Searching for a job takes time and planning. When looking for a new job, you may find that some companies you are interested in working for do not have openings. Instead of avoiding those companies, introduce yourself by writing and sending a cover letter of inquiry along with your resume. Before you write your letter, take time to learn about the company. Write your letter carefully to present your skills and experience in the best light.
Set up your letter using the proper business format. If you are sending a hard copy of the cover letter, put your name and contact information on the top of the stationary. Include your e-mail address and a phone number where the employer can reach you.
If emailing a letter, begin the letter by greeting the person using a formal greeting. For example, do not begin the letter with “Dear John,” but instead use “Dear Mr. Smith.” Close your letter using “Sincerely.” Remember to physically sign your letter if sending a hard copy.
Send your letter to a specific person within the organization. Check online or call the company and ask who manages the department you would like to work in. Ask for the proper spelling.
If you cannot find the information, address your cover letter to the Human Resources Director of the company. Avoid sending a generic cover letter addressed to “Dear Sir or Madam” when writing a letter of interest. Taking the time to find out whom to send the letter to shows the employer you are serious about your job search.
State the reason for your letter in the first paragraph. Begin your letter with a phrase similar to, “The purpose of this letter is to express my interest in working for your organization.” Change the wording to be specific to the organization or company you are writing.
Continue the first paragraph by communicating why you are interested in the company. Mention something that you admire about the organization. For example, mention its level of commitment to the environment, its innovative products or its reputation for excellent customer service.
Summarize your skills and experience in the middle paragraph. Keep your sentences short and focused. Let the reader know why you would be a good fit for the company by focusing on your strengths. Include any supervisory experience you have.
If you are willing to relocate, let the potential employer know. Do not be shy about highlighting your accomplishments, as this may be your only communication with the employer.
Close your cover letter by thanking the person for taking the time to read your letter. Continue the last paragraph by telling the person to whom you addressed the letter that you will be calling in the next week to follow-up. If you are going to be in the area, tell the employer you are planning on visiting the office and would like to meet. Indicate that you are looking forward to hearing back from the company.
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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