How to Create a Great Career Change Cover Letter
Written by Sarah Edwards, Author • Last updated on April 23, 2024

Cover letter for career change

Applying for a new job is both exciting and nerve-racking. However, the entire process can be overwhelming when you’re switching career paths altogether. If you want to navigate this process successfully and land a job in your new field, you'll need a great career change cover letter. With that in mind, here are a few tips for writing a career change cover letter that will get you noticed.

Why you need a great career change cover letter 

Some 29% of people have changed job fields after starting their first job. While this may be your first time changing careers, the hiring team has likely received applications from candidates with diverse professional backgrounds. The key lies in how you relay information about yourself and your professional experiences.

A career change cover letter should contain information about your soft skills, certifications, accolades, and knowledge, positioning you as an asset to the organization.

Remember, hiring managers will know you haven’t worked in the field as soon as they read your resume. Don’t hide the fact that you’re coming from a different field. Instead, lean into this fact and frame it as one of your greatest strengths. 

Use your career change cover letter to explain why you’re switching paths, what you hope to contribute to the organization, and what motivates you. By offering a glimpse into your goals and desires, you can connect with the hiring team and increase your odds of landing an interview.

Expert Tip:

When writing a career change cover letter, focus on your hard and soft skills, experiences, and performance. Employers look for candidates who can add value to their organizations, and showcasing a wide range of talents helps commend you as a great hiring option.

Back to basics

Before we dive into the particulars of writing a career change cover letter, it’s important to recap the basics. Regardless of the job you’re applying for, your cover letter must adhere to standard formatting and style rules.

First of all, keep your cover letter to just one page. Hiring managers don’t have time to read a multi-page dissertation about your life’s work. The information you provide should be concise, focused, and engaging. 

It’s also important to use legible fonts and adequate spacing. If your cover letter is hard to read, most hiring managers probably won’t bother.

Perhaps most importantly, make sure you don’t simply repeat everything on your resume. Your resume and career change cover letter are supposed to be complementary documents, not different versions of one another.

When in doubt, review some cover letters and resume examples to refresh your memory on what belongs in each document. We also recommend checking out a few cover letter templates to maximize your readability and speed up the writing process. 

Writing a career change cover letter can be tricky, so it’s important not to get tripped up by the basics. Follow these standard rules and take advantage of free resources so you can focus on drafting a high-performing letter. 

How to write a cover letter for career change

When writing a career change cover letter, it’s vital that you open with a strong introduction. You’ve only got a page's worth of words to intrigue the hiring manager, explain your decision to change careers, and request an interview. With that in mind, here are three things you need to do.

Introduce yourself and address the elephant in the room

Anytime someone changes careers, hiring personnel want to know why. The more drastic the shift, the more intrigued — and potentially concerned — the hiring team will be. 

Start by briefly mentioning your current role and immediately express your intention to pursue a new career path. This shift in focus is crucial, as it sets the tone for your letter and prepares the reader for your reasons behind the change.

Describe your current position and the skills or experience you’ve gained, focusing on details that support your reason for the change and highlighting skills that are relevant to the new profession. Be honest, but avoid making any negative comments about your current boss or role.

Next, explain what led to your decision. For instance, are you interested in learning new skills, taking on tougher challenges, or beginning a more impactful journey? Outline your “why” and note any personal experiences or realizations that contributed to your decision.

Let’s say you’re interested in moving from an accounting job to a nursing position. You might have made your decision after witnessing the compassionate care a nurse provided one of your loved ones during a recent hospital stay. Relaying personal experiences will help the reader understand your motivations. 

Shine a light on your transferable skills and knowledge

A career change cover letter must effectively communicate that your skills and knowledge are transferable to the new profession. This is where you bridge the gap between your past experiences and your desired role. 

Admittedly, connecting past skills with a new role can be challenging, especially if the careers are drastically different. For instance, if you’re going from a manual labor job (e.g., construction worker) to something like software development, you’ll need to get creative when drawing parallels between the roles.

In most cases, it’s best to focus on soft skills that could apply to any profession. Some important soft skills to underscore include communication, leadership, and emotional intelligence. However, you should also make a point of mentioning any hard skills that relate to the new profession.

If you have any technical or academic qualifications that align with your new career choice, list them. For instance, a background in data analysis can be valuable in a wide range of industries, not just the one you’re leaving. This section is all about playing up what you know and how it can be beneficial in a different context. 

You’ll also want to provide a rundown of your various qualifications and accolades on your resume. Resume templates can be useful for determining what sections and abilities you should call attention to.

Address questions and concerns about your career change 

Hiring managers will understandably have questions (and possibly some concerns) about your career deviation. While you can’t unpack all of them in a cover letter, you can briefly touch on a few.

One of the biggest concerns employers might have is whether you’ll stick around — after all, you’re leaving your current industry.

Assure them that you’re committed to your new career path and that you adapt quickly to new working conditions. There’s no getting around the fact that you’ll encounter a bit of a learning curve, so you should instill confidence that you’ll be able to handle it.

Round out your career change cover letter by framing your eclectic background as a strength, not a weakness. Explain that you can bring a unique perspective and skill set to the organization, which will enable you to contribute to the new role in nontraditional ways.

Emphasize that your different career path sets you apart from other candidates, and reiterate how excited you are about the new journey and the challenges that come with it. 

While reiterating your excitement, explain why you want to work for the company you’re applying to, focusing on things like opportunities for advancement and the quality of the culture the business has created. Don’t bring up pay, even if a higher salary is part of your motivation. That’s an issue you can discuss in the interview room.

"Some 29% of people have changed job fields after starting their first job. While this may be your first time changing careers, the hiring team has likely received applications from candidates with diverse professional backgrounds."

Ready to change careers? Jobseeker can help!

Check out our cover letter examples for career change inspiration and insight into how to approach your next application. You’ll also find numerous resume articles offering more information about how to create an awesome resume to go along with your career change cover letter.

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Sarah Edwards
Sarah Edwards
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A seasoned HR writer with more than a decade of experience, Sarah crafts insightful guides and timely articles that help people grow their skills.

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