How to Create Your Cover Letter When Switching Careers

Posted by

You have recently made the decision to exit one career and enter a new one, which can be both exciting and a little bit scary. But while the choice to make the career switch was probably a grueling one, the prospect of explaining your lack of job experience to potential employers is probably downright terrifying.

Though you may be concerned about drawing attention to this missing portion of your career history, don’t spend too much time dwelling on it. The truth is, if you really desire to move into your new career, you can do it. You just have to believe in yourself and present this belief in your cover letters. Let’s look at how you can do it …

Be Honest about Why You’re Changing Careers

When you begin explaining why you’re switching careers in your cover letter, it is best to be as honest as possible. You can do this by remembering that at some point you sat alone and contemplated your reasons for making this major life decision. So take this time to revisit those reasons. Are you switching because you weren’t fulfilled in your previous career? Or do you believe that you’ve always had talent in this field and now you want to pursue it?

Whatever your reasons may be, express them well. Doing so may help prospective employers better relate to your new-found passion. Even more, it may inspire them to take a chance with you, even if you have less experience in this specific career than other candidates.

Discuss Your Relevant Experience

As mentioned previously, you may not have an extensive background in the career you are pursuing, but that’s okay. If you have relevant professional experience, you can simply dig that up to show the prospective employer your ability to perform.

For instance, you may have years of experience working as a PR manager. However, you would like to become a marketing manager because you’re interested in branding products, participating in trade shows, and getting the company name out to the public. As a PR manager, you may have experience talking to the media on behalf of your company, and developing strategies to help create the proper public image. So you can note these and other relevant PR experiences in your cover letter to show that your understanding of the company’s public image and products can easily be applied to a marketing career.

Do You Believe in Yourself?

You should question how much you believe in yourself before writing your cover letter. Why? Because you are making a major change in your life that requires courage, and could possibly face a little rejection. If you hold fear in your heart, it can easily translate on paper. So before you write your cover letter, it is a good idea to develop and nurture your belief in your capabilities. This can boost your confidence and possibly help the potential employer take a greater interest in you.

Switching careers can definitely be an intimidating prospect to consider. But if you have confidence in your abilities, the skills to back it up, and a great cover letter to boot, you will be well on your way to successfully entering an exciting new career in the field you absolutely love.


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Thanks for all of the comments.It looks like everyone is still struggling with how to create a cover letter when switching careers. I think the most important thing is to tell a story. What is the story of your career? Why are you making a change? Your cover letter should clearly explain who you are and why this particular hiring manager should take a chance on you. If you can't come up with a good reason, then how can you expect them to connect the dots? Especially since they aren't nearly as invested in your career as you are. The author of this post suggests that in the first paragraph, you explain why you're changing careers. Why now? What are you hoping to accomplish?Then, the next paragraph should discuss your relevant experience. What skills do you have that would be valuable? Do you have the qualifications they're looking for?When you don't have experience in the specific field, your cover letter will help you get your foot in the door.
  • CHI VU
    CHI VU
    It was a good article. Because I came from Vietnam six months ago, I would like to have such an example to apply to my situation.I have 21 years experiences in medical lab. I would like to have a job that is suitable for me.
  • Lisa Perry
    Lisa Perry
    I would also like to see an example. I recently graduated from school, have 20+ years of work experience, all with public, not offices. I cannot even get an interview. Example. please...
  • Janis Senungetuk
    Janis Senungetuk
    My change in career is not a complete switch, but enough of one that my previous work/experience history isn't enough. In going from 30+ years as a fine arts/photography professional to a social media/web design specialist I'm finding it difficult to get my foot in the door. I'd like to see a sample cover letter that would apply to my situation.
  • Valerie A.
    Valerie A.
    Please give an example of the various cover letters
  • Karen S.
    Karen S.
    I think you have described what I have done in my cover letter almost to a tee!
  • Norma Melo
    Norma Melo
  • Elizabeth S.
    Elizabeth S.
    I am in the same situation as Susan C.  I am desperately seeking a career change to something I have no experience in and unfortunately I feel I am being passed over.  I am confident that I can accomplish any task I take on and this confidence comes across in my interview.  I know that once I get an interview, I will get the job.  How do I overcome the obvious to get the interview?
  • Dennis C.
    Dennis C.
    This is a very good article.  I would like to see an example of a cover letter such as one described in the article.
  • Billie Jo Kilgore
    Billie Jo Kilgore
    I too would like to see an example of such a cover letter.
  • Susan Cloutier
    Susan Cloutier
    what if your choice in a "change in career", is a total 180 degree turn about and is no where related to anything you have done over the years. Sometimes I think that is why I get little response, and certainly feel that it prevents me from getting the experience I need to acquire this job......
  • Bamidele Dike
    Bamidele Dike
    The post is a great resource.
  • Chad Radovich
    Chad Radovich
    Skills,and honesty are good. Confidence In your own abilities is always nice. I personaly can fix anything. Expressing these things is hard without sounding rude, conceited, or desperate. Is it ok to sound this way in a cover letter, or resume?
  • Wesley Vaughn
    Wesley Vaughn
    It was a very good article. However, your capabilities and drive and relevant background are not the only things which catch an employer's attention in a cover letter. The way it is written influences the manager, too.  So proofread your cover letter before you send it. If sending it electronically, print it first and proofread the hard copy. Check the SPG (Spelling-Punctuation-Grammar) as well as sentence structure.  This is easier to do if you practice proofreading everything you write, such as e-mails and comments. I read the previous comments, and saw run-on sentences, etc.  If you have trouble with written English, you may get some coaching or tutoring, or take a course in English writing.
  • Cover Letter
    Cover Letter
    Great resource, thanks for the post.
  • Adam McCafferty
    Adam McCafferty
    This was a good article, I recently completed a degree in Liberal studies after studying in Aerospace engineering, so I have many skills that are valuable to positions which my degree is not in. I am still continuing my second degree in air transportation management which is at least in the aerospace field, but I am having a hard time finding a job that fits me without being overlooked so soon.
  • Julie Carlson Sladcik
    Julie Carlson Sladcik
    If you're looking to switch careers, go back through this article and carefully consider the advice. Ms. Eager provides a thoughtful step through the introductory paragraph, "Be Honest...", and advises to express your reasons for the career shift. Try it and you'll find you have great reasons for making a shift, and these statements show your initiative and will capture the attention of the hiring manager. Then see "Discuss your relevant experience" and take Ms. Eager's advice to list out tasks you've championed that are relevant in some way. For Nilsa, Teller experience in dealing expediently with customers can be a plus as she shifts into Medical Billing/Coding. Good luck to all!
  • Nilsa Benitez
    Nilsa Benitez
    I have graduated from another career in Medical Billing and Coding. I'm currently working as a Teller II. I would like to get an example for my cover letter should be it.
  • Lisa Costa
    Lisa Costa
    Great article on creating a cover letter when switching careers.  I would like to see sample letter of how to explain career change also.Thank you, Lisa Costa
  • Robin
    A sample or template would be helpful.
  • Sarah
    The problem I'm having now is that there are no jobs in my chosen field and I want to return to being an administrative assistant.  A friend who owns a small business suggests that I'm not being hired because they assume that I will just leave as soon as a job opens up in my current field.  The truth is that I'd rather find a position that I can remain in for a long time if not permanently.  There's no way I'd take an administrative job for granted in this economy. I'm desperate for steady employment.
  • Ben Smith
    Ben Smith
    That was a very useful article.  I have been employed in the communications industry for over 30 years but I was told that 30 years is too old. If I can project a passionate cover letter, that would win.  The resume already looks exciting.
  • Merry Shane
    Merry Shane
    I agree with a few points a couple people have made.  I, too, would like to see a sample cover letter.
  • Jeffrey Harrison
    Jeffrey Harrison
    Good article, nicely said. If you don’t believe in yourself and it shows in your cover letter, why would someone who doesn’t know you, believe in you. Honesty is always the best policy. Don’t assume a prospective employer isn’t going to check on you. If you’re in a phone or face to face interview, and you’re caught in a lie, YOUR DONE.
  • Julio Meza
    Julio Meza
    can you post a sample of a cover letter like the one you expain. please

Jobs to Watch