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How To Craft a Compelling Career Change Cover Letter

career change cover letter


Reboot Your Career With a Career Change Cover Letter


Switching from one job to another is daunting. Companies won’t make it easy for you. It is even scarier if you’re planning to shift your career in a completely new direction. You’ll have to excel at a whole new set of skills, so get ready to rewire your brain. And while you’re at it, get a DeLorean to ramp up those 100+ years of past work experience you’re missing. 


All jokes aside—you’ll need a killer career change cover letter if you’re looking for a fresh professional start. 


How hard is it to write one? Why should you even bother? Crafting a compelling cover letter is a huge pain. Changing careers requires you to go the extra mile and prove how your skills can still bring value to a company in another industry. Is the system rigged to discourage you from switching careers? Maybe, but don’t focus on that troublesome bit.


Focus instead on how to write a cover letter when changing careers and:


  • Optimize it both for human readers and an applicant tracking system (ATS)
  • Avoid common mistakes that can ruin your prospects of landing an interview 
  • Learn from examples that you can use for reference


You’ll additionally learn how Lensa’s AI-powered app can help you define your career path according to your experience, skills, cultural preferences, and work style!


Discover Why a Cover Letter for a Career Change Can Be a Real Game Changer


Whether you’re writing an entry-level cover letter or looking to return to a familiar profession, this document is important for making a good first impression with a company. Job hopping is not that unusual nowadays—about 25% of job seekers even reported changing industries in 2021 alone. Even so, there’s a chance of being considered a flight risk if it’s apparent that you’re doing it too often. And even if you’re not, some companies may still find you unloyal or disingenuous.


That’s where a persuasive career change cover letter can help. It allows you to:


  • Showcase what transferable skills you can apply in the new position
  • Express your enthusiasm for the role
  • Display your eagerness to contribute to the company
  • Show how your goals align with the company’s vision, mission, and culture
  • Present the fact that you’re coming from a different industry as your strength
  • Focus on your familiarity with the core competencies necessary to perform the job well
  • Highlight what special qualities distinguish you from other applicants


Learn How To Write a Cover Letter for a Career Change


Though it’s not always obligatory nowadays, a cover letter—especially for a career change—provides you with a useful way to kick off your communication with a potential employer. But you can’t arrange its contents however you want. The cover letter needs to have a particular structure. Check out any cover letter template, and you’ll immediately see the document is comprised of several sections. You should carefully outline each part as this will make your cover letter more accessible and easily scannable for key details.


Most job seekers divide this document into the following six parts:

  1. Heading
  2. Greeting
  3. Opening paragraph
  4. Main paragraphs
    • Enthusiasm-focused
    • Skill-focused
  5. Closing
  6. Formal conclusion and signature


Draft Your Career Change Cover Letter Header


The uppermost part of your career change cover letter should include vital contact information, such as:


  • Name and surname
  • Email address
  • Cell phone number
  • Home address (optional)


Also, don’t forget to date your document—you’ll come off as sloppy if you do.


Address Your Career Change Cover Letter Appropriately


After you’ve entered these technical details, you can finally address the company’s hiring manager. There are several ways to do this, and some depend on the company you’re dealing with. For example, organizations with an informal atmosphere—like certain IT companies—might find it OK if you address a recruiter using their first name. Other, more serious ones will consider this disrespectful. That’s why you should have at least a general idea of the company’s culture.


Keep in mind that you shouldn’t assume a recruiter’s marital status. So stay clear of terms such as Mrs. and Miss and use acceptable gender-specific terms like Mr. and Ms. only if you’re sure of their gender. Also, be sure to use a comma after the introductory phrase.


If you’re still unsure of how to address your cover letter, take a look at the table below to see which terms are appropriate:

Appropriate Inappropriate
Dear Mr. [Surname],
Dear Ms. [Surname],
Dear all,Dear Recruiter,
Dear Hiring Manager,
Dear Sir or Madam,
To Whom It May Concern,
Dear Miss/Dear Mrs.,
Hey y’all,
Hey man,
A thousand greetings upon thine agency,
I come, I see, I greet you,


Open With an Impactful Statement


When writing a cover letter for a career change, you should use the first paragraph as an opportunity to grab the recruiter’s attention with something memorable. 

If you possess prior experience in the role you’re applying for, state that right away. Make it abundantly clear that it’s not the first time you’ve heard of the position. This will give you an immediate advantage as recruiters will recognize that you’re not just blindly stumbling from one job to another. But even if you don’t have any previous experience, you can still hook them in with an enthusiastic statement about their business. Mention how you’ve come across their company and what made you interested in their line of work.


Don’t forget to state the exact company name and the title of the role you’re after. Just because this is the intro, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t personalize it. If a recruiter notices too many ambiguous and unspecific terms, they could wrongly assume that you’re mass applying to jobs with a generic cover letter. And that will ruin any chance you might have had of landing an interview.


Show Your Eagerness To Perform Well in a New Role


As soon as you begin the main paragraph, you should use every tool at your disposal to make your career change cover letter stand out. For example, you could mention your education, especially if it’s closely related to the role the company’s offering. State what you’ve accomplished during your time in college and whether you’ve engaged in any relevant part-time work. All this will present you as a responsible and dependable future employee.


You should also address the gorilla in the room—that is, the fact that you’re switching careers. But do so lightly and don’t focus on any negatives that might have been involved in your choice to transition to another workplace. Don’t say that:


  • You’ve been fired
  • Your boss was a bad apple
  • The job had “run its course”


Instead, focus on the positives by displaying your determination to excel in this new role. Convince the recruiter that your eagerness to learn and ability to adapt make you the perfect candidate. Engage them further by mentioning how well the company’s values, vision, and mission align with your own. In essence, persuade the recruiter that your career change can actually benefit the company. Don’t make the cover letter for a career change seem like a desperate cry for an organization to take you in.


Highlight Your Transferable Skills


You should state what skills and qualifications make you a suitable candidate from the get-go. If you have an ability that could potentially distinguish you from the crowd, capitalize on that. But be sure that all the competencies you list are pertinent to the job. Don’t include hard skills that aren’t relevant—no matter how important they may have been in your previous role. If you have no prior experience, you can always list out your soft skills that are transferable to this role. For example, you can include:


  • Organizational skills
  • Time-management skills
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Leadership abilities 
  • Attention to detail


While they usually don’t make as much of an impact as hard skills, recruiters will still notice them. That’s why you should strive to elaborate on what you mean by “organizational skills,” for example. Even if they aren’t related to the role, briefly describe how you’ve put those skills to use. Provide examples—this will make your career change cover letter more genuine and convincing.


Summarize Your Main Selling Points


When you reach the closing paragraph of your career change cover letter, make sure to end it on as strong a note as you started it. Include a brief summary of everything you’ve stated so far, including:


  • What got you interested in the role
  • How you can help the company accomplish their mission
  • Why you would be a great asset to their team


You should also add a poignant call to action, letting the hiring manager know that you would be delighted at any prospect of future cooperation. After that, conclude the cover letter by thanking them for their time, patience, and consideration.


Conclude Formally and Sign Off the Right Way


The same as in the heading, you have to take a formal and professional tone in the conclusion too. The following table shows you which conventional phrases are acceptable and which aren’t:


Acceptable Unacceptable
Kind regards,
Best regards,
With best regards,
Most sincerely,
See you,
Yours truly,
Been nice writing to ya,
Take care, friend,


It also won’t hurt to restate your contact details beneath the signature. But once you have done that and chosen a farewell phrase, all that’s left is to sign off.


Avoid These Mistakes When Writing a Cover Letter for a Career Change


Before you press Send, you should reread your career change cover letter thoroughly to make sure that you’ve got everything right. There are several common mistakes job seekers tend to make—carefully going over your document top-to-bottom is necessary to ensure that you’ve:


  • Entered the correct date of sending
  • Used proper spelling and grammar
  • Tailored the cover letter to the role the company is hiring for
  • Explained your choice to change careers in a befitting manner


Remember—no matter the reason you left a previous company, never bad-mouth a past employer. It’s bad form, and recruiters aren’t too keen on hiring people who go on endless tirades about how awful their bosses are. You should be honest, but remember that you don’t have to make any particular excuse for your career swap. The main takeaway is that you should focus more on the company you’re communicating with and far less on the one you’re leaving (or have already left). Concentrate on the hiring company’s needs and how you can meet them—not the other way around.


Stylize Your Career Change Cover Letter to Perfection


You now know how to structure your career change cover letter, but that’s not all there is to it—you also have to take the format of your document into consideration. That’s because most recruiters only skim the letter for important bits, and if that information isn’t apparent at first glance, they won’t bother giving it a second look.


You have to make your cover letter accessible and easily scannable by:


  • Keeping your document relatively short (one page is preferable)
  • Bolding crucial elements
  • Splitting the letter into separate paragraphs
  • Using bullets to list out your abilities and qualifications
  • Sticking to an easy-to-read font type
  • Avoiding diagrams, pie charts, and graphs


This will help you get noticed by a human recruiter, but you also have to watch out for ATS bots. To get past them, make sure to use keywords mentioned in the job ad. Even if you don’t possess a particular skill, mention that you’re eager to acquire it. This way, you can still use the keyword and increase your cover letter’s visibility.


Check Out Our Career Change Cover Letter Examples


To help you get an idea of what your career change cover letter should look like, Lensa provides you with two short career change cover letter examples.


Here’s a Cover Letter for a Career Change to Teaching English


John Johnson


[email protected]

March 7, 2022


Dear Ms. [Last Name],


I am writing you this letter to express my sincerest interest in joining [School Name] in the capacity of an English language teacher. 


Though I had been previously engaged in other pursuits, such as content writing, I believe that my MA degree in English Language and Literature qualifies me to perform well in the role for which you are hiring. Below are some of the skills I have acquired in the course of my career:


  • [Skill 1]—[explanation]
  • [Skill 2]—[explanation]
  • [Skill 3]—[explanation]
  • [Skill 4]—[explanation]
  • [Skill 5]—[explanation]


In addition to my academic degree, I possess outstanding interpersonal and communication skills, as well as the drive to meet your organization’s long-term goals. Therefore, I am confident that I will be able to perform admirably in this role.


Thank you in advance for taking the time to review my application, and I look forward to any prospect of potential cooperation in the future.


With best regards,

John Johnson


Take a Look at a Sample of a Cover Letter for Returning to a Previous Career


James Jamison


[email protected]

March 7, 2022


Dear Sir or Madam,


I am writing you this letter with the aim of joining your company as a [Role Title]. Despite my recent employment, I am well-versed in [Field], as I have spent upwards of 3 years performing [Duty 1] and [Duty 2] in [Company Name].


I have spent considerable time honing [Skill 1] and [Skill 2], as well as staying updated on the latest practices in [Field]. Due to this, I believe I am sufficiently equipped to rejoin the workforce in the capacity of [Role Title]. In addition, I am proficient in:


  • [Technical Skill 1]
  • [Technical Skill 2]
  • [Technical Skill 3]


Thank you for your time and consideration. Should you find my resume appealing and convincing, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at your earliest convenience. I look forward to hearing from you.


Kind regards,

James Jamison


Finding a Suitable Job Is Hard—Lensa Can Make It Easier!


Finding a job in today’s hiring market is equally difficult, whether you’re planning to switch careers or advance in your current profession. Though the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics assures us that the unemployment rate has dropped, the sad fact is that an average job seeker remains unemployed for at least 29 weeks before they score a job, and merely 2% of candidates who apply for a job manage to land an interview. 


In such discouraging circumstances, what can you do to increase your odds of getting hired? You can sign up for Lensa. Lensa’s AI can help you set your career on the right track and find your dream job. How? By taking into consideration not only your location and preferred salary but also your cultural background, work ethics, education, and personality!


When you sign up for Lensa, you will instantly get access to:


  1. Thousands of job ads gathered from all hiring websites in a single place
  2. The Workstyle Game, which can help you discover a little bit about your professional strengths and weaknesses
  3. Job recommendations tailored to your professional and personal needs
  4. SMS and email notifications about suitable job vacancies


How To Sign Up for Lensa


Signing up for Lensa is an easy matter. All you have to do is:


  1. Visit Lensa
  2. State the desired job title along with your location
  3. Enter your email address
  4. Press Submit


Once you have registered, you can start your job hunt, or you can play the Workstyle Game beforehand.


To get the most out of Lensa, you can also:


  1. Add your preferred salary
  2. Enter your level of education
  3. Include your cell phone number


When you finalize your account, you will start receiving job recommendations based on your education, salary range, cultural fit, and other preferences!


Featured image source: snowing

Team Lensa
Team Lensa
Team Lensa is a group of HR specialists, career counselors, and tech enthusiasts dedicated to helping job seekers navigate the employment landscape through actionable tips and insights.

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