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?
TagsCover LetterCover Letter TipsEntry-level
I'm always pushing job seekers to use a relaxed tone in their cover letters. But sometimes a formal cover letter is the right way to go. This is one of those times.
Andrew's Cover Letter for My Review
Andrew sent me this cover letter sample, asking for my help with his entry-level job search.
With this covering letter and attached resume, I would like to express my interest in obtaining employment for an entry-level job position. I submit my qualifications and interest in working with your reputed institution. I have a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Degree in Accounting from the African Methodist Episcopal University. It is often said that to operate effectively within a financial environment, one must be tenacious, analytical, and highly dedicated. I want to obtain a full position in a banking institution that will utilize my analytical and financial background. I can assure you that if given this opportunity, I would be pleased to apply my competencies to add value as a member of your team. I would relish the challenge of working for such a high-profile institution and admire your commitment to customer service.Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to you to arrange an interview.
Enclosures: Resume and References.
My Take on Andrew's Rather Formal Cover Letter
I really like the polite tone of your cover letter. Thank you for sharing it with us.
I have a few comments that I hope will make it a bit better.
- Although it was once common to start a letter with "Dear Sir/Madam" it is now considered old-fashioned. It would be better to start with "Dear Hiring Manager" or "Dear Manager."
- The word "reputed" seems a little too much (almost like flattery). I suggest you delete that word.
- It would be good to make a new paragraph with the sentence "It is often said...".
- Perhaps you could say "I would like to obtain..." instead of "I want to obtain...". It's just a little more gentle.
- See how it looks if you make another new paragraph with the sentence, "I can assure you...".
- In the same sentence, I suggest you delete "be pleased to" and "apply my competencies to" so it reads: "I can assure you that if given this opportunity, I would add value as a member of your team."
- In the next sentence, the word "relish" is not quite right. I suggest using "welcome" instead. Also, I suggest using "would uphold" instead of "admire."
- The last sentence needs help. Here's another way to close your letter: "I would very much appreciate the opportunity of a job interview."
The overall tone of your letter is bit formal, but I think it is appropriate given your field. It also hints that you are from a non-American culture. If I'm correct about this, then the tone of your letter is very good. If you want to sound more American (not something I'm pushing for) then think about rewriting the whole thing with a more relaxed tone.
A Quick Rewrite of Andrew's Cover Letter Sample
I took a stab at rewriting your cover letter, using the points above and making a few more edits. Here you go.
With this cover letter and attached resume, I would like to express my interest in obtaining employment for an entry-level position at ____ (name of firm). I have a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree in Accounting from the African Methodist Episcopal University.
It is often said that to operate effectively within a financial environment, one must be tenacious, analytical, and highly dedicated. I can assure you that as a member of your team, I would bring these attributes to your firm. I would welcome the challenge of working for such a high-profile institution and would uphold your commitment to excellent customer service.
Thank you for your consideration. I would very much appreciate the opportunity of a job interview.
Enclosures: Resume and References
I think this version keeps your formal tone while making your message a little more streamlined. I hope it helps you land that entry-level job you're looking for.
More Sample Cover Letters
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