Cover letters are always a good way to show hiring managers why you’re the best pick for the job, no matter what level you’re at in your career. For candidates with little job experience, however, a cover letter is even more useful.
A cover letter allows you to speak to the hiring manager in your own voice, using your words to make a strong impression that can make up for your lack of experience. Here, we’ll explain what should be included in an entry level cover letter and share a sample you can use as inspiration to help land your first job.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a document that highlights your knowledge that’s relevant to the job for which you’re applying. Along with your resume, it outlines the skills and experience that make you a qualified candidate.
Because resumes adhere to a strict format, many of them sound the same. Your cover letter allows you to demonstrate how you’re different from other candidates and stand out by sharing your personal reasons for wanting the job.
Why doing a little something extra matters
A cover letter is the first document most hiring managers will see, so it plays a big role in forming their first impression of you. This impression heavily influences whether they decide to follow up with you to schedule an interview.
As an entry level candidate, you don’t have the depth or breadth or experience of workers who’ve been in the professional world longer, so your resume might feel a little light on content. This means your cover letter needs to be even more polished, since it’ll weigh heavily in whether you advance to the next stage of the hiring process.
When you should send a cover letter
A cover letter should be sent to the hiring manager when applying for a job. How you send it will depend on the company’s application process. Some companies use an online portal where every document is submitted as an attachment. Other application portals have candidates type their cover letter into a free-entry form.
Sometimes, you’ll be asked to send your resume and cover letter via email. In this case, you have two options. You can either put your cover letter in the body of the email and add your resume as an attachment, or send both documents as attachments. Check whether the job listing specifies these instructions before sending.
What to include:
Say who you are and what position you’re applying for.
Why you’re interested in the position
If someone referred you from within the company, mention it here.
Examples of relevant knowledge
This could be from college coursework, experience from part time jobs, volunteer work or internships.
Skills that are related to the position
Use keywords from the job description to decide what skills to touch on.
A call to action to the position
Ask the hiring manager to contact you and express your enthusiasm to speak further.
What to omit
- Experience that’s not related to the job. While spending five summers as a swim instructor is admirable, it’s probably not relevant if you’re applying for a position as a research assistant. Stick to experience you can connect to the job requirements.
- Saying that you’ll call to follow up. This is an outdated practice and most hiring managers today don’t want to receive phone calls from candidates.
Entry level cover letter sample
Everyone has to start somewhere, and most hiring managers welcome the opportunity to help a diligent young professional get their start. Use the tips above to write a cover letter that convinces them to give you a shot.