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How to Start a Cover Letter: The Best Cover Letter Openings

How to start a cover letter? Just follow our guide and write a cover letter introduction that will sweep your future boss off their feet.

Olga Ber
Olga Ber
Career Expert
How to Start a Cover Letter: The Best Cover Letter Openings

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:

 

  • Expert-approved strategies for writing a powerful cover letter introduction.
  • Examples of cover letter opening lines that you can use every time.
  • BONUS: Tips for creating a flawless cover letter header.

 

Save hours of work and get a cover letter like this. Pick a template, fill it in. Quick and easy. Choose from 20+ cover letter templates and download your cover letter now.

 

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I had an interview yesterday and the first thing they said on the phone was: “Wow! I love your cover letter.”
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My previous cover letter was really weak and I used to spend hours adjusting it in Word. Now, I can introduce any changes within minutes. Absolutely wonderful!
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Want more resources to help you write the perfect cover letter? Check these out:

 

 

There’s more than one way to begin a cover letter. In fact, our users have written successful cover letters using a variety of strategies. 

 

Here are our top most effective cover letter opening strategies:

 

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:

GOOD EXAMPLE
Before I led the team at Sevenquist Products to increase sales by 35%, I wouldn’t have thought it could be done. It came down to delegating key projects like increasing our open rate by 27% and slashing churn by 23%.

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 writing a cover letter for any job. Just make sure you do it right.

 

What about this cover letter intro, written by another candidate applying for the same job?

BAD EXAMPLE
I’m writing to apply for the position of Senior Marketing Manager. I’ve got 6+ years of work experience, and I’ve planned and run many marketing campaigns that helped the company make more sales.

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.

 

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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:

GOOD EXAMPLE
When I saw Woodify featured in Fortune magazine as one of the world’s most eco-friendly start-ups, I was truly inspired. As a manufacturing engineer who reduced Superwasher’s waste by 30%, I’m eager to support Woodify on its mission to create a new line of products manufactured out of 100% recycled materials.

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.

BAD EXAMPLE
I’m writing to apply for the position of Manufacturing Engineer. I’m eager to join your company because it would be an honor to join such an accomplished team.

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 it goes:

GOOD EXAMPLE
Jake Jameson from the Accounting Department suggested I apply—he believes that my professional values and skills as a financial analyst would empower me to make a considerable contribution to the ongoing success of Meys & Rapsfeldt.

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:

BAD EXAMPLE
Did you know I went to the same high school as Martin Fletcher, your CFO?

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 writing a cover letter opening 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 can’t start your cover letter with an epic accomplishment (yet).

 

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:

GOOD EXAMPLE
Whenever I see an ad by Storinger, I cannot help but admire its creativity. You’re straight out my favorite marketing agency (and your campaign for Spagheddo is probably the best I’ve seen in my entire life). So when I saw the opportunity to become a part of the team, I knew I had to apply.

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:

BAD EXAMPLE
I’ve always wanted to work for Storinger because you’re the best company in your field. I’m very motivated to join you.

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:

 

  1. Hiring more people gives the CEO’s self-esteem a boost.
  2. Businesses expect new employees to bring value by doing their job.
  3. 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:

GOOD EXAMPLE
During my time at Regal & Spiegel, I cut costs by 30% by optimizing a single business process. I’m eager to leverage my skills and do the same for Elmexia Inc.

Offering to cut a company’s costs by 30% sounds pretty much irresistible if you ask us.

BAD EXAMPLE
I’m applying for the position of Assistant Operations Manager to face new challenges, build new skills, and see where my career takes me.

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 opting for a funny cover letter opening, 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.

GOOD EXAMPLE
My grandma has told me I’m the best programmer in the world ever since I changed the language on her phone back to English. I’ve developed three Android apps, one of which is currently featured in the Play Store and has a rating of 4.5. As an in-house Android developer at Ginger Apps, I intend to maintain my reputation in Granny’s eyes.

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.

BAD EXAMPLE
Writing is my favorite recreational drug. So when I saw your job opening for a content writer, I thought, “Hey, you could be my drug dealer for the next few years!”

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 Header & 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 Header Template Like This One

 

Your cover letter header should look like this:

 

[Your First and Last Name]

[Your Job Title or Branding Statement] (optional)

[Phone Number]

[Email Address]

[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 full guide to addressing a cover letter to make sure you’re not making a mistake that will put the recruiter off.

 

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Key Takeaways

 

There’s more than one way to begin 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 open your cover letter? Got a story to tell? Leave us a comment—let’s get the discussion started! 

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Olga Ber
Olga Ber
Olga is a career expert with a background in teaching. At ResumeLab, she writes actionable guides to help job-seekers highlight their unique strengths and unlock their career potential.

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