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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Cover Letter Examples for Students and Recent Graduates
The following cover letters and cover letter templates are designed especially for high school students, as well as for college students and recent graduates seeking employment.
If you're a student or a new grad, you may not have much experience in the workforce. This can make building a resume and writing a cover letter challenging. After all, if you haven't worked previously, what information can you include in these two documents?
What to Include in Your Cover Letter
Fortunately, on-the-job experience is not the only thing that shows your abilities. You can also mention volunteer work, academic achievements, participation in clubs or activities, and internships. Your academic background is also an asset. Include details that are relevant to the position you want (use the job description as your guide to the qualities and training the employer seeks).
If you are an honors student with a GPA higher than 3.5, it is a good idea to mention this on a cover letter as well, along with any honors societies you have been inducted into.
Another things you can mention are soft skills – interpersonal “people” skills like creative thinking, communication, team work, or time management that will help you to adapt easily to the people and clients or customers you will be working with.
Your goal in this cover letter is to show how you would be an asset to the company, describing the skills you bring that would allow you to perform well in the position.
Below, you'll find a list of student cover letters, listed by position and level of experience, to help you develop your own cover letter.
Sample Student / Recent Graduate Cover Letters
Cover Letter Templates
Before you can begin writing your cover letter, it's important to know the guidelines governing these letters.
Unlike a casual email to a friend, there are set standards for how to greet recipients, organize the letter's content, and much more.
That's where templates can help: they allow you to know what information to put where, and they help you format your letter correctly. Review the templates below:
Student and Recent Graduate Cover Letter Samples
This list of cover letters includes both general examples that will help you format your letter, as well as sample cover letters used to apply for specific positions, such as roles as a nanny or a marketing assistant.
Do not copy these sample letters — instead, use them as a guide to help you know what kind of information to include, and how to format your letter.
Cover Letter Writing Tips
Cover Letter Writing Guide
This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to write a cover letter, including what to include in the letter, how to write it, and the proper cover letter format.
Plus, find out about how to write a targeted cover letter and browse through additional cover letter samples and examples.
Cover Letter Tips
Here are cover letter tips and techniques for writing top notch cover letters to send with your resume, including cover letter format and presentation, choosing a type of cover letter, writing custom cover letters, and cover letter examples and templates.