How to write a cover letter when you have no experience

A well-crafted cover letter can help you get a job over other candidates who didn’t bother to send one in.

How to write a cover letter when you have no experience

You can write a cover letter with a limited job history.

Landing your first job is no small feat. One reason it can be challenging is because you need to write a resume and cover letter, but you don’t have much to put on those two important piece of paper. You may be wondering how to write a cover letter with no experience to back you up. Don’t panic—it’s just the situation you’re in when you’re fresh out of school.

Still, putting your best foot forward when applying for an entry-level job is a must. A well-crafted cover letter can help you get a job over other candidates who didn’t bother to send one in. Take these steps to get the job done.

Get inside information

Before you sit down to write a cover letter, find out as much intel as possible regarding what the hiring manager is looking for from job candidates. Consider tapping into your college’s alumni network, to see if any fellow alums currently work at the company. These people may be able and willing to provide inside information that you can utilize when crafting your cover letter.

Open strong

As a recent graduate, the first paragraph of your cover letter should state your alma mater, major, and when you graduated. It should also specify what job you’re applying for.

For example: Your job posting for an assistant librarian fits my qualifications perfectly. I graduated in May from City College with a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics. 

Sell your skills and strengths

At the end of the day, every hiring manager cares about one thing: Finding the most qualified person for the job. That doesn’t necessarily mean finding the person with the most previous jobs. They key to how to write a cover letter with no experience is to show the value that you’d bring to the company and how your skills would make you a great employee.

Since you don’t have professional work experience, you’ll want to highlight the skills that you’ve gained during college (or high school, if you didn’t attend college). You can do this by showcasing academic achievements, extracurricular activities, special projects, and relevant courses, as well as any internship experience that you have.

If you have leadership experience—i.e., you served as president of your student government—consider making that the centerpiece of your value proposition.

Align your skills with the job responsibilities

Remember that the point of a cover letter is to show how you’d fulfill the employer’s needs. The best way to achieve that is to relate your skills to the job duties. So examine the job posting, paying close attention to the day-to-day tasks that are listed, and note why you’d be a good match. For instance, if the job requires working in Excel, you could provide an example of a project that you worked on in college that required you to apply your Excel skills.

Pull from the job description

Make sure to copy keywords from the job posting in your cover letter. This will help your cover letter get past an employer’s applicant tracking system (ATS), a software program that applies an algorithm to search for keywords in your cover letter and resume to determine if you’re an appropriate candidate for the job in question.

Mention specifics about the company

Look at the company’s latest press releases, media coverage, and social media activity. These sources may provide data that you can use in your cover letter. For instance, if the company recently announced on Twitter an upcoming product launch, that’s something you could incorporate into your cover letter to show you’ve done your research.

End with a call to action

All great cover letters end with a thank-you and a call to action, which, in most cases, is an invitation for the employer to contact you for an interview. For example: Please call me at 555-555-5555 to arrange an interview. Thank you for your time—I look forward to learning more about this opportunity.

Make your resume shine, too

Now that you know how to write a cover letter with no experience, it’s time to write a killer resume. Once again, you don’t need job experience to make your resume stand out. Need a little help crafting yours? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. You'll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume's appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter's first impression. Getting a great job when you have no experience is totally doable when you have the right tools.