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How to write a killer career change cover letter

How to write a killer career change cover letter

Artwork by: Katya Vakulenko

  • How to write a cover letter for a career change
  • 1. Create a header
  • 2. Introduce yourself
  • 3. Be enthusiastic
  • 4. Emphasize your transferable skills
  • 5. Discuss relevant achievements
  • 6. Explain your career change
  • 7. Mention new skills
  • 8. Express your gratitude
  • Career change cover letter example
  • 6 Tips for writing a career change cover letter
  • 1. Be transparent
  • 2. Talk about your ‘ah-ha!’ moment
  • 3. Customize your cover letter
  • 4. Focus on your skills
  • 5. Use bullet points
  • 6. Ask for feedback
  • Key takeaways

Changing careers can be exciting—and a little scary. How do you explain why you’re a good fit for a new position if you don’t have prior experience? A career change cover letter can be a valuable tool to discuss your transferable skills and qualifications when applying for a new role.

When you decide to make a career change, your first thought might be something like: How will I get a job in this industry without any experience? Fortunately, many people change careers successfully, and you can too. When applying for jobs in a new industry, a cover letter can be a great way to discuss your transferable skills and enthusiasm for your new career. A well-written cover letter can show employers why you’re a good fit for the new position, even if you may lack experience.

This article will provide a step-by-step guide for creating a career change cover letter with helpful tips and examples. We’ll discuss:

  • How to write a stellar cover letter for a career change

  • Examples you can use to format a career change cover letter

  • Additional tips and strategies for describing your career change

How to write a cover letter for a career change

Follow this guide to write a cover letter when changing careers:

1. Create a header

Start your cover letter with a professional header. In your header, include the following information:

  • Your name

  • Your location, including the city and state

  • Your phone number

  • Your email address

  • Optional links to your professional website, portfolio, or LinkedIn profile

Below your header, write the date you’re sending the letter. Then include a greeting addressed to the recipient, such as the department director or hiring manager. In most cases, you can find the person’s name on the company’s website, LinkedIn page, or the job description. If you can’t find their name, use a generic greeting instead, such as “Dear Hiring Manager.”

Career change cover letter header

[Your Name] [City, State] | [Phone number] | [Email address] | [Optional link to portfolio or LinkedIn profile]


Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

2. Introduce yourself

Begin your cover letter with a strong power statement that introduces yourself to the hiring manager. Explain why you’re a good fit for the open position without focusing on your lack of experience. For example, you may mention some transferable skills you can bring to the role or some relevant achievements you’ve had in other positions.

Career change cover letter introduction

Dear [Name of Hiring Manager] or Hiring Manager,

I’m excited to submit my application for the position of [job title] with [company name]. With skills in [transferable skill] and [transferable skill], I’m confident my background will make me a valuable asset to your team.

3. Be enthusiastic

In your letter, show the recruiter that you are eager about the transition. Don’t apologize or demean yourself because you’ve built your qualifications in a different industry. Keep the tone optimistic and achievable. Allow your cover letter to represent the direction you see yourself moving.

4. Emphasize your transferable skills

While you don’t yet have experience in your new career, you most likely have some transferable skills you can use in your next position. Transferable skills are technical abilities and qualities you can carry over from one industry or position to another. Some examples of transferable skills include:

  • Customer service

  • Bookkeeping

  • Software programs

  • Training/Mentoring

  • Research

  • Data analysis

Take another look at the job description and identify some transferable skills you have that align with the position. For example, if you’re transitioning from a labor position to an office job, you might discuss skills you have related to time management and teamwork.

Transferable skills in a career change cover letter

With experience in [previous role or industry], I’ve used my [transferable skill] to achieve [specific outcome or measurable result]. I’m confident the skills I’ve gained throughout my career will allow me to have similar success in this new role.

5. Discuss relevant achievements

Just because you’re transitioning to a new career doesn’t mean your previous accomplishments no longer count for anything. In your cover letter, discuss some achievements you’ve had that are relevant to the new role. If you’re transitioning from a medical assistant to a licensed practical nurse, for example, you may discuss how you successfully learned to use a new electronic health record system to improve patient care.

6. Explain your career change

For the most part, your cover letter should focus on the skills and value you can bring to a new position. However, you can also mention your reasons for pursuing a career change to help a hiring manager understand your motivation. For example, if you’ve had a lifelong interest in art, you may discuss why you’re leaving a finance position to become a graphic designer.

When discussing your reasons for a career change, keep your tone positive. Don’t mention the negative parts of your former role or industry. Instead, focus on the passion and excitement you have for your new career.

7. Mention new skills

If you’ve done some preparation for your career change, make sure to mention it in your cover letter. For example, you may have completed an online course or earned a relevant certification. Highlighting the new skills you’ve gained shows a hiring manager you’ve taken initiative to prepare yourself for a new role. It can also show them you’re serious about making this career change. 

8. Express your gratitude

End the cover letter by expressing your gratitude for the recruiter’s time and consideration. Reiterate your interest in the position and the transferable skills you have for the role. Include a call to action to encourage the hiring manager to follow up with you.

Career change cover letter ending

Thank you for your time and consideration of my application. I believe my [transferable skill] and [transferable skill] make me a strong candidate for the role. I look forward to hearing from you soon to discuss my qualifications in more detail.

Career change cover letter example

Use this example to format your own cover letter for a career change:

Cover letter example

Samantha Thompson Indianapolis, Indiana | 374-294-3749 | [email protected] | samanthathompson.portfolio.com

January 15, 2024

Dear Patrick Hardman,

I’m excited to apply for the corporate trainer position with Lockton Consulting Firm. I have more than 10 years of experience as a human resources manager for a company with 300+ employees. With my knowledge of employee training and exceptional leadership skills, I’m confident I would be a worthy addition to your team.

In my HR role, I’ve led successful training for executives and employees related to teamwork, conflict resolution, and positive workplace culture. My accomplishments include:

  • Developing a five-week workshop series for 10 executives on senior leadership and best management practices

  • Implementing a peer-led mentorship program, resulting in a 50% increase in employee satisfaction scores

  • Updating and modernizing the company’s onboarding materials to reflect an increased awareness of corporate culture

While I’ve immensely enjoyed my time in human resources, I’m looking forward to a new challenge where I can use my training, research, and presentation skills to facilitate positive business outcomes. I’m confident I can leverage my expertise in an instructional role to empower companies to achieve their long-term organizational goals.

I believe my HR background and skills will allow me to make a successful transition into a corporate trainer position. I’m excited about the possibility of pursuing this new career with Lockton Consulting Firm. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration of my application. I look forward to discussing my qualifications further with you.

Sincerely, Samantha Thompson

6 Tips for writing a career change cover letter

Keep these tips in mind as you consider the information you want to add when describing your career change in a cover letter: 

1. Be transparent

Be honest when discussing your career change in a cover letter. There is no shame in changing careers. Explain the relevant qualifications you have and discuss your ability to learn new tasks, concepts, or strategies quickly.

2. Talk about your ‘ah-ha!’ moment

There is a natural curiosity that comes when hearing about someone’s career change. Mostly, people want to know what inspired it. A cover letter is an excellent tool for opening up the conversation. 

Keep in mind that the goal is to highlight your professional skills, so this isn’t the place to tell your life story. But a few insightful sentences can set the scene so the recruiter isn’t left with questions about why, for example, a project manager is applying for a position as a medical scribe.

3. Customize your cover letter

While it’s a good idea to create a cover letter template if you’re applying for multiple jobs, make sure to customize each letter you send. Sending a generic letter can be a red flag to recruiters that you’re not serious about the position. Instead, include specific details about the position or company to show your genuine interest in the role. For example, you might talk about the company’s products or its mission statement.

4. Focus on your skills

Consider a skills-based approach for your career change cover letter. With this format, you market yourself as someone with a toolbox of valuable skills, rather than highlighting the core competencies for a given industry. This can be an effective strategy for showcasing transferable skills.

5. Use bullet points

Recruiters read countless cover letters, and they often skim letters to look for key points. Make it easy for recruiters to review your letter quickly by using bullet points to emphasize your top skills or achievements. This format can be especially helpful for career change cover letters, where it already takes a little more effort to get the recruiter to value your skills as transferable.

6. Ask for feedback

If you can, ask for feedback on your letter from someone who’s already working in the industry you want to break into. They can tell you what skills are most important and what attributes to highlight in your letter. Their feedback can also give you an idea of what a recruiter in the industry might be looking for in applicants.

Making a career change can feel intimidating. Use your cover letter to prove to a prospective employer why they should consider you for a new role. Emphasize your transferable skills, previous achievements, and excitement about the new position, and you’ll be well on your way to having the career you want.

Looking for more ways to write a great career change cover letter? Check out Career.io’s Cover Letter Builder tool, where you can create a custom, tailored letter in just a few clicks!

Key takeaways

  1. A cover letter can be a valuable tool to explain your skills and competencies when changing careers.

  2. In a career change cover letter, focus on your transferable skills and relevant achievements to show employers why you’re a good fit for the new position.

  3. Be honest and enthusiastic when discussing your reasons for changing careers in a cover letter.

  4. Review some example cover letters to determine the best way to make a positive impression when changing careers.

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