Starting is the hardest part. That’s one problem with writing a cover letter. Starting. There is another—recruiters are easily annoyed, bored, and they’ve seen it all. The second problem is why it’s of utmost importance to have a strong cover letter introduction.
The first problem is why we are here. To show you the way, and let you know that it’s not as daunting as it seems to be right now. In about one-and-a-half cups of coffee, you will breathe a sigh of relief. Take a deep breath.
This article will show you how to start a cover letter. You will also see a cover letter opening examples and get tips that will help you make your own introduction wow the recruiter.
Use the LiveCareer cover letter builder and your cover letter will write itself. Choose a professional template, answer a few easy questions and the creator will generate a professional cover letter for you with just one click.
Sample cover letter opening
36 Withers Close
1 Main Street
29th April 2020
What differs me from other candidates for the School Counsellor position, is my proven expertise in improving student outcomes with meditation. In my previous school, I was able to help 4500+ students over 5 years, which correlated with a 35% decrease in fights, an increase from 65% to 81% in GCSE passing grades, and helped our school move from “Requires Improvement” to a “Good” Ofsted rating. With this experience, I am ready to give Greenvale students the tools they need to find calm in an inner-city area, and fulfil their potential.
Holding a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Leeds and Master’s in Therapy from Lancaster, I took up a position at Minster College. In 5 years, I was able to coordinate with 2 other School Counsellors to provide support for over 4500 students. Minster College was seen as a problem in the community, with a minimum of 10 weekly shoplifting reports from surrounding shops, constant disruptions and fights on the school buses, in addition to the problems and low attainment I referred to in the introduction. A difficult home situation is something that is often seen as out of our reach, and we relegate ourselves to only dealing with the symptoms, but through consistent outreach, as well as introducing meditation programs and classes for students that teach them the techniques to take home, not only force them to do it, we were able to reduce the shoplifting to a single report every few weeks, almost zero complaints from bus companies, and our attainment rose as described in the introduction.
I believe my 5+ years of experience in providing help to high-risk children and young adults at Minster College equip me perfectly for an inner-city school like Greenvale, and I am confident I will be able to transfer the same skills to get the same results at your school.
When could you find some time for me to tell you how I managed to get the parents of high-risk kids to introduce meditation in their homes?
This is an attention grabber right away. The function of the cover letter is to let the employer know what makes you different from everyone else. Not everybody answers this question, many just regurgitate facts from their CV. Here, we answer it precisely. Let’s go step by step again.
1. Start a cover letter with a bang
“A good film should start with an earthquake, and be followed by rising tension.”—once said Alfred Hitchcock. Your cover letter opening perhaps won’t knock somebody off their chair (or will it?), but it should definitely get them to the edge of their seat.
It is conventionally agreed that you should identify the position you are applying to within the opening of a cover letter. But the recruiter already knows what the role is. Instead, you can begin your cover letter with sentences such as:
- What differs me from the other candidates…
- What makes me stand out from the other candidates…
- What makes me unlike the other candidates...
Use powerful language when describing your main selling point, such as:
- Proven expertise in…
- Spotless track record in…
- Deep know-how
- Expert knowledge
- Ability to make improvements in…
Think hard about what is your biggest achievement. Think hard about what really makes you stand out from other candidates. If both are the same thing, you’re in luck. If not, you may have to pick.
How to open a cover letter like a pro
What differs me from other candidates for the School Counsellor position, is my proven expertise in improving student outcomes with meditation.
You can adjust every cover letter created in the builder to meet the job requirements. Choose the name of your profession and the company to which you’re applying, and the builder will automatically adapt the content for you. Create a cover letter faster than you ever thought possible and apply for the job in record time.
2. Include quantifiable achievements
Next, move straight into proving that you actually know what you are talking about, and the kind of results you can produce for them. That will have any employer salivating, no matter your industry.
Here’s the formula:
[In my previous position/In my previous job/at Company X], I was managed to [briefly describe the improvement/innovation/achievement you made] which resulted in [describe how your actions positively impacted the outcome of the company, with at least 1 statistic], and allowed the [company/organisation] to [describe how your achievement allowed the company to achieve something at a macro level].
And here’s the theory put into practice:
Opening a cover letter sample
In my previous school, I was able to help 1500+ students over 5 years, which correlated with a 35% decrease in fights, an increase from 65% to 81% in GCSE passing grades, and helped our school move from ‘Requires Improvement’ to a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating.
Notice how the example weaves in the fact that the candidate has 5 years of experience. Then, it moves into stats. Stats are your best friend—they allow your potential employer the kind of impact you can produce for them.
3. Show how you can help the employer
The third sentence of your cover letter opening should tell the prospective employer specifically what kind of result you can create for them. Here’s how. First pick your starter:
- With this experience/expertise,
- With all this and more under my belt,
- With those skills,
- Having learned so much in that position,
Personally, “with all this and more under my belt” is my favourite, as it entices the reader to keep reading to find out what more you have got under your belt. Next, pick a confidence-projector.
- I am ready to...
- I know I can...
- I will...
Here’s the formula:
[With all this and more under my belt], [I am ready to] [describe specifically what you’ll do for the employer, solve their biggest problem] at [employer name].
Check the example:
Starting a cover letter example
With this experience, I am ready to give Greenvale students the tools they need to find calm in an inner-city area, and fulfil their potential.
You tell them exactly what benefit you will bring to them over other candidates. You weave in just one word to show that you know what employer you are applying to (“Greenvale”), and this way you personalise your cover letter.
You don’t have to create any content yourself. The LiveCareer cover letter maker will automatically suggest the best content for your cover letter with ready-made examples and expert tips.
4. Choose a professional cover letter salutation
Alright, we skipped a little something. Something that most people don’t give a thought to anyway. The salutation. Go back just before your captivating cover letter introduction, and make sure it is NOT one of these:
- Dear Sir / Madam
- To Whom It May Concern
These are lazy. They may not get your cover letter thrown in the bin, but there’s a way to score extra points. Find out the name of the hiring manager or other person that will be dealing with your application, and use whichever is the most appropriate:
Starting a cover letter with a proper salutation
- Dear [First Name] — for most workplaces.
- Dear [Mr./Mrs.] [Surname] — for more traditional, old-fashioned, or hierarchical industries.
- Dear [Dr./Professor] [Surname] — for academic and other relevant positions. Make sure you get the title right.
These show you put in the extra research, and that you are attentive. Scour the job ad for the contact details, and if it’s not there, the company website, LinkedIn, or pick up the phone.
5. Format your cover letter header
Let’s work one step back again. I’m sure you know how to address your letter, but here’s just a quick checklist to make sure you got it right:
Addressing a cover letter
[Your Full Name]
[Your Job Title] (Optional)
[LinkedIn Profile] (Optional)
[Portfolio / Website Link] (Optional
[City and Date]
[Hiring Manager’s Full Name]
[Hiring Manager’s Position]
[Company Street Address]
[City and Postcode]
Voila! And now you know how to start a cover letter!
A cover letter alone simply won’t be enough—you need an impactful CV, too. Create your CV in minutes. Choose a professional CV template and quickly fill in every CV section using ready-made content and expert advice.
Did we clue you up on how to start a cover letter? Do you have more questions about the cover letter opening? Let us know in a comment!