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.”
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.