Writing a career change cover letter comes down to who your audience is, what information is important, and the best way of communicating visually and verbally. On top of that, communicating a strong message is really the core of what the letter should be about.
In general, a career change cover letter should make the connection between the skill and experience-based qualifications in your resume, and your interest and relevance to the particular role, organization, and industry at hand.
This can be particularly important for career changers looking to illustrate why they’re making a change.
Hint: Before you start, use the same formatting as your resume, including the header that has your name and contact info. After all, creating uniformity in your presentation sets a professional tone.
1. Open with a Mention of the Position
It sounds unnecessary, but a hiring manager can be recruiting for 100s of different positions. Particularly if they’re a third-party placement firm, so you need to be clear as possible. This also makes it easy for them to forward your letter and resume along to the appropriate party. If you’re unsure how to address your reader, go with a simple greeting such as “Dear Hiring Manager”. “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam” sound antiquated.
Dear Hiring Manager:
I’m reaching out to you with interest in the Graphic Designer role with Aspyre Solutions. I have over 6 years of experience…
2. A Career Change Cover Letter Should Supplement Your Resume
Follow your opening with a 1 to 2-line, brief, high-level overview of your expertise or specialization. Tell them what you bring to the table.
My background combines over 7 years of experience creating compelling integrated campaigns for clients in the retail and fashion space, with a strong knowledge of designing interfaces for mobile and tablet platforms. I’ve collaborated with a number of highly-respected creative agencies including Digitas, Publicis, and BBDO to create award-winning work that speaks to customers’ goals and expectations.
3. The Next Paragraph Begins the Main Body
How you approach it will differ depending upon your current employment situation and what you’re trying to convey. In a typical case, you might start off by introducing your current role and organization with a brief overview of what you do there. Then add any pertinent details to supplement that. The goal isn’t to reiterate what’s on the resume, but to give a compelling lead in that suggests that what you’re currently doing is relevant to the role you’re applying for. You might do the same for previous roles, but again, be concise.
As Senior Designer for the ABC group, I lead a group of 3 digital designers in the creation of integrated marketing campaigns across print, web, and mobile for high-end fashion clientele including Ralph Lauren, JCrew, and Louis Vuitton. With 5 years of experience at the agency, my role is duel-focused on both hands-on design work and project leadership, serving as the primary point of contact between cross-functional agency teams, vendors, and clients. I recently served as the lead creative on a digital campaign for XYZ brand, which won multiple One Show awards and helped elevate the agency’s reputation as a key player in the fashion advertising space.
4. Personalize and Tailor the Letter
This is where you might discuss why you feel you’re a great fit for this particular role and organization. This is important because it not only shows that you did your homework and research, but this is how you effectively customize a career change cover letter. What aspects attract you to the role? How do you see yourself really thriving in this type of culture? What do you bring to the organization that’s particularly unique? You might go into personal attributes here as well. Talk about soft skills like how your flexibility makes you a strong candidate for successfully navigating a career change. Or how your passion for your work has proved valuable in moving up through your organization.
I’ve been following Aspyre Solutions’ work and am intrigued by the new direction the agency is taking in establishing itself as experts in the multicultural advertising space. This appeals to me greatly, as I also bring experience within the Hispanic market sector from my last role as a Designer for DraftFBC, in addition to being a native Spanish speaker and having lived in Mexico for 3 years. To gain more experience in that space while leveraging my existing knowledge of the market would be the ideal next move in my career.
5. Close with 1 to 2 Lines Inviting Contact
Be sure to thank them in advance for their consideration.
I welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss the needs of the position and my qualifications in more depth. Thank you in advance for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you regarding next steps.
One thing to note is that your career change cover letter may address other areas outside of those mentioned. Particularly if you’re making a transition from being self-employed. Another potential area is discussing an employment gap. Took time off to travel? What skills or knowledge, or cultural immersion did you gain along the way? It’s not the place, however, to discuss information that might be better left to an interview.
Remember, a career change cover letter, like any cover letter, is your first impression, so make it your best.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Brooklyn Resume Studio.
About the Author: Dana Leavy-Detrick founded Aspyre Solutions, focusing on small business development and career consulting. Her mission is to support creative and socially-conscious small businesses. She also offers career transition coaching and business consulting.
Dana has helped hundreds of professionals execute effective career plans to find and DO the work they are passionate about. She has also presented seminars on navigating careers, transition and work-life balance to several colleges and universities. Her advice is featured on MSN Careers, Fox Business News, NewsDay, CareerBuilder.com, GlassDoor and About.com. Follow Dana on Twitter!