Finally. You found it. The dreamiest dream job that ever waltzed into existence. And you're ready to apply.
You sit down to craft your cover letter, and the primary thought in your mind is: I hope they choose me. I really want this job.
Anxiety floods your body, triggering a rush of paralyzing thoughts and questions: Am I good enough? Do I have the right qualifications ? What if they've already found someone to hire? Am I just wasting my time? What if I sound too casual? Or too formal? Am I just kidding myself? Gah!
What pours out of your fingertips goes something like this:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to inform you of my interest in applying for the position of social media director at Save the Dolphins. I believe I am highly qualified and possess the necessary skills to meet the criteria you have outlined. Over the past several years, I have refined my ability to…
You stop mid-sentence, realizing that your cover letter sounds totally depressing and awkward. And no wonder! Trying to convince someone that you're "worthy" of respect and attention is—well, totally depressing and awkward!
The good news? There’s a very simple mind trick that changes your entire cover letter-writing approach in an instant.
Pretend that the person you're writing to already loves and respects you. Pretend that the person you're writing to already believes that you're worthy and valuable. Pretend that the person you're writing to doesn't need a big sales pitch.
This person already gets what makes you great. In fact, you're basically already hired! The hiring manager is just curious to learn a teensy bit more about you.
You could even pretend that you just received an email from your soon-to-be boss, saying:
Hey, since you're practically already part of the family, we'd all love to learn a little more about you!
So, tell us: What inspired you to apply for this position? (We're sure glad you did!) What are your big passions, dreams, and goals? Got any ideas on how we could do things even better around here?
We're so curious! We love your smart brain, we value your ideas, and we want to get to know you!
Return to your cover letter draft, start fresh, and see what pours out of your fingertips this time. Now that you’re “pretending,” I’m guessing it’ll be something like this:
To my friends at Save the Dolphins:
When I learned that you were seeking a new social media director, I was over the moon.
Because when I'm not geeking out about the latest Instagram filter or Twitter meme, you can usually find me at the beach—hunting for starfish and sea anemones or catching a wave on my longboard.
Social media and the sea: my two greatest passions. Using one to heal and protect the other? A total dream.
My current role as a marketing manager at Bubbly Cola Co. has been a blessing—for the past three years, I've learned from the best in the business. And while my current position is pretty close to perfect, my supervisor fully supports my desire to find a new role that brings together all of my passions—especially my passion for planet-saving activism. In fact, when I told her about the position at Save the Dolphins, she smiled and said, "You've got to go for this. I'll be furious if you don't."
This is the part where I'm supposed to request an interview and assure you that "references are available upon request." Which is true.
But what I really want to do is offer you a gift : a six-point plan to help your marketing team use social media even more powerfully, starting right now. You can download the plan here . I hope it's helpful and fun. (I certainly had fun creating it!)
Oh, and if you'd like to walk through the plan over coffee, chat more about the open position, or swap stories about swimming with dolphins—I'd be thrilled. Hope to hear from you soon.
Here's to a cleaner sea and greener world,
[Your name here]
The lesson here is this: The next time you need to sell yourself, just tell yourself: They already love and respect me. There’s nothing I need to prove.
It doesn't actually matter if it's true. If pretending helps to pull the words out of your head and onto the page, then it's precisely what you need to do.
Plus, sometimes, fantasizing can lead to real-world results. Try it — and see if it works for you!
Want more tips on how to express what makes you great? Hop on Alexandra’s mailing list for positivity-charged scripts and writing prompts. And don’t miss her new book: 50 Ways To Say You’re Awesome .
Photo of woman writing cover letter courtesy of Shutterstock .
Making the decision to embark on a new career is one thing; convincing a hiring manager that you’re the right fit for a new industry and job type can be a far greater challenge – one that can demand a compelling cover letter.
A career change cover letter would need to explain why you’re looking for a change and highlight how you can be a valued employee in a different industry.
If you’re struggling to find the right words to land you that new gig, read on for handy tips on how to write a cover letter for a new career.
Opening paragraph – identify why you’re a good candidate
Your opening paragraph can be simple and straightforward, and doesn’t need to differ too much from a standard cover letter.
Use your opening paragraph to indicate the role you’re applying for, and where you saw the vacancy listed. If it was a personal contact who referred the opening to you, mentioning them by name helps personalise the letter and shows you already have industry contacts.
The introductory paragraph can also be used to mention a key skill or qualification that makes you suitable for the role. Preferably it’s a skill mentioned in the job advertisement. For example, an administrative assistant hoping to make a career change into accounting, could mention familiarity with Excel spreadsheets.
Body of your career change cover letter – be upfront
Traditionally, the body of a cover letter is used to explain your attributes, skills and experience. However when it comes to making a career change, it is worth being upfront about why you have decided to move into a new area of work to pre-empt any questions the reader may have. Aim to keep this explanation positive, and avoid any unprofessional references to past employers, colleagues or clients.
Use the body of your career change cover letter to reassure the hiring manager that you are genuinely committed to being part of a new industry. Provide a short explanation about why you are interested in the new field and how your previous job experience will allow you to make a valuable contribution to the company despite being an industry newcomer.
For example, a decade of working in a retail environment with significant customer contact may have given you the necessary communication and client service skills to explore a new career on an IT help desk.
Highlight transferrable skills
Where possible give specific examples from your career history that highlight your transferrable skills. For example, if you supervised a team of people in the past, mention specific team numbers to showcase your depth of experience. Or, if you owned your own business and built it up from scratch, state the number of customers you obtained or the year-on-year growth you were able to achieve.
The hiring manager may be wondering how you will be able to use your skills and experience to deliver results in the new industry. By clarifying this, you help them envision the contribution you can make to the company based on your past experience.
Soft skills can be just as sought after as technical skills. Mention leadership roles you have held, or projects calling for a high level of collaboration. Describe any mentoring roles you have held.
Explain career gaps
You may be exploring a new career as a result of being laid off or because you are returning to the workforce after raising children. While career gaps are common, your career change cover letter needs to address them.
Be truthful about why you’ve been out of work, but don’t drill down into too much detail. Describe how you used the time to keep up with developments that may be useful in your new career, such as mastering different types of software or undertaking a course of study. Demonstrating that you remained professionally engaged shows you have initiative.
Think over any activity you took part in during your career gaps that allowed you to develop skills relevant to the new industry. For example, you may have served as Treasurer of a community organisation or sporting club, which helped you develop bookkeeping, budgeting and reporting skills.
Conclusion – take a pro-active approach
In the conclusion of your career change cover letter, thank the recruiter for taking the time to read your application. Don’t be afraid to suggest a next step in the process. You could write, for example, that you are available to meet or speak over the phone to address any questions the hiring manager may have or provide additional information.
Sign off with an appropriate word or phrase such as “Sincerely” and then your full name.
Be sure to thoroughly read the letter (reading it out loud can help you pick up mistakes), then edit out any unnecessary or less important pieces of information. Aim to keep your career change cover letter to a single page unless the job posting states otherwise. Finally, spell check the file to be sure it is free from errors.
If you’re uncertain about whether your career change cover letter is suitably convincing, ask a friend to review it for you. A fresh set of eyes can see your letter in the way a recruiter will, with suggestions that can help you on your way to a fresh new career.
Take a look at our cover letter hub for more cover letter writing tips and examples.
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