Are you considering a change of career? With unemployment levels still high, many people are expanding their education or tapping into their additional skills in the hopes that pursuing a career change will open up more opportunities.
There are many reasons why someone may decide to switch careers. Sometimes people get burned out doing what they do and might decide midcareer that they want to explore new professional options. Others may long for a fresh start, or they don’t like what they do, or maybe they’re searching for a job that provides more personal satisfaction. Sometimes professionals nearing (or in) retirement want to scale back on their workload but don’t want to stop working completely; they might opt for a completely different career path that is less stressful and allows them to work fewer hours. Others might work a variety of different jobs throughout their professional life enjoying the challenges that new positions bring. Regardless of the reason, a traditional cover letter won’t cut it in this situation.
When applying for a career change position there are a few things that your cover letter needs to address. It’s best to be upfront about your desire to change careers; otherwise hiring managers are going to be left wondering why someone with 20 years of sales experience now wants to be a chef (or whatever it may be). You want to convey an authentic desire to make the move to a new career. Provide a reason why you are seeking the change with rationale to support it. Below is an example from a letter I did for a client that was pursuing a career change.
Some might find it strange that after a successful and far-reaching career in Information Technology Management that I would redirect my professional vision to teaching high school math. I however, find that this is a path that supports my natural ability to guide and coach others in the exploration and discovery of solutions to complex problems.
I approached the process of becoming a teacher as I do every endeavor I embark upon: 100% dedication and commitment to the task at hand. My natural enthusiasm supports my ability to teach, inspire, and motivate others and I would welcome the opportunity to apply my skills and expertise at Anytown High School.
If you have little experience in the field that you want to break into it may be a bit discouraging. As you read the job description you may say to yourself, “I know I can do that”, even if you have not held that particular title before. This is where your transferable skills come into play. You will want to make sure that you highlight the skills you have that make a career change possible.
When transitioning to a new career it is ideal if you’re able to go to school or get the training needed to perform a job, but that is not always the case. In those instances you need to capitalize on the skills you do have and how they would be applicable in this new field. These transferable skills are not job specific and can be carried into numerous positions and industries so it will be critical to communicate to a hiring manager that your skills can be applied even though you may have little to no experience in that field. For example, if your background is in management and you have worked primarily in the restaurant industry, you may be able to successfully transition to management within the retail industry.
Transitioning to a new career can be challenging, but approaching the change with confidence, anticipation, and a great cover letter can go a long way to a successful career revolution.
by Megan Koehler