Cover Letters

How to Start a Cover Letter to Impress Employers

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When you are applying for a job, you may want to send a cover letter along with your resume and any other materials. Your cover letter should set you apart from other candidates. Here are some tips for writing a cover letter that is not only professional but also compels hiring managers to ask you for an interview.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a one-page document you may have to send along with your resume. Cover letters usually consist of three paragraphs and should only be one page. To make your cover letter more effective, you will need to tailor it to the company and the job you are applying for.

If a company requires you to submit a cover letter along with other job application documents, it is because the hiring manager wants to know more about you. You can highlight parts of your educational and work history in a resume, but a cover letter allows you to tell them more about your talents, personality and general outlook. These elements are not just important for how you will perform on the job but how you may fit into a company’s culture.

Depending on the company’s guidelines, you may have to send a cover letter in one of three ways:

  • A physical copy
  • An attachment to an email (i.e., a Word document or PDF file)
  • In the body of an email

What to include in your cover letter

When you are creating a cover letter, it should have a greeting, an introduction explaining why you are interested in the job and the company, and a body consisting of one to three paragraphs including a conclusion. Here is an outline:

  • In your greeting, which comes before your introduction, you should address the hiring manager.
  • Your introduction should address your interest in the position and company.
  • Your body paragraphs should allow your reader to learn more about you.
    • Include a short description of your relevant experience and accomplishments.
    • Include one or two sentences connecting your skills to those required for the job.
  • A strong concluding paragraph should include a call to action.

For a physical or attachment cover letter, you will need to include a header at the top. That header should include your name, your contact information and the job title.

Example:
Gregory Jordan
123 Meadow Lane
San Dimas, CA 91773
909-532-5324
gjordan@gmail.com
Systems Engineer

Before the content of the letter, include the date you wrote the letter, the address of the employer and the name of the hiring manager if you have that information. 

How to start a cover letter that gains an employer’s attention

You will need to write a strong introduction for your cover letter to attract the attention of the person who reads it. Here are seven tips for writing a compelling introduction for a cover letter:

1. First, show your passion for the industry

Hiring managers need to know that you love what you do because it shows dedication, and dedication is a factor in reducing turnover rates.

Example:

While SEO isn’t an exact science, I find it endlessly fascinating—from writing blog posts, to researching keywords, to checking a website’s diagnostics, there is a lot of meaningful work to be done. I love experimenting with what it takes to increase traffic to a company’s website and receiving direct feedback from the customers I’ve worked with. Additionally, it’s always rewarding to see progress on newer startups.

2. Next, show your excitement for the company you are applying to

Let the person reading your cover letter know that you are familiar with the company and that you would be honored to work for them. This shows that you have brand loyalty and might fit right in with the company’s culture.

Example:

Three of my favorite activities are shopping at Kelly’s Apparel, cracking jokes and using social media. That’s why I was excited when I found out that there was an opening for a social media specialist at your company. I am a longtime follower of Kelly’s Apparel on social media, and I enjoy the witty banter from the social media team. I would be honored to be part of this team.

3. Then, start your cover letter by talking about one of your accomplishments

If you currently hold a similar position with another company, think about how you have already helped that company. If you have little to no experience in the industry, think about what you have done at school or through your volunteer work. Some of these experiences can translate into the position you want.

Example:

I have a talent for writing headlines and an ability to teach others. That’s why I’ve been hired for numerous editing jobs since high school. In my most recent role, our traffic increased 12% during my time there helping to improve headlines for e-newsletter articles.

4. Next, use keywords you found in the job description

You will need to pull certain elements from the job description and use them in your cover letter. This allows an HR manager to know that you were paying close attention to the description, and it shows them how your qualifications line up with the position.

Example:

I am an energetic and collaborative designer who has vast experience creating design solutions across multiple media. In my capacity as a Junior Art Director at the Johnson Marketing Agency, I cultivated relationships with 100 clients inside the office and across multiple platforms, like social media. My ability to communicate well with clients and co-workers plus my attention to detail make me the best candidate for your Senior Art Director.

5. Then, mention any connections you have

Employers like to know that you have mutual connections, so mention that if you do. This is especially wise if the person who referred you to the company is a highly rated employee within that company.

Example:

My name is Samantha Derring, and I recently talked to one of your teammates, Lee Campbell. He told me about an opening on the software development team and directed me to contact your office about this opportunity.

6. Next, mention any positive and interesting current events concerning the company

If you can tie in a good and/or important news item concerning the company into your cover letter, do so. This shows the hiring manager that you have done some extra research and that you follow industry trends.

Example:

Recently, I came across some news about the upcoming merger between your company and one of your overseas competitors. Since I have experience working as a business analyst in Great Britain, I wanted to use that experience to help your company transition across markets. I was pleased to find that there is an opening for a business analyst at your company.

7. Last, explain how you can assist the company

As with the other suggestions, you will need to tailor your cover letter to the company you are applying to and the position you are applying for. One of the best ways to do this is to describe how you will help the company. Show the hiring manager how you can apply your talents, knowledge and experience to the position you are applying for.

Example:

I am seeking a fast-paced environment that allows me to handle multiple tasks. Not only do I excel at the clerical work of an administrative assistant, but I am also skilled at using Excel and updating processes for optimal efficiency.

In order to write a compelling cover letter, you will need to go beyond your resume to give hiring managers a better sense of who you are and how you can benefit their company. Show some of your personality and explain how your personal outlook helps you to get the job done. While you can also point to some of the elements in your resume, you will need to expand on those accomplishments and qualifications and show how you can apply your talents once you get the job.