The Best Tips on How to Start a Cover Letter
Written by Sarah Edwards, Author • Last updated on May 31, 2024

How to create a compelling cover letter introduction

Busy hiring managers often read hundreds of cover letters for every job opening. If you want to impress them, you’ve only got a few seconds to grab their attention. For this reason, a strong and compelling cover letter introduction is vital if you want your application to make its way to the top of the pile. Learn how to start off a cover letter in a way that makes the hiring manager excited to read the rest of it.

What are the key elements of a strong cover letter start?

When it comes to writing a cover letter, many people find themselves stuck with the opening sentence. Here are a few ways that you can get rid of writer’s block and create an attention-grabbing cover letter introduction.

Addressing the recipient

A strong cover letter starts before you even get to the opening paragraph. After you’ve provided your name and contact information and written out the company’s address, you need to ensure that you include a proper cover letter salutation.

Note that a “proper salutation” refers to more than just the use of formal titles like Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Dr. You also need to ensure you address hiring managers by name and avoid generic greetings like “Dear sir/madam ”or “To whom it may concern.” This shows that you’ve done your research and are serious about getting the role. 

If you don’t know the hiring manager’s name, try an online search to see whether you can find it. If not, don’t hesitate to call the company directly and ask for it.

Personalized opening

You have probably read a lot of resume articles that advise you to research the role and company extensively before applying. Doing so will not only help you figure out who to address your letter to but also help leave a good impression on the hiring manager who reads it. 

Another thing to mention in your opening is the exact role you’re applying to. If you’ve used any cover letter examples, check to make sure you’ve altered the placeholder text to include specific and relevant information. This helps you avoid misunderstandings and ensures the hiring manager has the information they need. 

Engaging the reader

When learning how to start a cover letter, it’s important to avoid cliches or repetitive lines. These can cause a reader to lose interest and even convey a lack of creativity and care. If you’re using cover letter or resume templates, this is yet another place to make sure you put effort into making them your own. 

Make sure to personalize your connection to the company. Perhaps you’re a fan of their products, have heard about some recent company news, have been referred by a colleague, or have accomplished something that you’d like to share. All of these can make for a compelling introduction, keeping the hiring manager interested in reading the rest of your letter and checking out your resume

Tips and advice in crafting a strong introduction

Creating a strong introductory paragraph is no easy feat. Learn the best practices you need to keep in mind as you seek to craft the perfect cover letter. 

Express interest and enthusiasm

As you look for advice on how to start a cover letter, remember that your cover letter shouldn’t be all about what the company can do for you. Make sure that you express to the hiring manager why you are interested in working at the company and what you bring to the table in terms of experience, skills, and traits.

The hiring manager wants to know that you are enthusiastic about helping the company achieve success. If you can start your letter by showing how your talents align with the role and responsibilities, you’ll definitely grab their attention.

Showcase your skills and experiences

Contrary to what you may read in some cover letter articles or previous advice you’ve received about how to start a cover letter, you don’t have to wait until the body paragraphs to tell the hiring manager about your skills and experience. Make sure the hiring manager knows early on what core competencies they’ll be missing out on if they pass up your application. 

This may mean mentioning how many years of experience you have in the industry or talking about what you’ve accomplished over the course of your career. If you’re applying because of a referral from a current employee, consider mentioning some good things they’ve said about you as their colleague. 

Set the tone of your letter

It’s important for you to decide on a specific tone for your letter early on in your opening and stick with it in the introduction and throughout the rest of the body. This tone may be professional, creative, personable, or even corporate. Whatever it is, make sure that it is consistent. 

You will also want to tailor your writing style to the particular company you’re applying to. For example, you likely won’t use the same tone for a museum curator cover letter as you would when applying at a tech startup in Silicon Valley. 

Changing up the language used in your cover letter and resume examples helps you better establish a connection with the hiring manager. This ultimately makes your application more memorable.

Expert Tip:

Consider starting your cover letter with a short story about yourself. This story can convey an accomplishment, a relevant trait, a problem you’ve recently solved, or even a hint about your future aspirations. The point is to draw the hiring manager in while showcasing a bit of your personality and creativity.

Make sure to personalize your connection to the company. This makes for a compelling introduction, piquing the hiring manager’s interest enough to keep reading. 

Cover letter introduction examples

Example 1: Express Your Enthusiasm

Dear Mr. Wellsby,
I was excited to see from a recent online job board post that your company, Elegy Athletics, has an open position for a marketing coordinator. I am both an experienced marketing professional and a fitness enthusiast who has worn your company’s leggings to the gym every day for the last eight years. With three years of helping companies increase brand awareness and conversions in the eco-friendly living industry, I believe I’d be a perfect fit for the role.

Example 2: Mention a Connection

Hello Mrs. Jackson,
I was thrilled when a former colleague of mine (and current employee of yours), Sandy Barfield, told me about your opening for a senior software developer and suggested I apply for the role. Prior to joining your team two years ago, Sandy and I had worked closely together on building and coding AI-capable data analytics tools for Blackstock Technologies. She believes I would be a good fit for this position because of my extensive software engineering skills and knowledge of statistical analysis and mathematical data manipulation. 

Example 3: Showcase Your Accomplishments

In my last six months as a tech sales associate at Voyex Digital, I have beaten my quarterly record by 25%, raised our team’s revenue per sale by 28%, and decreased the average length of our sales cycle by 18 days. I would love nothing more than to have the opportunity to bring my expert closing and client relationship-building skills to a field sales manager position at Hart Medical. Having read your most recent job posting online, I believe I can bring the results-driven attitude you’re looking for.

Learning how to start a cover letter is crucial for job-hunting success

As you write your cover letter introduction, you’ll want to make sure you don’t lose the hiring manager’s attention in the first few lines. This involves addressing them by name, personalizing your opening, and avoiding cliches or repetitive lines that don’t showcase your creativity.

It’s also important to make sure the hiring manager knows you’re enthusiastic about the possibility of working for that company. Ensure that your letter maintains a consistent tone, but don’t be afraid to get creative in order to highlight your skills and talents.

If you’re unsure where to start, get help from some cover letter templates on Jobseeker. When learning how to start a cover letter, examples from professional sources will help you create a well-structured document. They will also assist you in maintaining the right tone as you work toward creating a compelling application package.

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Sarah Edwards
Sarah Edwards
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A seasoned HR writer with more than a decade of experience, Sarah crafts insightful guides and timely articles that help people grow their skills.

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