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How To Start a Cover Letter With Examples and Tips
Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts.
- How to Start a Cover Letter
- Cover Letter Opening Sentence Examples
Personalize Your Cover Letter
- What to Write in the Rest of Your Letter
Cover Letter Sample
More cover letter examples and templates.
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What's the best way to start a cover letter for a job? The first couple of sentences of your cover letter are the most important ones. Recruiters and hiring managers often spend mere seconds scanning your application.
If your cover letter doesn't grab their attention right away, they may never even get as far as the second paragraph. What should these all-important first sentences say? Keep in mind that you're hoping to differentiate yourself from the competition. Your goal is to explain to the reader who you are, why you're writing, and how you can contribute to the employer's success.
This might mean highlighting a contact , providing a quick window into your relevant background and experience, or emphasizing a significant accomplishment that would make you an asset to the organization.
Think about why the hiring manager should select you, above all other candidates, for an interview, and you'll be on the right track.
How to Start a Cover Letter
Be direct. In these opening sentences, you want to explicitly let the reader know which position you're applying for. Hiring managers are often looking at candidates for several open jobs at any given time. Make sure it's easy for them to discover your intent. For example:
I am interested in the coordinator position at ABC company.
Mention a contact. If someone referred you to the position , include that information early on as well. Referrals are one of the key aspects to securing an interview, so be sure to mention yours right away. For example:
Jane Doe suggested I contact you about the job, as she feels my skills would be a good fit for the position.
State an accomplishment. Try to state an accomplishment from your previous job. If you can, show how you added value to the last company you worked for. You might even add the job title you had if it's similar to the one you are applying for. For example:
As coordinator at XYZ Enterprises, I have increased my group's output by 37% over the past 15 months.
Express excitement. Convey your passion for your work, and your excitement about the job and company. Your cover letter is an opportunity to sell yourself to the hiring manager, and to share why you're well qualified for the job. For example:
I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss what I have to bring to the position at ABC company.
Use keywords. If you can include any keywords from the job listing, do so. You can mention a skill you have that was included in the post. For example:
My track history of successfully managing teams and delivering projects on time and on budget makes me a good fit for this role.
Examples of Cover Letter Opening Sentences
- As an information technology professional with high-level management experience in the IT industry, I learned that the best way to achieve success was to utilize the resources I had by employing well-defined objectives and an attitude of empowerment.
- I am very interested in the entry-level position that is available at ABC Investment Partners. I recently graduated from XYZ college, and my courses in investments, finance, and business have equipped me with a solid base upon which I plan to build my career.
- I am writing to express my strong interest in the international marketing position open at WellCam, Inc. My colleague Janna Doling recommended that I contact you directly about this position, owing to the years I have spent developing successful campaigns for XYZ company.
- I'm writing to express my interest in the editorial assistant position listed on Monster.com. Given my five years of editorial experience and excellent capabilities, I would appreciate your consideration for this position.
- I have a very strong interest in pursuing a teaching career. With experience working at both elementary and high school levels, as well as in activities outside of the traditional classroom, I have a diverse background with much to offer.
- I have the pleasure of being acquainted with one of the counselors on your staff, Eleanor Seville. She let me know about the open position and recommended that I contact you.
- I was excited to read about the administrative assistant job opening at XYZ company. I have several years of administrative experience in a variety of fields, including insurance and finance.
- I understand that you have been deluged with resumes since Computer World released their list of the best companies to work for. Mine is one more, but I do have experience that is hard to come by.
- My proven track record of successfully performing complex analyses on various corporations makes me an ideal candidate for the analyst opportunity that you have advertised.
When you're not sure how to get started, it can be really helpful to review examples of cover letters . You can use these as a guide, but be sure to tailor your introduction to your personal circumstances and the job you're applying for.
The more closely you construct your cover letter to show that you're a match for the job requirements , the better your chances of getting selected for an interview.
What to Write in the Rest of Your Cover Letter
Of course, the rest of your letter is important too. You'll need to use an appropriate salutation , and make your cover letter closing polite and inviting. In the body of your letter , you have the opportunity to pitch your qualifications for the job in more detail than you have room for in your resume.
If there are specific events or accomplishments you feel are likely to make you stand out, you can briefly mention them and explain in more detail should you secure an interview.
Make sure your contact information is complete as well, and format your signature to match the letter style you are using.
Download the cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs or Word Online) or read the example below.
Sample Cover Letter (Text Version)
John Smith 37 Oak Street Middle Village, New York 10502 555-555-555 firstname.lastname@example.org
March 22, 2021
Dr. Jane Doe All Smiles Dentistry 5 Main Street, Suite A Middle Village, New York 10502
Dear Dr. Doe,
My former coworker, Maria Rodriguez, suggested that I contact you to express my interest in the position of dental assistant in your office in Middle Village.
I’m a licensed dental assistant with over 10 years of experience helping dentists and hygienists make their patients smile. In my current role with ABC Dental, I have gained proficiency in the four-handed dentistry technique, as well as mastering Henry Schein Dentix software.
I also have the following skills and qualifications, as outlined in the job description on your website:
- Experience taking and developing dental X-rays
- Infection control expertise, including preparing and sterilizing instruments and equipment
- Knowledge of several different types of scheduling software
- Language skills (bilingual: English/Spanish)
- Excellent customer service skills and attention to detail
Most importantly, I love people. I consider it a great privilege to help dentists improve their patients’ lives by providing the very best support and customer care.
I’ve enclosed my resume, and I hope you’ll contact me at your convenience to arrange an interview.
Signature (hard copy letter)
Review cover letter examples for many different types of jobs, and get downloadable templates you can use to write your own cover letters.
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How to Start a Cover Letter (Examples Included)
Mike Simpson 0 Comments
By Mike Simpson
When you’re writing a cover letter, nailing the opening is a must. Your cover letter introduction has to draw the hiring manager in, giving them a clear reason to keep reading. That’s why learning how to start a cover letter is so vital; it’s your doorway to success.
After all, more than eight-in-10 recruiters feel that an awesome cover letter is enough to land a candidate an interview even if their resume is only a partial fit for the job. Cool, right?
So, are you ready to make sure that your cover letter opening is everything it can be? Great! Here’s what you need to know.
What Is a Cover Letter?
Alright, let’s begin with the basics. Before you can learn how to start a letter to the hiring manager, it’s helpful to know what a cover letter is in the first place.
We’ve actually taken several deep dives into the world of cover letters, including how to address a cover letter , the best cover letter format , how to end a cover letter , and a full overview of how to write a cover letter .
But the basic gist is that a cover letter is a written elevator pitch. It acts as an introduction to what you have to offer, with a bit more flavor than you can put in a resume.
In many cases, your cover letter is the absolute first impression you’ll make on a hiring manager. As they read, they get a feel for who you are, as well as what you bring to the table.
Do cover letters really matter that much? Yes, they do. Overall, 49 percent of hiring managers think that receiving a cover letter is important to the hiring process, which is a pretty good indication that they value them.
So, what are the parts of a cover letter? In most cases, a cover letter has:
- Contact Information
- Opening Paragraph
- Body Paragraphs
- Closing Paragraph
- Closing Sentiment
While that seems like a lot, it really isn’t. In most cases, you end up with about a page or so of content. After all, a cover letter isn’t an autobiography of your life; it’s a concise, tailored introduction to who you are as a professional.
Generally, when you’re trying to figure out how to start a cover letter, what you need to focus on are the salutation and the opening paragraph. Those are what make the first impression and usually play a big role in whether the hiring manager reads the whole thing or not.
You may want to dig a little deeper, making sure your opening line really packs a punch. But, really, that’s all part of creating a great opening paragraph, isn’t it? Just keep in mind that your leading sentence needs to be an attention-grabber, and you’re in good shape.
Now, is your cover letter opening more important than the rest of the letter? Well, yes and no. If your start to your letter isn’t strong, there’s a chance the hiring manager won’t finish reading it. That means a fantastic cover letter introduction is essential.
But the rest matters, too. In the end, you want your first impression to be a doozy. It’s just that, if you don’t nail the opening to your cover letter, the rest may never get a glance.
Common Mistakes When Starting a Cover Letter
Before we dive into how to start a cover letter, let’s talk about some cover letter introduction mistakes you want to avoid. After all, a misstep at this early stage can cost you the job, so you really need to make sure you get it right.
First, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is not tailoring the content to the position. When you write a cover letter, you are speaking to one particular hiring manager, not everyone who may ever want to hire you. If you don’t focus the content on that specific job, you might not connect with that hiring manager, causing them to move onto a different candidate.
Second, being too generic can come back to bite you. You want to stand out from the crowd, so you need to make sure your cover letter introduction feels a bit unique.
Third, choosing the wrong salutation – or not including one at all – can potentially lead to some trouble. If you go the wrong way, you may not connect with the hiring manager as well or could even offend them a bit. That’s no good.
Finally, spelling and grammar mistakes are a huge deal. They make it look like you lack attention to detail, and that isn’t going to win you any fans.
How to Start a Cover Letter
In many cases, figuring out how to start a letter for your job application is much easier if you take it one step at a time. It lets you tackle everything in succession and gives you a chance to focus on each critical part, increasing the odds that you’ll genuinely nail it.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to start a letter when you’re trying o land a job:
1. Choose the Right Salutation
The salutation in your cover letter opening serves as a greeting. It’s a chance to acknowledge the reader directly, even if just for a brief second.
Ideally, you want to address the hiring manager by name, using an approach like:
Dear [Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr.] [First Name] [Last Name]
Now, you can potentially add one more option to the list: Mx. This is a relatively new gender-neutral addition that’s favored by people who consider themselves nonbinary.
Generally speaking, you should only use “Mx.” if you are completely, 100 percent certain that it’s the hiring manager’s preferred title. You don’t want to go with it simply because you don’t know the hiring manager’s gender. Why? Well, since it’s a newer option, not everyone is familiar with it, so some hiring managers might think it’s a typo.
Additionally, people may have a variety of opinions about “Mx.,” and not all of them are positive. Since it’s a bit controversial in certain circles, you could offend a hiring manager by using it if that isn’t what they prefer.
So, what do you do if you know the hiring manager’s name but not their gender or preferred title? Worst case, go with “Dear [First Name] [Last Name]” instead. It’s a bit less formal, but it may be better than getting the title wrong.
If you genuinely don’t know the hiring manager’s name – and can’t figure it out with some research – you can try:
- Dear [Job Title/Role] – Dear Hiring Manager, Dear Operations Manager, Dear VP of Sales, etc.
- Dear [Department] – Dear IT Department, Dear Marketing Department, etc.
Those aren’t as personal, but they can do the trick. They at least speak to a particular individual, making it clear that you had a certain recipient in mind. As a result, they are much better than more generic alternatives.
What about “To Whom It May Concern?” Well, we’ve taken a deep dive into how to use to whom it may concern . But, in most cases, that isn’t your best. It feels outdated, for one. Plus, it doesn’t have a particular reader in mind, which isn’t ideal.
The same goes for “Dear Sir or Madam.” Along with being generic and incredibly old-school, it’s also a bit awkward. Plus, it makes it seem like you didn’t even try to come up with something better, and that’s never good.
2. Nail the Opening Sentence
Your opening sentence in your cover letter is what really needs to draw the hiring manager in. As a result, you want to make sure that it packs a wallop.
Usually, you have a few options that can pull this off. First, if you know someone at the company who referred you to the position, you can try name-dropping. Many hiring managers favor direct referrals, so it’s alright to make that connection clear from the beginning.
Second, you can lead off with a relevant accomplishment. This one can get a little tricky to do well. You really have to relate it to something in the role, and that isn’t always easy to manage without using a sentence or so to build in some context.
Finally, you can focus on your excitement. Hiring managers like people who seem passionate about the opportunity, so this route could let you start your cover letter on a great note.
With all of these, you want to make sure the opening sentence taps on the position you’re trying to land. It’s smart to mention the job title, department, and company, as that ensures the hiring manager knows why you’re writing. If it doesn’t fit in the first sentence, then it needs to come in on the second.
3. Round Out the First Paragraph
Generally, your cover letter opening paragraph is going to be two or four sentences long. If you didn’t get it into your opening sentence, use your second one to mention the job opening. That way, the hiring manager understands exactly why you reached out.
After that, it’s time to tap on some relevant skills. Use the job ad to identify high-priority capabilities. Next, treat them like keywords, using the exact same words and phrases to increase your odds of looking like a great match (and getting past an automated screener).
4. Quantify the Details
Numbers stand out visually in a cover letter. They actually draw the eye, as they aren’t as widely used as letters and most forms of punctuation.
By quantifying a detail or two, you create visual interest. Plus, you’re giving the hiring manager some helpful context about what you’ve achieved, something that can make you look like a stronger candidate.
3 Cover Letter Starting Samples
Sometimes, nothing helps bring some tips to life like a handy example or three. If you want to make sure you understand how to start a cover letter or are looking for some samples that you can use as a template, here are three cover letter introduction examples, each representing a different approach.
1. When You Were Referred
Dear Mr. John Doe:
During my 6 years as a sales professional, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with a number of amazing professionals, including Jane Smith, a member of your team who recommended I apply for the Account Manager opening at ABC Inc. In my last position, I managed a portfolio of 25 enterprise-level clients while also boosting sales by 15 percent year-over-year during my tenure. I believe that my penchant for strategic thinking, as well as my strong negotiation and communication skills, make me an exceptional fit for your position.
2. Leading with an Achievement
Dear IT Department:
Over the past 4 years, I’ve focused my career on the world of project management, recently earning by Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. Additionally, I personally oversaw five $50k+ development projects concurrently, each of which was finished on time and within budget. I feel that my experience as a leader, as well as my expertise in risk assessment and cost management, makes me an ideal fit for the Project Manager position at XYZ Corp.
3. Going the Excitement Route
Dear Hiring Manager:
When I saw the administrative assistant opening at ABC Company, I immediately knew I wanted to apply. As an office assistant with 6 years of experience, I have honed many key skills you’re hoping to find, including scheduling, report writing, and customer service. Last year, among 50 nominated colleagues, I was even recognized as the Employee of the Year, largely because of my passion and dedication to my work, something that I would love to bring to ABC Company.
Putting It All Together
Ultimately, you should now understand how to start a cover letter off in the best way possible. Use all of the tips above, and turn to the cover letter opening samples to serve as guides. That way, you can create an introduction that captures the hiring manager’s attention and keeps them reading, giving you a chance to showcase even more about why you’re such an awesome candidate.
And as always, Good luck!
Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com.
His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes , Entrepreneur , CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan , Penn State , Northeastern and others.
Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .
About The Author
Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes , Entrepreneur , CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan , Penn State , Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .
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To create an effective opening for your cover letter, follow these steps: 1. Convey enthusiasm for the company. If you're genuinely attracted to the company's brand or have used its products or services before, you can ... 2. Highlight a mutual connection. 3. Lead with an impressive accomplishment. ...
How to write a cover letter in 6 steps. 1. Start with your header. As with any standard business letter header, you should include a few pieces of personal and role-specific information at ... 2. Include a greeting. 3. Write an opening paragraph. 4. Add a second paragraph. 5. Finish with a closing ...
Your cover letter is the best way to introduce yourself to a hiring manager—who you are, what you have to offer, and why you want the job—but you have an extremely limited amount of space to do it. So if you really want to get noticed, you’ve got to start right off the bat with something that grabs your reader’s attention.
What's the best way to start a cover letter for a job? The first couple of sentences of your cover letter are the most important ones. Recruiters and hiring managers often spend mere seconds scanning your application. 1 If your cover letter doesn't grab their attention right away, they may never even get as far as the second paragraph.
12 winning ways to start your cover letter. 1. Mention a contact within the company. If you were referred to the role by a former coworker, classmate, or friend who’s highly regarded in their ... 2. Express enthusiasm for the role. 3. Show your excitement about the work being done by the company. 4. ...
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to start a letter when you’re trying o land a job: 1. Choose the Right Salutation The salutation in your cover letter opening serves as a greeting. It’s a chance to acknowledge the reader directly, even if just for a brief second.
Ways to open your cover letter Dear Jane Smith Dear Ms. Smith Dear Accounting Department Dear [Company Name] Recruiter 3. Write an attention-grabbing opening paragraph Keep your cover letter introduction direct and short. Start your cover letter with an informative, direct introduction.
2. A Clear Pitch. Use the next few paragraphs of your cover letter to “hit them with the strongest results you have that are aligned with the opportunity,” Godfred says. Ryan Kahn —Muse career coach and founder of …
Here's how you can start a cover letter in eight different ways: Show your enthusiasm Highlight a mutual connection Lead with an impressive accomplishment Explain what you like about the company Express passion for what you do Tell a creative story Include a belief statement Describe what you can do for the business 1. Show your …
The guidance below should help with the content of the cover letter. Have a strong opening that will get the attention of the recruiters. You can start by sharing what makes you a great candidate ...