Beginning a cover letter can feel awkward and stilted. Should you use formal language you would never say aloud? Should you be direct, or demure?
If you’re here, you’re obviously wondering how to start a cover letter. To put it simply, the first paragraph of a cover letter should tell hiring managers who, what, where, and why. What job you’re applying to, where you found the job, who you are, and why you’re the perfect fit.
Here, we’ll look at how to start a cover letter with grace and confidence. We’ll show you what a cover letter is, give you seven options for starting a cover letter, share examples, and answer your big questions about cover letters.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a one-page document submitted alongside a job application or résumé. It introduces the applicant to the employer, highlights key qualifications relevant to the position, and explains why the applicant is interested in and suitable for the job.
The beginning of a cover letter is crucial because it serves as the first impression you make on a potential employer. It can determine whether the employer continues reading. A well-crafted opening can entice the employer to delve deeper into your qualifications and motivations, increasing your chances of standing out among other applicants.
What should you include in the first paragraph of a cover letter?
The first paragraph of a cover letter should be concise and impactful—only a few sentences. The purpose of the first paragraph is to entice the hiring manager to keep reading. It should include the following three key points:
Position and source
Explain the purpose of your inquiry, mentioning the job title and the company you’re applying to. Detail how you heard about the job opening, such as through a job posting on a specific website or a company referral.
Interest and enthusiasm
Express your genuine interest in the position and the company. In one sentence, briefly explain why you’re excited about the opportunity and what attracts you to the role or the company.
To seamlessly transition into the body of your cover letter, include one sentence about why you’re qualified for the job. In the body of the letter, you’ll explain in depth why you’re a good fit for the job, so you can keep it short here. This is your hook that gets hiring managers to keep reading.
Briefly mention a key skill, achievement, or experience that makes you a strong fit for the position. This should be just one sentence that sets you up for the in-depth explanation you’ll give in the body paragraphs of the cover letter.
7 ways to start a cover letter
Here are seven captivating openers to help you write your cover letter and explanations for why they work. Each of these openers aims to establish a strong connection, spark interest, and convey your suitability for the job in a unique and engaging way. Remember to tailor your opener to the specific company and role you’re applying for.
Highlighting a notable achievement directly related to the job demonstrates your capabilities and immediately grabs the reader’s attention. Maybe you launched a new product, spearheaded a rebrand, opened a new location, developed a new process, or won an award.
Presenting a noteworthy statistic or quantifiable accomplishment from your previous experience can pique their interest in your skills, knowledge, and insights. Something you achieved in a previous role, like revenue boosts, sales increases, efficiency improvements, or website traffic growth, are all great accomplishments to share right away.
Future vision contribution
Sharing a brief vision of how you see yourself contributing to the company’s growth, revenue, or projects can intrigue the reader and encourage them to envision you in the role.
Starting with a statement that expresses genuine enthusiasm for the company or position packs a punch of personality straight away so they can get to know you and see how passionate you are.
Mentioning someone the employer knows or respects can establish credibility and create a sense of familiarity, making them more likely to continue reading.
Addressing a common issue or challenge the company might face and hinting at how your skills can help solve it can demonstrate your proactive attitude and relevance to the role.
Shared company value
Expressing alignment with a core value or mission of the company shows that you’ve done your research and are genuinely interested in their goals, making you a potentially good fit culturally.
Examples of how to start a cover letter
Here are some examples of how to start a cover letter for a few different professions and experience levels.
As an accomplished marketing professional with a proven track record of driving successful campaigns and strategic initiatives, I am excited to express my interest in the Marketing Manager position at Flight Airlines. With over five years of experience in the field, I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to leverage my expertise in travel and tourism to contribute to your team’s continued growth and innovation. Recently, I led the successful launch of a new app that resulted in a 30 percent increase in sales within the first quarter and netted 6 million users in its first year, demonstrating my ability to drive impactful results through strategic planning and execution.
I am writing to express my keen interest in the Sales Representative position at Network. With a verified background of driving revenue growth and cultivating valuable client relationships over the past three years, I am excited about the opportunity to contribute my strategic selling skills to your dynamic sales team. My experience includes achieving a remarkable 25 percent increase in sales volume within a single quarter in my previous role at Wireless, underscoring my ability to deliver substantial bottom-line results.
Future vision contribution
I am writing to express my strong interest in the HR Manager position at Cloud. With eleven years of experience in human resources leadership roles, I am excited about the opportunity to bring my strategic approach and people-centric mindset to support Cloud’s continued growth and success. My vision includes leveraging my expertise to foster a culture of efficiency, employee development, and loyalty, contributing to the company’s retention and expansion efforts.
As a passionate and experienced designer, I’m eager to contribute my six years of creative design accomplishments in the role of Graphic Designer. I have always been drawn to Art’s innovative approach to design, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to work alongside such talented and forward-thinking professionals. Throughout my career, I have honed my skills in graphic design, web design, and branding, developing a keen eye for detail and an ability to create visually stunning and impactful assets. I take pride in my ability to think outside the box and push boundaries, always striving to create designs that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also convey a message and tell a story.
I was thrilled to learn about the open Registered Nurse position at City Hospital, a facility known for its commitment to community patient care and clinical excellence. My enthusiasm for joining your dedicated team is further fueled by the admiration I hold for Dr. Maria González, whose reputation for compassionate nursing and unwavering dedication to patient well-being is widely respected within the industry. As a passionate and skilled nurse, I am excited about the prospect of contributing to your patient-centered approach and continuing the tradition of high-quality care that Dr. González exemplifies.
As a well-trained software developer with a keen eye for innovation, I am excited to express my interest in the Software Developer position at Neurology Labs. In our rapidly evolving tech landscape, I know how to strike that delicate balance between developing cutting-edge solutions and maintaining robust and scalable codebases. The prospect of collaborating with your small team and contributing my proficiency in software architecture and optimization has me eager to help tackle these challenges head-on, ensuring Neurology’s products are both groundbreaking and resilient.
Shared company value
I am thrilled to apply for the teaching position at Montessori. I’m dedicated to creating a nurturing environment where students are encouraged to explore their passions. I believe that education should inspire curiosity and empower students to become active learners and critical thinkers. I’ve spent two years guiding young minds through personalized learning journeys as a Special Education teacher for the GATE program of California. I am excited to create a classroom atmosphere that celebrates diversity and nurtures the innate potential of each child at Montessori.
How to start a cover letter FAQs
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a written document submitted along with a job application or résumé. It provides an opportunity for job seekers to introduce themselves to potential employers, explain their qualifications and experiences relevant to the job, and convey their enthusiasm and interest in the position.
Why is the beginning of a cover letter important?
The beginning of a cover letter is the first impression you make on the employer or hiring manager. A strong opening helps your cover letter stand out, encouraging the reader to delve into the details of your skills and experiences and read all the way to the end of your cover letter.
What should the first paragraph of a cover letter include?
An effective beginning should capture the reader’s attention, clearly state the purpose of the letter, and provide a glimpse of your enthusiasm and qualifications.
Here’s what the first paragraph should include:
- Position and source
- Interest and enthusiasm
- Initial highlights