You’ve worked for thirty years, and now you’ve packed up your desk, enjoyed your last slice of goodbye-party cake, and headed out the office doors for the last time. But the universe is a funny place. And instead of relaxing on the beach for the duration of your golden years, you’re now finding yourself back in the work game, staying up late to edit and polish your cover letter and resume for a new position as . . . something completely new to you. Who knew?
Maybe after the first few months, the beach just wasn’t doing it for you anymore. Or maybe, like many workers in our modern economy, you just realized you didn't financial flexibility you need in order to take the rest of your life off. For any number of reasons, the workforce is calling you back. And the job you’re looking for represents a radical departure from whatever you used to do.
Here are a few cover letter tips that can help you reach your next destination on a somewhat-longer-than-expected career path.
1. Dial back
Yes, you were an attorney for four decades. And yes, during that time, your case record was excellent, you earned new business for the firm, and you got an advanced degree. But your new potential employers—employers that have may or may not have anything to do with law—don’t really need to know all the finest, most-minute details from this time. Provide a very high-level view of who you were as a professional in your previous career, and draw a line to the transferable skills that connect you to the job you're now applying for. This leads into our next point.
2. Emphasize relevant skill sets, not impressive ones
What skills do you have from your previous career that are relevant to the new job you are going after? Talk them up in your cover letter (and your resume). In your cover letter, discuss how you would use you one of your transferable skills to succeed in the new job.
3. Emphasize your open-mindedness and willingness to learn new things
Employers often have concerns about older applicants that are rooted in these two issues. Fair or not, older workers are often perceived as rigid thinkers who are bound to their ways. Make it clear that this doesn’t apply to you. Note your eagerness to learn new things.
4. Emphasize your role as a team player
Unfortunately, older candidates are also sometimes perceived as difficult to manage. Senior workers are sometimes accustomed to giving orders, not taking them, and this can signal problems with your productivity and successful adaptation to a new workplace. If you have strong credentials as a flexible, supportive person, make this clear.
5. Be very upfront about your tech skills
Speak the language. Feel free to incorporate relevant jargon and buzzwords into your cover letter and resume. While younger candidates are wise to avoid this move, you can go ahead and do the opposite. Also, if there is a nice-to-have tech skill listed in the job ad and you don't have it (but you want it!), discuss it in your cover letter.
A Great Cover Letter (and Resume) Can Set You Apart
Above all, present your potential employers with a cover letter and resume that are both well-written and formatted. For guidelines and templates that can help with both, visit LiveCareer and use our incredibly easy-to-use Cover Letter Builder and Resume Builder.