How to write a cover letter when changing careers
Are you tired of the field you work in? Are you really interested in changing industries but you don’t really know how to apply for a job for which you don’t have the obvious qualifications? Let me tell you: it can be done. It’s actually not so hard once you figure out how to write a cover letter when changing careers.
Overcome your doubts - do it anyway
I myself studied to be a translator for French and Italian but never worked as one. I was a career changer from the start. I got my first two jobs based on my language skills but all the other jobs afterwards had nothing to do with my studies. I learned all the necessary skills on the job - learning by doing.
Did I feel insecure about a new task because I didn’t have the qualifications for it? Of course I did. Like so many of you ladies out there, I used to be a master of self-doubt. But I’m also an action taker. Being stuck and being bored was always the bigger pain for me than trying something new. So I always asked for new tasks and new challenges, I always offered help and I never said “I can’t do this” or “This is not part of my job description”. This mindset allowed me to acquire skills as a team and hiring manager, an account manager and a project manager. With the right mindset, you can do it too.
We hear so much about the amount of candidates applying for the same positions that it might be intimidating to apply if you’re a career changer. You might be telling yourself: “I don’t really have the qualifications for this position. Why should they consider me? I don’t stand a chance, so why even try?” You might be right with this assumption if you apply at huge corporations, but many small to medium sized enterprises often find it difficult to hire qualified staff. It might be much easier to get hired by such a company if you can convince them of your motivation and your learning agility.
Why should we hire you?
It’s essential that you explain in the cover letter why you want to change careers and why you think you’re qualified for that position. Before we answer your question how to write a cover letter when changing careers, ask yourself the following questions:
What excites you about the new career or industry?
Why do you want to change?
Which skills and experiences from your current career can you apply to the new career path?
Which qualifications have you obtained which enable you to move into the new role?
Which soft skills do you have which will enable you to grow quickly into the new role?
Do you have any references or testimonials which prove your learning agility?
It’s important to go through these questions before you start working on your cover letter when changing careers.
Talk it out
In case you find yourself staring at a blank piece of paper, unable to find the right arguments, imagine for a moment you’re talking to a friend or relative. How would you tell them what interests and excites you about the position? How would you explain to them why you have the skills for this new career? Or, if you’re unsure yourself if it’s a good fit but they are, how would they explain to you that you have the necessary skills for this new career?
If you can, I recommend to discuss your motivation with a supportive friend or relative. They might be able to put in even better words why you are suitable for this role. Just make sure to ask those who you know will support you. When changing careers, it can also happen that people close to you will advise you to stay on the path that you’re on because they want to protect you or because it’s the only path they’ve ever known. They might discourage you to venture into the unknown because they are scared of change themselves.
Let’s get onto it!
After you answered the questions above, you can start writing your cover letter. This should really be quite easy now: all you have to do is to analyze the job description thoroughly and match your experiences and skills with the requirements in these three simple steps:
Convey in your cover letter how passionate you are about this new career
Mention concrete examples of your skills, mindset and learning agility which underline why you are suitable for this position
Include supporting references or testimonials in your cover letter so that the recruiter can verify that you’re telling the truth
I also highly recommend you to adjust your resume to reflect the skills which are relevant for this new career and reduce irrelevant information to a minimum. When changing careers, just copy/pasting your resume isn’t very useful. You really want to make sure that the employer immediately finds the information which qualifies you for this position.
Don’t let imposter syndrome stop you
Last but not least, don’t the imposter syndrome stop you. In case you haven’t heard about this before, imposter syndrome means that you are doubting your abilities and that you really earned your accomplishments. Basically you feel like a fraud and are afraid that they will find out.
If that’s how you feel, let me tell you a secret: almost everyone in this world has suffered from imposter syndrome at some point in their lives. This is not specific to women or men. It’s human to feel that you’re not completely up to a task. So don’t let these doubts stop you. Be confident and go for it anyway. It makes a difference if you just acknowledge this feeling but don’t let it stop you. Just keep going and follow your dream of changing careers.
If you need further help writing your cover letter when changing careers, get my free checklist on how to prepare your perfect job application. If you’re lacking confidence how to to present your skills and abilities in your cover letter when changing careers, reach out to me directly and we’ll work together on getting you this new career.