Cover Letter Introduction—How To Get Started With Writing a Cover Letter
Are you one of those people who go to a bookshop, pick up a random book, start skimming through it, and—if you like what you read—buy it?
Hiring managers behave the same when reading cover letters and resumes—they skim them, and if they are not convinced that your application is worth their time of day within the first few minutes, they will likely dismiss it.
A cover letter introduction must grab a recruiter’s attention and make them want to keep reading. Bland and generic letters just won’t do—you want to stand out, and you can’t do that with worn-out phrases and buzzwords.
And what if you are stuck with a serious case of writer’s block? What if all that comes to mind are those sleazy sentences that every other cover letter sample so proudly includes?
In this article, you will find:
- Reasons why a cover letter is important and why it is crucial to start strong
- A step-by-step guide to writing great cover letter openers
- Elements to include in the header
- Attention-grabbing cover letter examples
- A guide on how to structure the rest of the cover letter
Why a Fantastic Cover Letter Opening Is a Must
People reading a cover letter focus most of their attention on the first paragraph, so the first few sentences of your letter are critical. Your introduction must be strong and captivating. If you don’t grab the hiring manager’s attention immediately, they may not move on to the next paragraph. Showing why you want to work for that specific company is a safe bet. Mentioning one key skill that is transferable to the role you are applying for is even better.
This intro is relevant for other reasons as well.
Recruiters and hiring managers scan resumes to find relevant information (they won’t read the entire doc), so you need to make sure the info is easy to find.
What should a recruiter find in the intro? The role you are applying for and the name of the company. Getting these two elements right signals that you are not mass-applying. It is a way to ensure you don’t get disqualified immediately.
How To Begin a Cover Letter (With Examples)
Source: Olia Danilevich
There is a formula for writing a good cover letter. Every formal letter begins with a header that includes:
- Your full name
- Cell phone number
- Email address
- Date of writing
- Company name
- Company address
- City, state, and ZIP code
Additionally, you can also include the hiring manager’s name and their job title (if you know it). In case you don’t, don’t waste time looking for it.
You can use this list as a template and begin every cover letter the same way. After the header, there are specific steps to follow:
- Use the appropriate greeting
- Customize the cover letter introduction to suit a specific role and company
- Introduce yourself and mention what makes you a good candidate
- Express enthusiasm for the role and the company
- Be direct
Address the Cover Letter
Every strong cover letter introduction begins with an appropriate greeting. How you will address the letter depends on whether you know the hiring manager’s name or not. Here are some examples for both situations:
|If You Know the Name||If You Don’t Know the Name|
|Dear Mr. Dawson,|
Dear Ms. Dawson,
Dear Taylor Dawson,
|Dear Hiring Manager,|
Dear Director of Marketing,
To Whom It May Concern,
Avoid using Mrs. and Miss. because you don’t want to speculate on the hiring manager’s marital status. Using a full name after Dear is appropriate if you are not sure about the manager’s gender.
If you don’t know the hiring manager’s name, you can think about who you would be reporting to and use their title. The goal is to be as specific as possible and show that you have written the cover letter explicitly for this position.
Create a Customized Cover Letter Opening Paragraph
Source: Mimi Thian
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to starting a cover letter. Every cover letter and every cover letter introduction must be tailored to a particular position.
The opening sentence for a cover letter should mention the exact role you are applying for and the company name.
You can also resort to some clever name-dropping here. If someone has referred you to the position, this is where you will mention it. An internal referral can give you an advantage over other candidates. It is a signal that someone in the company knows about your qualities, so the hiring manager should consider your application more carefully and check in with the person who referred you.
Here’s how you can do it:
As an economist with over ten years of experience in accounting, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with numerous people. Recently, I’ve had the privilege to work with Allan Greene, who recommended that I apply for the position of an auditor in Deloitte. Thanks to my vast experience in accounting and an extensive list of satisfied clients, I believe I would be an excellent addition to your team.
Brag a Little
Employers look for candidates who can help their company grow and add more value to it. Say something captivating about yourself. Hint at what you can offer the company. Let them know what you can bring to the table immediately.
You can do this by including a significant and relevant accomplishment, and use a number to quantify your achievement. Numbers are very effective—they carry a stronger message than merely stating you have done something.
Here is an example:
I have recently come across your advert for a senior financial analyst, and I strongly believe that I have the necessary skills and experience for the role. While working as a financial analyst at Deloitte for the past five years, I managed to reduce error rates by 25% and improve efficiency by 20%. If chosen for the position of a senior financial analyst at JPMorgan Chase, I am confident I would perform in the role with the same level of commitment and bring in the same results.
Source: Pavel Danilyuk
Another efficient option is to brag a bit about your greatest professional accomplishments. Here is how to begin a cover letter with an accomplishment:
I am currently a front-end developer with four years of experience, and I have recently obtained a W3C certification. I am proficient in HTML, CSS, SVG, and Ajax. I also created a responsive website design that allowed the client to grow the number of returning visitors by 20%. I believe I am a strong candidate for the position of a senior front-end developer.
Show Enthusiasm When Writing Cover Letter Starters
The best way to customize your cover letter introduction is to express your enthusiasm for working in that particular company. Towards the end of the opening paragraph, you can say what attracted you to the company. Demonstrate that you recognize and appreciate their values.
Mention how your values match. Companies look for employees who will fit in well with their organization.
It doesn’t matter if you are applying for an entry-level position or a senior one—you need to state that you want that particular role in that specific company.
Here is a good example:
I was thrilled to come across your job ad for the position of a social media specialist. I have always admired Reebok’s brand and its commitment to promoting female empowerment. I would love the opportunity to be a part of such a brand. During the five years I have spent working in digital marketing, I have been in charge of posting optimized Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter posts. I am confident I would be a perfect addition to your team.
Don’t Beat Around the Bush
Get to the point immediately and be direct. Say that you are applying for the position because you think you are a good candidate with the required skills and experience.
Check out this opening paragraph:
I would like to officially submit my application for the position of a property manager at Bentley Mall. With over a decade of experience as a property manager of a warehouse facility, I have acquired an effective leadership style that allows me to empathize with my co-workers. I am proud to say that I have achieved easily discernible results throughout my career. I am confident that my supervisory and managerial experience make me an excellent candidate and a perfect addition to your staff.
This would be a bad example. A lot of words and a lot of colorful vocabulary, but no concrete information. There is a mention of discernible results but nothing specific to highlight. The passage is full of buzzwords, such as “effective leadership” or “supervisory and managerial experience”, but no examples to support such claims.
A General Template for a Cover Letter Opening Paragraph
Here is a template you can use to begin a cover letter when you lack inspiration:
I came across your ad for the position of [job title]. As a [current job title] with [number] years of experience, I have developed [relevant skills and abilities]. I am also proud to include [quantifiable accomplishment] in my numerous professional achievements. I would love to get an opportunity to put some of those skills to good use as [role] in [company].
This opening paragraph contains all the key points—it mentions the role, company name, and relevant skills and accomplishments.
How To Structure Your Cover Letter
You’ve mastered the cover letter intro—now what? Having a top-notch cover letter, not just the opening, is essential in today’s job market.
You have an awesome hook with those first few lines—now it is time to focus on other parts:
Most cover letter outlines also include:
- Main paragraphs
- Closing paragraph
- Complimentary closing
Create the Main Paragraphs for Your Cover Letter
After the attention-grabbing opening paragraph, you should explain in more detail what you have to bring to the company.
Here, you will not only point out one or two top skills and accomplishments. You will build on what you stated in the intro. You will select carefully anything that would describe you as a perfect candidate.
How do you do that?
- Make a bullet list
- Add five or six key skills and accomplishments
- Bold them
- Explain how they will help you excel in the role
That is why you can’t copy-paste a cover letter template, regardless of how great it is. You have to tailor it to a particular role.
Summarize Your Letter in a Closing Paragraph
Use the final paragraph of your cover letter to summarize why you are a great fit for the role—go back to one or two of your key skills and emphasize how they will add value to the company.
This is also where you will thank the hiring manager for their time and consideration. That is an excellent opportunity to include a call to action—say that you will be available for an interview whenever it is convenient for them.
Add a Complimentary Closing and Sign Off the Letter
In the end, add a closing phrase, a comma, and your full name. There are many great but also inappropriate ways to end your cover letter. Here are some examples of both:
|Use This||Don’t Use This|
How To Optimize Your Cover Letter
To get your cover letter noticed by a hiring manager, you need to beat the HR bots first. Using words and phrases mentioned in the job description is the key. The HR bots, aka, applicant tracking systems (ATS), recognize those keywords.
To make sure your cover letter gets past an ATS, you should avoid:
- Colored text
An ATS won’t be able to read those—it can only scan plain text.
Now—how should you optimize your text for the hiring manager? They should be able to easily read your letter, too. Humans like structure. And paragraphs. And lists. They do not like reading big chinks of text.
Break your text into shorter paragraphs instead of going with a block of text. Make use of the white space—hitting Enter three times between different sections of your cover letter makes it more readable.
Use bullet lists and the bold option as clever ways to highlight any details you want the hiring manager to see first. Those will be:
- Relevant skills
- Notable projects
- Greatest accomplishments
Even the font you choose is important when writing your cover letter. It has to be easy to read. Arial and Times New Roman are good examples of simple, readable fonts.
Finally, remember that nobody wants to read a novel, so make your cover letter short and sweet.
Introduction To a Better Job-Search Process
Looking for a job is one of the top gloomy experiences people go through. Even with an attention-grabbing cover letter intro (and the rest of the document) and a polished resume, you could face a lot of rejections and disappointments. Preparing for an unfavorable outcome is prudent—it is a real possibility.
Only 2% of applicants get an invitation to an interview. To get there, a job seeker sends six applications on average. Even if you do get an interview, who is to say that company is everything you were hoping it would be?
The encouraging news is that the unemployment rate is now at 6%, which is a considerable improvement compared to the 15% in 2020. So, why not increase your chances of finding a perfect job even further? Why not take advantage of an AI-powered job-search engine to simplify your job hunt?
After you sign up with Lensa, we use the info you provide to match you with a company that will check all the boxes. You will find a job in your desired location that offers adequate salary and benefits and a company culture that works for you.
Some of the benefits of using Lensa include:
- Access to ads from multiple job boards
- Option to filter out remote positions
- SMS and email notifications with personalized job recommendations
- Opportunity to play the Workstyle Game and discover more about your soft skills
How To Register With Lensa
You can sign up for Lensa in minutes. All you have to do is visit our website and follow these four steps:
- Write the desired job title and location
- Click on Search
- Add your email address
- Click on Submit
Now you can browse job ads, play the Workstyle Game, or personalize your account. You also have the option to upload your resume, unlocking two additional features:
- Company Reviews
- Matching Companies
Once you provide more demographic data and your cell phone number, you will start receiving job recommendations tailored to your preferences.
Featured image source: Antoni Shkraba