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How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter for a Career Change

Changing careers can be challenging, but the perfect cover letter can improve your chances of being hired. No matter what professions you are moving from and to, you can highlight the skills and experiences that are marketable in all areas of the workforce.

1. Know the Goal

When you are changing careers, your cover letter must accomplish two things: Highlight why you are drawn toward the new field and showcase the advantages you bring from your work history.

2. Figure Out the Core Requirements

Read the job requirements and figure out what skills and core competencies are required. That way you know what parts of your work history and accomplishments to highlight.

3. Determine Transferrable Skills

No matter what industries you are moving from and to, there are universal skills that all organizations desire. Frame your qualifications in terms of marketable skills such as organization, leadership and interpersonal skills, teamwork skills, and the ability to learn new things quickly.

4. Tell the Truth Tactfully

It's definitely important to be honest and positive about your career change. Rather than focusing on what negative experiences drove you away from your old job, talk about why you are excited for this new career.

5. Describe the Skills You Bring to the Table

The perfect cover letter is concise and to the point, and highlights your transferrable skills in such a way that the recruiter can get a good understanding of your qualifications in a quick glance.

6. Use Your Deviation from the Standard Career Path as a Positive

Confident writing can portray the benefits of your career change. Discuss briefly how your non-traditional career path gives you additional advantages over other candidates.

7. Keep Your Writing Professional

It's always important to make sure that you are writing in a professional and positive tone. Write as if speaking to a professional colleague and avoid using tired buzzwords such as "team player."

8. Speak to the Company's Stated Values

You should be able to get a good idea of the company's vision and workplace culture through the official website and social media. Use this knowledge to tailor your letter and highlight the qualities the company values.

9. Introduce Your Resume

Use the letter to introduce your work experience from different industries and point toward those transferrable skills that the recruiter can see on the resume.

10. Don't Forget to Proofread

It's always a good idea to proofread your letter a few times to catch grammatical mistakes and typos, and to verify tone. You should portray your career change in a positive manner without speaking negatively about your former jobs.

Take it a Step Further

There are many elements to the perfect cover letter and following the tips above will get yours off to a great start. If you want to spend more time fine-tuning, there are a few more things you can consider. Storytelling is a good way to highlight your professional accomplishments in a memorable way. When you are applying for a job in a new career, spend less time on the job-specific details of the story and more on your thought processes, problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and successful results. Include quantitative results with real numbers if possible. Choose every word of your story carefully so you can convey specific information without making your cover letter too long.

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