You know the feeling, your CV is polished to perfection and your job application is ready to be sent. There’s just one more thing. Starting your cover letter.
Problem is, you’ve got such bad writer's block that you don’t even know where to begin. That blank page is just staring you in the face, silently judging you.
Learning how to start a cover letter is essential. In today’s time-poor recruiting world a bad introduction means the rest of your cover letter won’t even get read. But I’m here to make sure that doesn’t happen.
In this guide, you’ll learn to master starting a cover letter with a professional introduction that’ll charm the socks of hiring managers and get your letter read from top to bottom. Now let’s get your cover letter start started.
Want to write your cover letter fast? Use our cover letter builder. Choose from 20+ professional cover letter templates that match your CV. See actionable examples and get expert tips along the way.
Sample Cover Letter for a CV—See more cover letter templates and create your cover letter here.
Make sure the rest of your cover letter is as strong as your opening. Read more: How to Write a Cover Letter: Complete Guide
How to Start a Cover Letter—Opening Lines
You’ve only got one paragraph of text to craft your cover letter opening. Here’s how to pack that all-important opening with attention-grabbing content.
1. Be Direct
Make the position you’re applying for explicitly clear. Recruiters are often dealing with candidates applying for multiple vacant positions so make sure your intent is obvious by mentioning the company/organisation and the job title.
Starting a Cover Letter by Being Direct (Example)
As a new graduate looking to hone my skills in an industry-leading environment I was delighted to discover this opportunity to work for Duplex Systems as a Junior UI Developer.
2. Convey Passion
Fight your British reserve and get excited. Show some passion and enthusiasm for the role, the company and its products and services. It’s one of the best ways to begin because it usually translates to committed and successful employees. It also injects a bit of liveliness to help energise the recruiter and get them excited about reading the rest of your cover letter.
Cover Letter Opening by Conveying Passion (Example)
As a long-time admirer of Cultronics’ products and innovation, I was delighted to see the opportunity to join you as a project manager.
I am writing to apply for the position of project manager at Cultronics.
Example one is as energising as a double espresso. Example two? More a nice milky tea for Grandad before his afternoon snooze.
3. Mention Contacts and Connections
Were you referred to the job? Make sure you mention that early on. A recommendation is a powerful form of persuasion known as social proof. Use it to your advantage.
Example Cover Letter Introduction by Mentioning a Connection
I learned of this job opportunity from my former colleague, Jackie Cunliffe, who is now your Director of Communications.
4. Hook Them With an Impressive Accomplishment
Use an accomplishment statement to showcase an impressive professional achievement. Add numbers to make it quantifiable and show how you can add real business value as a potential employee.
How to Begin a Cover Letter by Using an Accomplishment (Sample)
As project manager for Newtech I cut logistics costs by 40% while reducing average delivery time by one business day and improving client satisfaction.
Now that’s eye-catching. Alternatively you could—
5. Write a Belief Statement
Instead of an accomplishment statement, you could use a belief statement. Show that you mirror the values and goals of the role and the organisation. But make it sound natural and don’t just copy-paste the company’s mission statement.
Starting a Cover Letter Using a Belief Statement (Example)
As a special education teacher, I believe every student deserves the opportunity to be guided to learn according to their individual needs and strengths. I aim to support them to achieve their true potential, and participate in practical learning that will maximise their independence.
6. Show Off Some Knowledge of News and Current Events
Doing some research about the company is a surefire way of impressing recruiters. Check out the company website for a blog or newsletter or use Google’s news aggregator to do a search on the company and find some interesting tidbits.
Sample Cover Letter Opening with Knowledge
When I saw that Panthro was featured in The Financial Times recently for its commitment to ethical sourcing and green energy, whilst simultaneously maintaining 50%+ revenue growth for the last five years, I was inspired.
Make sure to finish as strong as you started. Read more: How to End a Cover Letter
7. Use Keywords
Regardless of which tactic you choose to start your cover letter, keywords are key. 90% of major companies use ATS software to scan job applications. These programs scan for keywords and reject any applications that don’t cut the mustard.
Cover letter or CV keywords are words or phrases that describe desired experience, skills or traits. The job title is also a keyword. You’ll find them in the job advert and here’s what to look for. Here’s a snippet from an example job posting:
Portdown Comprehensive seeks a dedicated education professional with 5+ years teaching experience. Must be proficient in lesson planning and skilled in dealing with challenging students.
Everything in bold is a keyword. But don’t just string keywords together. Make sure your cover letter opening remains grammatical and easy to read. For example.
As a science teacher with 10 years of experience, I would love this opportunity to join the team at a school as outstanding as Greenford. I believe in planning exciting lessons that showcase the real-life utilisation of scientific knowledge, and I am passionate about engaging with challenging students.
Read more: What To Include in a Cover Letter
How to Address a Cover Letter
Writing the start of your cover letter isn’t just about the opening paragraph. Here’s how to make sure you get the contact details and salutation right too.
Addressing a Cover Letter
You’re writing a formal document. Make sure you follow the correct UK business letter format. Remember to right-align your contact details and the date and left-align everything else.
Here’s a template for how to address a cover letter:
[Your First & Last Names]
[Your Postal Address]
[Your Phone Number]
[Your Email Address]
[Date of Writing]
[Manager’s Job Title]
[Company’s Postal Address]
How to Write a Cover Letter Salutation
Your cover letter salutation is the greeting that opens the letter e.g. Dear Elizabeth. It’s only a few words, it can’t make any difference right? Wrong. The way you write your salutation has a powerful influence on your chances of success.
How to Start a Cover Letter with a Name
To start a cover letter with a name do some research. Check the job posting for a named email address. Do some research on LinkedIn. And if all else fails call the receptionist and ask who the hiring manager is.
Dear Mr Fawlty
To Whom It May Concern
To be fair, the wrong example is fine, if you’re writing a letter as a character in a Charles Dickens novel. It’s old-fashioned and it’s generic. Always start your cover letter with a name if possible.
Studies have proven that seeing your own name has a powerful effect on the brain, use that to your advantage and fully activate the recruiter’s attention. What’s more, 84% of job seekers don’t bother discovering the hiring manager’s name. So a little extra footwork puts you in the top 16%.
But what if you can’t discover a name, despite your best efforts? Take a look at these examples.
How to Start a Cover Letter Without a Name
To start a cover letter without a name, use some variation of ‘Dear XYZ Team Manager’ or ‘Dear Hiring Manager’. Never fall back on old-fashioned salutations such as “To Whom it May Concern.’ It’s far too cold and impersonal.
If you use the right cover letter format and the best strategies for your opening gambit then you’ll be able to start your cover letter in style.
What about the rest of your cover letter format? Read more here: How to Format a Cover Letter [Step-By-Step Guide]
How to Start a Cover Letter—Examples To Inspire You
Now here’s 10 examples of how to begin a cover letter to get your creative juices flowing.
Your colleague Jane Durham, suggested I contact you about the receptionist role at Maxton Associates as she was confident I had the skills and experience to succeed. As a receptionist at Button & Co. I helped to digitise all physical records, reducing office costs by £10,000. I’d love to help achieve such efficiencies at a company with such a glowing reputation as yours.
Read More: Receptionist CV Writing Guide
As a longtime admirer of John Lewis’ peerless customer service, I was excited to see the opening for a sales assistant at your Kingston store. With my 5+ years experience and perfect record of mystery shopper assessments as a sales assistant at Marks & Spencer, I know I can contribute my skills to become a productive member of the John Lewis family.
Read More: Retail / Sales Assistant CV Writing Guide
As a very satisfied user of your products, I was excited to see the opportunity to apply for the summer app design internship at Semtechs Global. I’ve recently designed an Android app for Agile Framework facilitation that has received highly positive reviews on Google Play Store and I would love to gain hands-on experience in a world-renowned company like Semtechs.
I am writing to apply for the position of Content Marketing Specialist, with Unwin Publishing. While pursuing my B.A. (Hons) in Publishing at the University of Roehampton, I held two summer internships with prestigious publishing houses. As a summer intern with Uptake Books, I assisted in creating a social media campaign that generated £20,000 in sales. It would be amazing to join the team at Unwin to start my career in publishing.
Read more: Graduate CV Writing Guide
Leading the materials engineering team that increased production efficiency by 30% in Feniway Industrial Metal Fabrications has been a career highlight for me. So discovering your opening in engineering at Generate Industries was an exciting opportunity for me to contribute to your industry-leading work.
I was thrilled to learn about the opening for the Senior Consultant role at Wolverton Partners. Your reputation as a business management consultancy is second to none and your focus on constant iterative improvements has always mirrored my own approach to process improvement. I’d love to be able to contribute the same efficiencies to your clients as I did whilst creating £20m in savings for my clients at Blackthorn.
As an urban design aficionado and Manchester-based architect, I was thrilled when I came across your opening for the junior architect position. My previous architecture experience has honed my creativity, design, and teamwork skills, and I am confident I have the skills and knowledge required to help Great North Architects reach new heights in innovation.
As an admirer of the innovative teaching methods you implement at The Oak Tree School, I was excited to see your opening for a Teaching Assistant. In my current position as a teaching assistant at Greystoke Comprehensive, I have supported the headmaster in introducing a new assessment method based on scientific theories of cognitive child development. As a result our Key Stage 2 test results improved by 20%.
As a graphic designer with 8+ years of experience, I'm energised by the opportunity of working at Dieter & Casper. At Kenatco I was able to increase client transactions by 25%. I learned about your own goals to lift transactions in your January company newsletter and I’m keen to be of assistance.
Attached you will find my CV with detailed work experience for the position of office manager with Leytonstone Bros. In my current role at Parabellum Prosthetics, I’ve been able to cut office supply costs by £5,000 per annum. This success comes from my ability to conduct robust supplier contract management and negotiation. It would be an incredible opportunity to deliver the same successful approach to the team at Leytonstone.
Now you’ve got started, learn when to stop. Get your cover letter length right: How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? [Ideal Length]
When you write a cover letter opening make it unique for each job application. Don't just paste in the same generic text for each job application. Use the advice in this guide to start off with a bang. Here’s a reminder of how to do it.
- Most importantly, always start your cover letter afresh for every application and target the opening to that company, that job and that hiring manager.
- There’s more than one way to open. Take a look at the strategies I’ve suggested and choose the one that best suits your circumstances.
- Always try to find out the hiring manager’s name and use it. Never resort to antiquated generic greetings.
- To start a cover letter without a name, use some variation of, ‘Dear Sales Team Hiring Manager’. Use ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ if the addressee is completely unknown.
- Make sure you follow standard UK business letter format.
And that’s all. Thanks for reading all the way to the end. Have you got any questions for me? Still struggling to start that cover letter? Don’t be shy. Use the comments section and I’ll be happy to help.
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