How do you write an email cover letter? Should you format it differently? Should you attach it? See 5 examples for different jobs to write a cover letter email that gets results.
Meet Ms. Roberts. She’s already read 34 cover letters today and is about to open the 35th one.
“To whom it may concern: I’m applying for the position of Junior Software Developer.”
Ms. Roberts shrugs and moves on to the next cover letter. If you don’t want to be Candidate 35, it’s time to step up your cover letter writing game. Once you know how to start a cover letter for a job right, recruiters will start to like you.
Here’s what you’ll find in this guide:
- How to start a cover letter to grab the reader's attention.
- Expert-approved strategies for writing a powerful cover letter introduction.
- Examples of cover letter opening lines that you can use every time.
- Tips for creating a flawless cover letter opening.
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Want more resources to help you write the perfect cover letter? Check these out:
- Are Cover Letters Necessary
- Cover Letter for an Internal Position
- Cover Letter Tips and Advice
- How to End a Cover Letter
- How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter
- Internship Cover Letter Guide
- Short Cover Letter Example
- What Does a Cover Letter Look Like
- What Is a Cover Letter
- What to Include in a Cover Letter
1. How to Start a Cover Letter
The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself and your qualifications to the employer. You want to show that you're a good fit for the job and convince them to invite you for an interview.
With that in mind, here are some tips for starting your cover letter:
- Avoid generic greetings and boring statements like "I'm writing to apply for the position" and instead personalize the opening with the recruiter or hiring manager's name.
- Use creative and attention-grabbing language like personal stories, quotes or relevant statistics instead of generic sentences.
- Always tailor your opening to the company or position by researching their core values, mission statements, and culture to know what they want in a candidate.
2. 6 Professional Cover Letter Introducation Examples
Below you'll find six ways to start your cover letter effectively.
Choose the one that suits you best, and remember to adjust it to your needs
1. Lead With a Massive Accomplishment
Start your cover letter with a big professional accomplishment to attract the reader's attention. Don’t brag; just humbly state that you’ve boosted sales by 35%, won an industry award or single-handedly fought a T-Rex that tried to eat your quarterly report.
Which accomplishment should you pick for the cover letter intro?
Well, it should be big enough, easy to measure, and highly relevant to the job you’re applying for. If your dream employer is looking for a person who can boost sales and delegate tasks, start your cover letter like this:
That's the way to start a cover letter. You prove you’re the exact person they need in just two sentences.
Here are some other examples of accomplishments that deserve landing in the first paragraph of a cover letter:
- Raised revenue by 30%.
- Slashed project costs by $10,000.
- Boosted customer retention by 15%.
- Delivered all projects at least 3 days before the deadline.
- Led the team that raised customer appreciation scores by 22%.
Saying that you’ve boosted important business metrics is a surefire strategy when starting a cover letter for any job. Just make sure you do it right.
What about this cover letter introduction, written by another candidate applying for the same job?
Most recruiters won’t read any further. They see those generic openers every day, and they’re pretty much allergic to them.
But… what if you don’t have a significant professional accomplishment yet?
Don’t worry. There are other smart strategies for starting a cover letter for entry-level positions.
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2. Show You’ve Done Your Research
Writing a generic cover letter that’s not tailored to a specific job offering is the most reliable way to get rejected. Recruiters believe that if you don’t bother to research the company’s unique achievements and challenges, you don’t care about this job.
Conversely, if your cover letter shows you’ve spent some time learning about the company, you must be genuinely interested.
So you can start your cover letter by referring to:
- News about the company
- Recent awards the company has won
- The company’s upcoming projects
- Unique challenges the company is facing
Here’s what this looks like in a real cover letter opening lines:
This engineer did their research and found out two important facts:
- The company was recently featured in Fortune for its environmentally friendly products.
- They’re planning to create a new product line (and that’s probably the reason why they’re looking for a new engineer).
So they combined these facts with a relevant professional accomplishment (see the previous strategy) and came up with an excellent cover letter opening.
This opener practically screams, “Yes, I’ve copied and pasted this 100 times, and I’m going to do it again!”
Remember: if the cover letter opening lines are so generic you could send them to multiple companies without any modifications, they’re lousy cover letter opening lines. Tailor your cover letter to each job you’re applying for.
3. Drop a Name (But Do It the Right Way)
Got a contact who works at your dream company? Leverage this relationship and drop a name in your cover letter. Here’s what you should keep in mind:
- Don’t pretend you know someone when you actually don’t. It’s easy to spot a lie like that.
- Consider contacting the person that you’re going to mention. Check that they’re OK with being featured in your cover letter.
- Keep your cover letter intro short, and don’t tell the entire story of how you met your contact.
This is how to start a cover letter right:
This cover letter opener draws the reader’s attention by mentioning a relevant contact. The recruiter will likely think, “Well, if Jake can vouch for this person, they must be really worth considering.”
However, name-dropping can backfire if done wrong:
This attempt to drop a name comes off as awkward bragging. And if the candidate is lying, their chances of getting a job are automatically reduced to absolute zero.
4. Confess Your Passion
Another strategy for starting a cover letter introduction is demonstrating your passion and excitement about the company and the job.
It works especially well when you’re applying for an entry-level job and are writing a cover letter with no experience (or very little experience).
However, there’s one important thing to remember:
If your first paragraph is so generic that it can be copied and pasted into a different cover letter, all of your enthusiasm will look fake, and this strategy will backfire.
Let’s look at two examples to illustrate this point:
This junior graphic designer doesn’t just show excitement about Storinger in general. He refers to a specific campaign, which suggests he’s genuinely interested in what this specific agency does.
Here’s another example:
Replace Storinger with any other company name, and you can copy and paste this cover letter introduction as many times as you want.
This is like trying to impress your crush with a bouquet of plastic flowers. Don’t try this.
5. Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse
Why do businesses hire new employees? Pick the right answer:
- Hiring more people gives the CEO’s self-esteem a boost.
- Businesses expect new employees to bring value by doing their job.
- Their current employees get bored and want some new colleagues to talk to.
Spoiler: the answer is 2. Offering to bring considerable value to the company is another great way to start a cover letter. Like this:
Offering to cut a company’s costs by 30% sounds pretty much irresistible if you ask us.
This candidate clearly doesn’t care about bringing value to the company. All they want is a job where they can earn a paycheck for a while—until a better job pops up.
6. Be Funny
This strategy can be risky because your joke can fall flat and backfire massively. But, on the other hand, if you actually put a grin on the hiring manager’s face, they’ll start liking you even before they finish reading your cover letter.
Before you opt for starting the cover letter with a funny introduction, re-read the job ad and check out the company’s website. Are they even remotely humorous? If not, play safe and don’t try to make your cover letter funny.
But if the company’s communication style allows for humor, writing a grin-inducing cover letter intro might be a good idea. However, always make sure that your opening paragraph matches the company’s sense of humor.
Here's an example of how to start a cover letter with a dose of humor:
If this kind of humor resonates with the company’s brand voice and the managers’ personalities, this cover letter will likely get this Android dev a new job.
This cover letter opener ranks somewhere between weird and straight-out distasteful, depending on what kind of company this person is applying to.
Before including a joke in your cover letter, think of all the possible ways it can fall flat, offend someone, or just make you look painfully unprofessional.
Double-Check Your Cover Letter Introduction & Salutation
After you’ve crafted your cover letter opening, it’s a good idea to double-check the cover letter header (the part with the names and addresses) and the salutation.
And here’s what you should do:
Use a Proven Cover Letter Introduction Template Like This One
Your cover letter header should look like this:
[Your First and Last Name]
[Your Job Title or Branding Statement] (optional)
[LinkedIn Profile URL]
[Today’s Date / Date of Writing]
[Hiring Manager’s First and Last Name]
[Hiring Manager’s Professional Title]
[Name of Company]
[Company Street Address]
[City, State, Zip Code]
Put all this information in the top left corner and check for typos. Accidentally misspelling the hiring manager’s name can sabotage your entire job application!
Make Sure You’ve Picked the Right Salutation
The header is followed by a salutation. The best options are:
- Dear Mr. / Ms. Lastname,
- Dear Firstname Lastname,
- Dear Firstname,
Which one should you pick to open your cover letter?
Opt for Mr. / Ms. Lastname if you’re applying for a corporate or government job—or pretty much any job with a strict hierarchy and a formal workplace culture.
If the hiring manager has a unisex name and you don’t know whether to put Mr. or Ms., you have two options:
- Do a quick LinkedIn search and hope to find a picture of them.
- If you can’t, just write Dear Firstname Lastname. This is definitely better than making a mistake about their gender.
Last but not least, if you’re applying for a job at a company that clearly has a more relaxed culture, like a startup, it’s OK to address the hiring manager by their first name only.
Tip: How to Start Off a Cover Letter Without a Name
It’s best to address your cover letter to a specific person, so do your best to find their name. Search LinkedIn, browse the company’s website, or maybe just call the company and ask.
If everything fails, write Dear Hiring Manager or Dear Hiring Team.
Expert Hint: Never start your cover letter with To whom it may concern or Dear Sir or Madam. These salutations are painfully outdated and sound outright lazy.
Check out our guide on addressing a cover letter to make sure you’re not making a mistake that will put the recruiter off.
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There’s more than one how you can start a cover letter:
- Mention a big accomplishment.
- Begin with a fact about the company.
- Mention a mutual connection.
- Impress the reader with your passion and enthusiasm.
- Make an irresistible offer.
- Start with a joke.
All of these strategies can backfire if you’re not careful. To make sure they work, always do your research and avoid generic cover letter openers that aren’t closely tailored to a specific company.
Still unsure how to start your cover letter? Got a story to tell? Leave us a comment—let’s get the discussion started!