How to Write a Career Change Cover Letter (Sample + Tips)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

As a career changer, you need to help recruiters understand why you’re moving away from your former line of work and what you want to achieve in your new career path.

[Featured Image] A man in a blue button-up is sitting down in a conference room holding pieces of paper.

You will inevitably change jobs throughout your career as you seek more responsibility, growth, or even a higher salary. According to Statista [1], the average Canadian employee stays at a job for just over twelve years. Changing careers can allow you to find more meaningful work, better align your career path with your larger goals, and move into a more energizing role.  

However, for career changers, switching to a new path can sometimes involve unique challenges. 

When drafting your cover letter to apply for a job in a new line of work, you should explain your larger objectives. This article will cover specific information you can feature in your career change cover letter to help recruiters understand your goals and reasons for making a switch. 

Information to include in your career change cover letter. 

Generally, a cover letter is a chance to flesh out the bullet points you outline on your resume. It’s a space to explain your interest in the role and company, highlight your experience and skills, and sell a recruiter on the overall fit you’ll make. 

A career changer must do all that in the cover letter and more. You also need to help recruiters and hiring managers understand why you’re moving away from your former line of work. You’ll want to cover what you want to achieve in your new career path and highlight any transferable skills that will help smooth your transition. 

Let’s review four key pieces of information you can weave into your career change cover letter.  

Career change context

Plan to include a career change objective somewhere in your cover letter, similar to how you would use a resume objective to provide a summary of your experience and goals. Explain why you’re interested in changing careers and how the role you’re applying to fits within your larger career aspirations. Don’t be afraid to share a sense of your personality so that recruiters can better connect with you.  

What this looks like: I’ve spent the last six years translating complex topics for various users as a technical writer. But in a lightbulb moment, I realized that what really drives me is the user’s experience. That’s why I want to make a career change to UX design. I believe I’ll make a strong addition to your team because my work has consistently put the user front and center. Now, I’m interested in focusing on a different facet of that goal. 

Certificates, courses, or trainings

Recruiters and hiring managers want to find the right candidate. It costs an average of US$4,129 to hire an employee, according to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) in an ADP article [2]. SHRM also found it takes 42 days, on average, to fill a job opening. So, make hiring you even easier by explaining what you’ve done to prepare for your career change. Highlight any professional certificates or training you’ve completed to prepare for your new position. 

What this looks like: To familiarize myself with the tools and processes used in data analysis, I completed the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate, which taught me SQL  and R, and trained me to clean and visualize data. Thanks to this preparation, I am confident I will make a smooth transition to your team from the very start.  

Transferable skills 

Transferable skills are “portable,” meaning you can take them from job to job. They include problem-solving, critical thinking, attention to detail, and more. When making a career change, highlighting your important workplace skills, such as communication and teamwork, can help. This can help those making the hiring decisions quickly understand your unique value to their company.  

Find out the key technical skills the job requires, highlighting any you have learned, especially regarding important software or tools. 

What this looks like: As a software developer, I regularly relied on my problem-solving skills to solve complex issues. As the new algebra teacher at ABC High School, I’ll bring that same skill and strong attention to detail, listening, and decision-making to ABC High School. 

Past achievements 

Any time you can highlight what you’ve accomplished in your past roles, you help a recruiter see your potential in a new role. Summarize moments that showcase your strengths and illustrate your work ethic or character. 

What this looks like: I am a team player and problem-solver. As a social media manager at Company X, I identified a better program to help my team schedule content. Using that tool improved my team’s efficacy, leading to our most successful quarter to date. 

Why a cover letter is so important for career changers. 

The idea of a career path can be rigid, suggesting that people only follow one specific track. Although that perspective is starting to shift, it’s still prevalent. Help recruiters and hiring managers see you in a new role by explaining why you’re changing careers and what you’ve done to streamline your transition. 

Career change cover letter sample

It's a common practice to submit your cover letter digitally. Even still, it’s good to include some of your contact information in the top left corner so recruiters can easily see how to get in touch.

Thomas Bennett

Calgary, AB

(555) 555-1234

Dear Ms. Tufte, 

I’m writing to apply for the project manager role at Company X. I initially began my career as a marketing coordinator and eventually moved into email marketing, where I was responsible for strategizing and developing new campaigns. But in that time, I realized how much I thrived when managing our quarterly campaigns from start to finish. That’s why I’m interested in a segue into project management. 

Knowing that, despite my experience, I still needed to learn more specifically about project management, I completed the Google Project Management Professional Certificate. Over six months, I’ve learned Agile project management and how to create product documentation, among other key skills. I believe this training and my previous experience will help me transition to a project management role at Company X and make a big impact.   

I’m an organized problem-solver with a sharp eye for detail, all important skills in project management. In fact, I believe my previous work in email marketing provided hands-on training in managing projects, albeit without the official title. I identified new tools to help my team create more effective quarterly campaigns. As a result, we increased our click-through rate (one of our key metrics) to 1.87 per cent, bringing it closer to the industry standard—an immense achievement. 

I’m proud of the foundation I gained through marketing, but realizing where my true passion lies, I’m keen to transition into a project management role with more growth opportunities. Thank you for your consideration. 


Thomas Bennett


3 ways to strengthen your cover letter. 

Any time you write a cover letter, whether for a standard new role or as a career changer, you might apply these tips to strengthen your letter. After all, the cover letter is part of your important first impression on potential employers.

1. Tailor your letter for each role.

Just as you should customize your resume for each role you apply to, the same holds for your cover letter. Research the company and find out aspects of their work that interest you. Mention those details in your cover letter. You should also tailor your experience and skills to highlight the most relevant skills and accomplishments to suit each job. 

2. Get specific.

Your cover letter should expand upon your resume rather than repeating the same information. One way to do this is by giving details about your past achievements. Quantify your impact with numbers and explain how these accomplishments make you uniquely qualified for this new role. 

As a career changer, consider the cover letter as the place to make your case for your transition. The resume lists information about you and your skills and experience. In the cover letter, you can tell a story about your career trajectory and the reasons for your course change.

3. Use action words. 

Build action words into your resume and cover letter. Action verbs can liven up your cover letter and make it more interesting to read. Find verbs that succinctly and accurately depict your previous experience. Also, aim to use more dynamic action words to tell your story. For example, lots of people “lead,” “manage,” or “assist.” You can make a stronger case by choosing strong verbs specific to your roles.

Continue growing with Coursera. 

Brush up your cover letter writing skills by taking a free Writing Winning Resumes and Cover Letters course. Or develop essential skills for an in-demand career with a Professional Certificate from industry leaders like Google, Meta, and IBM. Most certificate programs take less than seven months to complete, and you can start for free with a seven-day, all-access trial.

Article sources


Statista. “Average Job Tenure in Canada, by occupation 2022,” Accessed April 29, 2024.

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