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How to Start a Cover Letter: Suggestions & Examples

How to start a cover letter

Hiring managers have to sift through hundreds of CVs and cover letters every day. After a while, they can all start to look the same.

If you want your cover letter to stand out from the crowd, you need to make it unique and interesting. If you're not sure how to achieve this, read on for some useful tips from the recruitment experts here at HRS.

What's the purpose of a cover letter?

A cover letter tells potential employers more about your personality.

Your CV might be packed with qualifications and relevant experience, but it probably won't contain many clues as to your character. That's where a good cover letter comes in - it gives employers a taste of what you're like as a person.

'Well,' you might say, 'if they want to get to know me, why not just invite me in for an interview?' But remember, a single vacancy can attract hundreds of job applications, and interviewing every single qualified applicant just isn't practical. Cover letters help employers to narrow down the list of suitable candidates and decide which individuals are worth meeting in person.

An impressive CV can go a long way to getting you an interview. But an attention-grabbing cover letter is often what seals the deal.


How to begin a cover letter

As any professional author will tell you, the hardest part of writing is getting started. This applies whether you're writing an epic fantasy novel or a cover letter for a job application.

Ideally, the opening line of your cover letter should grab the reader's attention and leave a lasting impression. It should immediately give the reader a feel for your personality - but at the same time, it's important not to come across as arrogant or gimmicky.

If you've got a touch of writer's block and you're not sure how to make a good first impression, here are some tips and examples to help you start your cover letter on a high note...


Don't waffle - get straight to the point.

Get your message across in as few words as possible.

For example, this is good: "I relish new challenges and I would love an opportunity to prove myself to one of the industry's top employers."

Whereas this isn't so good: "I understand that, as one of the leading lights in this industry, you have very high standards for your employees. Being an ambitious worker with years of experience, I am confident that I am ready to take on this role and the challenges that will come with it."


Show your enthusiasm.

Employers like to hire people who seem genuinely excited about working for them. When drafting your cover letter, make it clear that you're not just applying for this job because it pays more than stacking shelves - you're applying because it's relevant to your interests.

Example: "I've been passionate about this industry for as long as I can remember, and I'd love an opportunity to show you what I can bring to the role."


Mention your personal connection to the company.

Obviously this isn't always an option, but if you do have a pre-existing connection then it's worth mentioning this in your cover letter.

Example: "I'm a friend of Jane Smith, who was been part of your team for the last five years. She advised me to contact you about this role because she thinks I'd be a great fit."

Don't have a friend at the company? How about: "When I was sixteen, I did two weeks of work experience at your Leicester office - even at that age, I knew that this was the right career for me."

Or even: "I read an article about your company several years ago, and I remember saying at the time that it sounded like just the kind of organisation I'd like to work for."


Be sure to include relevant keywords.

Re-read the job description and make sure your opening paragraph touches on all the key requirements.

For instance, if the job ad states that the successful candidate will be expected to meet strict deadlines and present their work to stakeholders, you might want to say something like: "During my time at [current company], I've developed strong presentation skills and never missed a deadline."

This demonstrates that you've taken a specific interest in this role and that you're a good fit for it.

What about the rest of my cover letter?

The rest of your cover letter should allow your personality to shine through while continuing to follow the rules listed above. So be yourself, but remember to also stay on topic, be concise, and keep the focus on your enthusiasm and suitability for the job in question.

You can use the body of your cover letter to explain more details about your qualifications, share insights into your hobbies and interests, and show the hiring manager exactly why you're a great fit for the role. Check out our CV and cover letter checklists if you need more advice.

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