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Common Faux Pas You’re Making in Your Cover Letter Intro

“I really want this job and  I have the education and experience for it. How do I show that I’m a good fit? How do I make it interesting and attention-grabbing? Where do I start?”

There’s hardly a job applicant who doesn’t have those questions on their mind when writing a cover letter. It’s not easy to present yourself in the best light without sounding like you’re bragging.

The introduction is the most challenging part. It’s supposed to grab the recruiter’s attention and engage them so they will read the rest of the letter. That’s exactly what we’ll focus on: writing the perfect introduction for your cover letter. Once you get that part right, you’ll easily continue with the rest.

How NOT to start a cover letter

  • “My name is…”

Yes, you are supposed to introduce yourself in the introduction of a cover letter. However, you shouldn’t take that tip too literally.

  • “I am writing this cover letter to express my interest in the open position.”

No. Just, no.

  • “To whom it may concern”

Applicants who don’t know where to address their cover letters commonly use this phrase. It’s the wrong start. Make sure to find out who the hiring manager is, and address them personally.

  • “I’m probably the best candidate for this job because…”

You don’t know who the other candidates are. You don’t know for sure if you’re the best one. The “probably” won’t do you any good. Instead of this structure, you can write something like “I am a suitable candidate because…”

  • “In the resume I’ve enclosed, I have outlined my qualifications for the position you offer. These qualifications include…”

The cover letter is a separate job application document. It should not repeat what the resume already said, especially not in the introduction.

How to write your introduction

The first two sentences of the cover letter make a huge impact. Think of it this way: you meet a hiring manager in an elevator and they give you a chance to introduce yourself in 10 seconds. What are you going to say?

Here are the things you need to include in the introduction:

  • Hints about your experience and knowledge relevant to the job.
  • The things you accomplished in previous positions.
  • The way this company will benefit from hiring you.

Here are few examples of a proper way to include those aspects in a cover letter introduction:

  • As a graduate from the Cambridge Judge Business School with over three years of experience as a volunteer at the American Marketing Association, I believe that I am the right fit for the marketing associate position in your organization. While volunteering for the AMA, I had an opportunity to take part in the development of new advertising campaigns and I routinely took part in briefing sessions.
  • If doing everything in your power to sell a product is wrong, I don’t want to be right. The rest of the team at Walmart, where I worked for two years, felt the same way; and that’s only one of the reasons why I believe I’m the perfect fit for the position in your sales team.
  • When I graduated from NYU last May, the career counselor told me to get any job, just for the experience. I believe that was a pretty bad advice, because I was ready to make strong first steps into the business and life coaching niche.
  • Most candidates that apply for positions in startups are there for the loose dress code and free food. I love those things, too, but the factor that really attracted me to your organization was the collaborative, enthusiastic team that I would love to become part of.

As you can see, none of these examples started with “Hi, my name is Robert and I earned an MBA last June.” You need a powerful introduction, which will convince the hiring manager to give you a chance. You need a hook.

Bonus tips: How to start writing a cover letter

  • Include the right keywords. Mention the position you apply for and the skills you have. Planning, budgeting, marketing, supervising… things like that. When hiring managers get a ton of applications, they use keywords to search through the files.
  • The introduction should show you meet the requirements for this position. If you get that out of the way, they will continue reading your cover letter.
  • Brainstorm. List all the things you want to include in the intro, and then combine them into 2-3 powerful sentences. The examples above will give you an idea how to do that.

Are you ready? The start is hard, but you need to write those first words of your cover letter at one point or another.

About the Author Lisa Wheatly

Lisa Wheatly works for Top Aussie Writers in her spare time, where she creates unbiased essay service reviews. Lisa believes analytical thinking and an inquiring mind are her strongest points, and she does her best to put them to good use. Lisa is a consultant of young entrepreneurs, and she believes her knowledge of the human mind allows her to accurately assess the abilities of the young businessmen.