Writing an articulate cover letter is challenging for all job seekers. But if you have little or no work experience in a field, the stakes are higher.
It’s more challenging to prove your value when you don’t have a series of professional accomplishments to back up your assertions.
On the bright side, you probably have more to offer an employer than you realize. You just have to package your strengths the right way.
In this article, you’re going to learn how to write a cover letter for a job with no experience in that field. And we’ll look at a full sample after going through the steps.
Let’s get started…
The purpose of a cover letter is to complement your resume and convince more employers to interview you.
You may refer to your resume when writing a cover letter for a job application, but you must expand upon points made in the resume when writing the cover letter.
The cover letter should breathe life into the points made in the resume, and create a compelling—or even emotional—narrative around your career hopes and aspirations. It’s your chance to tell your story and show that you have the passion and the drive to come into a job and make a difference.
And at the end, it should ASK for the interview. We’ll talk about that coming up. Let’s get started by going through how to write a cover letter with no experience, step-by-step…
When beginning a cover letter for a job application, start with your contact details in the top left-hand corner of the page. Include your name, city of residence, phone number, and email address. (To preserve your privacy, do not include your physical address). You should also include your LinkedIn URL. Next, write the name of the company you’re applying to, and its city of residence.
Ideally, you address your reader by name in your salutation. Internet sleuthing may reveal the name of the hiring manager. If you can’t find a name, you have two options: call the organization and ask to learn more about the position, or write “Dear [Company Name]” or “Dear Hiring Manager.”
This isn’t ideal, though. You should really only be sending a cover letter if you know the hiring manager’s name and have some specific information about the position. So if you know nothing specific about the hiring manager or job, and the company hasn’t asked for a cover letter specifically, then you probably don’t need to send it.
Use this section of your cover letter to introduce yourself and share your enthusiasm for the position.
Start with your name and provide some background on your strengths. Always identify the position you’re seeking and how you learned about it.
If someone at the company told you about the job, then mention that person’s name (only after asking their permission, though). Aim for one to two sentences in your Introduction—keep it short, sweet, and precise.
Example Cover Letter Introduction with No Experience in the Field:
“Hello, my name is Grace Addington, and I’m a goals- and details-oriented civil engineering graduate from Petaluma College. I was excited to learn about the Junior Engineer internship at Bay Area Rapid Transportation through my former classmate Katie Heinz.”
Here comes the most critical part of writing a cover letter with no experience.
The purpose of your body paragraphs (one to two brief paragraphs, tops) is to prove that you’re the best candidate for the position.
Seeing as how you have little or no previous professional work experience to fall back on, you’ll want to place emphasis on soft skills—attributes of a personal nature that say a lot about your work ethic and ability to work in sync with others.
Or, if you have job-related skills (AKA hard skills) from another type of role, point out how those skills will help you transition into this next job and succeed quickly.
That’s what hiring managers are looking for!
So while it’s great to write about soft skills and put together a cover letter talking about how you’re willing to learn their job… it’s much better to point out any hands-on experience that you have.
So if you’re able, always highlight that first and foremost.
For example, if you had an internship, worked in an unrelated field, did a few academic projects while studying, gave a presentation, etc., those are still valuable pieces to put on your resume AND in your cover letter.
Your resume likely already consists of part-time jobs or school activities or memberships in school associations that maybe aren’t 100% related to the job you’re going after.
Look closer, though—you’ve probably garnered skills in these experiences that can carry over to the job you’re applying for. Below are two examples of cover letter body paragraphs that hone in on two key phrases noted in a job advertisement as requirements: “strong interpersonal skills” and “positive work ethic.” You should be able to figure out pretty quickly which example hits the mark.
“I am Twig & Twine’s ideal office manager. As my resume states, I served as an RA at my dorm. I know how to manage an array of things.”
“You’re looking for a candidate with strong interpersonal skills and a positive work ethic. While serving as an RA at Porter College’s main dormitory, I planned monthly social events for over 200 students, settled two to five student disputes per-week, and mentored a select group of students in Composition. The experience taught me, rather quickly, how to efficiently multi-task, and how to effectively settle conflicts of all types in a calm, level-headed manner. I feel confident stating that I can bring these talents to Twig & Twine’s office manager position.”
The second example takes the duties that likely appeared in the RA position on the resume and then digs deep, illustrating how the tackling of those duties turned into accomplishments, and led the applicant to grow the crucial skills needed for the office manager position.
One last thing about body paragraphs—remember to frame your message around the employer’s needs, and not yours.
Focus on what you can bring to the job, and how your talents will translate into success for the company. That’s important in any cover letter, and becomes even more crucial in a cover letter with no previous work experience.
End your cover letter by reiterating why you’re the best candidate and express your interest once again in the position.
And ask them for the interview! It’s surprising but most job seekers don’t do this, and it’s been shown to improve your chances of getting a call to come in an interview!
So conclude your cover letter by thanking the reader for the time they took to review your application, and tell them you’d like to find a time to meet for an interview to see if it might be a good fit to work together.
To close, sign off formally. Try “Respectfully yours” or “Sincerely.”
Before sending out your new cover letter, read it out loud to catch errors quickly. Ask a trustworthy person to read it as well.
Nothing stops you from getting interviews faster than an obvious typo or error in your cover letter or resume, and you only have to check once, but make sure you’re checking it thoroughly!
Once the content is finalized, save as a PDF and title it “[Your Name] Cover Letter” to prevent confusion. Voila! You’re done.
If you follow the tips above, you’ll have a great cover letter with no experience so you can get interviews and job offers in this new field!
Next, let’s look at a full sample of a cover letter that explains why you’d fit well in a role (and why you chose to apply for this type of role):
I’m writing to you regarding to the Sales Associate job posting, which I believe reports to you.
I can offer 5+ years of experience working directly with customers over the phone and in person, primarily in customer support.
Although I haven’t worked directly in sales, my customer support experience has helped me build skills in communication, persuasion, and problem solving, which I believe will translate well into selling software subscriptions for your firm.
I’m motivated to transition into sales to continue challenging myself and growing in my career, and I’ve always enjoyed a challenge, which I think working in sales will provide me.
I’ve attached my resume for your review. If any of the above sounds interesting, I’d welcome the chance to talk on the phone this week.
Thanks for considering my note today.
This cover letter is upfront and clear that you have no experience in the field of sales, but shows that you’re willing to learn, and excited to learn this new job. That’s essential!
You don’t JUST want to say you’re willing to learn, though. You want to PROVE that you’ll be able to learn. That’s why this letter also mentions the experience you have that most similar. In the case of the example above, it’s the customer service experience and communication skills.
While this person may not have sold anything to customers, they still interacted with customers directly, which will be seen as a plus.
One other thing you should always point out if possible: Experience working in the same industry. So if you’ve never done sales, but you did customer support in the exact same industry as the employer, that’s a huge plus… because it means you’ll have less learning needed on the job!
About this guest author:
Since 2005, LiveCareer’s team of career coaches, certified resume writers, and savvy technologists have been developing career tools that have helped over 10 million users build stronger resumes, write persuasive cover letters, and develop better interview skills. Land the job you want faster using our free samples, templates, writing guides, and easy-to-use resume-builder software.