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.
Posted on by James Hu
Writing a great cover letter opening statement is important. It encapsulates who you are and describes what value you can bring to the company. It encourages the hiring manager to read the rest of your cover letter. Make sure your opening statement is persuasive – and memorable – with these five tips.
1. Don’t be generic or obvious.
Some of theworst cover letter opening statements aren’t specific. Don’t write “To Whom It May Concern,” but actually figure out who is doing the hiring for the position and write specifically to that person. You also don’t want to include any generic formalities or waste space by writing obvious statements. These can be:
- “My name is…”
- “I am writing to express my interest…”
- “I have also enclosed my resume…
2. Replace generic opening statements with dynamic ones.
- All of the best examples replace generic, non-specific phrasing with ashort description of who you are or reasons you’re excited by the company’s opening. Try these examples:“I’m a dynamic educator with six years of experience teaching fourth grade math and science.”
- “As the social media manager for _____, I have implemented new tactics that have increased our Twitter followers by 10 percent.”
- “I was excited to see a position open at _____ because your work with low-income families has long been an inspiration to me.”
3. Create a natural segue between the opening statement and the introduction.
Your opening statement should flow easily into the rest of the opening paragraph. To improve flow, your opening statement should be as concise as possible. Remember, don’t write out your entire life history or work experience. Instead, make sure that you’re answering these questions:
- Who are you?
- Where have you’ve worked?
- What are your major accomplishments?
- How can you succeed at the company?
4. Learn to write an email cover letter.
Increasingly, a modern cover letter is sent via email. If you’re in IT, for example, you always want to write a cover letter email. To nail the email cover letter opening, keep your first paragraph limited tounder 150 words. This opening should hook the reader by detailing your abilities.
5. Tailor the opening statement by matching keywords.
You want your opening statement to fit the job description exactly. UseJobscan to match your cover letter to the keywords used on the job posting. Jobscan will identify keywords from the posting you need to include in your cover letter – meaning that it will be easier for the hiring manager to see how you would fit into the company.
Also be sure to download thesecover letter templates to see successful versions of cover letter opening statements.