6 Steps to Writing a Cover Letter as a Career Changer
You had it with your job! You might be bringing so much to the team but you know you can find a better opportunity outside your field where you will be appreciated a lot more.
The trouble is, your work experience and skills are slightly ( or even largely) oriented in a different direction ( think about a situation if a lawyer wanted to petition for a job in an IT company for instance)
The idea can be real hell, especially if your situation is similar to the example illustrated above, but fear not, the answer to the problem is contained within the art of writing a compelling cover letter.
It is not so difficult to actually succeed in this attempt, regardless of how crazy it might seem to some people, but you need to be aware of what are the deciding factors that will land you that jump from one career to the next.
An exciting and unique cover letter takes more than just time and nerves- it takes taking a step forward in a direction that will make your potential employer see they get from hiring someone that might not necessarily have the same skillset nor experience for the position.
We will divide the importance of each step in a progressive manner that is easy to follow up and spring into action so that your goal will be both easy and stress-free.
Alongside shedding light on the skill of making your value shine at its brightest, you will be given a first-hand view of tips that will make your employer’s hands twitch out of sheer excitement for finding such a worthy candidate such as yourself.
Are you up for making this your reality?
1. EVALUATE THE QUALITIES FOR THE POSITION YOU WANT
As your resume probably won’t contain the usual skills the employer looks for their candidates, your cover letter will be all the more valuable for demonstrating your value, and here is what you will do first and foremost.
To get a good grasp of the inner workings of a company or organization, you need to be thorough in your research, preferably more so than what is expected of a candidate.
The reasoning behind this lies in the fact that, in general, the knowledge of a new hire regarding their new workplace is usually only long enough to surpass a customer.
Employers DESIRE to hire passionate people that strive to go well beyond the set mile and give their part to a business that extends beyond the paycheck.
Alongside that desire, there is a debate going on within employers whether it is really acceptable to hire people with working experience that differs quite a bit from what the company usually deals with.
Look at it this way, your transition was sparked most likely by a desire to place yourself within a better position and you most likely are up to the task, most people generally do not try to transit from one field to another and this, in turn, will enhance both your resume and your working experience with a richer set of skills.
With this in mind, never look back at your previous work as something negative nor as detrimental to your future career, no one wants to hear you badmouth negative experiences.
Instead, focus on everything you have learned and empathize that in your letter as clearly as possible, do your best to shed as much positive light onto the potential you bring to the new workplace as well as taking pride in your former career.
Any sort of previous work experience should be seen as new sets of attributes that will only strengthen the company by bringing in a diverse skill set, and that is exactly what you should point out when applying to any position.
To do this, you need to apply the following material:
- Learn more about the qualifications, responsibilities, and requirements for the position you wish to apply to
- Take into account the history of the organization you wish to join and its professional reputation
- Research the organization’s goals and virtues and how you can contribute to it
- If possible, get into contact with people who are in that specific field/position or a related one and gather the information that is relevant to the position that you cannot find through other sources
- Research skills and experiences that are relevant to the field and how it will be useful to the organization
- Identify your resume objective and apply at least three crucial skills that you want to be seen
What does all this accomplish?
It sets a standard that goes well beyond the boundaries of professionalism alone. It shows you are motivated, informed and capable of getting information that sets a level of familiarity that gives you an immediate benefit of being accepted.
For your cover objective, it covers the most important person in question – that’s you.
You should put it at the very top of the letter and let it highlight the goal you wish to attain – the career prospect you see yourself in and why you think you have the skillset.
Connect the dots that your employer will see, explain how much your previous career helped you attain the skills needed to be a big asset that cannot be passed on. Let your self worth resonate soundly throughout the letter.
It is worth taking a look at cover letter templates and formatting tips that cover a wide range of career options and a good amount of details that you can reshape into your own letter.
2. IMMEDIATELY GRAB THE READERS ATTENTION IN A POSITIVE LIGHT
The beginning can make or break the entire deal.
You have to realize that people in higher-up positions ( most likely the person who will decide if you are worth taking in) are used to seeing thousands of almost identical documents that make it hard to get past that.
How do you step outside the mediocrity circle? We can sum it up with the following:
1. Immediately point out your accomplishments and experience that showcases you within a leadership position – this will grab the employer’s attention immediately.
As you elaborate on your advanced set of skills and experiences, you set a clearer picture of why you as a candidate can perform admirably, both in terms of previous experiences and from a practical standpoint from where your skills can come into play.
“ I am writing to you on behalf of my wish to apply to the position of a manager in charge of dealing with foreign clients….”
From the beginning, you give no incentive as to why you would be a cut above the rest, but look at the following example
“ As a former representative of (name of an organization you worked with) with extensive experience with collaboration with foreign companies in a multitude of countries, I wish to extend my expertise with….”
Do you see the difference in the tonality and contents of both introductions? You will come off as both a confident and capable individual from the very beginning, and this will drastically affect your chances of getting a position you wish to take upon for yourself.
The beginning of the letter should always be eye-catching and interesting, as the chances of the employer taking an additional interest in your increase, you leave more room for going into detail about your positive sides while the negatives get overshadowed by the benefits.
2. Point out your strengths while leaving out areas where you are lacking – the entire point of the letter is detailing what you bring to the table.
This should be mandatory during the entire process of tailoring your letter.
While initial confusion as to how much you can add to the list of positives can be daunting, you most likely possess most of them already, especially if you have prior experience in several career positions that require a specific amount of expertise.
Transferable skills can be summed up from going from the basics to including a more complex list of attributes that include :
- Interpersonal skills
- Logical thinking and problem-solving
- Personal integrity and resolve (proficiency in working under pressure)
- Honesty, efficiency and an established work ethic are a major plus
- Teamwork skills
- Organization and planning skills
With a rich number of skills that you present upfront, your chances of getting noticed and accepted will go exponentially up.
You achieved a change that your predecessor could not?
Don’t hesitate to point it out
Math is a secret weapon in this section, show how much your previous work managed to get more clients, more influx of money or any sort of statistic that is relevant.
It’s not bragging, you are merely pointing out the facts.
4. Getting your point across in a light-hearted way
When a manager sits down and sees thousands of almost similarly put together cover letters and resumes, can you imagine how mentally taxing that kind of job is?
A lot of times it would be like a chore you have to keep doing many times over and over again, it is like the documents all look like (a lot of candidates do follow a set template, and this is how we will change that)
Take a look at this
“ Whenever the laptop stops working, I’m the man that will jump straight up and see what’s broken. Whenever something goes wrong, I will already be on the job and while everyone is searching for the number of the tech guy I would have had finished half the job already.”
What better way to demonstrate your handiness and determination to get the job done while under the constant threat of incompetence and disorganization in the way to test your value in a team?
Short descriptions like this go a long way in setting a more friendly and approachable tone which will make the employer smile and give off a sense of familiarity within the clear-cut work setting.
3. PERSONALIZING YOUR GREETING
If you had to describe yourself in a professional but also on a personal level in the shortest possible manner, how would you do it and what would you like to point out about yourself from the very beginning?
Let’s stick to descriptions that strike the core of your desired role by demonstrating a snappy, confident, short and descriptive picture of what sets you apart as a person and employee.
“ I am a goal-oriented, deadline-driven software engineer with experience as a project leader and administrative manager of two teams I was working with” gives a lot of insight into who you are and what qualities you possess, all in one sentence.
When deciding a formal rule of salutation, you can consult three golden rules for proper addressing:
1) Using a professional greeting – In case you are addressing the person for the first time and want to be as formal and professional as possible, use titles such as Mr., Ms., ( and variations of the latter) or Dr.
If you are ever in doubt, refer to a formal salutation. When addressing someone, use their first or last name ( For example Dear Mr. Smith) or a professional title ( Dear Dr. Morgan)
2) Using an informal greeting – As for informal greetings such as “ Hi” or “ Greetings,” it is best to keep it aside if you do not know the name of the person you are addressing, but it is more accepted within professional circles when you are addressing a larger number of people ( for example when you are sending an invitation or promotion to a larger number of people)
Informalities are more appropriate after you have already established a relationship with the person you are writing to so unless you already have a positive established relationship with the hiring manager it is best to keep to a formal style of addressing.
1. Depending on the job and company, you might want to shift to a less personal approach when you cannot find relevant information that can grant you the luxury of knowing who you will be addressing.
2. The more information you have about the company and the employer who will be reading your letter the more liberty you can afford. It is always more striking when you show your resourcefulness by showing you have done your research.
3. Try to keep the letter as interesting as possible while keeping the basis of the greeting within a professional yet also personal tone, this will shift the scale of balance within the middle ground.
4. Use keywords that are relevant to the position you wish to be accepted in.
For example, if the ideal candidate possesses “ an aptitude for computer programming, preferably with experience programming with Python” it is a great idea to showcase your history and accomplishments that are as close to the requirements as possible, even if you don’t have too much experience in that exact field of programming.
Remember, your cover letter is not a resume, its purpose is to showcase what you bring to the company and it must stay true to its purpose so do not hesitate to show numbers and achievements you brought to other companies while trying to keep it as short and organized as possible.
5. Regurgitation – avoid at all cost
If you are thinking that writing as much as possible on your cover letter to make it look like a mini book regarding your autobiography or trying to spread out information about yourself that was already mentioned you need to stop right there.
As the saying goes “ Quantity cannot substitute quality”
A rookie mistake is to overwrite your cover letter is rewriting already pointed out info like you are reminding your employer like you are trying to say “Hey, look here this is important!” you will only leave a negative picture ingrained at their mind.
Don’t prolong presenting yourself if you have said everything that already gives a good picture of who you are, what you achieved and what you can bring, keep those three crucial elements in mind.
4. SHARE YOUR ORIGIN STORY
This is where you will go into details about the history of your choice of wanting to get into.
While the prospect of going into further detail about your past working experience and expertise that might be unrelated to the work the organization does, it is quite the opposite.
Your employer will want to know more about you’re your history and how you decided that you wanted to join their company, so feel free to give insight that answers the following:
- How did you come to the idea of wanting to work for their industry?
- What made you want to switch career paths? (also, avoid badmouthing your previous career, try to maintain a positive to neutral tonality throughout the letter)
- How did you come across their company? ( this is a great opening to slip in some information that is uncommon about the company
- What motivated you to get into this field?
- How do you see yourself adapting to this field?
All of these questions will give your employer a better picture of the underlying story that got you interested and, quite frankly, your enthusiasm will be rightly placed right here.
Show passion, show how much you appreciate the opportunity to enter a fruitful relationship with the company and give value in equal measure as you are rewarded for it and beyond, you believe in the ideas and goals the company represents.
Your worth as an employee extends far beyond financial reasons, fortifying that point in your letter will shift the perception you give off in the right direction in a really unique way that is really rarely seen nowadays.
5. FORMAT YOUR LETTER THE APPROPRIATE WAY
This is a technicality that you have to abide by as your letter should not only include all the necessary information but also look polished and organized.
Everything we talked about must be summed up in an appropriate form that includes the following:
1. Greetings – Appropriate forms as listed above.
2. First Paragraph of the Letter – The introduction that should include your as strong first impression and if you were referred by a mutual acquaintance, this is a good time to mention them.
3. Body of Letter – Within two or three paragraphs the purpose of this part is to provide more context of the purpose of the letter with additional information about yourself and the subject.
Do your best to be as pertinent and on point as possible, you can go into detail but don’t overwrite. Keep it simple, clear cut and interesting.
4. Conclusion – The closing of the letter is where you thank the person for taking their time to read your letter and expressing your appreciation.
If you ever do want to come in contact with this person again, be sure to include your own contact information and express your intention clearly.
Closing of the Letter – Summing up everything nice and easy it should end with the usual closing “ Sincerely” or “ Kind regards”. In case you are writing and sending the Letter over e-mail, be sure to leave your name and contact information as an imperative addition.
With everything talked about in this article, keep this general idea of formatting in mind at all times.
Relevant information that you should put at the top must include:
- Contact information
- Contact information of the employer
- The date
If you are sending it as an email, you will have to include information on the subject line that should contain your name and full job title.
While you have a lot of options for choosing the way you want your letter to sound, remember to keep the length from three to four (maximally five) paragraphs, avoid making the margins too small as leaving a lot of white space in the letter should be your aim.
A good way to make your letter seem less standardized is to phrase your words differently.
Managers are sick of reading the one and the same phrases that became a standard for every cover letter ( teamwork-oriented, hardworking, dedicated) so you can stand out additionally by phrasing your words more uniquely.
Your goal is to make the letter professional, polished but not at the price of your comfort. Remember to use words and phrases you are comfortable with, building trust with every company starts from the initial contact so always strive to keep your standards as high as if you were already accepted.
6. REVIEWING YOUR LETTER, DIRECT YOUR STYLE AND JARGON
Now, you have already covered the majority of the content by now and have a general idea of what you will write, but here is the catch.
Small mistakes and styling is a necessary step to ensure that you didn’t leave any errors. Check your grammar, how does the letter sound, is every detail correct.
A good idea is to have one of your friends(preferably a person with experience with resume and cover letter etiquette) read it, constructive feedback will help you notice aspects you may have missed so feel free to indulge others in your work.
Regarding the aspect of choosing the correct jargon, you might miss this part. Check this article out if you want to write an outstanding resume.
When you spend a certain amount of time within a business or organization you are very likely to adopt their sense of communication, writing, and behavior that has different characteristics that are quite different amongst one another, so your style should fit in with theirs.
The reasoning behind it is that you will seem like an insider of the business you are writing to and that will strengthen the level of familiarity the hiring manager will feel when reading your letter.
On the other hand, using a different form of jargon will, at the very least on a subconscious level, give the person reading your letter a negative impression on your adaptive competence, so keep that in mind.
ADDITIONAL TIPS AND SUMMING EVERYTHING UP
The power of a nicely tailored cover letter is undeniable, they are used for a variety of reasons and can be a big reason for why you can gain favor with a higher up.
Review templates but also do not stick strictly to replicating a cover letter, be yourself and showcase yourself as if you would if you were asked to do so during an interview.
Keep it short and dynamic, feel free to express genuine interest to get into a business and keep in mind that your different background can really be an awesome benefit that the employer really wants to add to the team but needs to be shown you are exactly the person they need.
With everything said so far, you know what is important and what to highlight in your letter, it holds universal usage for every occasion.
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