Should I Point Out My Career Change in a Cover Letter?

Changing your career? If so, you're not alone. Many Americans change careers several times during their adult lives. But even though career change is common, it’s still an issue for some employers. For that reason, you need to consider how you're going to deal with your current career change in your cover letter. There are two ways of dealing with the situation:

  1. Focus on your strengths and don’t mention the fact that you're changing careers in your letter.
  2. Address your career change head-on in your letter, framing it as a tremendous asset that other applicants probably don't have.

Either method is acceptable. Let's look at each of these solutions so that you can decide which suits your style of communication and situation.

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Focus on Strengths and Leave Out Career Change

In the "ignore" game plan, don't even mention in your letter the fact that the position you seek is not in your previous line of work. Instead, emphasize all the skills, achievements, and attributes that are common to both your former and future jobs. The goal of this strategy is to spotlight the positive to such an extent that your career change (which could possibly be perceived as a negative) is not immediately noticed by the employer.

Alison Levine's letter below is a typical example of ignoring a career change. From her letter alone, it is impossible to know that she has changed careers three times.

Tout Your Career Change as an Asset

This is a much bolder approach: Announce your career transition as a unique bonus that other job candidates don't have—the perfect marriage of skills and achievements that could have been accumulated in no better way. In this letter, your confidence shines through and you openly invite the reader to see you as better than your competition.

Writing a strong letter that convinces the reader that your career change is an asset to your next job will have an added benefit to you — it will boost your confidence and help you articulate your career move in your job interview.

Take a look at the following letters from Larry Hilton and Scot Belmont to see this approach in action.

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Susan Ireland Resume Author Susan Ireland is the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Resume and creator of Susan Ireland's Ready-Made Resume Builder.