Candidate Guide

Writing a cover letter for a first job

Do you have a few internships and work experience under your belt and need to write a letter for your very first non-internship job? Do you have no experience at all in the field you're applying for? Would you like to apply spontaneously for your first job? Here are a few tips on how to apply for your first job, depending on the issues you're facing.

Apply for a specific position without experience

If this is your first job as an intern, or if you have no experience of the position you're applying for, you can of course apply. If the offer speaks to you and attracts you, you surely have your reasons! What's going to set you apart, then, is your ability to mention these reasons in your letter;

Identify the reasons for your interest

Are you interested in the organization's product or service? Have you fallen in love with the company's organizational culture? Have you identified similarities between your vision and that of the management team? Do you have a career plan that fits in with the company's position or sector of activity? There are many reasons to take an interest in an organization or a position.

Example: "Wishing to create a third place with friends, I'd like to join yours to deepen my knowledge and take part in the various management missions of the place".

Connecting you to the organization

Were you at their last event? Are you one of their customers? Have you read a news item about them that made an impression on you? Have you met or chatted with a member of the team? Have you been following all their LinkedIn or Instagram posts for the past few months? Would joining the organization be an opportunity for you to take your first steps towards your professional project? All these actions are signs of interest in the organization, and you can mention them in your letter;

Example: you can tell them at the beginning of your letter, that there was already a bond created between you and them even before you applied:"Met at the XXX trade show, [Name of manager]'s objectives to reduce [Name of company]'s Co2 emissions caught my full attention. I'm currently studying for a Master 1 in Fashion and Luxury, and I'm thinking about how to gear my career towards this objective, and I'd like to join a structure that is concretely committed to these issues."

Tell us about your experience in relation to the job's mission..;

Why does the job you're applying for appeal to you? How does your personality fit in? How do you think you'll be able to carry out the various tasks set out in the vacancy? If you have little or no experience, if you don't tick all the boxes, our advice is: "TRY!

Indeed, recruiters often write a job description to find the perfect match, but it rarely exists. Remember that, like you, and no matter how much experience you have, the candidates who apply never fit the job description perfectly. You can set yourself apart by identifying the criteria in the job advertisement that recruiters seem to place their priority on: is it the candidate's personality that interests them? Is it his or her ability to get on well with the team? At ease with customers and people? To meet technical skill requirements? You can then focus your letter on the characteristics that are most relevant to them, and of course, in line with your profile. You can talk about your experiences in sports, associations, school, summer jobs or even events you've organized with family or friends! Among these experiences, try to group together all the skills you've acquired and that you could contribute to the organization.

Example: At birthday parties, with family or friends, I'm always the one asked to host the event. I love it, and my friends and family know it. That's why, as an event host at [Name of organization], I'll be like a fish in water, especially since your organization supports a great cause!

👉 To learn more about how to write a cover letter without experience, here's our dedicated article.

Write an application for a first permanent contract

Are you applying for your very first permanent job? Well, the tips mentioned above are also valid in this case. In addition, here are 3 others for this specific case of permanent employment.

Sort out your experiences

If you've already had several internships or summer jobs, for example, don't try to detail them all one by one, as you risk suffocating your reader. It's understandable that you'd like to talk about all the experiences that have shaped and marked you, but the aim of your letter is to remain concise. So select 2 or 3 experiences at most that have given you key skills for the position to be filled.

Tackle the future in your letter

Open-ended contracts are generally for the long term. In your cover letter, talking about the future through your vision in relation to the organization's vision for the next few years, or discussing your career plans in relation to the position and possible internal career paths, will show that you're thinking ahead and will reassure recruiters that you're interested in a permanent position.

Communicate your motivation to learn

In the same vein, if you're applying for your first permanent job, make it clear in your letter that you want to progress, evolve and learn new things. Enthusiasm can sometimes attract a recruiter's attention more than years of experience!

Writing an unsolicited letter of application

If you're applying for your first job spontaneously, the first thing you'll need to do in your letter is to establish a link between yourself and the organization. You can talk about the organization's culture and values, and your interest in their sector of activity, for example;

Identify the right contact 

For a job offer, it's easy, you've got the contact! If you're writing a cover letter for an unsolicited application, who are you going to write it to? On the company's website, you'll sometimes find an e-mail address specially dedicated to unsolicited applications. If this isn't the case, you can do your homework by looking up the recruiter's name on LinkedIn, for example.

Use key words

In the organization's external communications, on its website, its networks, its press releases, you can identify key words that come up often and use them in your letter. In this way, you can adapt your communication to theirs and show that you're interested in them! It's a little extra if you're applying for a job, but it works just as well if you have a vacancy.

10 bullet points for writing a cover letter 

1 - Hunt for spelling mistakes: proofread well to avoid errors (as a French teacher would say "Je ne vous dirais jamais assez!").

2 - Start a letter with the name of the person to be contacted in the offer (often the HR person).

3 - Choose a legible typeface: times new roman, raleways, arial...

4 - Structure your letter in no more than 3 or 4 paragraphs!

5 - Get straight to the point ⚽: too much blah-blah risks drowning out the important elements of your letter.

6 - End with a polite phrase, such as, "Yours sincerely".

7 - Say you're available for a job interview

8 - Write a motivational email: you'll find more info on the motivational email here.

9 - Send attachments in your cover e-mail: curriculum vitae, and a letter of recommendation if you have little experience, that's also a plus!

To find out more 

👉 10 tips for a successful job interview

👉 Spam mail: best practices and examples

👉 The layout of your cover letter

👉 Simple, short cover letters in 2023

Taking action

👉 Find all our offers of alternances, of internships and first jobs in CDI or in CDD