Writing a good cover letter starts with the first word, so you need to know how to start a cover letter right.

Starting a cover letter on the right note is crucial to grab the recruiter’s attention. Whether you’re struggling with a blank document or have a solid foundation, a cover letter needs a punchy opening to make an impact on the hiring team.

Table of Contents
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What are the key ingredients to starting the perfect cover letter?

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

  • What to include in your cover letter header.
  • How to start a cover letter greeting.
  • How to write an impressive cover letter opening paragraph.
  • How to start a cover letter off strong.
  • Examples of how to start a cover letter.

Each puzzle piece of your cover letter opener creates a detailed picture of who you are as a candidate. It proves to the recruiter that you’re worth contacting for a job interview. Make a standout first impression with your cover letter by including:

  • A header with your contact information.
  • A personalized greeting.
  • A powerful opening statement.
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What to include in a cover letter header

The top of your cover letter should include a header with your critical contact information, like:

  • Your name and professional title.
  • Your phone number.
  • Your email address.
  • Your LinkedIn profile link.

You can also include other relevant links. These could be to your portfolio website, GitHub, Medium profile, or other industry-specific resources. They will help the recruiter understand your skills.

Include the date, the recipient, the company name, and the address or location of the organization. (This will depend on whether it’s an in-person, hybrid, or remote environment.)

Below is an example of a cover letter including personal information in the header with the date and company information below. This example was created with the Jobscan Cover Letter Generator.

a screenshot of a cover letter header with personal information and contact details

Use our Cover Letter Generator to save yourself time writing your cover letter. The header section will auto-populate based on your resume, so all the details match perfectly.

How to write a cover letter greeting

If you usually start your cover letters with “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To whom it may concern,” it’s time to reinvent your greetings. Not only is this a boring way to start a cover letter, it can come across as lazy.

With a little investigation, it’s easier than ever to find the names of the recruiters or hiring teams. By taking a little time, you can personalize your greeting to boost your chances of a recruiter reading your cover letter from start to finish.

Beat out the 84% of job seekers who don’t find the hiring manager’s name to personalize their applications and go the extra mile.

How can you find the right person to address in your cover letter?

Turn to LinkedIn or the organization’s website.

On LinkedIn, you can either search for the company’s recruiter or talent acquisition team members. Or you can go to the “People” tab of their LinkedIn page to explore the current employees.

Suppose you’re looking for a job at PCL Construction and want to find the name of the recruiter who will likely be reading your cover letter. You can go to the search bar and find the recruiter managing that department by city.

With just a quick search, you’ll find the hiring team members in charge of the role you’re applying for!

A screenshot of a LinkedIn search for a recruiter

You can also go directly to a company’s website and look for the “Team” or “About Us” page for information.

Targeting a greeting to a specific person is easier to do in smaller organizations. If you’re applying for a role at a large company, you can still write an engaging but more general greeting on your cover letter, such as:

  • Dear [Department] Hiring Manager,
  • Dear [Department] Team,
  • Dear [Director of or Head of] Department,
  • Dear [Company Name] Hiring Manager,

How to write a powerful cover letter opening paragraph

Recruiters spend just seven seconds scanning a candidate’s application, so it’s critical to capture their attention in the first line.

Be concise in your cover letter and choose your words with the desired impact in mind. Avoid falling into the old traps of opening your cover letter by stating what role you’re applying for and how you found it. Remember, you have a precious few seconds to illustrate how you can help the organization fulfill its needs, so make every sentence count.

Read the examples below and ask which one will have a greater impact on employers.

Do

“I am thrilled to apply for the Research Analyst position at YouGov, where my experience in leading market research projects that boosted client engagement by 25% and my expertise in data interpretation have consistently delivered actionable insights and strategic recommendations. Using my skills in analyzing primary research data, I’m looking forward to helping your organization make data-backed decisions to drive growth and profitability in your projects.”

Don’t

“I am excited to apply for the Research Analyst position at YouGov, an esteemed global online research company well-known for its accurate data and market insights. With my background in managing market research projects, interpreting data, and delivering actionable recommendations, I believe I can contribute significantly to your team.”

The point of your cover letter isn’t just to restate your skills from your resume. You need to prove the impact of your skills and how you’ll bring that impact to the organization.

It’s not about you, it’s about the company’s needs.

a breakdown of a cover letter template

Tips for writing a strong cover letter opener

Now that you know what puzzle pieces you need to start a cover letter right, here are some tips to help wow the recruiter with its content.

1. Let your enthusiasm and passion shine through

Your resume illustrates your skills and qualifications, but your cover letter is the place to tell a story. Share what company qualities excite you, what draws you to the organization’s mission or values, and what direct experience you have with the company’s product or service.

Communicating your enthusiasm gives the recruiter an idea of how engaged and dedicated you’ll be to your performance.

Text Copied!

With over five years of hands-on experience in property management, I am deeply passionate about creating exceptional living experiences for residents. Your industry-leading services and premium standards in property management systems make me excited about the opportunity to bring my dedication and expertise to your esteemed team.

2. Mention any mutual connections

If you have a professional connection in the company or were referred to a position, name-drop that connection at the top of your cover letter. A connection can help boost your chances of getting an interview, especially if that person can act as a reference.

Give your connection a heads-up if you discovered the opportunity on your own without a referral. That way, if they’re asked about you informally by the hiring team, they’ll know to expect questions.

If you want to give your cover letter a boost with a connection, you can reach out to someone in the company before you apply. Be genuine and try to connect with someone on the team you would be working with. Ask an authentic question or reach out to discuss their experience in the company. Tell them you want to apply for an opening. But don’t try to reach out to anyone just to get a name to plug in your cover letter. It can come across as disingenuous.

Text Copied!

My interest in the Health Systems Analyst role was significantly piqued after speaking with Jane Doe, an eHealth Policy Analyst at your organization. Jane highlighted the cutting-edge technology initiatives and collaborative atmosphere within your IT department, which align perfectly with my 7 years of experience in healthcare IT, focusing on electronic health records (EHR) systems and data security.

3. Incorporate your company research

Writing a compelling cover letter requires that you do some research to show the recruiter that you’re aligned with the company’s values, mission, and culture. You need to express to the recruiter why you want to work at their specific organization.

Keep an eye on industry news and learn about the company’s latest projects. By incorporating details about what the organization is currently achieving, you position yourself as a better interview candidate over other applicants.

Text Copied!

Your recognition as an industry leader, demonstrated by winning the Best Employer Award for three consecutive years and your successful launch of the community outreach initiative, highlights [Company Name]’s dedication to both employee well-being and social responsibility. I have a track record of increasing employee satisfaction by 20% through strategic wellness programs and look forward to contributing to your continued success.

4. Highlight your most impressive achievement

A well-written resume illustrates your achievements, but your cover letter is the best vehicle to add context and tell a compelling story to show off your impact. You can directly tie it into the role you’re applying for and help the recruiter forge connections between what you have accomplished in the past to what you can achieve for the future—particularly for their company.

Text Copied!

In my previous role as a project manager at Apex Management Co, I spearheaded a comprehensive cost-reduction initiative that saved $500,000 annually by optimizing supply chain operations and renegotiating vendor contracts. This accomplishment directly relates to the efficiency and budget management skills required for the Operations Manager position at your organization, where I am eager to contribute to your mission of streamlining processes and enhancing operational efficiency.

5. Clearly state your unique value

In a sea of applicants, it can feel difficult to set yourself apart. But the truth is, no one has the same combination of experience or skills you do. The key to standing out is learning how to frame your unique value to solve a company’s problems. Expand on the key skills listed in the job description and draw on your research of the organization to explicitly spell out how you’ll benefit the team.

Text Copied!

With a unique blend of creative and technical skills, I designed a user interface for the HealthCo App that increased user engagement by 40% through user-centered design principles and rigorous usability testing. I am looking forward to bringing this expertise to your organization as a UX Designer, addressing your need for more engaging and intuitive user experiences, particularly as you expand your digital offerings.

6. Keep your cover letter short

Remember that you want the recruiter to read your cover letter from start to finish, so make sure every sentence is meaningful and cut out the fluff. There should be plenty of white space to break up the text and not overwhelm the reader.

Reference our cover letter examples for inspiration on crafting the perfect cover letter.

Let AI write your cover letter for you

Jobscan’s premium Power Edit includes a cover letter generator that harnesses the power of AI to write a customized cover letter based on your tailored resume and the job description. With one click, you’ll generate a cover letter that follows best practices.

You can use it as a framework to defeat blank page syndrome and include anecdotes, details about your mutual connections, and bits of information from your research to impress the hiring team. You can make any alterations in Power Edit and download the PDF when it’s done and ready to be attached to your tailored resume.

A screenshot of the cover letter generator in power edit

Key takeaways

Your cover letter could be the key to landing the interview. By following these essential tips on how to start a cover letter, you’ll capture the attention of the hiring team from the first sentence.

Remember these cover letter rules as you start your writing.

Do

  • Make a clear opening statement that shows passion, knowledge, and your unique value.
  • Keep your cover letter short—stick to a few concise paragraphs to make it readable.
  • Be specific and clear about what you’ll bring to the role.

Don’t

  • Stay away from humor—the tone can be difficult to read.
  • Avoid reusing the same cover letter and write a custom cover letter for each job.
  • Don’t overinflate your accomplishments or lie about connections that don’t exist.

FAQs

What to include in your contact information?


When including your contact information on a cover letter or resume, make sure to provide the following details:

Full Name: Your first and last name.
Phone Number: A number where you can be easily reached. Make sure your voicemail is professional.
Email Address: Use a professional email address, preferably one that includes your name.
Mailing Address: Include your current street address, city, state, and zip code.
LinkedIn Profile: If you have a LinkedIn profile that is up-to-date and professional, include the URL.
Professional Website or Portfolio: If applicable, include a link to your personal website or online portfolio showcasing your work.

This ensures potential employers have multiple ways to reach you and can view your professional online presence.

What is a good opening sentence for a cover letter?


A good opening sentence for a cover letter can grab the reader’s attention and introduce your purpose for writing. Here are a few examples:

For a job application: “I am excited to apply for the [Job Title] position at [Company Name], as advertised on [where you found the job posting]. With my background in [your field or relevant experience], I am eager to bring my skills and passion to your team.”
For a career change: “With a strong foundation in [current field], I am thrilled to apply for the [Job Title] role at [Company Name] to leverage my skills in [new field].”
For a specific achievement: “Having recently led a successful [project or achievement], I am enthusiastic about applying for the [Job Title] position at [Company Name] to bring my expertise in [specific skill or area] to your innovative team.”
For expressing enthusiasm: “I have long admired [Company Name]’s commitment to [specific value or mission], and I am excited to apply for the [Job Title] position to contribute to your impactful work with my experience in [relevant experience or field].”
For a networking referral: “After speaking with [Referrer’s Name], I am inspired to apply for the [Job Title] position at [Company Name] where I can utilize my skills in [specific skill or area] to further your goals.”

These starters aim to make a strong first impression by highlighting your enthusiasm, relevant skills, and connection to the company.

What should your cover letter opening contain?


Your cover letter opening should contain the following key elements:

Your Enthusiasm for the Position: Show genuine excitement and interest in the role you are applying for. This sets a positive tone and captures the reader’s attention.
Specific Mention of the Job Title and Company Name: Clearly state the position you are applying for and the name of the company. This ensures the reader knows exactly what role you are interested in.
Brief Introduction of Yourself: Include a concise introduction that highlights who you are and what you bring to the table. This can include your current role, relevant experience, or a key achievement.
Connection to the Company: Mention something specific about the company that resonates with you, such as their mission, values, recent achievements, or reputation in the industry. This demonstrates that you have researched the company and are genuinely interested in working there.
A Hook or Key Strength: Highlight a key skill or accomplishment that makes you a strong candidate for the position. This can be a significant achievement, a unique skill set, or relevant experience that sets you apart from other applicants.

Here is an example that incorporates all these elements:

“I am excited to apply for the Marketing Manager position at XYZ Company, where I can combine my passion for innovative marketing strategies with my skills in digital advertising. With over five years of experience in driving successful campaigns that increased brand awareness and sales, I am eager to bring my expertise to your dynamic team. I have long admired XYZ Company’s commitment to sustainability and innovative product development, and I am thrilled at the opportunity to contribute to your impactful work. My recent achievement in boosting social media engagement by 40% through targeted campaigns is a testament to my ability to drive results and my dedication to excellence.”

How to start a cover letter greeting?


To start a cover letter greeting effectively, follow these guidelines:

Address the Hiring Manager by Name: Whenever possible, find out the name of the hiring manager or the person responsible for hiring. Addressing the letter to a specific person shows that you have done your research and adds a personal touch.
Use a Professional Salutation: Use a formal greeting such as “Dear” followed by the person’s title (Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.) and last name. Avoid using first names or informal greetings.
When You Don’t Know the Name: If you cannot find the hiring manager’s name, use a general but professional greeting such as “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear [Department] Team.”
Avoid Outdated Phrases: Refrain from using outdated or overly formal phrases like “To Whom It May Concern.” A modern, professional greeting is more effective.

Examples:

When you know the hiring manager’s name: “Dear Ms. Smith,”
When you know the hiring manager’s title and department: “Dear Marketing Team Lead,”
When you don’t know the hiring manager’s name: “Dear Hiring Manager,”
When applying to a specific department: “Dear Marketing Team,”
Starting your cover letter with a proper greeting sets a professional tone and demonstrates your attention to detail.

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Kelsey Purcell

Kelsey is a Content Writer with a background in content creation, bouncing between industries to educate readers everywhere.

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