Writing Cover Letters

What is a cover letter? What to include in a cover letter How to organize a cover letter Questions to guide your writing How to format a cover letter Sample cover letters

What is a cover letter?

To be considered for almost any position, you will need to write a letter of application. Such a letter introduces you, explains your purpose for writing, highlights a few of your experiences or skills, and requests an opportunity to meet personally with the potential employer.

Precisely because this letter is your introduction to an employer and because first impressions count, you should take great care to write an impressive and effective letter. Remember that the letter not only tells of your accomplishments but also reveals how effectively you can communicate.

The appropriate content, format, and tone for application letters vary according to the position and the personality of the applicant. Thus, you will want to ask several people (if possible) who have had experience in obtaining jobs or in hiring in your field to critique a draft of your letter and to offer suggestions for revision.

Despite the differences in what constitutes a good application letter, the suggestions on these pages apply generally.

What to include in a cover letter

How to organize a cover letter

Below is one possible way to arrange the content of your cover letter.

Opening Paragraph

State why you are writing.

Establish a point of contact (advertisement in a specific place for a specific position; a particular person’s suggestion that you write): give some brief idea of who you are (a Senior engineering student at UW; a recent Ph.D. in History).

Paragraph(s) 2(-3)

Highlight a few of the most salient points from your enclosed resume.

Arouse your reader’s curiosity by mentioning points that are likely to be important for the position you are seeking.

Show how your education and experience suit the requirements of the position, and, by elaborating on a few points from your resume, explain what you could contribute to the organization.

(Your letter should complement, not restate, your resume.)

Closing paragraph

Stress action. Politely request an interview at the employer’s convenience.

Indicate what supplementary material is being sent under separate cover and offer to provide additional information (a portfolio, a writing sample, a sample publication, a dossier, an audition tape), and explain how it can be obtained.

Thank the reader for his/her consideration and indicate that you are looking forward to hearing from him/her.

Questions to guide your writing

*From Ronald L. Kraunich, William J. Bauis. High Impact Resumes & Letters. Virginia Beach, VA: Impact Publications, 1982.

How to format a cover letter

Sample cover letters

Looking at examples of strong cover letters is a great way to understand how this advice can become implemented. We’ve compiled and annotated a range of different kinds of cover letters from different kinds of student applicants. We encourage you to look through these letters and see some of what we’ve highlighted as working particularly well in these real world examples.

In addition to these sample cover letters, you can find a range of other, often discipline-specific cover letter examples through these UW-Madison resources:

how to write change of career cover letter

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How to write a great cover letter

A cover letter is your chance to introduce yourself to a potential employer and spark their interest in reading your resume.

When you’re prepping job applications, a cover letter might seem like an afterthought compared to your resume. But your cover letter is worth just as much attention . That doesn’t mean it needs to be overly detailed – in fact, a simple single page is best.

Here are the key points to know about cover letters, plus the steps to follow to write one.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a short letter that accompanies your resume when you apply for a role. It’s often the first point of contact you make with a potential employer, hiring manager or recruiter for a job application.

It’s a way to give the employer a sense of who you are, highlighting your skills and experience, before they read the information in your resume. Just as if you were meeting someone for the first time, you’d introduce yourself first before getting into the detail.

Sometimes, a short email can take the place of a cover letter, but the way you write it is much the same.

Take a look at this article comparing an average cover letter to a great one to help you see how to craft yours well.

How does a cover letter compare to your resume?

Your resume and cover letter complement each other but do slightly different things. Your resume summarises the key details of your skills, work experience and education. Resumes are best formatted with bullet points and broken into sections with subheadings, across about two pages.

A cover letter is shorter and sharper: a single page is best. It’s also more of a conversation opener – you’re speaking to the person responsible for the role you’re applying for, expressing your interest in the job and showing them why you’re a good fit for it.

The language in a cover letter is more personal. For example, a social worker ’s resume might include, Redeveloped community youth program, increasing participation by 20 per cent. But in a cover letter you can write in the first person, which might read as, I’m a dedicated and driven social worker, with a strong commitment to supporting disadvantaged youth. It’s a chance to describe your skills and experiences in a way that also gives some insight into you and your career.

How to write your cover letter

How to make your cover letter stand out

A cover letter should be engaging – you want to capture the interest of the person reading it so that they turn to your resume to find out more.

It’s also about showing the employer how your skills and experience are a good match for the role. That’s why you should always create a cover letter especially for the role you’re applying for – it shouldn’t be a generic letter. These tips can help you tailor your cover letter to the job.

A good cover letter can also demonstrate your written communication skills. Write for the environment you’re applying to: if it’s a more informal workplace or a creative type of work, don’t be afraid to inject some personal style into your writing to stand out.

Reading the 5 things employers wish they could say about cover letters and what recruiters look for in cover letters can also help you to write one that will impress.

Quick tips for improving your cover letter

Writing your cover letter might feel intimidating at first when you’re facing a blank page. But by following these steps and tips, you can focus on crafting a cover letter that captures what you can bring to the role and makes a winning impression to the employer.

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How to Write a Career Change Cover Letter: 50+ Year Olds

In this post, cover letter = important, your career change cover letter template, why your age makes you valuable, some transferable skills, professional versus personal, want to beef up your resume.

how to write change of career cover letter

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You’ve decided to change careers , looked for employment opportunities , and perhaps even completed further study to prepare yourself for a new career in your dream industry.

Now, it’s time to start applying and you’ve realised the importance of the cover letter for your job application!

The cover letter to your career change resume acts as a personal introduction to your potential employer. How you present yourself has the ability to either put you on the short-list of potential candidates or ensure you’ll never be contacted by the company.

Your cover letter requires considerable effort to strike an effective balance of personal yet professional, while highlighting how your age and experience (no matter how seemingly unrelated it may be to your dream role) makes you the best person for the job.


The first paragraph of your career change cover letter should be positive and to the point. Introduce yourself and express your interest in the role you’re applying for. If a professional contact has referred you, ensure you mention this industry connection within the first few sentences.

Clearly state your interest in pursuing a career change while acknowledging your current role. Be excited and confident about your capabilities to thrive in this new position. For example:

“While I’ve spent the last five years working as an executive assistant developing exceptional time-management, communication skills, and professional discretion, I believe my background will provide valuable and diverse skills to your HR department. Pursuing a role within HR is a professional goal of mine, and I believe the role of Human Resources Officer is a great opportunity to begin my career path in this new field.”

There are four main things to highlight in the body of your career change cover letter.

Why are this company and this role perfect for your pursuit of a career change?

In the body of your cover letter, it’s essential to tailor your choice of words and overall tone to the company you’re applying to work for. By personalising your cover letter to the business, you will demonstrate your understanding of the specific role and the company’s overall mission, and values.

To do this, you need to do some research and careful reading:

How does your past work experience prepare you for this role?

Even if your previous work seems completely unrelated to the role you’re applying for, this is often not the case. Acknowledging your previous experience is important. However, how you frame this experience is essential.

Consider your past roles and what specific skills may be transferable to your new role. These are called transferable skills. Often, these skills are soft skills – non-technical personal attributes that make you invaluable within a work environment (more about these later!).

Lastly, if you’ve completed any work experience or further education to support your career change, ensure to mention this explicitly. This will demonstrate to the recruiter your willingness to learn and your commitment to your dream job.

Why is your age an asset?

Towards the end of the body, it may be worth directly stating why your age could be a positive addition to the company (we can help to articulate this with tips below!). This section may be helpful to frame your circumstance as a career changer in a light the hiring manager may not have previously considered.

Explain any resume gaps

If you have any large resume gaps, it’s worth quickly explaining these gaps here. If you need some quick tips on how to do that, this is how to explain a resume gap .

To conclude, write a short paragraph reiterating your excitement to be considered for this job opportunity. Thank the reader and suggest the next point of communication. For example:

I would like to thank you for reading my application, and I look forward to hearing from you. I am available for a phone call or meeting any time to answer any questions you may have for me.

Ageism is unfortunately still an issue, and it’s an understandable concern for those looking to change careers later in their professional journey. However, the economic and business benefits of encouraging older workers to continue or return to work are increasingly becoming public knowledge.

The benefits of an older workforce include lowering the $10.8 billion economic loss Australia experiences due to not utilising the skills and experience an older workforce can provide.

Older workers greatly benefit businesses and organisations by:

As mentioned in our step-by-step cover letter, it’s important to highlight your transferable skills! Some of these skills may include:

You may realise that some of your more technical skills are an asset to your new role as well, such as:

Your cover letter can’t be a list of dry facts, nor should it belong to prose of personal reflection. Carefully choose the most relevant skills and experiences for the position you’re applying for, that also reflect your passion and excitement. Write about these with a personal touch, and your personality will naturally carry throughout the letter.

Making a Career Change as an Older Adult: The Complete Guide

In this guide, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about changing careers as an older adult.

If you’d like to learn more about starting your career change, what it’s like to be a mature-age student, picking a career path, or even writing career change cover letters, all the information you need is here.

Read The Guide

Ready and determined to step into your desired new industry? Want to feel confident about your application? You may be considering further education options to help you prepare for your dream role.

Explore a range of short and longer courses available to you!

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Home / Resources / Career Resources / How to Write a Career Change Cover Letter

How to Write a Career Change Cover Letter

With an effective cover letter, you can make a great first impression on hiring managers when you’re changing careers. This important tool helps you explain why you are right for the position, even if you don’t have any formal educational or work experience in the field.

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Along with needing to write a cover letter that is specific to the job you’re applying for, rather than just reusing the same one for each position, you may find it challenging to write a career change cover letter when it feels like you have a lack of relevant experience. How do you convince employers that you’re the right fit for the job?

Emphasize Your Transferable Skills

When changing your career, you may ask yourself if you have the skills needed for a new role. Most likely you do have some. Throughout your work experience, you have probably gained transferable skills, which can be applied to multiple careers. Having transferable skills can help not only help make your career change easier and smoother, but they also can help you when you’re writing your cover letter.

When you’re drafting your career change cover letter, you should look at the description of the job for which you are applying. Does the description list specific skills that you currently have? If so, emphasize them and detail instances of using them in previous roles. Also list any soft or technical skills, leadership or mentoring roles, or projects that you were a part of. This helps illustrate your strengths and helps the hiring manager see how you can contribute to their company.

If you feel as though you lack transferable skills or the proper educational background, pursuing an online degree or certification can help you gain the credentials you need to excel in your new career path.

Within your cover letter, you will also have to express your motivations for your career change. For example, if you are transitioning into a business role , you may be motivated by a salary increase or growth potential. If you are starting a nursing career , you may want a steady income and the ability to make a positive impact on others. Or you may want to help improve the lives of individuals and communities through a job in social work .

Since you are changing professions, you need to be upfront with employers about your qualifications and your intentions. In your cover letter, explain why you decided to change careers, why you are interested in the new field, and show that you are committed to the change. Tell them how your previous job experience will make you valuable to their company even though you are a newcomer to the industry, and be sure that your references will agree with your statements.

Also, be truthful about any employment gaps you have. You don’t have to go into much detail but explain if you were focused on something else or if you took a break to earn a degree or learn new technical skills. Describe how you used that time to build your knowledge for this new position. Showing that you used that time to further develop your skills shows initiative and that you were professionally engaged.

Best Practices for Writing Your Career Change Cover Letter

As you are writing your cover letter, be sure to research the company to which you are applying. Showing that you understand them and explaining what makes you want to work there lets the employer know you are familiar with what they do. Communicate your passion and excitement for the potential employer throughout your cover letter.

Your cover letter should focus on what your resume does not show. Your resume cannot show your personality and excitement for the role. Nor can it explain items in detail. Since this is the first step toward a job interview, your career change cover letter needs to show the hiring manager who you are and what you can do.

Avoid making your career change cover letter too long. Some hiring managers will skip reading your cover letter if they feel like it is excessive in length. However, you should avoid a short cover letter so that it doesn’t imply lack of interest in the job. Ideally, your cover letter should be about two-thirds of a page, or roughly 300 words.

In your opening paragraph, you should mention the job you’re applying for and where you saw the listing. If you were referred to the position by someone else, acknowledge them by name. This not only personalizes your cover letter, it shows that you have industry contacts, which can help facilitate your career transition.

Throughout your cover letter, you need to show why you are the ideal candidate for the position. Use some of the language that the employer uses in the job posting. Explain that you understand what is required of the position and list how you can effectively fulfill its duties. If you have examples from previous jobs, work some of them in. Also, list your transferable skills and mention that you can learn new skills in order to meet the employer’s needs.

Also, remember to thank the hiring manager for their time in your cover letter’s conclusion. Suggest the next step in the process, whether it’s speaking with them on the phone, meeting them in person for an interview, or providing any additional information they may desire.

Finally, make sure your cover letter is polished. This is your first impression, so you don’t want to send them a sloppy first draft. Edit it, read it aloud, and check your spelling. Have a friend or family member review your cover letter for you. They can provide you with a fresh set of eyes and constructive advice that can help you present yourself in the best light possible.

Sample Career Change Cover Letter

Here is an example of a career change cover letter:

While pursuing a new profession can present many challenges, make sure that your career change cover letter best represents you. Show that you are well qualified for the new career and that you are enthusiastic about working for the company. Even if you may feel as though you do not have the proper background for the career, highlight your skills and expertise in other areas to display that you are competent and willing to grow. If necessary, you can also update your resume to reflect your new professional goals.

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  1. How To Write a Career Change Cover Letter (With Examples)

    Your cover letter should be a strong endorsement of your ability to succeed in the new career. The decision to change careers is not done lightly but it can be done successfully by writing a persuasive career change cover letter

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    A cover letter is your chance to introduce yourself to a potential employer and spark their interest in reading your resume. Here are the key points to know about cover letters, plus the steps to follow to write one

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    If you feel as though you lack transferable skills or the proper educational background,pursuing an online degreeor certification can help you gain the credentials you need to excel in your new career path