How to Discuss a Career Change in Your Cover Letter

These days, it's common for workers to switch from one career to another at any given point in life. And while a career change might represent an exciting new opportunity for you to pursue your passion, landing a job in a completely different field is often easier said than done. In fact, if you want to increase your chances of getting hired when career hopping, you'll need to craft a compelling cover letter that convinces prospective employers to give you a chance. Here's how to pull it off.

1. Acknowledge the switch

When you're moving from one industry to another, the last thing you want to do in your cover letter is gloss over that jump and pretend that it's a natural progression from your last or current job to the one you're applying for. The person reading that cover letter is apt to notice that you don't have the experience many of the other candidates who apply are bound to have, so start by acknowledging the elephant in the room and frame the rest of your letter around that point.

2. Explain why you're making a major change

It's easy to see why you might go from a junior accountant to a finance manager. But if you're going from junior accountant to graphic designer, not so much. Therefore, you'll need to delve into the nitty gritty of why you're making that switch.

Is it because you want to do something creative? Something more collaborative? Review your reasoning for wanting a change and why you've specifically chosen the new field (and job) you're applying for. This will give the person reading your cover letter some insight into your thought process.

3. Play up your translatable strengths

When you're moving from one career to a completely different one, it's natural to lack some of the key skills needed to land a new role. But rather than harp on what you don't know, talk about what you do know. Play up the strengths and skills you possess that make you a solid employee in your current field and a viable candidate in your new one.

Using the aforementioned example, if you're an accountant looking to move over to graphic design, you might talk about your strong attention to detail -- something that's crucial to your new role, as well. You might also highlight your established project management skills, which might very well come into play in your new role. The more qualified you make yourself appear for the job, the greater your chances of at least getting an interview.

4. Affirm your passion

Maybe you're not the most qualified candidate out there for the position you're applying for, what with your limited to zero experience in that field. But if you can show how passionate you are about the job, that just might be enough to get your foot in the door for a live meeting during which you seal the deal. So when you write that cover letter, be sure to explain why you've chosen the company and role in question and what specific things excite you about it. The more enthusiasm you're able to convey, the more likely a prospective employer may be willing to take a chance on you.

A strong cover letter can speak to employers in a way a standard resume can't. If you're looking to switch careers, use that cover letter to your advantage and make sure it builds a solid case for choosing you over somebody else. With any luck, you'll soon embark on an exciting new path that's fulfilling and rewarding.

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