How to Write a Standout Cover Letter Opening

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Do you stand out to recruiters? Having a dynamite resume is not enough. It is common for hiring managers to scan through dozens or even hundreds of applications from jobseekers. Therefore, it is up to you to find ways to stand out from the competition to increase your chances of making it to the next stage in the hiring process.

Your cover letter provides one place to sell yourself and demonstrate why you are better than other candidates. To take full advantage of this resource, you must grab the attention of the recruiter from the get-go. Otherwise, you might not get the chance to actually persuade them to call you. That is why it is so important to have a stellar cover letter opening.

Begin With the Greeting
Always start your cover letter off with a professional greeting. Try to use the recruiter’s actual name, rather than “To Whom It May Concern.” If you are unable to find the name of the person who actually goes through the applications, then make the greeting as personal as possible. You might also use something more generic if you are unsure whether you have the right name. You do not want to use the wrong address, as this might lead to a rejection faster than an overly generic one. This might include statements like Dear [Company Name] Recruiter. Anything that demonstrates your attempt to personalize it to the person reading it is beneficial.

Focus on the Opening Two Sentences
The most crucial components of your entire cover letter are the opening two sentences. They should be a quick elevator pitch that tells the recruiters all they need to know to determine you are a strong, qualified candidate for the position. This statement should include several key facts about you, which you can go into further detail about later in the letter:

  • Education and training

  • Expertise and knowledge of the field

  • Experience

  • Your accomplishments

  • Why you would benefit the company as a hire

Although this is a lot, remember to be succinct. This should be a quick summary of the main key points why you should be hired. Think elevator pitch. Focus on the skills and experience that make you stand out, as well as those that are directly applicable to the job.

Make It Exciting
The first two sentences should hook the recruiter into wanting to read more. Therefore, you want your cover letter opening to be exciting. Do not simply list your history and skills. Think like a marketer selling a product and create something that sells you to the recruiter. However, do so in a professional way that matches the company culture and what the recruiter would expect.

One way to make it more exciting is to start by demonstrating your passion for the industry and/or the company. This also demonstrates to the recruiters that you did your research into the company and would make a good member of their team.

Consider What Employers Want to Hear
When you market a product or service to people, it is beneficial to think like the target audience to create content that speaks to them. The same goes for creating a strong cover letter. Think like an employer and determine what you would want to know if you were the one hiring. This is not about bragging to friends, family members and others; this is about pitching your abilities to a prospective employer in a way that speaks to that person.

A strong cover letter opening should go beyond “My name is John X, and I am applying for a position at your company.” With this information, you will be able to create an opening to your cover letter that will improve your chances of making it to the next stage in the hiring process. Just be sure to continue your letter in such a way that you do not lose the recruiter after you have already won them over with your first two sentences. And if you need more help, consider using a cover letter builder to kick-start your writing process.

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