So you’re working up the nerve to get that first job. You’re sitting at your desk, about to hit send on that application when you realise that you’re missing one key ingredient: your cover letter. Immediately, your hands start to sweat – you don’t know how to write a cover letter, and you have zero work experience.
Can a cover letter really be written from a newbie’s perspective? What are employers looking for in one, anyway? You don’t really know, and you’re starting to think you won’t ever get this job.
Boy, do we have great news for you:
You can still write a kickass cover letter without work experience. Here’s a template for you to refer to as you chew on this article – click here to download it now.
We’ve got a few strategies and tips for you as you get to work on it. Let’s dig in!
1. Begin with a memorable starting sentence
Forget about what your school taught you about expressing the purpose of your letter. Hiring managers already know what cover letters are for – you want to get hired! So how do you write a cover letter that stands out among an ocean of applications?
Capture their attention by introducing yourself in a unique way, like a quick fun fact about yourself that might be relevant to the job you’re applying for. Something like this:
“Back in university, I was known for being able to adapt to any situation.”
It might not seem like much at this point, but being unique is every bit as important as being right for the job. Let your prospective employers know why – and do it well. Just like how marketing pros work on incredibly catchy headlines to draw in their audience, you need to squeeze out a bit more brain juice to do the same for prospective employers. Spare no expense!
2. How to write a cover letter: Don’t treat it like an extended CV
Because cover letters aren’t your CVs! In fact, this is why having no work experience isn’t a barrier to writing a great cover letter. It’s more than just about the kind of experience you have – especially if you’re only applying for your first job. Cover letters can be a sort of introductory wave – and a chance for prospective employers to really get to know you before they even meet you.
After all, there’s more to you than just a stack of work experiences.
3. Talk about your skills and talents and be relevant
What more is there? Your unique skills and talent, of course!
While writing your cover letter for your first job, take some time to compare everything about yourself with the job you’re applying for. Are there any hobbies or particular talents that enable you to do this job better than anyone else? Your cover letter is your first chance to reveal this to prospective employers – so it’s not something you should skip.
We’re not saying you should be haolian or over-confident – but if there’s a need you can fill at the company with a skill you’re truly good at, let them know. Which brings us to our next tip!
4. You must identify or find out the company’s area of need (or pain point)
You already know about the open position, but it’s time to go a little deeper. Do your homework and research as you write your cover letter, because one key to standing out is being able to identify your prospective employer’s greatest need (that you can fulfill).
For example, if you’re applying to a company that is fairly new on social media:
“I notice that your company has just started up Instagram and Twitter accounts. Having used social media for many years for my own personal pursuits and side projects, I have a huge understanding of the platform algorithms and believe that I can supercharge your social media campaigns.”
How relevant is that? This will not only make a lasting impression on the hiring manager that reads your cover letter, but also – if done right – you’ll likely be called up for an interview quicker than you think, and people will be scrambling to hire the heck outta you. It’s important to show that you’re thoughtful and smart – not just mindlessly sending out job applications just because you need a little money in your pocket.
5. Direct your letter’s focus away from you and onto the company
As much as this is about you wanting to get a job so you don’t eat grass for months, it’s also about what your prospective employers can gain if they take you on. Instead of talking about how getting this job will affect you, be a little more thoughtful and work on convincing the hiring manager of the value that you can add to them.
That means eliminating the “I” in your writing and going all out in talking about “you.” I’ve seen cover letters that were all about how the applicant wanted a job and experience. While a valid need, it’s a given – meaning that employers probably know this about every applicant already. Don’t tell them what they already know – tell them what they want to hear.
Above all, a big part of how to write a cover letter is being genuine and authentic! Suit the cover letter’s tone to the company culture if you’re able to, because joking around might not sit well with a highly corporate environment (as opposed to a young startup filled with people your age). This way, prospective employers can assess whether you fit the culture right away without having to suss it out from just your CV or the way you wrote your email.
Need a headstart on how to write a cover letter? Here’s a downloadable cover letter template just for you!
We weren’t gonna leave you hanging. If you’re ready to get into your first ever cover letter for your first ever job, check out our letter template to get the ball rolling. Just click this link to download it and get started!
Now that you know how to write a cover letter with zero work experience, why not jump into our marketplace and see what jobs are waiting for you?