The key to writing a cover letter for a job you have never done is to focus on your transferable skills. Also highlighting your willingness to learn will help you land an interview. A combination of transferable skills and being willing to learn new skills and techniques can be just what is needed to get your foot in the door in a new career.
Emphasize transferable skills you developed in other positions. Read through the job description to see what skills you have that match what the employer is looking for. For example, if you are applying for a volunteer coordinator position with a nonprofit organization and you have experience as a college admissions recruiter, capitalize on your recruiting experience and skills.
Include in your cover letter professional and academic examples of your transferable skills to demonstrate to the employer how you have used them in a practical way. Quantify your accomplishments whenever possible, as numbers and percentages are concrete ideas that are easily conveyed and that showcase your abilities well.
Discuss your willingness to learn in your cover letter. If you are applying for a job in the same industry, mention professional associations you are a member of or conferences you have attended to stay current on new ideas in the industry. Take something you have learned in a college class or conference and relate it to the job in your cover letter, mentioning where you learned it. Also include information on classes you have taken to further your knowledge of how to do the job. This shows your initiative to learn more about the position. For example, if you want to become a legal assistant, mention any legal assistant courses you have enrolled in.
Comment on your passion to learn more about the industry and to contribute to it in your cover letter without appearing overly enthusiastic. Remain professional throughout the letter. For example, instead of writing, “I can’t wait to get started in this position!” write, “I look forward to using my skills and experience to make a positive difference in this field.” Also tell the employer what has made you want to change careers, although you should avoid mentioning you hated your last boss.
Write your cover letter with confidence throughout its paragraphs. Your confidence in yourself, along with specific examples demonstrating that you already possess job-related knowledge and your enthusiasm to learn more, will make an employer more confident in you as well. Also include proof of how much you are committed to a new job. State that you would be willing to work part-time in the position, for example.
Show the employer how he will benefit from hiring you, not how you will benefit from being hired for a new position. Write how your experience and skills will make a positive difference in the company to which you are applying.
Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.