Whether you were downsized out of your previous position or you are looking for a career change to your dream job, a cover letter is very important when contacting a prospective employer. A dynamic cover letter should emphasize your transferable skills and relevant achievements, as well as your passion and objective.
Even if you lack experience in your prospective career field, you may have transferable skills. Leadership and managerial skills transfer from almost any career. Computer and technology skills are also relevant in many career fields. Use your cover letter to exemplify the things you can do and have done, rather than point out what you are missing.
Emphasize achievements and awards rather than job duties. For example, if you were the top sales person at your previous employer, that kind of dedication and hard work is relevant to a new position, even if it is not in the sales field.
Be passionate and focused. Even if you are making a drastic career change, any employer will be impressed by motivation and desire. Show your passion in your cover letter by demonstrating your enthusiasm and willingness to learn. If you are willing to take an entry-level or lower paying job just to get into the door, say that.
Your cover letter is your first impression, use it to demonstrate what you have done in the past, as well as what you can do in the future for your potential employer.