How to write a cover letter with no experience
When you don’t have much experience in the field you’re applying to, writing a cover letter can feel like a daunting task. While you might be tempted to submit your application without one, that would be a big mistake.
A thoughtful cover letter is one of the best advantages you can give yourself when it comes to showing a hiring manager that your lack of experience won’t be an issue. That’s because a cover letter is a tool that allows you to explain your motivations, strengths and goals – even with no experience.
In this blog, we’ll dive into all the aspects of writing a cover letter with no experience, including:
- What to put on your cover letter when applying to your first job
- How to make your personality traits and transferable skills work for you
- A template for formatting a no experience cover letter
- Our top cover letter examples for entry-level positions
We’ll list several entry-level cover letters at the end of this guide, but you can always browse our considerable library of free cover letter examples for more inspiration.
Writing a cover letter for your first job
One of the most common situations where job seekers find themselves writing a cover letter with no experience is when they are applying to their first job. If this is the case for you, it’s important to remember that everyone started somewhere and while it may have nothing to say on your cover letter that couldn’t be further from the truth!
Instead of discussing your past work experiences, a cover letter for your first job should focus on your willingness to learn and the personality traits that make you perfect for the field. For example, if you’re hoping to land a job as a hostess in a restaurant, your cover letter should convey a cheery personality, patience, efficiency and a desire to help others. Try to think of volunteer or student activities that allowed you to demonstrate these skills in a concrete way. Then, mention them on your cover letter.
Here’s an adaptable example of how to accomplish this:
While a hostess position with Texas Steakhouse would be my first work experience in a restaurant, I believe my positive attitude, customer service skills and efficiency would make me an excellent addition to the team.
As a volunteer with Meals on Wheels, I’m used to answering calls, scheduling deliveries and greeting customers during drop-offs. I believe the patience and communication skills needed for this work would carry over to my duties as a hostess.
Another aspect to discuss when writing a cover letter for your first job is the source of your interest or passion for the field. A hiring manager likely doesn’t expect you to work as a barista for the rest of your life, but if you can show that you have an interest in the science of making good coffee – or at least that you enjoy drinking it – you’re already ahead of candidates who are just looking for any old entry-level position.
Check out this example of how to communicate your interest:
As a law student at the University of Nebraska, it’s no surprise that coffee has become a big part of my routine. In the past two years, I’ve come to appreciate the art of good coffee and have even spent some time researching and investing in the best home brewing methods. I believe my love for crafting the perfect drink along with my positive attitude and willingness to learn make me a great candidate for the part-time barista position with Campus Coffee Roaster.
Cover letter with no experience in that specific field
Another situation you might run into at some point in your career is trying to write a cover letter with no experience in a specific field. This is likely the case if it’s time to make a career switch, especially one that you didn’t prepare for.
Just like before, writing a cover letter might seem impossible, but it’s actually the key to showing a hiring manager that you’ve got what it takes – even without hard experience on your resume. It all starts by highlighting your transferable skills.
Look for instances in your previous experience where you demonstrated the same core qualities or skills needed in the field you’re applying to. For example, if you used to work as a server in a restaurant, but are looking for a position in customer service, your ability to answer questions, memorize product information and organize your time efficiently are all great transferable skills that show how you would quickly adapt to the customer service role.
Here’s an adaptable example based on that scenario:
Customer service agent hasn’t yet been my official job title, but it’s always been at the heart of what I do. As a server working one of the city’s busiest seafood restaurants, I’ve practiced my ability to offer polite and friendly service. Answering questions, conveying product details and making sure to help each customer in an efficient manner are my strengths, and I believe they are key skills that will allow me to quickly adapt to the customer service role.
Cover letter no experience but willing to learn
Writing about your willingness to learn is always a great idea when writing a cover letter with no experience. It generally works better for entry-level positions where hiring managers are accustomed to teaching motivated beginners. However, if applying to a more serious role, you may want to consider offering clear examples of times when you proved your ability to learn quickly and on the job. You’ll need to prove your value over candidates who already have some experience by highlighting personality traits that make you stand out.
Here’s a cover letter template that allows you to mention your willingness to learn:
Your phone number
Your email address
Your LinkedIn and/or other relevant social media
Name of employer
Mailing address of employer
Dear (hiring manager's name),
I am excited to apply for an (position name) position with (company name). When I heard about the opening via (place you heard about it), I knew it was the right job for me considering my (skills, interests, other reasons that explains your interest).
As a (previous volunteer position or otherwise) I was able to (skill or experience completed) in order to (result accomplished.) I believe my (relevant skills) make me the right candidate for your position and will allow me to bring (examples of what you can offer the company).
While this would be my first professional experience as a (job title), I’ve demonstrated my ability to learn quickly and to adapt to various tasks as a member of (previous role.) There, I was able to (what you accomplished) in only (time period) after applying myself to the task and asking for assistance from more experienced colleagues when needed.
I would jump at the chance to put my (relevant skills or traits) to work for (company name) and hope to speak with you in the near future. You can reach me at (phone) or (email.) Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Top no experience cover letter mistakes to avoid
When you don’t have experience to put on your cover letter, you have to work a bit harder to show a hiring manager why they should take a chance on you. Don’t let these three common mistakes get in the way of that message.
Poor formatting: Professional formatting can go a long way in making up for the experience you lack. Make sure your cover letter includes a well-organized header with your name and contact information. A touch of color can also help to create an attractive presentation.
Spelling and grammar mistakes: These little errors can cost you big time when the hiring manager decides you don’t have enough focus or attention to detail for their opening. Luckily you can avoid these mistakes with spell check or by asking a friend to proofread.
Generic cover letter: Even though you’re not an expert in the field, you should still have some idea of your goals and interests. A generic cover letter sent to many hiring managers says just the opposite. In order to avoid looking desperate to land any job that comes your way, you’ll want to tailor each cover letter to the specific company and position you’re applying for using details from the job description.
Getting the length of your cover letter right is a big way to increase your professional credibility. Generally speaking, a great cover letter should be between 200-400 words. Write fewer words than that and you risk not conveying all your strengths, too much more and you might start to lose the hiring manager’s attention. Remember, a cover letter should never be longer than one page in length.