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How to Start a Cover Letter (3-Step Formula + Examples)

Guide for how to start a cover letter, sample cover letter introductions and salutations. Learn how to begin a cover letter with intro & first paragraph tips.

Tom Gerencer, CPRW
Career Writer at ResumeLab
How to Start a Cover Letter (3-Step Formula + Examples)

Once you get going, you’ll be fine.


But here’s the problem:


How to start a cover letter in the first place?


Good news:


There’s a simple formula that blows employers away.


Step 1: Pick your biggest achievement that fits the job.


Step 2: Personalise with company needs, facts, events, or name-dropping.


Step 3: Know how to address a letter of introduction, and to whom.


That sounds hard, but there’s a quick way to do it right.


This guide will show you:


  • How to start a cover letter that erases other applicants.
  • Sample cover letter introductions you can use.
  • How to begin a cover letter with the right salutation.
  • Why the best cover letter intros start with accomplishments (and how to nail ‘em).


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Here’s how to write an attention-grabbing cover letter first paragraph.


Cover Letter Introduction Example


Summer Scharf
Graphic Designer
1602 Ferguson Street
New York, NY 10110




Neoterio Talone
Creative Director
Split Q Inc.
3455 Angus Road
New York, NY 10007


Dear Mr. Talone,


Slashing costs 20% at Kenna Senno was the biggest challenge and most fun I’ve ever had. The highest hurdle? Developing the leadership skills to guide my team of three designers through the daily struggles.


I drew on all my past achievements, including:


  • Developing 350+ graphic design projects in two years.
  • Spearheading the team that won the 2016 Shopify Design Award at Ama Tama.
  • Leading meetings for a project to boost client revenue past 120% of targets.


With my deep knowledge of how to produce high quality while mentoring a team, I’m confident I’m a great fit for Split Q Inc. That’s why when Shauna Paiva suggested I apply, I knew I had to get in touch.


I’d value the opportunity to discuss slashing your costs 25% in the next four months.


PS—I’d love to explain how my belief in adding emotion to my work helped me get the D&AD New Blood award in 2013.


Best regards,
Summer Scharf


That’s how to begin a cover letter.


Need more cover letter introduction examples? Want to know how to address cover letters without names?


That’s next.


1. Start a Cover Letter With First Paragraph Gold


“When I destroyed Sauron...”


If you’re Frodo, that’s how to start a cover letter.


You don’t talk about your grasp of written Elvish.


You tease your biggest win.


But—it’s got to fit the job like a custom Rolex.


These two cover letter introduction examples show how:


How to Open a Cover Letter Examples


  1. Your best achievement is boosting sales by 35%.
  2. The job ad calls for delegation skills.
Good Example

Dear Catherine,


Before I led the team at Sevenquist Products to (1) increase sales by 35%, I wouldn’t have thought it could be done. It came down to (2) delegating key projects like increasing our open rate by 27% and slashing churn by 23%. When I read about Davis & Locklin’s drive to increase revenue, I had to apply. I’ve been following your firm since 2012, when you received the Caples award.

Bad Example

Dear recruiter,


I'm a marketing specialist with 3 years of experience, with extremely solid marketing skills. I've worked for several large and well-known firms, partnering with cross-functional teams to deliver the right message to turn top-of-funnel into sales. I think my unique skill set makes me an ideal marketing professional for your business.

See that?


The achievement in the first of those cover letters shrink-wraps you to the job.


Achievement Examples


Use these examples in your cover letter openers:


Improved Company Metrics


  • Raised revenue 30%.
  • Slashed costs 20%.
  • Boosted customer retention 15%.
  • Delivered all projects at least 3 days before deadline.
  • Led the team that raised customer appreciation scores by 22%.


A Great Personal Achievement


  • Scored 99 out of 100 in 2 of 4 sections on the CPA exam.
  • Manager said I’m the “most professional person he’s ever met.”
  • Chosen as team mentor.
  • One of my projects received a Webby award.
  • Project-managed seven multi-million dollar construction projects.
  • Promoted in just 2 months.

Expert Hint: How do you know your big achievement will impress the hiring manager? Connect with a couple company employees on LinkedIn (or phone) and talk to them.

2. Make Your Cover Letter Personal


Your cover letter introduction must be attention-grabbing.


To guarantee dropped jaws—


Tie it to the manager and company.




By adding one of these key facts:

  • Company Needs. Do they need cost-cutting most, or marketing ROI? Find out in the job ad, or by reaching out to employees.
  • Company Facts. Do they value employee development? Innovation? Learn this on their website or by reaching out.
  • Name Dropping. Are you connected to someone at the company? Can you be? Check Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and contact them.
  • Company Events. Did they just make the Fortune 500 list or win a huge award? Search news headlines for this cover letter opening trick.




How to use key facts in a cover letter intro?


Do it like these how to start a cover letter examples:


Cover Letter Opening Paragraph Examples


  1. Your big achievement: Increased development efficiency 32%.
  2. Company event: Their Agile push was written up in TechCrunch last month.
Good Example

Dear Katie,


I was honoured to lead the team at Cryptoconic that (1) increased development efficiency by 32% through applying Agile best practises. Naturally, (2) when I read about Cloudwallop’s Agile charge in TechCrunch, I was excited, especially since I’ve been a devotee of your software applications from day one.

Bad Example

Dear Manager,


I'm a top-notch software engineer with 5 years of experience in creating next-level solutions through adept creative coding skills. I think you’ll agree that my expert skills in C#, PHP, SQL, HTML, JavaScript, and Ruby make me the perfect candidate.

That first cover letter first paragraph lists a huge achievement. Best, it mentions news the hiring manager is proud of. Guaranteed heart-string tugger.

Expert Hint: Starting a cover letter with the hiring manager’s name is gold. Don’t know it? Call, or do some LinkedIn hunting. Still don’t know it? That’s up next.

Double your impact with a matching CV and cover letter combo. Use our cover letter builder and make your application documents pop out.


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Want to try a different look? There’s 18 more. A single click will give your document a total makeover. Pick a cover letter template here.


3. Find Out Who to Address a Cover Letter To


Now you know how to start a cover letter.


Still stuck?


Who should you address your cover letter introduction to?


How to Start a Cover Letter—Examples


Check these how to begin a cover letter examples:


  • Dear Sue,
  • Dear Mr. Munoz,
  • Dear Arthur,
  • Dear Ms. Odom,


Starting a cover letter with names works. Why? Our own names pull attention like electromagnets.


How to Begin a Two Whom It May Concern Cover Letter


Can’t find the name?


No sweat.


Use one of these:


  • Dear Project Management Hiring Manager,
  • Dear Hiring Manager,


Those cover letter intro examples work because they’re not generic. That’s vs a To whom it may concern cover letter opening statement.

Expert Hint:  Don’t know a female employer’s first name? Use Ms. instead of Miss or Mrs. It’s not linked to marriage status and won’t irk the hiring manager.

4. Address a Cover Letter Properly




Had enough introductory paragraph examples?


Just need to know how to write an address on a cover letter?


List your address, the date, then their address.


Do it like this how to start a cover letter example:


Cover Letter Openings—Example


Peter Parker
2030 Longview Avenue
Forest Hills, NY




Tony Stark
Stark Industries
22 Stark Tower
NY, NY 10001


Dear Mr. Stark,



That letter of introduction example is clean, professional, and does the job.

Expert Hint: In an email cover letter, don’t use full mailing addresses. Your web URL, phone number, and email address are plenty.

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Key Points:


Here’s a recap of how to start a cover letter:

  • The best cover letter openers start with your most pulse-pounding accomplishment. It could be raised revenue, an award, or a high test score.
  • Pick an achievement that fits what the job offer is asking for. If they want cost-cutting, don’t talk about high customer-appreciation scores.
  • Mind-meld your accomplishment to the job. Cite company facts, needs, news, or name-dropping in your cover letter opening lines.
  • Address a cover letter with “Dear” + the person’s name. Don’t know it? Use “[XYZ] team hiring manager.”


Still wondering how to write a cover letter opening? Can’t find company facts to use for cover letter openers? Leave a comment. We’ll be happy to reply.

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Tom Gerencer, CPRW
Tom Gerencer is a career advice writer and a resume expert at ResumeLab. Tom has been featured on BBC News, NBC, The Economist, Business Insider, Fast Company, and dozens of other outlets. His insights, commentary, and articles reach over a million readers every month. With inside knowledge of key industry players and in-depth research, Tom helps job seekers with advice across all professions and career stages. Tom holds a degree in English from Colby College.

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