Cover letters are a funny thing nowadays. On the one hand, some recruiters say they no longer read them. On the other hand, when they are seen, cover letters are arguably more important than resumes because they are what convinces the reader to actually look at your resume, and you’re unlikely to get an interview invite without that happening.
To play it safe, you need to take cover letter writing seriously, and to do that, you need to grab the attention of your prospective employer right off the bat in each and every cover letter, and give them a reason to continue reading all materials in your application. You have to hook your reader right away with your cover letter introduction. Let’s take a look at how to start a cover letter, starting now.
The First Two Sentences
Most job seeking experts will tell you that the first two sentences of your cover letter are the most crucial. The opening two sentences of your cover letter are similar to an elevator pitch: a brief statement about a product, service, or company that business owners have at the ready whenever they meet a prospective client. In your cover letter, you’re the product, and the opening statement is your pitch.
Don’t Write a History Book
The opening two sentences of your cover letter shouldn’t contain your entire professional life story. A boring list of facts is not going to get the job done.
What to Include
In the first two sentences of your cover letter, you’ll want to get across several things: your knowledge and experience in the field; how you can benefit the company; and your most impressive, relevant, recent accomplishment(s). Be succinct, and pack a punch. This is not the place to describe each day of the last 10 years of your work life, or every class you ever took in college that relates to the position. We’re only talking about two sentences here!
Make sure your opening two sentences are pertinent and interesting—make sure they address the needs of the job, and that you’re the one who has the skills and experience to meet those needs.
Think Like an Employer
Many cover letters fall short because they’re written to the wrong audience. You’re not writing a letter home to impress your parents with all the wonderful things you’ve done since leaving home, so a simple brag sheet won’t cut it. If you were an employer, what would you look for in a prospective employee?
To give you an idea of what makes a good cover letter introduction (as well as a bad cover letter introduction), take the following examples into consideration.
I’m applying for the Accountant position because I want to find a place to use the skills I acquired in college as a Business Accounting major. I have a degree from 123 University, and after I graduated in 2012 I worked for ABC Corporation.
As a graduate from the Business Accounting department of 123 University, and with over two years of experience at top firms such as ABC Corporation, I feel that I am an excellent fit for the Accountant position. While at ABC I was able to improve the efficiency of the accounting procedures by 20%, was instrumental in the development of new software that helped improve payroll accuracy, and routinely advised Human Resources and the CEO on accounting matters.
My name is [your name]. I am interested in your open Marketing Manager position, and have attached my resume for your perusal. I have seven years of experience in the marketing industry and I’m sure that I will be a good fit at your company.
Currently at Acme LLC as a Marketing Manager for the past five years and looking for a new challenge at a great place to work, I saw your open digital marketing director position listed on LinkedIn and sincerely felt as if the role was made for me. In the past year alone, I’ve led a team running massive ad campaigns on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter that have directly led to a 34% increase in sales.
What makes the good examples above good examples? They’re dynamic, they pack a punch, and most importantly—they succinctly tie candidate skills and accomplishments to the job they’re applying for. When you aim to do the same with your opening two sentences, you improve your chances of moving forward in the application process!
A good cover letter is crucial to securing the position you want. Be sure to follow best practices when schooling yourself on how to start a cover letter. Keep your audience in mind, and build a cover letter that will be sure to make an impression. To help you land the job of your dreams, visit LiveCareer and use our Cover Letter Builder to create a letter that will impress your prospective employers and help you land the job. And if you need a helping hand with your resume as well, check out our Resume Builder.
More Articles about How to Start Your Cover Letter
How to Start a Cover Letter With Examples and Tips
What's the best way to start a cover letter for a job? The first sentence or two of your cover letter are the most important ones. Recruiters and hiring managers might spend mere seconds scanning your application. To make your cover letter stand out, you need to grab their attention right away.
What should these all-important first sentences say? Keep in mind that you’re hoping to differentiate yourself from the competition.
That might mean highlighting a contact, providing a quick window into your relevant background and experience, and/or emphasizing a significant accomplishment.
Think about why the hiring manager why he or she 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. 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 as well. For example:
"Jane Doe let me know about the job, and suggested I apply 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 previous company you worked for. You might even add the job title you had if it is similar to the one you are applying for.
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. For example, you might mention a skill you have that was included in the listing. Don't overdo it though. You want your letter to read naturally, not appear like it's stuffed with keywords.
Personalize Your Cover Letter
When you're not sure how to get started, review these examples of cover letter openings, but be sure to tailor your introduction to your personal circumstances and the job for which you are applying.
The more you personalize your cover letter to show that you're a match for the job requirements, the better your chances of getting selected for an interview.
Cover Letter Opening Sentence Examples
- 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 motivate the resources I had with well-defined objectives and empowerment.
- I am very interested in the entry-level position that is available at ABC Investment Partners. I recently graduated from XYZ University College and my courses in investments, finance, and business have given me a solid base upon which I plan to build 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, due to my years 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 the 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.
- It is my understanding that you have been deluged with resumes since Computer World released their list of the best companies at which to work. 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
What to Write In the Rest of Your Cover Letter
Here are more examples of each section, plus samples of complete cover letters.
Read More:Top 10 Cover Letter Writing Tips | What to Include in a Cover Letter | Email Cover Letters