Including a cover letter along with your well-written resume shows you’ve put effort into your application and provided employers with relevant details explaining why you can handle the work.
But what if you’ve never worked before and don’t have the budget for a professional cover letter writing service? Don’t worry. Writing a good cover letter is possible — even if it’s your first time writing one.
Here are some tips and an example to show you how to write a cover letter.
- List your contact information
- Include the hiring manager’s contact details
- Address the hiring manager by name
- Write an attention-grabbing opening paragraph
- Explain why you’re the best fit for the role
- Describe your relevant skills
- Mention your top achievements
- Close your cover letter professionally
- Proofread your cover letter
- Submit your cover letter as a PDF
How to write a cover letter with no experience in 10 steps
Our in-house expert, Chloe, explains how you can write a cover letter with no experience:
To expand on Chloe’s advice, here are 10 in-depth steps to follow to write a cover letter that highlights your strengths:
1. List your contact information
Before writing your cover letter paragraphs, make sure your personal details are visible and up-to-date.
Your contact information belongs in your cover letter header, which sits at the top of your cover letter. Listing your contact details lets hiring managers easily find your information if they decide to interview you.
Add these contact details to your cover letter header:
- First and last name: Use bigger and bolder text compared to the rest of your cover letter so your name looks more memorable to employers.
- Phone number: To avoid confusion, include your area or country code if you’re applying for a job in a different country.
- Email address: List a professional email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Address: Adding your address is optional. Include your mailing address, city, state, and ZIP code if you want to, or if a hiring manager asks for it.
Here’s an example of what an address looks like in a cover letter header:
1345 Briar Road, San Diego, CA 91980
You can also just list your city and state, like this:
San Diego, CA
Your header should also use a cover letter font that employers can read easily.
Here’s an example of an applicant’s cover letter header with their listed contact details:
2. Include the hiring manager’s contact details
After filling in your cover letter header, format your cover letter properly by adding the current date and the hiring manager’s name and contact information.
Listing these details shows you’ve taken the time to research the company and contact the correct person.
Leave a space between today’s date and the hiring manager’s contact details, like so:
October 3, 2022
Sakura Supplements Inc.
3358 Rove Street, Chicago, IL 60657
3. Address the hiring manager by name
The next step of writing your cover letter is to address your hiring manager by name using a polite cover letter salutation (also known as a greeting).
Addressing the hiring name by their name quickly establishes a personal connection and shows them you’re a detail-oriented applicant.
Leave a space between the hiring manager’s company details and the salutation so employers can easily follow along when reading your letter.
Also, don’t forget to use the proper gender titles [Mr./Ms./Mx.] before the hiring manager’s name, like so:
Dear [Mr./Ms./Mx.] [Hiring Manager’s Last Name],
After the cover letter salutation, leave a space and start writing your first paragraph.
4. Write an attention-grabbing opening paragraph
Hiring managers scan through applications quickly, so starting your cover letter with an effective opening paragraph will make them want to keep reading.
Begin your cover letter by stating your name (optional), the role you’re applying for, and where you found the job posting, like in this example:
My name is Daria West and I’m applying for the part-time role of Retail Sales Associate for Hollister I found listed on Monster.com.
If a friend, former classmate, or someone who works at the company told you about this job opening — and let you use them as your cover letter referral — then use this section to mention their name and connection to you.
Here’s an example of how you can name drop someone in your cover letter’s opening paragraph:
I’m Tanner Davis and I noticed your job advertisement on LinkedIn for a Full-time Server at Red Spot Restaurant. In addition, my former university classmate Jenny Nguyen spoke positively about her time working at the Red Spot Fraser location and is recommending me for this position. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to learn more about the F&B industry, leverage my bartending skills, and foster positive relationships with the public. I’d be thrilled to join the Red Spot team and help create a welcoming environment for customers.
You can also use the opening paragraph to:
- express your passion or excitement for the role
- briefly state your top skills or achievements
- mention the company’s values and how they align with yours
- explain your purpose for applying
- demonstrate what you can do for the company
For instance, this college student’s cover letter opening for an internship position mentions their enthusiasm for the company:
Please find my enclosed cover letter for the Social Media Intern role at the Point Magazine that I found on the USC Careers website. I’m applying for this position with great excitement because I’ve been an avid reader of the Point for 3+ years (I especially love scrolling through the student campus interview section and seasonal fashion tips). It would be an honor to take on this internship opportunity so I can assist the Point with boosting its audience engagement and making a lasting difference in the campus community.
5. Explain why you’re the best fit for the role
The next step after your opening paragraph is to write 1–3 body paragraphs explaining why you’re the perfect job candidate.
Even if you don’t have any work experience, hiring managers will still want to interview you if they think you’re a good fit and can handle the work.
So prove you’re a top applicant by providing specific examples to show you’ve done your research and have some knowledge of what the company values.
Additionally, always try to connect your experiences back to the company and describe how you can help it achieve its goals.
Here’s an example of an applicant’s body paragraph connecting their relevant experience to the organization’s goals:
I went on my first field trip to Georgia Aquarium when I was 10 years old. I loved seeing the exhibits and learning about sea creatures, endangered species, and ways to sustain our oceans, so I started taking Marine Biology classes later as a high school junior. Georgia Aquarium works hard to educate the public, provide 100+ educational field trip opportunities for elementary school students every year, and spark their interest in aquatic life — as it did for me. I hope to share my excitement for our oceans with the public by providing insightful presentations and excellent customer service as an Aquarium Student Intern.
6. Describe your relevant skills
Employers want to hire an applicant who has a good mix of hard and soft skills, so make sure to include them in your cover letter.
Hard skills are learned from training, schooling, or practical experience. For instance, coding, driving, or video editing are hard skills.
Even if you’ve never worked before, you can still describe your hard and soft skills if they’re relevant to the position.
Here’s an example of how to describe your hard and soft skills in a cover letter:
I’ve taken karate lessons since I was 8 years old which taught me how to defend myself, train my body, and respect my peers. Besides being physically fit and disciplined, I’m a fast learner who can follow instructions easily and respond quickly to new situations. I’ll keep these skills in mind if I’m selected for the SportChek warehouse attendant position by unboxing merchandise efficiently and keeping my workstation clean.
7. Mention your top accomplishments
So if you have any academic or personal achievements you’re proud of, include them in your cover letter. Just make sure to relate them back to the position you’re applying for.
Have a look at the accomplishments described in this cover letter’s body paragraph:
I’m an accomplished piano player who has won 3 awards from 2019 to 2022 for being the “Most Dedicated Pianist” at Young Beethovens’ After School Music Club. Working toward these achievements has taught me how to have a strong work ethic and manage my time well with practicing piano and studying for SAT exams. I’d like to put in just as much effort in my training and daily tasks as a Summer Camp Music Counselor at Camp Jubilee.
8. Close your cover letter professionally
Now that you’ve written your main body paragraphs, it’s time to end your cover letter in your final body paragraph.
End your cover letter effectively by summarizing the skills and qualifications you discussed earlier in your cover letter and restating why you want to work for the company.
You should also thank the hiring manager for their time and include a call to action (CTA) by providing your phone number and email address so the hiring manager knows how to reach you.
Finally, close your cover letter by using an appropriate sign off. Rather than sounding overly formal or too friendly, you want to end on a clear and professional note.
Here are examples of good and bad cover letter sign offs:
- Thank you
- Kind regards
- Best regards
- Yours truly
- Take care
- See you soon
- Best wishes
- Have a good day
After writing your cover letter sign off, leave two spaces, and then type or sign your name.
9. Proofread your cover letter
Proofreading your cover letter is an important step in cover letter writing because you can catch any mistakes or errors you’ve made before submitting your application.
Even if you’re a strong applicant with many relevant skills or qualifications, hiring managers won’t be impressed if they see any errors in your cover letter.
So make sure you check and revise your work for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting errors by using a tool like Grammarly or asking a friend or family member to look over your cover letter.
10. Submit your cover letter as a PDF
Congratulations! You made it to the last stage of the cover letter writing process.
When uploading your cover letter, remember that the software you use may change your cover letter’s formatting. And because employers might not have the same version of Microsoft Word as you, your cover letter may look different from its original format after they download it.
So ensure your cover letter looks the same no matter who downloads your documents by saving it as a PDF.
A PDF preserves the formatting of the original version of your cover letter and prevents others from changing to it.
Cover letter with no experience example
If you’re still unsure about the cover letter writing process, have a look at other cover letter examples to give you some inspiration.
This is a cover letter example for a high school student with no experience: