How to Write a Career Change Cover Letter
At some stage in your career, you may find yourself applying for job vacancies that are in a different industry to the roles you have worked in previously.
A career change cover letter will help to explain to the recruiter that, although you don’t have much (or any) experience, you have the necessary transferable knowledge and skills to succeed in the advertised job role.
In this guide, you'll find tips and advice on what to include in your career change cover letter.
We have also provided a sample career change cover letter which can be used as a template when writing your letter.
How to Write Your Career Change Cover Letter
Before you begin writing your letter, check the job vacancy advert to find out the name of the recruiting manager or contact person for the vacancy. This is the person you will need to address your letter to.
If you are writing a speculative cover letter, it is best to send a hard-copy application to the recruiter. A paper letter is far less likely to be missed than an email arriving into a busy inbox.
Otherwise, when responding to a job advert, you may be asked to send your application by email.
If you are unsure who to send your application to, it's best to contact the recruiter by telephone to ask for the necessary details.
Spend some time reading through your current CV, including your qualifications and career history. Write a list of the knowledge, skills and experience that can be identified by reading your CV.
Try to focus only on the information in front of you – if it’s not obvious from the CV, don’t add it to your list.
Next, compare your list with the job description, person specification and role profile for the position you are applying for. This will help you to identify any skills gaps which have not been covered within your CV – these are the areas you'll need to focus on when drafting your career change cover letter.
Before writing your letter, make some brief notes on how the skills that you have gained during past experiences – both inside and outside of work – could help to demonstrate your suitability for the job role.
Don’t forget, you will be sending your career change cover letter with a copy of your CV, so there is no need to duplicate information from your resume. Instead, use your cover letter to tell the recruiter information that they wouldn’t be able to find out just by reading your CV.
The first line of your cover letter should simply confirm the purpose of your letter. For example:
“I would like to apply for the position of [Job Title]. Please find enclosed a copy of my CV.”
You could also consider including where you saw the vacancy advertised or who recommended the company to you.
Use the next paragraph to explain why the recruiter should hire you. This section should be concise – aim for a brief overview to explain why you are the right candidate for the job.
Before you start, think about the skills and qualities you already have that will help your application to stand out from others, and those that closely match the requirements of the job.
The main purpose of your career change cover letter is to justify and explain your reasons for applying for a job role that is outside of your current area of work.
In this paragraph, you will need to outline:
The reason(s) you have chosen to look for job roles outside of the industry you are currently working in;
Why you think this job role is the perfect opportunity for you.
This is your chance to tell the recruiting manager exactly why you want to work in their industry. Use this paragraph to talk about what interests and excites you about the job role and industry as a whole.
Use the next paragraph of your letter to give more detail on the transferable skills you could bring to the company. Think about the skills you have gained during your career to date, then consider how these would assist you in the new job role.
For example, if you currently work in sales but would like to apply for retail management vacancies, the following skills would be transferable between the two job roles:
- Provision of high-quality customer service
- Ability to work under pressure
- Track record of consistently achieving sales targets
- Adaptability and resilience
- Team leadership and management skills
When writing about your transferable skills, make sure that you include examples of how you have used these in the past.
Close the letter politely – thank the recruiter for their time and include a polite yet assertive call to action, for example:
“Thank you for taking the time to consider my application. I look forward to further discussing what I could offer to your business in due course.”
If you know the name of the person you are writing to, use 'Yours sincerely' to sign off. Otherwise, use 'Yours faithfully'.
Focus on transferable skills (and remember to give examples). This is the key to a strong career change cover letter. Telling the recruiter about a specific skill you have gained within your current job role will not be useful to them if it is not a skill that can be transferred to the prospective job role.
To ensure you are focusing on the most relevant transferable skills, make sure that you carefully read through the job description for the job role you are applying for. It is not enough to simply list your transferable skills – you will need to provide relevant examples to help the recruiter understand why you would be a great recruit for their company.
Blow your own trumpet. Use your CV and cover letter to showcase your talents. Evaluate your career history to date and decide what you would consider to be your biggest achievements to date. Add a brief summary of these to your cover letter and explain how this experience would enable you to perform well in the job role you are applying for.
Show you are interested. Carry out some background research and use your cover letter to tell the recruiter exactly why you want to work for their company. Find out about the company culture, competitors and customers, and use your cover letter to explain how you would contribute to the organisation’s strategy.
You may find it beneficial to request an informal visit to the company. This will allow you to show your interest and help you decide whether this is the right career move for you, before submitting your application.
Free Career Change Cover Letter Sample
Miss Jane Smith
10 The Street
Mr John Taylor
Dear Mr Taylor
I would like to express my interest in applying for the position of Healthcare Assistant for Healthcare HQ. Please find enclosed my CV.
I have more than twenty years’ experience of working within customer service roles, during which time I have worked with the public on a daily basis. I have shown my commitment and dedication to the retail industry by working my way up through the ranks from Checkout Assistant to Checkout Manager.
I am currently responsible for the management of 30 staff members, including rota planning, absence management and addressing performance issues. I am also a key holder with responsibility for opening and closing the store.
Since childhood, I have always been interested in pursuing a career in healthcare. Following the recent hospitalisation of a close family member, I have experienced the outstanding care offered by your team. Having had the opportunity to observe this first-hand, I would like to apply for this role so that I can make a positive contribution to the service your company delivers to clients.
As a retail worker, helping others is at the core of my job role. I have studied for several customer care qualifications; this has developed my ability to communicate effectively in a wide range of scenarios, from addressing difficult situations to resolving complex customer queries and complaints.
While I do not have direct experience of providing healthcare in a work environment, I have worked as a volunteer for the Samaritans. I believe this demonstrates my ability to empathise and communicate with people from a variety of backgrounds. I have also raised a family, provided personal care to elderly relatives and trained as a first-aider in my current place of work.
If successful in my application, I will contribute to the provision of high-quality care to your patients. I understand the importance of dignity, compassion and hygiene practices, and would be willing to complete the necessary training to improve my knowledge in these areas.
I can offer proven team-working and leadership qualities and the ability to engage with and motivate others, demonstrated through my role as Checkout Manager.
Thank you very much for taking the time to consider my application. I look forward to discussing what I can offer your company in due course.
Changing your career path can be exciting, but it’s not always easy. In this scenario, your CV alone is unlikely to make you the most attractive candidate to recruiting managers, no matter how well it is written.
Recruiters are often very busy, so if they glance at your qualifications and employment history to see that you are currently working in a completely different field, your CV is likely to be quickly added to the ‘not shortlisted’ pile. To avoid this scenario, send a career change cover letter with your CV.
Remember, just because another applicant has ten years’ experience in the job role, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will be the best candidate. Recruiters are looking for candidates with the skills required to perform well within the job role.
Use your career change cover letter to tell the recruiter about the knowledge, skills and experience you have, and how these could be transferred to the job role you are applying for.