When you apply for any job, the very first tool you will use to grab the attention of employers is your cover letter. (Yes, there are of course companies that are so big they don’t have time for cover letters. But plenty of hiring managers at small and mid-sized companies do read them, myself included.) A cover letter highlights the reasons you are the best person for the job and how you will benefit the company. It also demonstrates your ability to effectively communicate your objective. That’s why the opening lines of your cover letter are so important. You need to hook the employer so they want to continue reading and learn more about you.
There’s no one right way to open your cover letter, but there are a few techniques you can try to make your letter stand out. Here are five ways to write the opening lines of your next cover letter:
1. Job Title & Accomplishments. This is a very common and effective way to start out a cover letter. The idea is to get straight to the point and impress the employer with your background. Use your most impressive and most relevant accomplishment stories to explain your worth.
Example: As a social media coordinator for Company X, I manage many digital media outlets. By implementing new social media marketing tactics, in the past year, I have doubled our audience on Facebook and tripled our followers on Twitter.
2. Excitement Means Dedication. Another approach is to begin your letter by expressing your excitement for the job opportunity. If there’s a job or company you’re particularly enthusiastic about, it’s great to say so. When a potential employer sees you’re excited, this translates into how motivated and dedicated an employee you would be. This makes them want to find out if you’re as qualified as you are eager.
Example: I was excited to find an opening in human resources with Company Y because your work with y (be specific) has been important to me for a long time. I am the perfect candidate for this position because it combines my experience with human resources and y.
3. Keywords, Keywords, Keywords. When applying for a larger company where you know an applicant tracking system will be used, a smart idea is to make your opening lines keyword-heavy. The right keywords will make sure your cover letter gets read, and will immediately highlight many of your most relevant skills.
Example: Written and verbal communications are two of my strongest areas of expertise. Through my years of experience in public relations, I have perfected my skills in social media, media relations, community engagement, and leading a team. It is the combination of these skills that makes me the best candidate for your public relations manager.
4. Network Ties. If someone in your professional network is refers you to a position, company, or specific hiring manager, the best approach is to use this right away in your cover letter. Name-dropping your mutual contact will provide the employer with a point of reference to go from. They’ll be interested to see why your referrer thought you’d be a good fit for the job.
Example: My name is Jane Doe and recently I spoke to your communications coordinator John Smith, who informed me about the opening in your IT staff. He recommended I contact you about the job because of my strong interest in the field.
5. What’s in the News? Another unique option to impress employers is to demonstrate your knowledge of current events in your opening lines. Look for recent news about the company you’re applying for and tie it into the job opening. Explain why the news item makes you think you’d be best for the job.
Example: Recently, your company has been highlighted on The Huffington Post and Forbes because of your partnership with Charity Z. After reading those articles, I became inspired to seek employment opportunities with your company and was happy to see an opening for an administrative assistant. As someone with vast experience in that area, I would be the perfect candidate for the job.
With all of these options, it’s important to tailor your entire cover letter to your specific experience and each individual job description. A personalized cover letter is essential to prove your qualifications and will be more likely to result in an interview. Start making changes to your next cover letter.
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It’s time to dump the old line: “Please accept this application in response to…”
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If you’re still starting your cover letter with this overused one-liner, then I implore you to stop what you’re doing, delete the line, and spend a few minutes reading this article to discover seven new examples of how you can catch the hiring manager’s attention with an attention-grabbing opening line.
Entice them with the job title and some of your standout accomplishments…
1. As an IT Director for ABC Company, I manage IT operations for a 500+ employee organization. Since I was recruited in 2005, my goal has been to modernize and scale the technology landscape and drive forward initiatives to expand the capabilities, systems, and performance across the organization. To date, the results have been impressive, including transition to a new Storage Area Network (SAN), Microsoft desktop environment, data warehouse, and Internet technology tools. Further, I have captured more than $2.5 million in development and operating cost reductions.
Keyword-rich opening lines that demonstrate fit…
2. I am a veteran Construction Manager with extensive experience in the designing, planning, budgeting, staffing, and on-site supervision of new construction and renovation projects. With 15+ years in construction and project management, I bring to ABC Company value-added expertise in:
3. As an accomplished Chief Financial Officer, I possess broad cross-functional experience in emerging, high-growth, and well-established corporations. Unlike other finance executives, my focus has not been limited to just finance but includes strategic planning, change management, system implementations, and business operations, as well as the performance improvement of teams. Highlights of my career include:
4. Designing, developing, and leading physical fitness training programs are my passions and my expertise. My 11+ years of progressive leadership experience in the U.S. Air Force, together with my upcoming ACE certification and my achievements in fitness instruction and coaching, make me an excellent candidate for your Personal Trainer position.
Highlight the fact you can meet their needs to keep them reading…
5. Cultivating relationships to deliver exceptional results is what I do best. Whether in a start-up situation or a high-growth organization, I have consistently increased sales and customer satisfaction through my ability to develop first-class sales solutions and drive professional excellence. Highlights of my career that may be of interest to you include:
6. Cross-cultural communication, multi-departmental collaboration, and producing highly detailed and dependable administrative and marketing support are what I do best.
7. Delivering massive value to my clients has been the focus of my career for the past 13 years. In my role as ___________ for ABC Company, I have unfailingly provided my clients with strategies, action plans, and the leadership necessary to enhance people, processes, and technologies. In addition, I have established a solid reputation for assessing challenges, creating solutions, and responding quickly to changing business requirements. This is the value I offer to XYZ Corporation.
Words to remember…
It’s important to remember your cover letter should be a brief introduction that demonstrates fit and motivates the employer to read your resume. If you’re narrating your whole life story or using the same old line that’s been written a million times before, then you’re not really captivating the reader or communicating the most vital information necessary to win the interview.
Using these simple points as guidelines and the cover letter samples provided above as a starting point, create your own unique and captivating opening line that draws the reader in and keeps them interested.
If you’re having trouble landing a job, watch this free webinar “How 5,000+ Professionals Got Out Of Their Career Rut” with J.T. O’Donnell. REGISTER NOW!
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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About the author
Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, CEO of Great Resumes Fast is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, and presenter. Want to work with the best resume writer? If you would like us to personally work on your resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile—and dramatically improve their response rates—then check out our professional and executive resume writing services at GreatResumesFast.com or contact us for more information if you have any questions.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a Work It Daily-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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