Writing a Cover Letter With Little to No Work Experience

You're ready to churn out those cover letters and apply to jobs, but you have no experience. What do you do? Follow these helpful tips, of course!

Recent grads and others who are new to the workforce often find themselves stumped when it comes to writing a cover letter. What do you write in the letter if you have no work experience? Rather than learning how to write a cover letter with no experience, these jobseekers will often skip writing one altogether. Don’t make the same mistake! Just by writing a cover letter, you put yourself ahead of the competition. Recruiters and hiring managers look at cover letters to get more information about your background and ability to communicate. A cover letter can be the tie breaker between two similarly qualified candidates. The following guidelines will help you write a cover letter, even if you have no experience in the workforce.

The 5 sections of a cover letter

When you’re writing a cover letter with no experience, you should focus on your transferrable skills to get noticed by hiring managers. Your cover letter should include five main sections:

1. A personalized greeting

Addressing the hiring manager is a great way to get noticed. It shows you were interested enough in the role to do your research. Whenever possible, address your cover letter to a specific person by researching the hiring manager’s name on LinkedIn. If you can’t find the name of the recruiter or hiring manager, it’s okay to address your letter to “Dear Hiring Manager.” However, do your best to avoid generic greetings such as “To Whom It May Concern.”

Related: How to Write a Strong Professional Email People Will Read 

2. Opening paragraph

The first paragraph of your cover letter is your mission statement. It should outline why you’re applying to the company, what position you’re applying for, and your motivation for applying to this specific position. If you have a connection at the company, you’ll want to mention it here. For example, you might write:

My name is Heather Masterson, and I’m a recent graduate of Penn State University. I graduated in May with a BA in Marketing and a minor in Advertising. Jessica Smith, a project manager in the marketing department, suggested that I apply for the open Marketing Associate position at Giant Company. With my academic background and skills, I believe I’d be a great fit for your agency.

3. Second paragraph

In the second paragraph of your cover letter, write your “hook.” Especially for a job seeker writing a cover letter with no experience, you’ll want to clearly outline what you have to offer the company. In this paragraph, you should make a connection between your qualifications and the job ad. Since you don’t have work experience, you’ll want to discuss your relevant transferrable skills, such as strong written and verbal communication. You might also mention relevant experience like an internship, volunteer experience, or leadership role you held in school or sports. For example, you might write:

Your job ad makes it clear that you seek a candidate with strong written and verbal communications skills, and someone who understands email marketing best practices. During my time at Penn State, I had the opportunity to take two email marketing courses, which taught me clear written and verbal communication skills and allowed me to become comfortable making presentations in front of large groups.

Related: Writing a Postgrad Résumé With Little to No Experience

4. Body

The body of your cover letter should be one short paragraph or a bulleted list of your qualifications, value proposition, or examples of your accomplishments. If you’ve won academic awards, mention them in this section. For example, you might write:

During my last year at Penn State, I spearheaded a campaign to make the campus more eco-friendly. As the leader of Green Campus, I organized brainstorming sessions, wrote the final version of the campaign, and oversaw the creation of a page on the University’s website and signage that was hung around campus. During the first year of the campaign, the campus collected 20% more recycling and 30% more compost than the previous year.

5. Closing paragraph

Your closing paragraph should summarize the contents of the letter and reiterate what you’d bring to the table. It should also thank the employer for taking time to read both your cover letter and résumé. Remember to include your contact information in this section. For example, you might write:

With my background in marketing and communications and my leadership experience, I’m confident that I could bring a lot to the table in the Marketing Associate role. I can be reached at 555-555-5555. Thank you for taking the time to review my credentials. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Related: 7 Must-Know Tips for Writing a Killer Cover Letter

Now that you know the main sections of a cover letter and how you can write one without a lot of experience, you'll be ready to churn out these documents like it's your job—but if you follow these tips, you won't have to for long. Best of luck in your career search!

Find more cover letter and résumé tips in our Internships and Careers section.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Joycelyn

Joycelyn

High School Class of 2023

I’m currently a college freshman attending Towson University. My major is Information Technology, and I plan to minor in Electronic Media & Film to achieve my goal of becoming a production engineer. Upon graduating high school earlier this year, I was awarded a $5,000 scholarship from CollegeXpress, which greatly assisted in paying my tuition. Truthfully, this financial reward was the difference in affording my room and board and tuition, along with other expenses for school. My family and I haven’t stopped celebrating my award since it was bestowed on me. I will never forget this opportunity for allowing me to get my foot into my university financially.

Sadie Hartmann

Sadie Hartmann

High School Class of 2021

I'm a senior in high school, and CollegeXpress has helped me in so many ways this year in trying to navigate the process of deciding and committing to a university. The COVID-19 Student Resource Center has helped me many times with the most up-to-date and accurate information, along with financial aid and student life [advice]. During these uncertain times, CollegeXpress has been a great recourse to relieve the stress as a senior. Along with the COVID-19 Student Resource Center, I'm constantly using the extremely helpful tools off the site to aid me during this stressful process. Tools like the lists and rankings of universities have been the most beneficial. I've also used the site to receive expert advice on topics like financial aid. Finally, CollegeXpress has helped me easily apply for several scholarships. I'm thankful to be given the chance to win a scholarship to lessen the burden of my college debt.

Leah Maciel

Leah Maciel

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me with all aspects of applying for college. The website is extremely easy to navigate and gives access to so many resources. I was able to research all of the colleges I was interested in, find out any information I wished to know about, and keep them organized in a list. I've also been able to research scholarships and save them as resources for later. I've used many websites in my college and scholarship search, and CollegeXpress has by far been my favorite one to use.

Anthony Vidal

Anthony Vidal

High School Class of 2023

CollegeXpress has helped me in a series of different ways when it comes to finding scholarships and learning information about different universities. I actually found my dream university through CollegeXpress and am working on getting there.

Daniel Ogunlokun

Daniel Ogunlokun

High School Class of 2022

When I started looking at colleges in the beginning of my senior year, I was conflicted about which ones I wanted to attend based on safety, tuition costs, location, academic rigor, and prestige. Searching the internet and getting more questions than answers, I came across CollegeXpress, which made all the steps I had taken look like a minor issue. Everything was summarized and detailed, and I couldn't be more thankful and appreciative.

College Matches
X

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Hendrix College

Conway, AR

Grace College

Winona Lake, IN

Ohio University

Athens, OH