Not sure how to start a cover letter for a job? Use a cover letter intro to introduce yourself in detail, explain why the job is exciting to you and show you’re a great fit.
Of course, there’s no single way to do it right. That means that you’ve got multiple options and we’re going to show them to you.
Whether you’re looking for a universal method or something more unconventional, you’ll find it in this article. Even some good opening lines from successful cover letters that impressed well-known companies like HubSpot, Siemens, or Lush!
In this article, you’re going to learn:
- What’s the best way to address a cover letter;
- How to grab a recruiter’s attention from the get-go;
- 7 best ways to start a cover letter;
- Good introduction paragraph examples for each method;
- 5 extra intro examples from successful cover letters;
- What other things to include in your cover letter beginning.
Let’s start with hand-picked cover letter intros from successful cover letter samples from our users who scored a job with well-known companies.
Do you want to know how to craft such strong cover letter opening yourself? You’ll find a quick guide below.
Do you prefer to see more examples from hired professionals or find a job-specific cover letter example for your industry? Visit our cover letter library.
Intro paragraph: How to start a cover letter
You already know that you should start your cover letter in a way that grabs a recruiter’s attention. But the question is — when should you pick a standard opening paragraph and when to go with something more creative?
That all depends on a particular job and company culture — are they formal or casual? Take time to research each company and their tone of voice. Look at the job description, their website, social media accounts and you’ll be able to get the right idea.
Depending on that, pick one of the following methods:
1. Be direct
Employers are busy people who usually don’t have time to read long texts or overused cover letter phrases. What they want to know is simply whether you’re a good fit. Why not make it easier for them and be specific from the very beginning?
Let them know what position you’re applying for and use your cover letter opening to highlight years of experience in your field and any relevant hard or soft skills you bring to the table. It’s a universal, yet effective answer to how to start a cover letter.
Dear Jane Doe,
I am very interested in the Sales Specialist opportunity at [Company XYZ] that was advertised on LinkedIn. I am a hard-working and dedicated individual with over two years of extensive industry experience, a Business & Management degree from McGill University, and a strong determination to meet and exceed all business goals and objectives.
2. Target the company’s needs
Employers want to know how you can contribute to their company. The first paragraph of the cover letter is a great place to demonstrate that.
Have a look at the job offer, go over the company’s needs and pick those that you can easily relate to. Then take a look at your achievements and impressive skills and use them to illustrate how you can bring value to the new job. Ideally by mentioning any quantifiable results from your previous jobs.
Dear Mark Smith,
Over the course of last year, I more than doubled [Company XYZ]’s Twitter followers and ran two successful Instagram ad campaigns that generated $35K+ in revenue. I’d love to bring my expertise in organically expanding the social reach and delivering ROI to the social media manager position at [Company XYZ].
3. Include company facts and news
Companies want to see that you’re interested in them and their industry. If you show that you already know about them and have done your research, you can make a great first impression.
Browse their website and scour the internet for related news articles. They can provide you with interesting facts that pertain to your role. It can be anything — a specific event, fact, notable statistic, or an award that the company has recently received.
Dear Emma Robertson,
When I saw that [Company XYZ] was featured in Fortune Magazine last month for its commitment to renewable energy and reducing waste in the workplace, I was truly inspired. With my track record of reducing costs by over 30% and promoting sustainable technologies, I’m excited about the opportunity to take on the account executive role to expand your company’s growth and work towards a greener future.
4. Highlight a mutual connection
Referrals can work like magic when it comes to getting invited to a job interview. So if someone referred you for a position or you know anyone at the company who can vouch for you, mention their name right away.
After reading your cover letter, recruiters will most likely want to learn why your referrer thought you’d be a good fit for the position. If nothing else, it will make recruiters pay attention to the rest of your cover letter.
I was excited to learn of this job opportunity from my former colleague, Lucy May. We’ve worked closely together for several years, most recently on a complex data analysis project at [Company XYZ]. She advised me to apply as she thought I’d be a good match for this position on your team.
5. Show passion for what you do
Employers love job candidates who are enthusiastic about what they do. These candidates tend to perform better and are more dedicated to their role.
So if you’re all hype up about your job, don’t hesitate to infuse your cover letter with a couple of sentences demonstrating your excitement about what you’re doing.
Dear Anna Sallent,
I’ve had a knack for writing ever since I was the main editor of our high school magazine. Thanks to my 15+ years of experience, I’ve transformed my passion into a fashion blog with 30K+ monthly readers, featured articles on Time and Cosmopolitan that have garnered over 50K views, and a writer’s workshop I founded for young up-and-coming writers.
6. Open with a relevant accomplishment
Hiring managers like achievers. If you’ve accomplished something noteworthy while with your previous employer, there’s a good chance you can bring the same value to your next job too. What’s more, it shows that you’re an expert in your field.
If you have any special skills or accomplishments that will make you stand out from other job candidates, mention it right away. However, try to make no general claims without providing evidence. Support your argument with real numbers and statistics.
Over the past year as digital marketing manager at [Company XYZ] I’ve generated $50k+ in revenue, increased organic traffic to our blog by 18%, and almost tripled our social media ROI.
7. Use humor and creativity
Recruiters are humans beings, too (shocking). In a pile of boring resumes and repetitive cover letters and motivation letters, they may find a good joke, juicy pun or funny opening line a nice refreshing break. It can also be a reason to call you up for an interview.
If the company seems to have an easy-going vibe, use humor to bring attention to your skills or relevant personal traits that are needed for the position you’re targeting.
Before I flood you with all the reasons why I’m going to be your next writer, I would like to tell you a little about myself. I didn’t learn to hold a pencil until I was about six years old, which made everyone think I’d never pen a single letter. And now here I am, bidding to become your next Shakespeare.
Cover letter beginning: What other things to include?
There are a few other things a good cover letter beginning should include — contact information both for you and the company, a headline (optional), and a personalised greeting.
Header: Your and company’s contact information
At the top of the page, list your contact details such as full name, email, and phone number. Optionally, you can also include your professional title, address, and date.
Also, add company-related information such as the manager’s name and job title/department, name of the company, and their address.
Left align everything or choose a pre-designed cover letter template and only fill in the details.
You don’t have to include it, but it can help you grab the hiring manager’s attention.
You can use numbers, questions, or interesting adjectives. Something like “5 Ways I Can Help You Improve Your Company’s Marketing.” Alternatively, you can state the name of the position you’re applying for.
Salutation: How to address a cover letter
Try to avoid using “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam”. This form of address, while correct, has become so overused it won’t help you stand out at all.
Instead, try to research the hiring manager’s name online. Look at the job posting, check the company’s website or LinkedIn. Alternatively, you can address it to the whole team or HR.
Generally, stick to these rules:
- How to address a cover letter to a recruiter or hiring manager: The best practice is to use a personalized greeting in the following form: “Dear [first name]” or “Dear Mr./Mrs. [last name]” for formal companies.
- How to address a cover letter to multiple recipients: If you’re addressing your cover letter to the entire team or human resources, you can use “Dear [name of the company/department] Team” or “Dear Human Resources”.
- How to address a cover letter to an unknown person: If you fail to find the hiring manager’s name and don’t want to address your cover letter to an entire team or HR, use “Dear Hiring Manager”, “Dear Recruitment Officer”.
Then you can continue with an attention grabbing intro paragraph.
Key takeaways: How to begin a cover letter
The beginning of your cover letter will determine whether the hiring managers will read the rest of it or not. If you want them to pay attention to what you have to say, make sure your cover letter opening:
- Uses a personalized greeting;
- Says who you are;
- Shows you’re passionate about the job or the company;
- Highlights your top (and relevant) accomplishments and skills;
- Mentions a mutual contact;
- Reflects the company’s tone of voice;
- Is tailored to a specific position and company’s needs;
- Uses keywords from the job description;
- Is short, sweet, and direct.
Of course, the rest of your cover letter is important too. If you’d like to know what to write in the rest of your letter, check out our complete cover letter guide or get inspired by an in-depth IBM cover letter analysis.