Landing a job is a challenge for many professionals. Landing a job without any experience can be an even bigger challenge.
As a job seeker without any experience, it’s discouraging when you’ve applied for dozens (or hundreds) of jobs and received zero responses from employers. Although you might feel like giving up on your job search, it’s important to persevere and continue writing cover letters that will make you stand out to employers.
Here are some tips for writing a cover letter when you have little or no experience:
First Paragraph: Clearly introduce yourself.
The first paragraph is your opportunity to make a strong first impression on the employer. This section should explain who you are, the position you’re interested in, and how you discovered the opportunity.
[Related: Employers, learn how to get strategic to attract the right applicants by being specific about these 11 things.]
The introduction is also a great opportunity to mention and connections you have with the organization. For example, if you know a previous intern or alumni who worked for the organization, be sure to mention his or her name in your introduction.
“My name is Sarah and I’m a recent graduate from Purdue University. I graduated in December with a B.A. in communications and a minor in marketing. An alumni forwarded me a job posting about your Associate Marketer position at ABC Media Group. I’m highly interested in this opportunity because I’d make a great fit for your agency.”
Second Paragraph: Talk about your relevant skills and accomplishments.
This section is the biggest challenge for job seekers with little or no experience. It’s also the section where many job seekers make mistakes because they don’t know how to highlight their relevant skills and classroom experience.
As you explain why you’re qualified for the position, it’s important to connect the dots with the employer. For instance, if you didn’t have a marketing internship but you’ve gained a lot of marketing experience through a part-time job in student services, you could highlight the communications skills and experience you gained through that position.
“I realize you’re looking for a candidate with strong written and oral communications skills, as well as experience with event planning and strategy development. As an office assistant in Purdue’s Office of Student Life, I was responsible for planning and promoting campus movie nights for students. This project required me to promote the event on social media, send email blasts to students, and design flyers to post around campus.”
Third Paragraph: Highlight your best qualities and explain why you’re a good fit.
Most employers want to hire candidates who are creative, team players, and have strong time management skills. Although you consider yourself a great fit for the position, you need to use examples that illustrate why you’re a good fit for the job. The reality is, simply stating that you have excellent time management skills and a knack for leadership won’t land you a job.
When talking about your qualities, it’s important to talk about real-life examples. The key point to remember here is to make sure your examples are succinct and visual.
“During my final semester at Purdue, I led a group of three students to create a marketing campaign for an animal shelter in Indianapolis. I was responsible for leading brainstorming sessions, communicating with our client, and editing the final version of the campaign. Through this project, I learned how to collaborate with others and work effectively in a team in order to accomplish a common goal.”
Fourth Paragraph: Conclude with a call to action.
The final paragraph is the section that will seal the deal for a job interview. You want to leave a lasting impression on the reader, so make sure your conclusion is confident, upbeat, and encourages the hiring manager to get in touch with you.
“With the combination of my marketing experience and leadership skills, I’m confident I’d make a great fit your this position. Thank you for taking the time to review my application and consider me as a candidate. I will follow up next Wednesday to schedule a time to talk with you more about this position. I look forward to hearing from you soon!”
After you’ve proofread the cover letter and are confident it’s error-free, you’re ready to send it to the hiring manager. Make sure you’ve included a header at the top of the document including your contact information and a shortened URL for your LinkedIn account. Once the document is ready, save it as a PDF and attach to an email for the hiring manager. This will ensure the formatting of your cover letter doesn’t change once it’s downloaded by the recipient.
Just because you don’t have experience doesn’t mean you can’t write a stellar cover letter. By following these tips, you’ll write a cover letter that gets you noticed by employers and land your first entry-level job.
What are your best tips for writing a cover letter without experience?
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Many job applicants struggle to write the perfect cover letter even in the best of circumstances. They recognize the important role that the cover letter plays in their effort to capture the hiring manager’s attention, but aren’t always sure how to accomplish their writing goals. That effort can be even more of a struggle when they have no real work experience to include in their resume. How do you write a cover letter with no experience? While that can be a challenge, rest assured that it can be done!
Who Might Need this Type of Cover Letter?
There are many applicants who find themselves wrestling with this problem at the beginning of their careers. We all start somewhere. And while there was once a time when it seemed like almost every young person spent at least part of his or her youth with a part-time job or two, these days it’s more and more common for high school and college graduates to leave school without ever having worked a day in their lives. They all need to know how to write and utilize a cover letter with no experience.
This also goes for people changing careers who may not have any relevant experience to the position they’re targeting.
The Basic Elements of Your Cover Letter
Even though it’s an entry level cover letter, no experience doesn’t necessarily mean that you can skimp on details. There are certain basic elements that must be in this letter, and they are like those found in any cover letter:
- Basic contact information – This includes your name, email address, and a phone number that can be used to reach you. While formatting can vary, it’s common to place this information at the top of the page, on the right side of the document.
- The company information should go on the left side of the page, and should include the company name and the name of the contact person.
- You also need a reference line, to define the topic – such as “RE: Application for Office Manager Position”
The body of your cover letter should be relatively brief, containing roughly three paragraphs:
- You need an opening paragraph to introduce yourself to the hiring manager.
- The second paragraph should be used to showcase all the skills and qualities that match those needed for the job.
- Your third paragraph should detail how those traits make you the best candidate for the job.
You can close with a wrap-up that tells the hiring manager that you’ll be following up soon. That can be as simple as “I’ll try to contact you by phone on Wednesday at around 3:00 PM to follow-up and hopefully schedule an interview. I look forward to having the opportunity to discuss the job in more detail then.”
Keep the cover letter length at around half a page to 2/3 page long.
Writing a Cover Letter with No Experience
Paragraph 1: The Opener
Introduce yourself to the employer in one or two sentences by explaining who you are, which job you’re applying for, and how you learned about it. If someone referred you to the job, feel free to mention that (if you’re already using LinkedIn, that can be a great place to get these types of job referrals). For example,
Paragraph 2: The Skill Rundown
The next paragraph is critical. For your cover letter, no experience is available. That means that you need to focus attention on the relevant skills that you possess that can make you a good candidate for the job. There are several different things that you can include here:
- Personal characteristics and strengths that demonstrate that you can thrive in a professional environment
- Coursework and volunteer experience that may have given you an opportunity to showcase your talents
- The general skill sets that you possess that can be transferable to the job at hand
- Actual achievements that are relevant to the position.
When developing this paragraph, be sure to refer to the job posting. You should have already selected various critical keywords from that posting, so make certain that you use them in the letter when discussing your strengths. If they used the words self-starter, then try to identify an achievement that demonstrates that quality in your own life – and use the same term when describing that accomplishment. For example,
If you can do something similar with your other skills, you can lay the groundwork for that all-important third paragraph. This connects the dots between your skills and the employer’s needs.
Paragraph 3: The Sales Pitch
The final paragraph should be the functional equivalent of your elevator pitch – encapsulated in one powerful sales pitch. Try to tell very brief stories that demonstrate why you’re the right person for the job. For example,
Finally, don’t forget to add a call to action (Super Important) asking the hiring manager to call and schedule an interview. You should also thank them for the consideration.
Putting it all together –
Cover Letter With No Experience Example:
The Bottom Line
When you’re trying to put together a cover letter with no experience, it can be a real challenge to convince an employer that you have what it takes to handle his company’s job. Always remember, though, that you have skills and personal characteristics – as well as a history of accomplishments outside the workforce.
By learning to highlight those strengths, you can still create a cover letter that can help you get that all-important interview. Of course, if you’re looking for truly professional cover letters that can help you get noticed, we’re always here to help.
Good luck with your job search!
“My name is Sarah and I’m a recent graduate from the University of Southern Alabama. I learned about your company’s job opening for an XYZ operator from Smith Smithington on LinkedIn. I’m very interested in applying for that position, and am confident that I have the requisite skills and characteristics that your company is seeking.”
“I note that the position requires someone who’s not afraid to take the initiative in group project settings. I’ve always prided myself on my ability to be a self-starter, and have personally launched major website endeavors for our USA band fundraising activities and campus book drives. In both efforts, our groups raised funds that exceeded the respective target goals by 50% and 63%.”
“My organizational skills have also been put to the test in other real-world settings, as when I worked on the Mayor’s campaign and helped assemble her get-out-the-vote effort. During my high school career, I took the initiative in developing the sales campaign used to fund the purchase of new equipment for the basketball team, and subsequently organized the city-wide sales effort to fund our trip to the state tournament.”