You’ve got your resume locked down and are ready to turn in your job application. But that damn cover letter… You’ve been staring at your blank screen for what must be
In this guide, we’ll show you how to start a cover letter perfectly and captivate the hiring manager enough to want to
immediately call you in for an interview. We’ll craft a professional cover letter introduction and sort out all the header details while we’re at it. One of our users, Nikos, had this to say:
[I used] a nice template I found on Zety. My resume is now
one page long, not three. With the same stuff.
Need more guides and examples? Check these out:
Looking for an example in your specific field? We've most likely covered that too:
Cover Letter Example for Any Industry
Navigate the article easily:
How to Start a Cover Letter
Recruiters get hundreds of letters, and you need to grab their attention and deliver the essential message
fast. So, the most important question is, how do I start my cover letter to get ahead? Here’s your answer:
Arrange the header. Address the hiring manager properly. Be strategic with your opening sentence. Showcase your best assets in the 1st paragraph.
We’ll cover each in detail and provide you with actual samples you can use. Let’s get to it:
1. Format the Heading Area
The first thing the hiring manager sees on your cover letter? It’s the
cover letter header.
Since a cover letter is usually a formal document, follow the business letter format when writing. This means your details go first, then the date of writing, and then the recipient’s name and address. Left-align everything unless you choose a particular cover letter template designed otherwise.
Why would the address on a cover letter matter so much? Because it’s almost invisible to the recruiter if it’s perfect, but if done wrong, you lose points before you even begin.
Here’s a sample template for how to start a cover letter with a header:
[Your First & Last Names]
[Your Mailing Address]
[Date of Writing]
[Manager’s Job Title]
[Company’s Street Address]
[City, State, and Zip Code]
Just copy and paste the above template into your cover letter heading area. Easy-peasy!
For more on the ins and outs of addressing cover letters, see this guide:
How to Address a Cover Letter: Sample & Guide [20+ Examples]
And if you’re looking for general advice on how to write a cover letter, try this guide:
How to Write a Cover Letter for a Resume (12+ Job-Winning Examples)
You should always aim to keep your cover letter brief but impactful. Learn more here:
Short Cover Letter Examples for a Speedy Job Application
2. Address the Cover Letter Directly to the Hiring Manager
We’ve nailed the header, and now we have to open our letter the right way.
Business communication has become more casual over the last years, so the
“Dear Sir/Madam,” opening previously used to address someone unknown may now be a bit over the top. What do you do instead? Actually, address the hiring manager by name. That instantly adds a personal touch and a feeling of familiarity.
What if you can't identify the hiring manager's name? Do some digging! Check the company’s website or LinkedIn. If those don’t work, you could even call up the receptionist.
All failed? Here's how to start a cover letter without a name:
Dear Marketing Department Lead,
Be as specific as possible. You may not know their name, but try to figure out the job title of the person who will handle your employment process. This way, you’ll show you put in the work.
3. Captivate Them With Your Opening Sentence
Even though successful strategies on how to write a strong cover letter may vary from industry to industry, some tips apply to
any cover letter that aims at greatness.
Below, you'll find plenty of examples of cover letter opening lines to choose from:
1. Introduce Yourself and Identify the Job for Which You're Applying
Even though the recruiter knows why you’re writing, they very possibly have no idea who you are and which position you’re applying for (many companies are hiring for various positions simultaneously).
If you’re not applying through a referral, if you don’t know the hiring manager—do add these details to your first sentence. After all, it’s simple courtesy.
My name is Michael Scarn, and I would like to apply for the Customer Service Officer position at Sellesto.
2. Mention The Relevant Experience That Makes You a Good Candidate
The perfect cover letter attention grabber? Emphasizing your experience.
This strategy works best for experienced candidates, so if you have a professional record of 3+ years, do consider pointing it out from the get-go.
I am a software development engineer with over 7 years of experience working for Amazed and FIA Mobile.
3. Show Them You’re Enthusiastic and Excited About the Chance to Work With Them
Effective cover letters work as a point-collecting system. The more things you get right, the more impact your cover letter will have!
This is one of those things that are quite easy to get right. Do some research! Find out about company values, their prominent projects, etc. Then, tell them how thrilled you are about those, how you can relate, or how much you’d like to work in such an environment. Bonus: this will be helpful in your interview.
I’ve been tracking the trajectory Whichim has been following over the last couple of years, and I have been genuinely impressed all along. Your growth is outstanding.
4. Be Sincere and Direct
If we had to give you one answer to how to write an outstanding cover letter, we’d say this: be you.
There’s no need to lie, pretend, or exaggerate. Say, if you’re applying for an entry-level job straight out of college and don’t have any experience yet—tell it how it is, focusing on other strong suits of yours.
I’ve recently graduated with honors from UCLA, and I’m looking to start building my career in digital design. Being a big admirer of Remarked and having tried to emulate your style for a while, I’ve decided to reach out and see if any opportunities were available.
5. Don’t Waste Their Time With Irrelevant Sentences
“I am writing to express my interest”.
Are you, though? No, you’re writing to get a job. So don’t waste time and cover letter space, and cut to the chase.
My former colleague, Jordan Snowt, has referred me to the Sales Manager position at Martecha, and I would like to explain why I’m the right person for the job.
Alright, you've learned the basics. Need some more inspiration? We've crafted some sample cover letter opening paragraphs you can tweak and make yours.
4. The Most Effective Strategies to Start a Cover Letter
Looking for the
single best way to start a cover letter? Well, it doesn’t exist.
Each cover letter intro should be
tailored to that particular job, company, hiring manager, and situation. Here are the best and most effective examples:
1. Start With an Accomplishment
Currently a web developer with more than 3 years of experience in front-end development with recently earned a W3C FEWDC certification. I’m skilled in HTML, JS, CSS, JS libraries, and Agile methodology. I also actualized a new responsive site design, which helped to increase returning visitors by 25%. I believe I make a strong candidate for the senior front-end developer position, and I eagerly submit my job application.
Starting a cover letter with a brief humblebrag about your past wins is super effective with hiring managers for performance-centric positions. Always
use numbers to quantify achievements—it’s way more effective to prove your skills rather than just say you have them.
2. Inform the Company of What You Can Offer Them
Having just come across your job posting for a senior financial analyst, I believe I have the ideal mix of skills and experience to be a top candidate. Having worked as a financial analyst with Poole & Sons for over 4 years, my work there has enabled them to cut error rates by 30% while improving efficiency by 15%. If hired as the senior financial analyst at Standard Financial, I’m certain I would be able to bring the same level of commitment and results along with me.
Employers are on a mission—to find a candidate who offers their company the best bang for their buck. You'll have a compelling cover letter introduction by letting them know what you bring to the table
3. Show That You Love the Company
The Boston Consulting Group's emphasis on employee development is why I'm so excited about this position. My 98% client satisfaction rate at Deloitte owes a lot to my commitment to constantly improving my skills. I'm excited to see where I could take your client KPIs within such a well-constructed system.
Customizing a cover letter to match the job requirements is crucial to its success. What better way to tailor your cover letter intro to the company than by showing your love for it or your recognition of its objectives?
4. Name-Drop by Saying You Know Someone Relevant
Did someone internal refer you to the job? Let them know with this method:
As a web designer for the past decade, I've collaborated with many people on various projects, large and small. Recently, I had the opportunity to work with James Ellegaard. After working together for several weeks, he recommended that I apply to join the Product Design team at Osiris Visuals. With my 100% client satisfaction ratings, I believe I am the right candidate to hire as the next graphic designer.
Internal referrals give you a massive advantage over other candidates. The hiring manager was just notified of a colleague’s confidence in your abilities, so they’ll definitely pay closer attention to your job application.
5. Exude Enthusiasm, Excitement, and Passion
After sending off about 10 applications for area jobs in marketing, I came across your job post in search of a social media specialist. I’ve always admired Jensen’s brand of socially-conscious advertisements, and I can’t believe there’s an opportunity for me to be a part of it! As a marketer with 3+ years of experience posting conversion-optimized Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram posts, I just know I’d be a perfect fit.
Showing passion is always in fashion in cover letter introductions. They are looking for a human, not the robots who’ll replace us a decade from now.
6. Refer to Their Current Events
Yesterday, I stumbled across the news that Jedno Corporation has set a strict goal to reduce its carbon footprint to zero by 2025. I applaud your company’s goal! One thing led to another, and I found a perfect specialist position waiting to be filled on your careers page. I would love to be a part of Jedno’s historic reduction in dependence on fossil fuels.
Know something specific about the company that recently happened? Mentioning it shows you’re well-informed and interested in the company.
7. Display Some Creativity & Humor
It won't always work, so be careful! But for less formal job applications, a little joke goes a long way (unless, of course, it falls flat—you've been warned).
You posted a job ad for a line cook for the Red Sparrow Restaurant’s kitchen staff. I would love to apply for the position, as I can make a reduction like no one’s business, do crazy utensil-flipping tricks like those chefs at Benihana, and cook a steak people fight over. Also, I’m a size small if you hire me, so it could save you money when you order chef jackets (compared to hiring some larger candidates).
Disclaimer: I can't stress it enough—use it at your own risk. Creative sentences or hilarious one-liners can make great cover letter openers. But they can also backfire.
8. Be Direct
Sometimes beating around the bush turns an employer off. If you think that’s the case on this particular job application, you can just state that you’re applying for the job in your cover letter beginning.
I’d like to officially submit my application for the manager position at Smith’s Wholesale Club. With 5+ years of experience as a supervisor at Costco, I’ve developed a knack for effective, empathetic leadership and easily discernible results. I know that my supervisory experience and sales floor skills make me a perfect prospect to be one of Smith’s management staff.
9. Craft a Powerful Belief Statement
As a web developer, I believe every person should be able to access the internet on any device, unrestricted and efficiently. I admire Johnson & Gilchrist’s commitment to bringing affordable electronics and unfettered network connectivity to the less fortunate. I would love to be a part of your praiseworthy efforts and submit my official application for the back-end developer position.
A belief statement directly states a particular idea or value you care deeply about, often reflecting the company’s opinion.
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A Universal Method for Starting a Cover Letter
Feeling lazy? Here’s a simple-but-powerful cover letter introduction template to use as an example:
I was excited to come across the
[Job Title] position at [Company Name]. As a [Current Job Title] with [# of Years] years of experience, I have become competent in [Relevant Skills & Job-Related Abilities]. I’m also proud to count [Quantifiable Accomplishment or a Particular Win] among my various professional achievements. I would love the opportunity to bring these skills and the same quality of service to [Company Name] as the next [Job Title].
Feel free to copy and paste this one, fill in the placeholders with your information, and use it as your cover letter introduction!
Starting a cover letter isn’t so hard after all, right?
You don’t have to stick to the same boring cover letter introduction you learned in high school, as there are plenty of ways to go about it.
Here is how to start a cover letter:
Tailor it specifically to this one job offer, this one company, and this one hiring manager. Find the hiring manager’s name whenever possible. You’ll use it in the cover letter salutation and the cover letter address. You don’t have to choose just one type of cover letter beginning; include a bit of several to create a cover letter opening statement that’s truly compelling. There are many angles from which to attack your cover letter introduction: be creative, name-drop a colleague, talk up your achievements, etc. Don’t stop here! Writing a great cover letter opening line and the first paragraph is an excellent start, but finish strong in the rest of it if you want them to reply.
Hey, thanks for reading our guide on how to begin a cover letter!
We hope it helped you out. If you have questions about writing a salutation for cover letters or how to start a cover letter when you don’t have their name, leave a comment below. We’ll get back to you ASAP!