A cover letter is the perfect way to get the hiring manager's attention and detail your accomplishments. To immediately get the employer's attention, you need a powerful introduction that sets you apart from the competition. Learning how to start your cover letter ensures you set a positive tone for the rest of your application. In this article, we offer some ways to start your cover letter and provide examples.
8 ways to start your cover letter
Here's how you can start a cover letter in eight different ways:
- Show your enthusiasm
- Highlight a mutual connection
- Lead with an impressive accomplishment
- Explain what you like about the company
- Express passion for what you do
- Tell a creative story
- Include a belief statement
- Describe what you can do for the business
1. Show your enthusiasm
Being enthusiastic is often a good predictor of a strong work ethic. It also shows that you're motivated to get the role. Start your cover letter with one or two reasons that make you excited about the open role, like the company culture, certain events it produces or duties you would be responsible for.
Example: “I was excited to see that Yukon Industries is hiring an event manager who is skilled at increasing brand awareness and driving growth with high-traffic events, especially since I've attended several of your company's speaking events myself. With my five years of experience coordinating events in the corporate world, I confident that I'm a great fit for the role.”
2. Highlight a mutual connection
If a former colleague referred you to the job, the beginning of your cover letter can be a place to mention that connection. It grabs the hiring manager's attention because they'll want to see why someone they know recommended you for the role. If the hiring manager respects and values the opinions of the colleague you mention, you have a higher chance of getting to the next step in the hiring process. Mentioning a mutual connection also serves as a positive reference should the hiring manager contact them.
Example: “I was excited to learn of this job opportunity from my former colleague, Alex Johnson. He and I have worked closely together for many years, most recently on a complex data analysis project at J.J. Manufacturing. He thought that I would be a good match for this position on your team.”
3. Lead with an impressive accomplishment
Write an attention-grabbing opening paragraph that leads with an impressive achievement and features quantifiable results. It's important to make connections between how you added value at a previous job and how you can apply it to the new role. Think of one particular accomplishment that relates especially well to the job.
Example: “Last month alone, I more than doubled J.J. Manufacturing's social media followers and ran two successful ad campaigns that generated $25,000 in revenue. I'd love to bring my expertise to organically expand your social reach and deliver ROI as the social media manager at your company.”
4. Explain what you like about the company
Begin your cover letter with evidence that you've done your research. If the company you're applying for was recently in the news, mention it in the opening line and tie it into why you admire the company. To avoid sounding insincere with your compliments, bring up a specific event, fact, notable statistic or award the company recently won.
Example: “I was inspired when I saw that Yukon Industries was featured in Excel Magazine last month for its commitment to renewable energy and reducing waste in the workplace—all while experiencing triple-digit revenue growth. With my track record of reducing costs by 30% and promoting greener workplaces, I'm excited about the possibility of taking on the account executive role to expand your company's growth and work toward a more sustainable future.”
5. Express passion for what you do
Passion is one of the greatest driving factors behind success. Since hiring managers are looking for candidates who can be advocates for their company and come with a strong work ethic, starting off by expressing your passions and motivations is a good attention grabber. Choose one or two factors that accurately and concisely depict your passion for your career. Explain why these passions make you a valuable candidate.
Example: “I've been passionate about writing since I was the editor-in-chief of my middle school newspaper. Throughout my 10+ years of experience, I've channelled this passion into a personal blog with 20,000+ monthly readers and a writer's workshop I founded for inner-city teens. I believe my passion for writing would make me an excellent copywriter at Yukon Industries.”
6. Tell a creative story
Although your cover letter is a professional document, it's usually okay to include some humour, charisma and creativity, as long as it's appropriate for the specific job and company. Hiring managers can receive hundreds of applications, and they are looking for something that catches and keeps their attention. Do some research on the company culture, examine the tone of the job posting and use your own judgment when going the creative route.
Example: “It was exactly two hours before a critical meeting with one of our biggest clients—and my manager had just asked me to completely redo our entire sales pitch. Under this time crunch, I reworked our pitch from the ground up, collaborating with teams across several departments to deliver a completely new presentation on time. The best part? Our client loved the pitch, and we closed the sale within 30 minutes.”
7. Include a belief statement
Impress the hiring manager by opening up with a short and impactful belief statement that mirrors the organization's values and goals. To match your belief statement to the company's mission and values, look at its website. Most companies list their mission statements or objectives on the "About Us" page.
Example: “As a teacher, I believe every student deserves the opportunity to learn at their own individual pace, let curiosity direct their learning and participate in hands-on activities that encourage growth, especially in STEM.”
8. Describe what you can do for the business
One of the best ways to get the hiring manager's attention in your opening is to show how you can contribute to the company. Relate your accomplishments and qualifications to the business to make yourself valuable. Reread the job description to see if there are specific responsibilities or skills you can write about when you start your cover letter.
Example: "I was eager to apply to this role when I saw that you're looking for a retail manager who can increase sales. With my degree in retail and sales management and my experience as a retail associate, I believe I can target ideal customer demographics and plan campaigns that drive more foot traffic into your store. I'm looking forward to working and growing with Yukon Industries while helping you reach a wider audience."
Tips for starting your cover letter
Follow these tips to ensure the beginning of your cover letter is powerful:
- Keep it concise. Your entire cover letter should be relatively short, only about a page. That way, you can keep the employer's attention throughout. A short opening paragraph should be enough to get the hiring manager's interest.
- Use numbers when applicable. If you include accomplishments in your opening, try to quantify them to better impress the hiring manager. Using numbers to detail your qualifications in your opening also helps put your work into perspective. For example, you can write that you helped improve customer satisfaction by 16% in the last quarter.
- Use keywords. Look for keywords in the posting that you can add to your opening. Words like "team player," "driven" and "self-starter" are words to look out for. If any of them describe your work ethic or characteristics, include them in your cover letter.
- Be descriptive and strong. Action words can make your opening stronger. Try to include words like "generate," "deliver" and "execute" to show you're a strong candidate.
- Personalize each cover letter. Every cover letter you send should have an opening that targets the company. A personalized opening shows you took the time to make a unique cover letter and that you're truly interested in that specific role. Once you finish writing a new opening, proofread it to ensure it's free of spelling and grammatical mistakes.