How Do I Begin a Cover Letter?

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Getting started, particularly if it’s the opening for a cover letter, can be tough. Here are five ways to start a cover letter in an engaging manner.

1. Use a network contact.

Example: Bob Cratchet, your regional vice president and my next-door neighbor, suggested I apply for (name of position).

2. Use information found on the company’s website.

Example: I recently read on your website that you are a community of scholars and practitioners that values collaboration and interdisciplinary thinking. I share your values and would like to be considered for the position.

3. Use research you’ve done on the company.

Example: I’ve been researching the telecommunications industry, and IBEX keeps coming up as a respected company that is on the cutting edge of technology.

4. Use your measurable accomplishments.

Example: I have three years of experience in (field) and have been able to (measurable accomplishment) for my (name of current employer). I would like to bring my expertise to your recently advertised position of (name of position).

5. Use information found in the job description.

Example: Because your ideal candidate needs to have two years of related experience, the ability to perform detailed record-keeping in Excel, and to work well under time constraints, you will be interested in my background.

Using a network contact is probably the most effective, but if you don’t have one, you can still write an effective cover letter–just choose from examples 2-5. Don’t worry if your first paragraph is short. It’s supposed to be. Remember the recipe for the introduction calls for only three things: engage your audience, state what position you’re applying for, and tell where you found out about the position. Getting started can be difficult, but using one of these ideas will help get you out of the dark.

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