Figuring out how to start a cover letter can be intimidating. Fortunately, the formula for opening a successful cover letter is easy to follow. Your introduction should convey authenticity and enthusiasm, and highlight the qualifications that make you a great fit for the role.
If you’ve been staring at a blank screen trying to formulate the perfect cover letter introduction, or if you find yourself resorting to overused phrases like 'I am writing to express my interest…' or 'Hello, my name is…,' try one of these seven opening techniques (with examples that show you how to do it).
How to start a cover letter
To create an effective opening to your cover letter, follow these steps:
1. Convey enthusiasm for the company
If you are genuinely attracted to the company’s brand or have used their products or services before, this is a great opportunity to say so. Employers value authentic enthusiasm because it often translates to highly motivated and successful employees.
Example: 'I was excited to see that Company ABC is hiring an event manager skilled at increasing brand awareness and driving growth with high-traffic events—especially since I’ve attended several of your company’s speaking events myself. With my 5+ years of experience coordinating successful events in the corporate space, I am confident I’m a great fit for the role.'
2. Highlight a mutual connection
If you were referred to this job by a former colleague, the beginning of your cover letter can be a place to mention that connection. It grabs the hiring manager’s attention because they’ll want to see why someone they know and respect recommended you for the role. Here are some tips on doing it tactfully:
- Avoid using extreme words like 'greatest' or 'best'
- Show excitement and gratitude
Keep it brief and let the recommendation speak for itself
Example: 'I was excited to learn of this job opportunity from my former colleague, Alex Lee. He and I have worked closely together for many years, most recently on a complex data analysis project at XYZ Company. He thought that I would be a good match for this position on your team.'
3. Lead with an impressive accomplishment
Write a stand-out opening paragraph that leads with an impressive achievement and features quantifiable results. Here, it’s important to connect the dots between how you added real business value during your previous experience with how you can apply it to the new role.
Example: 'Last month alone, I more than doubled Company X’s Instagram followers and ran two successful Facebook ad campaigns that generated $250K+ in revenue. I’d love to bring my expertise organically expanding social reach and delivering ROI to the social media manager position at Company ABC.'
4. Bring up something newsworthy
Kick off your cover letter with evidence that you’ve done your research – and a little bit of flattery. If the company you’re applying for was recently in the news, mention it in the opening line and tie it into why you admire the company. To avoid sounding insincere with your compliments, bring up a specific event, fact, notable statistic or award the company recently won!
Example: 'When I saw that Company ABC was featured in The Sunday Times last month for its commitment to renewable energy and reducing waste in the workplace—all while experiencing triple-digit revenue growth—I was inspired. With my track record of reducing costs by 30%+ and promoting greener workplaces, I’m excited about the possibility of taking on the account executive role to expand your company’s growth and work towards a more sustainable future.'
5. Express passion for what you do
Passion is one of the greatest driving factors behind success. And since hiring managers are looking for candidates who can be advocates for their company and come with a strong work ethic, starting off by expressing your passions and motivations is a real attention grabber.
Example: 'I’ve been passionate about writing since I was the editor in chief of my college newspaper. Throughout my 10+ years of experience, I’ve channeled this passion into a personal blog with 20K+ monthly readers, featured articles on Buzzfeed and Vice that have garnered over 40K views, and a writer’s workshop I founded for underprivileged teenagers.'
6. Tell a creative story
Even though you probably won’t be submitting your cover letter to a creative writing contest, don’t be afraid to inject some humor, charisma and creativity – as long as it’s appropriate for the specific job and company. Hiring managers don’t want to read a novel, but they are looking for something that catches (and keeps!) their attention. Do some research on the company culture, examine the tone of the job posting and use your own judgement when going the creative route.
Example: 'I looked up at the clock and gasped. It was exactly two hours before a critical meeting with one of our biggest clients – and my boss had just asked me to completely redo our entire sales pitch. Under this tight deadline, I reworked our pitch from the ground up, collaborating with teams across several departments to deliver a completely new presentation on time. The best part? Our client loved the pitch, and we closed the sale within 30 minutes.'
7. Start with a belief statement
Impress the hiring manager by opening up with a short and impactful belief statement that mirrors the organisation’s values and goals – without making it seem like you copy and pasted the mission statement from their website.
Example: 'As a teacher, I believe every student deserves the opportunity to learn at their own individual pace, let curiosity direct their learning, and participate in hands-on activities that encourage growth.'