. A good objective would clearly and briefly provide your relevant experience and explain how this will help you succeed in your new career.

How do you mention career change in a cover letter? ›

Begin with a statement about why you want to change career. Mention your previous job/career and your main reasons for wanting a change in direction. Keep it brief - you can go into more detail about this if invited for interview.

How do you put a career break in a cover letter? ›

Say that you took a career break, and why you took it

At the end of your letter, briefly explain what motivated you to take your career break.

How do I address job hopping in a cover letter? ›

Job-hopping

Although I have changed jobs more than I would have liked in the past few years, I am searching for a position where I can make a long-term commitment. If you agree that my credentials are an excellent fit to your needs, please feel free to call or email me to arrange a meeting.

How to write a letter to change a job position? ›

Your letter should begin with a formal salutation, your purpose for writing, and evidence supporting why your request should be considered. Politely request the supervisor's assistance in gaining a position at your preferred location. Use an appropriate closing to end your letter. Say thank you.

What is an example of a change management cover letter? ›

Change Management Cover Letter Example

Throughout my career, I have successfully led change initiatives in various industries, including healthcare and education. I have a proven track record of implementing effective strategies to drive organizational growth and improve operational efficiency.

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