When you’re applying for a job, your cover letter is the first impression you’ll give to a hiring manager. The introductory paragraph of your cover letter is your chance to engage recruiters and convince them you are the right candidate for the position in question. These first few sentences are supposed to sell your accomplishments and skills.
If you fail to tailor your cover letter first paragraph to the position for which you’re applying, hiring managers will likely not consider you. Thankfully, you can prevent this scenario from happening by creating a compelling opening paragraph by following our guide below.
How To Write a Cover Letter First Paragraph
The goal of your cover letter introduction is to present yourself as the perfect candidate for the open position. If your cover letter first paragraph effectively paints a positive picture of your accomplishments and is attention-grabbing, you’ll set yourself up as a viable candidate who has a better chance of securing an interview.
You want to show the hiring manager that you’ve done your research about the position and the company as a whole. One key way to accomplish this is by personalizing the salutation. Usually it only takes a quick look at the company website to find the name of the HR person or hiring manager. If you can’t figure out the person’s name through some research, opt for “Dear Hiring Manager.” Avoid generic salutations such as “Dear Sir” or “To whom it may concern” at all costs.
After you address the hiring manager, you want to introduce yourself in an enthusiastic yet concise manner. Striking the balance between professionalism and personality is key to show you’re serious without having your cover letter be like everyone else’s. You want to briefly communicate why the job interests you and what you’d bring to the table.
As you begin to craft the introduction of your cover letter, remember to keep it short. It may seem difficult to cram all of these things into just a few sentences, but you can do it if you work at it. If your first paragraph is too long-winded, it can cause your readers to lose interest. Keep it brief and remember you can elaborate later in the cover letter, your resume, and the interview.
Read the example first paragraph below that follows this advice:
Dear Steve Watson,
My name is James Porter and I’m excited to be applying for the position of manager at XYZ Company that you advertised in the October edition of the ABC Newspaper. I firmly believe I’m the hardworking and passionate team leader you’re looking for. With five years of managerial experience, proven performance, and deep retail knowledge, I know I can contribute significantly to your growing company.
5 Cover Letter First Paragraph Must-Haves
1. Write for the right audience
Don’t be inconsiderate of your audience. Write your cover letter first paragraph with the employer’s point of view in mind. Don’t think about what would impress a friend or parent — simple bragging won’t be enough. If you were hiring someone, what would you want in a prospective employee’s cover letter? Think like an employer and focus on your relevant skills and experience that would make you an excellent part of the company.
2. Add unique and engaging content
When hiring managers read your cover letter, they want to get a sense of your experiences, skills, and abilities to take on the position. Don’t repeat what’s in your resume — take advantage of your cover letter by adding details that you weren’t able to include elsewhere.
You should also avoid writing something boring or predictable; otherwise, you won’t stand out. There’s no need to be overly formal. In fact, if you’re too formal, you could come across as inauthentic. Your goal is to showcase your personality without being unprofessional.
3. Focus on your ability to contribute
It may feel natural, but don’t use the opening of your cover letter to talk about how perfect the role would be for you. Hiring managers don’t want to know how you would benefit from having the position, so avoid talking about how it would be convenient or the pay would be better than your current job. Instead, demonstrate how you’d contribute to the company and help it thrive with your unique set of skills.
4. Mention how you found out about the position
Let the hiring manager know how you came across the position, whether it was from a newspaper ad or an online job posting. You should certainly mention any contacts who are relevant to your application. For example, if someone from the company encouraged you to apply for the job, mention his or her name in the first few sentences. Including these details at the start of your cover letter can grab the attention of hiring managers.
5. Include keywords
If you notice any keywords in the job listing, be sure to use one or two in your opening paragraph. For example, if the job listing mentions a particular preferred skill or proficiency, you should include it within the first few sentences.
Top Cover Letter First Paragraph Takeaways
The first few sentences of your cover letter are the most crucial. Hiring managers usually have a lot of letters to sort through, so it’s important for yours to stand out immediately with an engaging cover letter first paragraph. Use it as an opportunity to provide a quick look into your relevant experience and background, as well as your enthusiasm.
Be sure to adhere to the best practices of keeping your audience in mind and writing original content. If you do, you’ll have a better chance at landing the job of your dreams. Start crafting your cover letter with this guide in mind and you can impress your potential employers.