Although your resume plays an important role in attracting the attention of hiring managers, your cover letter often determines whether they even look at your resume. For many hiring managers, the cover letter is the introduction to potential candidates, making it that much more important for you to grab their attention at the beginning.
A poorly written cover letter can quickly get your application put into the rejection pile, no matter how great a match your skill set is to the job. Luckily, there are devices you can use to ensure you have a stellar document. Our tips and guide on how to start a cover letter provide you with the tools necessary to engage potential employers within seconds.
How To Start a Cover Letter
Crafting a stand-out cover letter that increases your chances of advancing in the hiring process does not have to be difficult. Simply follow these steps that take you through the most important components of the process, including how to start a cover letter
1. Do your research
Before you write the first line of your cover letter, you need to perform a little research. The job description is a good place to start. Review the skills, qualifications, and experience expected for the job.
This gives you an idea of what the hiring managers are looking for, so you can tailor your letter accordingly. From there, take a moment to review the company’s website, social media accounts, and other online presence. Pay special attention to the company voice so your letter can match the tone and style.
2. Consider your value
Another key area of letter preparation is considering your value. Your cover letter is not the place to rehash your resume and simply list your experience and skills. Instead, it is an avenue for demonstrating the value you would provide to the company if hired.
Taking a moment to write down your various achievements and unique skills makes it easier to include them in your letter. Consider how your past achievements show your ability to perform above and beyond the other candidates, and communicate that in your letter.
3. Choose the right salutation
Once you have spent some time gathering the background information you need, it is time to decide how to begin in earnest. No matter the company culture, you want your letter to remain professional. However, you might find some instances where your tone or style might need to be slightly less formal to match the company tone.
Regardless, you want to try as hard as possible to write the letter to a specific person with a formal greeting, such as “Dear President, Chief, or Dr.,” depending on the situation. Do not put “Mr.” or “Mrs.” in front of a name because if you assume one or the other and get that wrong it could be a problem. Instead, use the recipient’s full name.
During your research of the company, you likely discovered the name of the hiring manager or recruiter or you have an educated guess as to whom to address the letter. If you cannot find a name, do not default to the generic “To Whom It May Concern;” instead, at least tailor the salutation to a specific title, such as “Senior Sales Manager” or “Hiring Manager.”
4. Craft a great opening line
Many hiring managers do not have a lot of time to spend reading every line of every cover letter. They will spend a few seconds skimming the beginning of a letter to decide whether to continue. Therefore, you must know how to start a cover letter with a strong opening line.
One great element to include is excitement about the company and the position. Find a way to tailor one of the first few sentences to the company. for instance, incorporate statements about their company culture or their products.
5. Quickly introduce yourself
At the start of your letter, take a moment to introduce yourself and directly state your purpose: to apply for a specific role. Also incorporate your 30-second elevator pitch in the form of one or two short sentences, including your experience and most important skills. During this introduction, stay real and authentic. If you use hyperbolic or exaggerated language, it will quickly reduce the impact of your statements.
6. Include any references
In the opening part of your cover letter, do not shy away from name-dropping. Networking remains a key component to job hunting, so use it if you have it. If you know someone at the company, especially if that person referred you to the job, include his or her name in the beginning of the letter.
7. Do not stop there
Now that you have a strong start to your cover, you do not want to lose steam, as this might cause the hiring manager to stop reading. Instead, continue to follow the best practices for writing your cover letter, including incorporating keywords from the job description, demonstrating the value you provide to the company, pointing out specific experience that is relative to the new job, and sharing some of your background and personality, when applicable.
You want to avoid simply rehashing your resume or piling in a lot of needless fluff, for example, employing over-used terms such as “team player.” Demonstrate your skills with descriptive statements instead.
8. Close your letter
Do not spend so much time concentrating on the start of the letter that you forget to have a strong closing. Finish your letter by reinstating your excitement for the job. Encourage the reader to review your resume as well. Incorporate an actionable statement, such as “I look forward to scheduling an interview” or “I will look out for an email from you about the next steps.”
Include some contact information, even though they have it on your resume. Express gratitude for their time. Finally, utilize a good closing statement, such as “thank you” or “sincerely,” and write your full name.
Below is an example cover letter. Pay close attention to the start of the letter to get ideas for how to start your own.
I was delighted to see an opening at Sunflower Marketing Agency for a content strategist. Joanna McCall, who works as a client coordinator for your company, felt I would be a great fit for the position thanks to my years of experience successfully running multiple digital and print marketing campaigns in a well-respected marketing agency.
I have heard many great things about your company from Joanna and other contacts in my professional network, and I am excited for the opportunity to work for you. I feel that my innovative content marketing strategies, which have led to a minimum 50% increase in organic traffic for clients, would help your company meet and exceed your client goals.
During my time working at a marketing agency, I have worked closely with my colleagues to develop successful multi-platform marketing campaigns that continually exceed the expectations of clients. While I have experience working with multiple industries at the agency level, I am excited for the chance to focus on clients in the health and wellness industry with your company.
The work you did for Functional Wellness of Charlotte impressed me. I feel it perfectly complements my own vision for marketing healthcare ethically and effectively.
My ability to visualize both large-scale, long-term goals and the required mini-steps to get there makes me an invaluable asset to any marketing team. Additionally, my marketing degree and years as a content writer provide the perfect foundation for planning and running successful content marketing campaigns. I maintain a close eye on the latest developments in digital marketing to ensure my work always remains relevant and effective.
Thank you for your time. I am confident that my experience and education makes me perfect for this position. I have enclosed my resume, and I can provide samples of my work. I would appreciate the chance to discuss the value I could bring to this position further with you at your convenience. You can reach me at 555-555-5555 or email me at [email protected].