If you’re considering a career change, writing an attention-grabbing cover letter can catch the recruiter or hiring manager’s eye. Find out how to write a compelling cover letter that includes your transferable skills! And use our cover letter template to easily write your stand-out cover letter!
If creating a cover letter as a career changer creates that fluffy feeling in the pit of your stomach, you're normal! After all, you have roughly three paragraphs to introduce yourself as a great candidate for an open position. How can you explain who you are and why you're the right candidate in such a short letter?
But don't worry; creating a cover letter that lets your personality and qualifications come through is possible. And we're here to help!
In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about creating a career transition cover letter —from what to include to how to format correctly.
We'll also give you tips to make your career change cover letter stand out from the crowd. So get started changing careers today and hit the ground running with our ultimate guide!
Why Write a Cover Letter?
If you're considering sending a professional resume to a potential employer without a convincing cover letter, just don't.
A strong career change cover letter can mean the difference between a future employer looking at your resume or dismissing it!
While recruiter's opinions vary about these introductory letters, some saying "they will go the extra mile to read them" and others saying they "flat out hate them," NOT penning one is unprofessional and can leave the wrong impression. (1)
The only time it's okay to leave off a cover letter is if you're submitting a resume through a service that does not permit a cover letter. Applying through an online search service can mean you don't need one, but usually there is a way to send an email cover letter!
Even though some individuals don't read introductory letters, imagine if a recruiter or employer looks for a cover letter and you didn't write one-- GASP!
One recruiter states that "candidates who take time to do a quality cover letter laying out why they are interested and why they are a fit, usually perform better in an interview because they had already spent time thinking about the fit." (2)
Thinking through and creating your career change cover letter prepares you to explain why you're the individual the employer needs onboard.
This is your chance to show off your personality, which can give you a leg up on the competition. It also helps prepare you for the interview and demonstrates why hiring you would be smart.
Take advantage of this opportunity to show your strengths to your future boss!
Before Creating a Career Change Cover Letter
Before you write a career change cover letter, find out more about the business and the position you want. Your preparation now will reap significant dividends when you write your cover letter, have phone conversations, or face interviews!
Since you're likely not an entry-level candidate, your career change cover letter can help set you apart from other applicants who don't know how to plan for success!
Tip: Knowing you're a good fit for the company comes from the research you do before you start writing!
You Want Me to Do What?
Most job descriptions give you the recipe for cover letter success. They tell you what you will be doing if you work there!
A good example of a job description below shows you how long these ads can be. The ideas you need to write your career change cover letter are right in the job ad!
Especially for higher-level positions, a business will generally take the time to list precise details about the job seekers they will consider hiring.
Look for "particulars that can inform your resume and cover letter, and eventually make you shine in an interview. Focus on items that are relevant to you, your skills, and the position to which you're applying."(1)
Reading through the requirements for the position and jotting down notes about your related past experiences can help you prepare before creating your career change cover letter.
You'll want to tie in your most related past achievements and previous experience with the job's industry specific requirements.
Read the Business Website
Next, go to the company's website. Read their "About" page first and study some key players there. Then head to their other pages and see what informational nuggets you may glean!
Check Out Social Media
Social posts can help you stay on top of the company's imprint in the community and see how their charitable contributions play out in the public eye. You may also clearly see business values and culture.
Also, check out their LinkedIn profile. See if you have any connections with their employees. If you do, contact them and discuss the business and your interest in the openings there. (3)
See what comes up when you type in the name of the business. Read through the interesting pages and see where your curiosity takes you.
Ask Yourself Questions
While reading, ask yourself these questions:
What makes this business stand out from its competitors? Why does this information stand out to me?
Does this business have unique challenges and meaningful work available? Is that part of what I need in a new career?
Does this new company have a culture aligned with my values? How does it connect to my vision for my own future?
Who are some key players I may work with if the company chooses to hire me? (If there's no way to know, read through some LinkedIn profiles associated with the company and get an idea of the people who work there.)
Do the people working at the company seem to feel good about the company's culture? If more than half seem like they are looking elsewhere for employment, do I want to look elsewhere also? Consider reviews and employee statements on Glassdoor or similar sites. For example, a recent review of a business on Glassdoor reads, "[Business name] has an overall rating of 3.6 out of 5, based on over 3,604 reviews left anonymously by employees. 68% of employees would recommend working at [business name]." (5)
What types of charities or organizations does the business care about? Does it look like they would expect me to volunteer? Am I happy about that possibility?
Does the business show a definite political alignment? Can I work with their views when they affect company policies?
What challenges do I see the company struggling with? Do I have ideas about how I could help the business in those areas? Can I include ideas in a cover letter or interview?
Are most of their employees a different age or experience level than I am? Can my unique experience or lack of experience give a helpful new perspective?
Research each company you apply to and prepare to engage with recruiters and hiring managers fully!
Next, let's look at what your experience brings to the table when creating your resume and career change cover letter.
Career Changers and Transferable Skills
As a career changer, you likely have a skill set that can help you move smoothly in a new direction.
Since you're changing careers, not starting out fresh-faced, you will already possess many abilities that employers look for!
For example, if you're transitioning from marketing into a writing position, you might highlight your transferable skills, those abilities you already possess that can roll into a new position. In marketing, you likely did copywriting. Highlight how the writing process helped you see your passion for writing.
If you need more clarification about the talents you already possess, consider doing a skills assessment to identify your strengths. Or dig out past performance reviews for ideas!
Whether you realize it or not, you have developed transferable skills at previous jobs that can help you transition into a new role.
Let's look at how previous experiences have prepared you to be the ideal candidate for many positions!
If you're moving into a similar role, your transferable skills may include "hard skills," those job-specific tasks you've developed, such as software engineering, graphic design, computer programs, customer service skills, and researching.
However, don't underestimate your transferable "soft skills" – your natural and developed strengths. Employers are looking for those who have developed their whole person, not just industry or career path knowledge.
Be sure to consider your other strengths, such as:
Developing Yourself for a Career Change
If you're not sure whether you possess an array of "entire package" qualities, consider building them with online courses from Unmudl, such as:
Knowing your hard and soft transferable skills can help you naturally incorporate them into your prose when resume writing as well as when you write a cover letter.
What Does a Good Cover Letter Look Like Design-Wise?
Regarding cover letter format, there are a few key things to keep in mind.
First, keep it to one page in length. Check out these excellent cover letter examples from the professional cover letter templates in Canva for ideas!
Depending on the industry you're applying in, your cover letter's style will vary. Consider the industry when looking at potential designs, fonts, and formats for your cover letter and resume.
For example, if you're applying for a position as a graphic designer, you can show off your on-trend design style! Applying for a position as an attorney, not so much.
Check out this stylistically forward-thinking resume for an idea.
Also, this may go without saying, but your cover letter and resume should have the same general style and formatting.
You wouldn't want to create a cover letter written in sans serif open fonts with a dramatic image and "look at me" colors, but submit a resume with a classic serif font and traditional typesetting.
Finally, make sure to proofread your cover letter thoroughly before hitting send. Nothing says you care less than sloppy grammar, incorrect punctuation, and misspelled words!
Next, let’s see how to create a cover letter that will stand out!
Career Change Cover Letter: Stand Out to a Hiring Manager
Now that you know what to include in a career change cover letter, let's discuss how to make sure yours stands out from the crowd!
But what about how you feel about your career change? Is it okay to come across as excited in a cover letter?
The answer is "Absoutely!" A compelling cover letter will convey enthusiasm and highlight your related professional experience palpably!
Don't be afraid to let your excitement come through if you think this is the perfect job for you! Let your true passion come through! A hiring manager wants to know the positive impact you can make if hired!
You can start with a hook such as, "I was excited to see your job posting for a ___________." or "I have always been passionate about ____________, so I was thrilled when I saw your job opening for a ______________."
Later on, you can make another enthusiastic statement such as, “Realizing how much I enjoyed _____________ as a ____________, brought me to the decision to become a ____________.”
Strong Verbs Show Relevant Experience
One way to show how qualified you are is by using strong action verbs to describe your abilities and experience. Some examples of action verbs include:
Prove You've Got the Goods
Another way to make your cover letter stand out is by using specific and concrete examples. For instance, if you claim leadership experience, bring out the past position where you successfully led a team.
Focus on demonstrating qualities with specific examples of a relevant accomplishment.
For example, let's say you're leaving an old position as a customer service representative and applying to a medical technician position at a hospital.
If you don’t mention your recent relevant training in your career change cover letter, a hiring manager may skip your resume entirely! Your cover letter highlights your newly learned abilities!
Not Sure What Your Abilities Include?
If you're struggling to communicate your skills and experience, try an online course to understand more about who you are and what your unique skills encompass.
Learn more about your own unique communication styles and how to work effectively as part of a team with theDISC Communication ToolKit course from Unmudl.
Don't Sound Like a Cliche
Try to avoid using any sort of cliche or platitude in your cover letter. Statements like "I'm a people person" or "I have a great work ethic" are so overused that they carry little weight.
By following these tips, you can be sure that your cover letter will make a great first impression and help you land the position of your dreams!
Do I Need to Repeat Myself?
And lastly, don't use the same cover letter for all of your applications! However, you can use the same format. After creating your first cover letter, use it as a template for future cover letters.
When you apply for a new job title, go back and edit your template precisely for that position.
Cover Letters for a Specific Job
Obviously, different jobs need different abilities and experiences.
A sales position may need you to possess strong social abilities, but a technical writing position may not. Instead, a technical writer may need specific knowledge in the field they will write about, such as law or medicine.
Put On Your Thinking Cap ;)
So, if you're a hairstyler wanting a marketing position, do some creative thinking about your abilities. For example, in your last job as a hairdresser, you may have developed:
Social abilities: Helping clients feel at ease
Empathy: Listening and replying with empathy
Organizational: Set up and managed your own payment system
Marketing: Analyzing and working within market trends to draw in potential clients.
Customer retention: Keeping your clients interested in returning
Time management: Managing your daily work while remaining on time and ready for next tasks.
Consider Additional Training
As a career changer, consider taking an online course or getting a certification in your new professional field. Using a new training when changing careers shows your interest and new abilities to potential employers.
If you're a hairdresser going into marketing, consider these courses to get relevant for a career change to marketing quickly!
If you're changing careers from marketing to website design, you'll want to consider a BootCamp such asDeep Dive UX/UI Design.
No matter your career change, Unmudl has courses designed to help you make the transition.
The perfect candidate is the person the hiring manager believes can fill the needed role. So, you'll need to sell your relevant skills and experience. This is not a time to shy away from showing off your skill set!
So go ahead and assert your belief in yourself to handle the job more than competently!
Show Me the Money!
Your cover letter must closely correlate with the ad requirements to convince employers you've got what it takes to fill the role.
The job application process is about conveying to an employer or recruiter that you are the person they've been waiting for!
Include Your Experience: Real-Life Example
So let's say you apply for a tech position that describes the role of the potential employee with this wording:
"Work as part of a project team and interact with the business, architects, product owners, and other developers on the team to define the ideal architectural approach."
So when you apply, you'll want to mention your experience working in a team environment and consulting with others to define your architectural approach.
However, as you look at the job ad again, you see that the job position also includes these skills:
Performing in a mentor role on an Agile, self-managed, self-organized, diverse team
Giving technical direction to less experienced team members
So if you worked before in a role mentoring others in a technical software environment, you've successfully handled these listed duties before also. Ensure that potential employers see your mentoring experience on your resume by highlighting it in your cover letter!
Your cover letter is the place to bring out the most crucial parts of your resume that you don't want someone to miss!
Cover Letter Template
A cover letter should be around three paragraphs long and include specific examples of your natural abilities, learned abilities, training, and any experience that makes you qualified for the position.
Let's look at this sample cover letter from Canva to get started.
Use the cover letter template below to start writing your own cover letter. Just copy and paste to use!
[Your professional title]
[Your Professional Email address: Don't use email@example.com unless you're applying for a pet store position!]
[Your Telephone number and Address (or only the city and state)]
[Professional headshot (not necessary)]
[Your personal website address (if you have one) and or social media handle for LinkedIn or Twitter. Use other profession-specific handles if needed. For example, if you're applying for a video production editor position, you might share your Vimeo site also.]
[Hiring Manager’s Name (or your Recruiter’s Name)]
[Hiring Manager’s or Recruiter’s Title]
[Company or Organization Name]
[Dear Mr./Ms. [Hiring Manager’s/Recruiter’s Last Name],
[4-6 sentences: Use the first paragraph to catch the reader's attention! Don't be afraid to get a bit creative here. Include the title of the position you want and a bit about how you heard about the job and why you want to work there. Show your industry/company knowledge. Mention if you know someone in common with the recruiter or hiring manager or highlight a skill listed on your resume.]
[4-6 sentences: Time to market your skills and experience! Explain why you're the perfect candidate for the job description. Be sure to "mention both you and the employer. A paragraph full of “I’s” is a one-sided relationship." (6)
List your relevant skills for the open position and explain why you would be a good fit, or tell a unique story that highlights a relevant ability.
You can also "use several shorter paragraphs or a bulleted list of your qualifications rather than one large block of text. This will make it easy for the reader to quickly scan and absorb this important information."(4)
• List a transferable hard skill and prove you have it.
• Lay out a specific goal you met in your previous employment experience.
• Tell how you made a difference for your past company.
• List a few other abilities crucial to this position.]
[4-6 sentences: In the third paragraph, make a final statement combining a bird's eye view about how your skills and experience naturally prepare you to take on [job title] State anything you haven't mentioned that shows you’re a better choice than other applicants.
Write your last sentence or so about what you see as next steps for your interaction with the recruiter, such as "I'll get in touch with you next week to further discuss your needs and my qualifications to meet them."]
[Best regards/Thank you/ Sincerely,]
[Your Typed Full Name]
Cover Letter Tips & Tricks
If you add more detail than will fit into three paragraphs, consider some of these ideas:
Use bullet points to bring out your best accomplishments.
Include only your accomplishments that most relate to the specific position.
Consider your key points and cut fluff that acts as filler. When in doubt, shorter is better. Edit your cover letter down to the essentials. Make sure every sentence serves a purpose.
Remember to summarize briefly. Take out sentences that fully elaborate on what you've written. Elaborate later when you get the interview!
Use a free editor program like Grammarly to help you use concise language.
Use active verbs. For example, "I was responsible for leading a team of five people" can be shortened to "I led a team of five people." This small change cuts out seven words without losing any meaning.
Cut unnecessary articles (a, an, the) and prepositions (in, on, at). While these words are essential in other forms of writing, they tend to take up space in cover letters.
Try reading it out loud if you're struggling to edit your cover letter down to a manageable length. Reading aloud will help you spot any areas that sound repetitive or unnecessary.
If you need four paragraphs to cover all your bases, that's fine too. However, try to avoid going over four paragraphs unless they are short. Cover letters that are too long tend to lose readers' attention.
The cover letter is a brief overview of your most relevant experiences and abilities —you don't want to bore the reader with excessive detail. If you find yourself getting close to five paragraphs or starting to repeat yourself, it's probably time to edit.
Once you've edited your cover letter down to the essentials, read through it again to ensure it flows well and is engaging! Imagine being the hiring manager. What would impress you about a potential employee?
Let Us Help You Make a Career Transition
At Unmudl, our network of learners, educators, and employers come together for a Skills to Jobs™ experience!
If you’re starting a career change journey, we have the support and training that can set your cover letter and resume above the competition!
Get support and discover new opportunities with our online resources.
Our blog is packed with insights on career change, community college, and more!
Find us online on LinkedIn and Facebook to get the latest information about our programs, community colleges, and employment opportunities.
Online courses help you work towards Associate Degrees or Professional Licenses.