How to Write a Job Application When You’re Switching Careers

by Kevin Nelson | November 06, 2017

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Scrabble tiles spelling out change

Students often think that selecting their major or choosing a field to enter after graduation will determine their career path. However, after working a year or two, they sometimes realize that they would like to try something new. Hence, they start to think about changing careers.

According to EdSurge, 27 percent of employees aged 18–48 are prone to change their current occupation. Some of them prefer related jobs, while others decide to change their career dramatically. For example, in the first case a copywriter might switch to a PPC manager or marketer, while in the second case a marketer might switch to a software engineer.

For the previous generation, such a dramatic change was impossible, especially for specialists over the age of 30. But today, everyone can quit their job and start looking for better opportunities in other spheres. However, to succeed in doing that, it’s important to prepare a certain foundation for the switch: your résumé and cover letter.

Here are seven tips that will help you create an application that will prove you are deserving of a position despite having little relevant work experience.

1. Clarify why you want to change your job

Imagine that you send your application to an employer for the position of Software Engineer, but your previous experience is in marketing. Why would an employer set up an interview with you?

While this may seem like an insurmountable problem, it’s actually easy to confront. You just need to create a cover letter in which you explain why exactly you want to change jobs and why the company should choose you among all other candidates.

Be sure to customize each cover letter for every job to which you apply. This will improve your chances of getting an interview.

2. Identify transferable skills and achievements

Even if you have been working as a waiter while studying at college, it does not mean that you don’t have relevant experience for a job as a marketer, for instance. You just need to identify some of your skills, achievements, or personal characteristics that show you are a strong fit for the role.

In the aforementioned example, you could indicate specific skills you learned as a waiter—attention to detail, ability to remember a large amount of information, and stress tolerance—that would help you in the marketing role.

3. Talk in language that the prospective employer will understand

When detailing skills and achievements from your previous experiences, it’s best to use simple language and avoid industry terminology. It will make your previous experience intelligible to potential employers in the new industry you’re trying to enter.

4. Organize your résumé so that it flows well

As you probably know, the items in your résumé should be in a certain order. Whether you choose a chronological or functional approach, your résumé always needs to be coherent and cohesive. Try dividing it into specific sections with headers to ensure your recipient can look over it quickly and absorb the most important points.

5. Avoid irrelevant work experience

Even if you think your résumé is too short, that’s not an excuse to add in every job and experience you’ve ever had. All the work experience listed in your résumé should be relevant in some way to the job at hand—even if it's just through transferable skills. If you’re not sure whether a specific job you held is relevant, then leave it out entirely.

6. Add details about education 

If you don’t have relevant work experience, your education, workshops, and certificates of course completion can become a huge advantage. Be sure to include this information on your résumé, because even if it does not directly correlate with the job, it still shows that you are willing to study and put forth the effort to grow professionally.

7. Ask former employers to give you recommendations

Recommendations directly illustrate how great of an employee you are. Companies may be willing to ignore the fact that you have no relevant experience if you have great recommendations that show you are diligent and personable.

Changing your career path may be difficult, but if you follow these recommendations you will be sure to succeed.

Kevin is a professional educator and a private tutor with over eight years of experience. He is also a content writer for various blogs about higher education, entertainment, social media, and blogging. During his off time, Kevin enjoys traveling and cooking. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter, Linkedin, and Google+.

Filed Under: Job Search | Resumes & Cover Letters

Tags: Career Change | Job Application | Transferable Skills | Work Experience

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