What is the best way to begin a cover letter?
To help you begin writing a cover letter, we asked CEOs and hiring managers this question for their best advice. From telling who you are to referencing the job post with relevant keywords, there are several ways to begin your cover letter that may help you stand out as a candidate and land an interview.
Here are the nine best ways to start a cover letter:
- Tell Who You Are
- State The Problem and Present Yourself as The Solution
- Show Your Passion for the Company
- Open With a Powerful and Memorable Intro
- Provide a Short Summary
- Show You Are a Unique Fit for The Position
- Personalize Your Intro
- Avoid Pitching With Your Introduction
- Reference The Job Post With Relevant Keywords
Tell Who You Are
A cover letter is your chance to let your personality shine. For example, take the opportunity to explain who you are both in and out of the office. Not just your work ethic but your hobbies, your interests, and why you do what you do in your daily life. Hiring managers have all the professional information they need in your resume and application, so offering some insight into who you are will provide them with a more well-rounded picture of you that will set you apart from other candidates.
Matt Woods, SOLD.com
State The Problem and Present Yourself as The Solution
Ask a rhetorical question or state a pervasive problem as it relates to struggles the business may be experiencing, which you can solve by being hired. By posing a strong question upfront, you can position yourself as the ideal candidate who understands the company’s pain points as well as showcase your strategy to approach it.
I recently came across the perfect example of a teacher transitioning from the classroom to her desired corporate position. She started off by identifying the company’s need to increase sales, then used specific examples in the body of her cover letter to tie her classroom teaching experience directly to the core competencies of the position, such as engaging multiple learning styles, simultaneously appealing to varying ‘customer needs’, and preparing for ‘sales presentations’. Beginning your cover letter with a statement or question that resonates with your audience will help your application stand out and be more memorable than a standard introduction.
Benjamin Meskin, Cabrella
Show Your Passion for The Company
Highlight your passion for the company. This shows the hiring manager you know what the company is about and you love the work they’re doing. Whether it’s a recent accomplishment or a blog article, mention that at the very beginning. Not only does it show you’re well versed with the company, but that you keep up with industry trends as well.
Jodi Neuhauser, Ovaterra
Open With a Powerful and Memorable Intro
Open your cover letter with a powerful, memorable intro. It will help you stand out from other applicants. Making yourself attractive to the prospective employer from the very first line may contribute to your future success. Ensure it’s short, catchy, and promising. For example: “If you are looking for someone who treats work with passion, people with respect, and new challenges with enthusiasm, I am the one you need.” Encouraging, isn’t it?
Agata Szczepanek, MyPerfectResume
Provide a Short Summary
The best way to begin a cover letter is with a quick summary of who you are, the specific position you’re applying for, and why you’d be a good fit. The first paragraph should contain only this information and be no longer than three sentences.
This is a common standard that makes the job of reading cover letters less strenuous for employers. It might not feel like a very creative introduction, but it’s simple and direct, a sort of accelerated skimmable overview that quickly conveys the main takeaway. Keep in mind that hiring managers may read hundreds of cover letters, and the first sentences convey the first impression of your personality. You’d rather be seen as accommodating and respectful of their time, than as unnecessarily complex for the sake of creativity.
Soumya Mohan, Poised
Show You Are a Unique Fit for The Position
Tell me something interesting about yourself that makes you a great fit for this job. When I start reading a cover letter, I don’t want to read a list of qualifications that show me you can do this job. I want to get a sense of who you are and why you’d be a great team member. Start by telling me how you fell in love with this line of work and what unique experience you have in this field. Or tell me how you got to this point in your life, and why this job is a great next step in achieving your goals. The more I can see how your passions and goals line up with this position, the more likely I am to understand how you can be a great addition to our team.
Staci Brinkman, Sips by
Personalize Your Intro
Recruiters and hiring managers are human; they just want to feel valued and appreciated. They want to feel that you are taking the opportunity as personally as they are. Most of the time, the cover letters that make them feel, “this letter was written for me and me only”, will pass the screening – regardless of the rest of the content. A great tactic is to dive into Linkedin and learn about the people who are in charge of the team and overall recruitment in your target company. Where do they come from, what do they write about, and how do they see the world? Don’t write to the company, write to the people behind the job posting.
Max Korpinen, Hireproof
Avoid Pitching With Your Introduction
The cover letters that stand out to us the most are those that kick off quickly with an introduction to who they are and why they are good for the role without coming across as if they are pitching themselves. They naturally talk about themselves and introduce work they have done as a byproduct of which (if they are actually a good fit), it becomes clear to the person hiring that this person is a good fit. The moment a candidate tries to make themselves look like a good fit, it tends to be super easy to tell that this is the case.
Alex Panagis, ScaleMath
Reference The Job Post With Relevant Keywords
Start off a cover letter in a direct fashion and always reference the position you’re applying for. Isolate the valuable qualities mentioned in the job description of an ideal candidate and use those keywords to introduce yourself. For instance, if the job post is looking for a detail-oriented team member who is willing to go the extra mile, you could include a sentence like, “As a detail-oriented hard worker, I take pride in pursuing each project to its completion.” This practice lets the employer know that you understand what they are looking for in a candidate. You’re highlighting your skills in reference to their company’s needs.
Eric Ang, One Search Pro