How To Explain in a Cover Letter: No Experience But Willing To Learn?
At the start of your career, it may seem that most hiring companies are looking for a unicorn of sorts—a young professional fresh out of college, with 20 years of experience, an extensive list of professional contacts, a Pultizer, and a Nobel Prize. Suffice it to say that you might feel discouraged when you first start applying for jobs.
So how do you write a convincing cover letter with no experience but being willing to learn?
You might consider not bothering with the cover letter at all and applying without one—but you’d be making a big mistake. Not addressing the elephant in the room won’t make it invisible.
A carefully composed and well-structured cover letter is the best chance you have to get invited for an interview. It is your opportunity to show that your lack of experience is a non-issue—and a way to demonstrate your strengths, motivation, and value.
In this article, you will learn:
- How to write a cover letter that will help you stand out even without work-related experience
- What recruiters look for in a cover letter for an entry-level position
- How to pass an ATS screening if you lack experience
How To Write a Cover Letter With No Experience
The purpose of writing a cover letter is to present yourself as a good fit for a particular role. If you lack previous experience or are applying for an internship, worry not—just focus on the qualities you do possess. Soft skills, such as time management and flexibility, are a good starting point.
Instead of merely listing all the skills you have, try to illustrate how you used them by giving an example:
|Teamwork||I had worked on a group project with a team of six people at university, developing a marketing strategy for a product whose sales increased by 15% by the time the project ended|
|Leadership||I led a 10-person team that organized an international student conference|
|Presentation||I presented the project we worked on to a group of 20 people, mainly company representatives and university professors|
|Communication||I was a member of a debate club, which helped me develop superb communication skills and effective argument presentation techniques|
Every good cover letter connects skills, qualifications, and experience to a specific role. That’s exactly what you should do when you write about your soft skills. Try to make a strong connection between a skill you have and the role you are applying for—how can it help you succeed in that position?
Presenting your qualities in this manner will show the employer that you could be valuable to the company. It will also make them more willing to invest their time and resources into training you.
How To Address the Lack of Experience in a Cover Letter
So what do you do about the elephant in the room?
Don’t ignore it. But don’t draw attention to it either. It will be obvious from your resume that you lack experience.
There’s no need to explain yourself—show what you bring to the table and emphasize the experience and skills you do have instead.
There are some elements you can include in your cover letter that would impress a hiring manager, even if you lack work-related experience:
- A part-time job during your studies—shows accountability
- A leadership position in a school project—demonstrates responsibility
- An active role in sports or student organizations—shows you are a team player
- An example of successful interaction with people—illustrates effective communication abilities
If you have done any internships, present them as real jobs because that’s what they are (even if the company was so great and paid you nothing). Include the name of the role—Sales Intern, Marketing Intern, etc. If you used any software or tool during the internship, make sure to mention that as well.
If you have done any job shadowing, you can also include it in your cover letter. It shows your determination to succeed in the industry.
How To Pass the ATS Screening if You Have No Experience
An applicant tracking system (ATS) targets specific keywords. They relate to skills, experience, and qualifications mentioned in the job description. Candidates who want to write a cover letter for an internship with no experience, a cover letter for a management position without management experience, or any other position should:
- Think of accomplishments or experience that are related to the required skills
- Mention skills that are similar to the ones mentioned in the job ad
- Show willingness to learn those particular skills
When you mention your past accomplishments, make sure to connect them to the role. Explain how they will help you develop the required skills.
These are the ways to include specific keywords in your cover letter so that software recognizes it as relevant.
How To Format Your Entry-Level Cover Letter
The outline of a cover letter should be the same regardless of your experience. Cover letters typically consist of six parts, and each contains specific information:
|Cover Letter Part||What To Include|
Cell phone number
Hiring manager’s name and title (if you know it)
|Greeting||Dear Hiring Manager,|
To Whom It May Concern,
Dear Sales Director,
Dear Mr./Ms. Jacobson,
|Opening paragraph||Reasons for writing|
A brief statement about why you are suitable for the role
A company name and the role you are applying for
|Main paragraphs||Skills, qualifications, accomplishments, and experience relevant to the role|
A more detailed explanation of why you are a perfect candidate
|Closing paragraph||Summary of why you would be an excellent fit for the role|
An expression of gratitude to the hiring manager for their time and consideration
A call to action
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Featured image source: JESHOOTS-com