Your resume and cover letter are, perhaps, the two most important pieces of your job search puzzle. Sure, your experience, skills, networking abilities, and how you perform in the interview (if you land one) will all play huge parts, but those two important documents you submit with your application can, and often do, make all the difference.
The cover letter is particularly crucial, because it’s essentially the hiring manager’s first introduction to you as a candidate. In other words, it is the very first impression you’ll make on an employer—so you’ll want it to be a good one.
When writing the cover letter introduction (meaning: the first paragraph of your cover letter), know that getting it right is what can make or break your chances of landing a job. If the interviewer is immediately turned off or disinterested or unimpressed, they’ll likely toss your application into the “no” pile without further consideration. But if you manage to write a captivating first paragraph that really grabs their attention and quickly paints a positive picture of who you are, you’ll position yourself as a strong candidate who has a much better chance of landing an interview.
Need help learning how to write a cover letter (in particular, the opening paragraph)? Here are a few tips to consider when writing that first paragraph of your cover letter:
Prove you did your homework
If you can help it, never ever start your cover letter with a generic “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir.” Instead, personalize the letter. Do some digging to find out the name of the HR manager who will most likely be reviewing your application—or your would-be boss. If you can’t figure it out, a simple “Dear Hiring Manager” will work just fine. Personalizing the salutation shows the hiring manager that you care enough about this job to have done your homework. They may also feel more connected to you if they are addressed directly.
Introduce yourself with some enthusiasm
After you greet the hiring manager (by name, hopefully) you’ll want to briefly introduce yourself. But infuse some personality into it! Yes, you’ll want to be professional and not stand out for the wrong reasons—but you don’t want to bore the employer to death or have your cover letter look like everyone else’s.
So, instead of starting off with a dull “I’m Jane and I’m interested in the marketing role.” Try something more exciting, like, “I firmly believe I’m the passionate, hardworking candidate you’ve been looking for.”
Follow up the brief introduction with a few words on why you’re interested in the job, why you’re perfect for it, and the value you’d bring to the table. You can elaborate on those thoughts later in the cover letter—but at least touch on them in this first paragraph, with some enthusiasm and passion. Remember—the opening of your letter must be an eye-opener, and not a sleep aid!
Keep it short and to the point
We know it can be hard to cram all of the above into a few short sentences, but you’ll want to do your best to keep things clear and concise. Being long-winded will cause the reader to lose interest quickly, and if that happens, the rest of the cover letter will all be for nothing. So, keep things brief and light (but professional!) and don’t dwell on any one thought for too long. Remember: you can use the interview to elaborate on any points you make here!
Keep it clean
Okay, we mean typo-free! Have someone else read your cover letter for typos, grammatical errors, or clarity issues, or consider using a service like Grammarly. Get as much feedback as possible. Submitting a sloppy cover letter sends a message that you’d be a sloppy employee—and that’s not the message you want to send. This tip goes for the entire cover letter, and all application materials, for that matter—not just this first paragraph!
Here’s a sample of a strong first paragraph:
“Dear Mr. Henry Potter, My name is Jane Doe and I’m thrilled to be applying for the position of Properties Manager that was advertised in the September edition of the Bedford Falls Times. I’m confident I am the passionate and hardworking candidate you’ve been looking for, as my skills and interests—such as x, y, and z—perfectly align with what you’re looking for. I know I can make a significant contribution to your growing organization, and hope you’ll consider for me this incredible opportunity.”
The LiveCareer website has a cover letter builder you can use to create the ideal cover letter introduction, one that will really help you get noticed by employers. You can also use our cover letter examples to see how the first paragraph of your cover letter should look.
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