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Basically, over 90% of cover letters are either average, bad, or very bad. They usually start with stock lines like: “To whom it may concern,
In response to the job advertisement, I’m applying for [Job Title] at your company and forwarding my CV… so on and so forth”.
This is the reason hiring managers are so sick and tired of reading dozens of cover letters day after day. These templatized cover letters sound to them like “Whoever sees my cover letter, I am here for the job. Please check my attached resume. ” This is not the way a great cover letter should begin. It should grab the reader’s attention right away and make them read further.
If you’ve been staring at a blank “Cover Letter” document trying to figure out how to start a cover letter and shape a proper cover letter intro, then our article is for you.
Previously on our blog, we described the importance of a thought-out letter and presented an ideal cover letter structure. If you missed the opportunity to get some valuable information and suggestions on writing a professional cover letter that will help you land a dream job, then now is the right time. Click here to read the article.
Because you’ve figured out that you have to impress the recruiting manager from the very first paragraph, it’s time to put this knowledge into practice. A cover letter is too important to write badly; so, you’ll need to take advantage of your wit and creativity. Here are our suggestions for you to improve your cover letter right now.
When you begin a cover letter, use a professional-looking header. Put in your first and last name and your contact information (professional email address, telephone number, postal or zip code if necessary) in the top right corner of the document. Next, fill in the recipient’s information (first and last name, position at the company, company name, and contact info) and put this section on the left.
Here is an example of a cover letter header:
From: John Doe
11301 West Olympic Boulevard Apt. 100
Los Angeles, CA 90064
To: Jane Doe
Senior Hiring Manager, XYZ Inc.
Note: It’s okay to put “From:” and “To:” one under the other, opposite one another, or to align both sections to the left side of your cover letter. However, you should place your info section first.
Try to avoid the generic greeting “To whom it may concern”, because it sounds cold and indifferent. Find out the name of the person who will consider the resume. Before you begin the cover letter with the words “Dear Hiring Manager”, review the email, company website or Linkedin.com profile of the organization for information about the job opening: perhaps the name of the hiring executive is lurking at the bottom of the posting. This attention to detail and personalization in the greeting phrase can be a distinctive feature amongst dozens of cover letters in the recruiter’s inbox.
Generally, starting a cover letter with greetings like “Dear [Recruiter’s Name],” is the way to go. Here are some alternative greetings in order of preference:
If you couldn’t find a particular person to address your cover letter to, then use “Dear Hiring Manager”, “Dear Human Resources Manager” or “Dear Sir/Madam”. And don’t forget that a comma after the salutation.
Now let’s write in one of the salutations to the header we made before:
From: John Doe
11301 West Olympic Boulevard Apt. 100
Los Angeles, CA 90064
To: Jane Doe
28 Second Avenue, NY
Start strong, be direct. State the job you’re applying for. Most career experts agree on how to start off a general cover letter. They say that you don’t need lengthy introductions before you get straight to the point. Get down to business in the very first sentence. Tell them who you are and a few sentences about your work experience. Write what you specialize in, how many years of experience you have to offer, and what your key achievements are. Be brief; the cover letter beginning is not the right place to go to deep into details. You’ll have the body for that.
“I was truly excited to see that XYZ Inc. is looking for a Lead Project Manager skilled in handling complex software projects for the metallurgical industry. With over four years of experience coordinating a 31-member software development team in the sphere of machinery manufacturing, I’m confident that I will be a great fit to be Lead Project Manager at XYZ Inc.”
You might also want to highlight a referral or a mutual connection in the cover letter introduction. Does your friend or former colleague work with the company and referred you to apply for the job? Start your cover letter with the name of the person who recommended the job to you. Networking and personal connections can get you the job, and the higher the position your connection has, the higher your chances of landing said job.
“I was thrilled to learn about this job opening from my former colleague, John Johnson. We worked together for three years on a complex metallurgical project at ABC Global. He thought that I would be a good candidate for this position at your company.”
Let’s assume you conduct research on the position, find the specific hiring executive, create a professional-looking header, start a cover letter for a job with an appropriate salutation and write a stunning opening paragraph. The format is neat, the tone is right. Take a short coffee break and unwind before starting the second paragraph (body) and conclusion of the letter. The rest of your cover letter is as important as the introduction, so you need your mind to be fresh.
Generally, the body of a cover letter consists of several paragraphs, where you go into detail about your qualifications, explain your enthusiasm, list your relevant skills and experience, and convince the reader that you are a perfect fit for the position.
Employers value enthusiasm and genuine interest. In fact, they tend to value enthusiasm a little bit more than your skills and experience. No, this doesn’t mean that enthusiasm can replace a lack of professional expertise or skills. However, if you’re truly enthusiastic about getting in, you’ll have a better chance for the job, even if you lack certain skills.
Show the reason you are enthusiastic about working with them. Give examples, if you have them. And remember that from the employer’s perspective, excitement means loyalty and dedication in the future; that’s why showing genuine interest works.
Give examples, if you have them. And remember that from the employer’s perspective, excitement means loyalty and dedication in the future; that’s why showing genuine interest works.
If you’ve consumed some of the company’s products, tried their services, or are somehow connected to what the company does (or did), do mention this. For example, if you are applying to a mHealth software development company, tell them you are an active user of their EMR/EHR platform or application. Tell the story of why you’ve chosen their platform among dozens of other similar services, and what benefits it brings to you personally.
Show that you’ve been keeping up with company news and recent events, and are interested in what is going on. For example, you might mention recent interviews with company representatives, conferences held by their organization, the launch of a brand-new product, a hot-piping feature for the product, etc.
Awareness of the company’s events will differentiate you from the rest of the applicants.
This doesn’t have to be the first sentence, though. But if you manage to do so, your chances for an interview will increase tremendously. Conduct research about the company’s goals, and try to identify the key issues facing the company. Offer the solution you see for a particular issue. For instance, if you are a UI/UX designer and you see that their EMR platform is not intuitive enough for the end-user, or its navigation pattern is inconvenient, offer your solution and back up your vision with past experience. Real solutions are impressive.
The closing paragraph of your letter should be concise and simple. Mention that you’ve enclosed your resume, convey respect to the reader, and ask them, politely, to contact you.
“In short, I believe myself to be a great candidate for this position. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the Social Media Marketing Manager position in person. Feel free to get in touch with me by phone or by email, and I’d be happy to attend an interview to discuss my fit for the company in greater detail.
Best Regards/Yours Faithfully,
Remember that different industries and domains, as well as the job level, determine the right approach to writing a cover letter. However, the rules for success are pretty much the same:
Now you know the recipe for a professional cover letter to supplement your CV. Follow the rules and recommendations to be among that 10% of people who write outstanding cover letters and know how to start a cover letter for a resume, what to include in it, and how to finish it properly.
If you’re still doubting yourself or unsure and can’t get past writer’s block, ask for professional assistance.
Our company has been providing professional CV and cover letter writing services for thousands of clients from the US and overseas. As of today, over 130,000 cover letters have been successfully built with the help of our online service; thousands of our clients have landed jobs. Want to be one of those delighted people? We are ready to assist with your career ambitions and help you land your dream job! Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about how we can help you.
Take a short coffee break and unwind before starting the second paragraph (body) and conclusion of the letter. The rest of your cover letter is as important as the introduction, so you need your mind to be fresh.
This article originally appeared in GetCoverLetter.