Career Builder says 40% of recruiters look for a cover letter when considering job applicants.
But if you had to leaf through a hundred cover letters every day and each one began with “To whom this concerns, I am applying for the digital marketing position in your company”, how important would you rate them?
A cover letter may not always be the most important thing to a hiring manager, but if your resume or contacts aren’t enough to get you through the door, a meaningful cover letter could be the reason for an interview.
For example, a hiring manager may only read your cover letter if your resume raises questions about why you are applying for the position or why you are leaving your current position. In these cases, your cover letter can be a determining factor in whether or not you move forward in the recruitment process.
Your cover letter is an opportunity to showcase your personality, show your interest in the position and include relevant information that would otherwise not appear in your application. But there is a fine line between being noticed and being noticed as cheeky or tricky. An ideal cover letter leaves a positive and memorable impression of you on the hiring manager, which a résumé alone is not always enough.
So where do you start when you write a cover letter? More specifically, where should you Beginning Begin? Read Recruiters a ton of cover letters – especially if the company is growing rapidly and is constantly hiring new employees. What does that mean for you? You need to get their attention right away. To help you overcome writer’s block and instantly excite your reader, take a look at some sharp opening sentences to use for inspiration.
Examples of creative cover letter opening sentences
- This position has written me everywhere.
- I wanted to work in [your industry] since [this moment of inspiration].
- Although [current employee] suggested that I apply for this position; I not only want to work with my former colleague again, but also want to change the industry with all of you.
- I like to think of myself as a round stake that thrives in a world with square holes.
- In addition to the required industry knowledge on my resume, I bring the following with me:
- Last year I generated [this much money] Sales for my company, generated [this many leads], and our social media ROI nearly tripled.
- You may not know me, but your customer service team do, and now I want to join the vendor who made me so successful [type of professional].
- When I discovered [name of company] was hired, I knew I had to apply.
- I was considering submitting my latest credit card statement as proof of how much I love shopping online, but thought it would be safer to write this cover letter detailing all the reasons why I am the person who can take it [name of ecommerce company] to the next level.
- You may be competing with my current employer, but why can’t we be friends?
- As a [current job position] with many years of management experience in the [industry], I’ve learned that the best way to succeed is to [biggest lesson you’ve learned].
- I understand that you have been inundated with resumes ever since you were listed as one of the best companies to work for. Mine is another, but I have experience that is difficult to come by.
Read on to learn how an exceptional cover letter can get an employer’s attention.
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How to start a cover letter
1. Start with humor.
Employers are people too, and they will often appreciate a good joke, pun, or funny opening line as much as the next person. If done tastefully and respectfully, it can be an excellent way to start your cover letter with a joke.
Plus, a joke can still contain a meaningful explanation of why you are the right person for the job without looking bragging. For example, think of something you enjoy doing or something you are really good at, and then imagine how friends or family could joke about it – if you are really good at analyzing data, like a joke or the word game associated with it could be a great way to illustrate both your skills and your personality.
Here’s a great example of using humor to draw attention to your skills, from The Muse (you’ll find this is one of our tips for the most creative opening lines earlier in this article):
“I was considering submitting my latest credit card statement as proof of how much I love shopping online, but thought it would be safer to write this cover letter detailing all the reasons I’m the girl, the Stylights business to the next level. “
The personality shown here immediately catches the reader’s attention. Better yet, this applicant uses humor to convey an important message to the employer – she loves to shop and is well-versed in ecommerce as a consumer – that might not otherwise appear on her résumé or phone screening.
2. Start with passion.
In order for an employer to know that you are staying true to the role and to the company, they will want to make sure that you are excited about the job. Passion is more of an incentive than a paycheck.
For an employer, showing that your passion is matched with the skills required is a promising sign that you are enjoying your job. If you enjoy your job, you are likely to stay longer, drive the company’s growth, and become a dedicated member of the team.
Consider starting your cover letter with a few lines that express your passion: “I’ve been passionate about writing since I was ten. My love of writing led me to write two personal travel blogs, published in a local newspaper, too and am doing two summer internships with publishers. Now I would like to combine my writing skills with my interest in storytelling as a content marketer at Company A. “
If you don’t have extensive work experience in the industry you’d like to get into, but have been preparing unofficially for years, let the employer know. In the example above, the candidate’s resume would likely look weak as only internships indicate work experience. Her cover letter introduction, however, shows the employer she has been writing for audiences for years and promoting her natural skills.
3. Start with an achievement.
Employers like to see numbers. It is not enough to say that you are a “digital marketer with a proven track record in SEO strategies”. Proven Success? Can we see?
It is more powerful to provide statistics. You want to show the employer that you are capable of producing long-term results. How have you contributed to your company’s bottom line? For example, has your Facebook marketing campaign increased your social media followers or has your blog content increased organic traffic?
Consider starting your cover letter this way: “For the past year as a digital marketing manager at Company A, I generated over $ 30,000 in revenue, increased organic traffic to our blog by 14%, and nearly tripled our social media ROI . “
Even if you don’t have the work experience to report impressive numbers, you can prove it with a performance at the opening. Think about the qualitative feedback you’ve received from employers. For example, how would your boss compliment you or tell you that you are doing a good job? An accomplishment can be so simple that your boss sends you an appreciative email regarding your careful meeting notes.
In this example from The Muse, the applicant gives an example of a previously recognized skill: “My last boss once told me that my way on the phone could probably defuse an international hostage situation. I’ve always had a knack for communication . ” with people – the carefree and the difficult – and I would love to bring that skill to the office manager position at Shutterstock. “
Even if the applicant does not cite any figures as proof of success, he still manages to highlight some evidence of his previous achievements in the form of praise from the former boss. The candidate’s candid and funny explanation – that his last boss liked his phone manners – is another great way to brag about his accomplishments without, well, bragging rights.
4. Start with enthusiasm for the company.
Employers want to know why you like their company and would appreciate an explanation of your interest. However, your reasoning is necessarily thoughtful and considerate and specific to the company. For example, when applying for a finance position, don’t write about your interest in finance; Write about how your interest in finance relates to business goals.
They don’t just want to say, “I’m excited to work at Company A because I’m passionate about finance and I think my skills and experience go well together.” Sure, you’ve explained why you wanted to work in the financial industry, but you haven’t done anything to explain why Company A is specific to your interests.
Instead, mention something about the company and culture related to your interest in finance. Consider this example from Glassdoor: “When I discovered Accounting Solutions was hiring, I knew I had to apply. I’ve been waiting to find a company where I feel like I can make a difference as an accountant. Not only are your customers great, but your company’s overall mission is something I believe in too. “
This candidate shows that he has studied accounting solutions in depth and is particularly interested in accounting solutions. Remember that employers want to hire people who have a proven interest in working for their company. They want someone who enjoys the nature of the job, but just as important is that they want a candidate who also likes the work culture and company mission.
5. Start with news about the company.
The mention of company news in your introduction indicates that you have done research on the company. Plus, by incorporating company news, you can also bring in your own values. For example, if the company has just won an award for its innovative solutions in the computer industry, you can add that you also appreciate pioneering methods in technology.
Here is an example of an introduction using a newsworthy event from Indeed: “When I saw Company ABC featured in Fortune Magazine last month for its commitment to renewable energy and reducing waste in the workplace – all in one Triple Digit Revenue Growth – I was inspired. With my track record of reducing costs by 30% + and promoting greener jobs, I am excited about the opportunity to take on the role of Account Executive to help your business grow and grow work towards a more sustainable future. “
The candidate does a good job showing how well the news from Company ABC aligns with the candidate’s personal accomplishments. She reveals that she has researched the company and also indicates that she appreciates similar environmental efforts in the workplace.
6. Start with what you don’t know.
According to a senior hiring manager, a cover letter starts with “I’m writing to apply”. [open position] at the [name of company]”is a reason for an almost immediate refusal course You’re applying for this position – why waste your lede on something so boring and obvious?
Your cover letter should never directly state what you already know – or repeat what is already on your resume. Instead, start your cover letter with a new offer, expand on what the employer already knows about you, and present new details about what you can bring to the company. Impress employers by telling them about your skills or experiences that they are new to.
In order to offer new information that is not on their résumé, one of my colleagues at HubSpot wrote this introductory letter: “My résumé tells you that I am Content Marketing Certified. Your records show that I have interviewed for several different HubSpot positions What no one will tell you is that I worked with your customer success team to develop a new campaign strategy for my company – one of your newest (and biggest) clients. “
The candidate wrote an introduction that caught the reader’s attention and showed that they were not interested in wasting other people’s time. This is a memorable and formidable tactic. Consider writing a similar introduction, providing information that is missing from your resume.
7. Start with what you can bring.
A hiring manager here at HubSpot told me that she’s always looking for cover letters to let her know how companies and applicants can benefit from each other.
Any employer will want to know why you believe you can grow from the position you are applying for. An employer is more likely to hire you if they think you have real, intrinsic motivation to work hard in the position.
A hiring manager also wants to know how you contribute to the overall visions and goals of the company. Knowing what you are trying to get out of the role is important for the manager, but knowing how you are helping the company grow is just as important. How will the company benefit from you over others?
Here’s an example: “I’m looking for ways to improve my writing skills in a forward-thinking environment while growing organic traffic and optimizing content to beat competitors in search engines. At Company A, I believe I’ll find what I am looking for.”
See how it works? In the example above, the candidate explained how she would benefit from the role. She also explained what Company A could get out of the deal – increased organic traffic and streamlined content – so that the hiring manager knows about the equality of the potential relationship.
8. Start with a statement that surprises you.
When one of my colleagues applied for a position at HubSpot, her cover letter began like this: “I like to think of myself as a round pen that thrives in a world with a square hole.”
Doesn’t that make you want to read on? It definitely interested me. Of course, you should only include a bold statement if you can add specific supporting information to it. For example, my colleague went on to write, “What does that mean? It means that my diverse background makes me a versatile candidate who can understand, develop and perform various roles in business.”
While the rest of her cover letter shifted to the professional side, her opening speech was casual, quirky, and surprising. Plus, you can feel their personality on the line, and if an employer feels like a real person is behind the cover letter, they’ll want to keep reading.
9. Start with a lesson you learned in your career.
A great way to start a cover letter is with a lesson learned from your experience in your industry.
For example, you could say something like “As a [current job position] with many years of management experience in the [industry], I’ve learned that the best way to succeed is to [biggest lesson you’ve learned]. “
This opening sentence tells a recruiter about your level of experience. Not only that, but it starts with how you can benefit the company, not how the company benefits you.
10. Start intrigue.
When you apply to larger companies, you know that recruiters get hundreds of applicants for an entry-level position.
It is important to intrigue the hiring manager and realize that they are examining multiple applicants.
For example, you could say, “I understand that you have been inundated with resumes ever since you were listed as one of the best companies to work for. Mine is another, but I have experience that is difficult to come by. “
After that, it would be great to list examples, statistics, and experiences that set you apart from other candidates and will benefit the company.
Recruiters see tons of resumes and cover letters every day. It’s important to start your cover letter in a unique way so that you can stand out from the crowd.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2018 and has been updated for completeness.