Do I need a cover letter? Is it important? What if the job offer doesn’t require a cover letter? Read this guide to find out all you need to know.
You’ve got your resume locked down, and you’re ready to turn in your job application.
But that damn cover letter.
You’ve been staring at your blank screen for what must be weeks now. Here and there you think you have a bolt of inspiration, only to think better after a sentence and revert back to an empty document.
How to start a cover letter?
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 we’ll sort out all the header details while we’re at it.
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Table of Contents:
- Best Ways to Start a Cover Letter (25+ Examples & Methods)
- How to Start a Cover Letter (Step-by-Step Guide)
- How *NOT* to Start a Cover Letter (Common Mistakes & Bad Examples)
- Addressing a Cover Letter & Formatting the Heading Area
- Key Takeaway
25+ Examples of Ways to Start a Cover Letter
Looking for the single best way to start a cover letter?
It doesn’t exist.
Each cover letter intro should be tailored to that particular job, company, hiring manager, and situation.
There are quite a few ways to go about how to begin a cover letter, from showing your enthusiasm to using a direct approach.
Here are the best and most effective cover letter opening sentence examples:
1. Submit an Accomplishment or Your Impressive Background
Here are three examples of how to open a cover letter using something impressive about yourself:
I’m an elementary school teacher with 5+ years of experience leading classrooms of 20+ children in the 4th and 5th grades. During my employment at Westbrook Elementary, I was able to bring the average score up by 10 points, playing a role in allowing Westbrook to rise from the bottom of the state’s rankings. I would love to implement a similar strategy over at Sallyport Middle School.
Currently a web developer with more than 3 years of experience in front end development, I 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.
As a longtime fan of Cisco's internal certifications, I was excited to see your project manager opening. With my experience cutting costs 55% for VMware while dropping lead times 35% and boosting quality, I think I can help with Cisco's current challenges as I continue to expand my skill set.
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. Show You Love the Company & Are Aware of Its Needs
Here are two examples of how to start cover letters by showing you’re a huge fan or mindful of their requirements:
Currently, I’m a barista at the Starbucks over on Elm Street, but today I just came across your job ad for a server at Freddy’s Bar & Grill and I’m thrilled to officially apply for the position. Living just 3 blocks away from Freddy’s, I pass by each day during my commute and get hunger pangs from the aromas wafting out. Once a month, I make my friends come over from the other side of the river to devour some of your ribs; they don’t mind the distance, and I don’t blame them.
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 constant skills improvement. 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 their objectives?
3. Name-Drop by Saying You Know Someone Relevant
Did someone internal refer you to the job? Let them know with this method for cover letter opening sentences:
Your colleague, Jennifer Shannon, suggested I apply to the content editor position as she is well aware of my love for the English language and storytelling. I’ve followed Strapped Media’s blog for some time now, and I would be honored to be a part of it. With my background as a copywriter, I know I have the skills and experience needed to be a valuable asset on your marketing team.
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 huge 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.
4. Exude Enthusiasm, Excitement and Passion
Are you excited about this particular job opening you’re applying to?
Don’t tone it down.
Here are a few examples of enthusiastic cover letter openings:
I was browsing through Facebook just now, minding my own business, when I came across your ad seeking an English-Swahili translator. Not only are they both native languages for me, but I also have 3+ years of experience translating documents between the two languages already. And, the cherry on top—I live just 10 minutes away from your office! This ad really felt amazingly fortuitous for me, and I eagerly send you my official application for the translating position.
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 that 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, after all, not the robots who’ll replace us a decade from now.
So, show some color. Use an exclamation mark. Make them feel your excitement for the job through your cover letter opening statement.
5. Drop Some Knowledge of Their Current Events or News
Here are a couple of ways of starting a cover letter using news or current events about the company as a talking point:
Yesterday, I stumbled across the news that Jedno Corporation has set a strict goal to reduce their carbon footprint to zero by 2025. I applaud your company’s goal, and 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.
Griswold Group’s change in course from an online retailer to an exchange platform is why I was so excited when I came across your job ad for a new office manager. I have always been a supporter of freely-accessible platforms, and your new direction matches my ideals perfectly. I believe my experience as an office assistant in the past will make me a great office manager at Griswold Group.
Know something specific about the company that recently happened? Mentioning it shows you’re well informed and interested in the company.
6. Display Some Creativity & Humor
Want to show the HR manager you’re their perfect choice? Learn how to start off a cover letter using creativity or humor:
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, if you hire me, I’m a size small, so it could save you money when you order chef jackets (compared to hiring some larger candidates).
I don’t know an algorithm from an aardvark, but I do know customer service. Having worked as a CSR for the last 3 years, I believe I’ve made more people happy than Dan Harris. Though I didn’t always give customers the answer they were looking for, my communications left the customers I dealt with satisfied with the outcome. Well, all except this one guy, who just wouldn’t take my calls. But, other than that, pure success!
Disclaimer: Use at your own risk. Creative sentences or hilarious one-liners can make great cover letter openers. But they can also backfire.
7. Inform the Company What You Can Offer Them
Here are some ideas about how to start a cover letter greeting by informing them what you can offer:
Having just come across your job posting for a senior financial analyst, I believe I have the ideal mix of skills and past 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.
As a recent graduate of the Italian cuisine route at the International Culinary School, I was thrilled to find your ad for a new chef at Trattoria Antica Maddalena. Not only was I the highest-scoring student in my studies, but I also have previous experience preparing the traditional foods of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Emilia-Romagna during my part-time employment throughout my classes. I know I would bring a high level of quality and skill to your restaurant if you consider me for the position.
Employers are on a mission—to find a candidate who offers their company the best bang for their buck. By letting them know what you bring to the table straight away, you’ll have a compelling cover letter introduction.
8. Be Direct
Here is how to begin cover letters by being straightforward about your intentions:
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.
After seeing the poster for a new cashier at Gapescoat Grocery in the window earlier today, I am excited to formally apply for the position. Having worked at the Stop & Fill just a few blocks from your store, I am sure that my customer service skills, mathematical abilities, and cash-handling experience give me an excellent advantage as a candidate. If you’d give me the time to come in for an interview, I know I’d be able to alleviate any lingering doubts or questions you may have.
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.
9. Woo the Hiring Manager Specifically
Here are two cover letter introduction examples of how to open by charming the employer or HR representative reading it:
I recently had the honor of reading your guide on how SEO will change over the coming decade. Amazing stuff, Sarah! Recently, I saw a position open up for another junior content specialist to join your team of writers, and I knew I had to jump at the chance. As a content marketer myself, I’ve loved the posts you’ve published on the topic, and it would be an honor and a privilege to be able to research, write, and edit articles related to SEO, SEM, and other related fields.
For the last few years, I’ve come to you and your team at Thompson’s Taxation when I’ve needed to file my returns. After trying it on my own several years ago, your team was able to find me deductions I hadn’t thought about, saving me several thousand dollars in the process. Now I’ve earned my certification as a professional accountant, and there’s no other firm I’d like to work for.
When writing a cover letter, you don’t have to impress the entire company (at first). You only need to influence the HR specialist reading your application. So, why not try a cover letter intro paragraph that does just that?
10. Tell Them Something They Don't Know
Save the obvious or redundant points for the next job applicant. Here’s how to keep things fresh in cover letter opening statements:
Attached alongside this cover letter is my resume for the supervisor position. Because of its purpose as a place to give hard facts and figures, I used a lot of numbers in there related to successes I enjoyed during that time. However, what those numbers are unable to show is just how personable my brand of management really is. Whether it’s giving feedback to my team members or helping a customer with a question, I have always strived to be friendly and patient. It would be wonderful if I could bring this same brand of service over to Cohen’s as the future shift supervisor.
As I applied for your opening for the admin assistant role, it was fun to update my resume with my current secretarial position. Unfortunately, my resume was unable to highlight my personality, so I’d like to go into that a bit here. As an office secretary, I did all the tasks I listed on my resume, and I did them well, as the numbers I listed is meant to imply. However, I came each day to work with the goal of making my coworkers’ and our clients’ lives easier, through a combination of friendly service, anticipation of needs, and unflappable demeanor.
An opening paragraph cover letter statement is meant to inform the HR manager of your application to the job. However, don’t just repeat your resume. Use this extra real estate to talk about something they’re unaware of for a captivating cover letter intro.
11. Craft a Powerful Belief Statement
Finally, here is how to open cover letters by utilizing a powerful belief statement:
As a web developer, I believe every person should be able to access the internet on any device, unrestricted, and in an efficient manner. 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 to you my official application for the back end developer position.
Growing up in Chicago, I was blessed with access to world-class galleries, museums, and educators, among other things. I know my childhood benefitted from how easily accessible these formative experiences were. Knowing that, I believe every child has the right to the best education, and I’d like to apply as the art teacher candidate for the opening at Midwood High School.
A belief statement directly states a particular idea or value you care deeply about, often reflecting the company’s opinion, as well.
How to Start a Cover Letter (Step-by-Step Guide and a Ready-to-Use Template)
The king himself, Stephen King, says, “there's one thing I'm sure about. An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.”
Your cover letter is a story, a brief autobiography.
Like any great story, it needs to draw the reader in, make them want to read on, and encourage them to pick up your resume and call you in for an interview.
Start with their name.
How to Write a Cover Letter Salutation
The salutation, or greeting, of a cover letter is often given little thought, if any at all.
However, it easily sets the tone for the reader.
Have a look at these two salutations for cover letters:
|Dear Sir or Madam:|
When a hiring manager receives a cover letter with the first introduction example, they may think oh fun, another generic cover letter to look at.
Not so on the second one. You took the time to find out their name—it’s looking promising already. Studies have shown that using someone’s name is more likely to earn the desired result, whether for a sale or a job interview.
To find their name, check the company’s website or LinkedIn. If those don’t work, you could even call up the receptionist.
First name is immediately engaging, but last name is still way better than nothing. According to a recent recruiting industry survey, 19% of applicants who reached out directly to the hiring manager scored the job, but only a mere 0.14% of candidates tried to do so!
On a more formal cover letter, it may be better to use their title and surname only.
But, how to start a cover letter with no name?
If you can’t find the name of the person to whom you’ll address the cover letter, don’t worry; all is not lost.
In that case, try one of these:
- Dear Hiring Manager:
- Dear Marketing Department Lead:
- To whom it may concern:
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 still show you put in the work.
How to Craft a Great Cover Letter Opening Statement
We gave you plenty of cover letter examples for opening paragraphs already.
But, here are general guidelines and suggestions to help you craft a great cover letter intro:
- Personalize it to the company and the job position.
- Engage the reader with creativity, humor, or an interesting story.
- Show them you’re enthusiastic and excited about the chance to work with them.
- Be sincere and direct.
- Don’t waste their time with irrelevant sentences.
- Combine the various cover letter opening statement methods for a truly powerful introduction.
Here’s a simple-but-powerful cover letter template to use as an example:
Dear [First Name]:
I was excited to come across the [Job Title] position over at [Company Name]. As a [Current Job Title] with [# of Years] years of experience, I have become quite talented 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!
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building your resume here.
When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.
How *NOT* to Start a Cover Letter (Common Mistakes)
We’ve now gone over plenty of cover letter introductions, with dozens of examples of great cover letter openings.
Here are a few rules to follow on what to avoid when you start a cover letter:
You need this job.
Maybe desperately, even.
But begging for it never makes for strong cover letter openings.
Make the case for why they should pick you as best as you can, and then cross your fingers and wait. If you craft a good cover letter intro as we showed you above, you’ll have an interview-winning application without having to lose your dignity in the process.
2. Making it All About You
You want a job.
And you’d love to have great pay, a competitive benefits package, and unparalleled professional challenges.
However, when a company is sifting through their stack of applications, they are concerned first with what is best for the company. Learning about what you want out of the deal is irrelevant if they haven’t yet been introduced with your skills, experience, and background.
Save talking about what you want out of the deal for later—which usually means not in the cover letter intro.
It’s one thing to bring up your wins and achievements in a professional manner.
It’s another thing entirely to brag.
Boasting, pretentiousness, and snobbishness is no way of securing an interview. The employer does have to work with you, after all. Aim for the humblebrag when talking about accomplishments.
4. Including Something Irrelevant
Your cover letter should be no more than a page, and that’s including your contact details and theirs.
You probably don’t have any room to talk about something unrelated, but if you do, don’t. It’s better to keep it shorter and to-the-point rather than to go off on a tangent.
5. Winging It
Always research the company to which you’re applying.
This will help you write a powerful cover letter by letting you focus on what matters to them. As a bonus—you’re also now way more prepared for the interview.
6. Being Generic
I get it—cover letters are hard.
But think of it this way: You can write one generic cover letter and send it to a hundred companies; maybe you’ll get two or three replies back.
Send one tailored cover letter each to ten companies and also receive two or three replies back.
Not so hard a choice after all, now is it?
7. Weak Endings to Close the Cover Letter
You wrote the best cover letter introduction ever…
And they still denied you an interview.
What went wrong?
Starting off great is, well, great, but don’t expect an interview if you can’t seal the deal with a powerful cover letter close, as well. Learn how to end a cover letter properly here: How to End a Cover Letter [20+ Examples of Great Closing Paragraphs]
Addressing a Cover Letter & Formatting the Heading Area
Last but not least—
The address on a cover letter.
Since a cover letter is usually a formal document, follow 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.
Here’s a sample template for how to address a cover letter 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 that above template to use in your cover letter heading area.
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)
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.
- There are many angles from which to attack your cover letter introduction: be creative, name-drop a colleague, talk up your achievements, etc.
- 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.
- Find the hiring manager’s name whenever possible. You’ll use it in the cover letter salutation as well as in the cover letter address.
- Don’t stop here! Writing a great cover letter opening line and first paragraph is an awesome 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 any questions on 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!