As a networking speaker and networking coach, my clients often ask me to review their cover letter.
Whether YOU are a professional considering your next career step, changing to a new area, in an insular or foreign environment, or you simply want a better LinkedIn profile – your cover letter is one of your most powerful tools to steer your prospective employer’s perception of you.
Writing an effective and compelling cover letter is difficult. The first few words can catch the reader or lose them. So I’ll focus here.
How to best start a cover letter is a sticking point for many people. I personally avoid cold cover letters like the plague because I find them soul-destroying to do.
4 reasons why:
- It puts all your eggs in that basket if that is your only channel in
- There is no one-size-fits all cover letter. Unless you know the reader, often it is “spray and pray”
- It takes forever to write
If you are not great at writing cover letters, you risk sabotaging yourself
There are far more effective tactics than this to get in, in my experience. As we talk about throughout the program, building relationships and then using those to get in is just one tactic that is far superior and effective.
Still, sometimes there seems no other way (if everyone’s on holiday, for example).
Here are 5 quick ideas:
[I will pretend that you are entering a technical or conservative field.]
1. Start with “Like you,…”
The most powerful word when promoting yourself is YOU. Starting the cover letter with “Like you,…” is highly unusual and grabs the reader, especially in technical and conservative fields.
- Like you, as a health tech expert I have seen the word health re-defined recently.
PRO TIP: Add a question after the first sentence:
- Like you, as a health tech expert I have seen the word health re-defined recently. Is it wellness? Number of medical products sold? Or, is there a different story?
2. Label yourself in the first 10 words (ideally the first 5-7 words).
Prospects scan quickly to see if you are RELEVANT. They need to know your expertise upfront and you have 2 seconds to position yourself. Put “_______ expert” in the first 10 words of your bio.
Visualise their conversation with others:
Q. “So, who is Ann?”
A. “Ann is a _________ expert.”
- As a neurotransmitter expert,…
- As a networking speaker and networking coach, my clients often ask me to review their cover letters.
- As an analytical project manager, I excel at extracting data to understand where we should focus in our business.
PRO TIP: Add your accomplishments upfront too.
- As an event coordinator for Company X, I ensure seamless communication and marketing between all involved parties. By implementing new social media marketing tactics in the past year, I have doubled our attendance.
3. Differentiate yourself from the competition
- Unlike many other project managers, I ensure all parties know who is responsible for what, and when each component is due. I do this using my own system that I’ve used for 10+ years, because it works. At any time, I can see the status of all activities. This ensures every event is on time and on budget, plus we clearly see when we’ve succeeded, and what needs to be developed next time.
- Unlike many event organisers, I show you exactly what to do and how to do it, what to say and when to say it. With 10+ years in research, and — importantly — real-life innovation business experience, my view is radically different. I appreciate that…
- “10+” and “—“ catch the eye
- “innovation” is a keyword
- “radically” catches the eye. That alone might get you called to interview.
- “plus” feels like you get more than “and”
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Use the tracker to record the entire process for each job, such as which opening lines you use, the response, what to do next.
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4. Try the word “fusion”
This is a great way to bridge a transition between fields, countries or cultures, or you don’t have much track record for the role you are applying for. It differentiates you, framed to benefit the audience. (Nifty!)
- My fusion of Mediterranean friendliness and structured analysis ensures useful AND memorable events because they are inclusive.
- My fusion of Mediterranean background and analytical thinking connects all parties involved in the event with friendly, clear communication while everyone knows what they need to do and who is responsible for what.
Capitalise and italicise words where you want to draw the eye. Use only once or so.
5. Meet their needs upfront. Keywords!
Mirror the exact phrasing in the ad/email.
- Multi-departmental collaboration for innovation events is what I do best.
- Written and verbal communication are two of my strongest areas of expertise. In my 5+ years of experience in coordinating teams and EU meetings, I have perfected my skills in multidisciplinary relations, collaboration, and leading a team. These skills combined makes me the best candidate for your Senior Coordinator.
To help you even more, I have designed these opening lines so that you can also use them for:
- your LinkedIn Profile (there are at least 4 excellent places to put them)
- personal introductions
- over the phone
This is also a great way to see how people respond “live”. Test them fast, don’t over-think. Test them verbally when you speak to people and answer the question “What do you do?”. You will see quickly what works for you. This is a great way to get back into job searching after a break.
These are just a few options to inspire you now – I help you choose ones that work for you specifically.
Do you have a simple, effective system to track your contacts and job search?
This is the exact system I use to track ALL of my contacts and work-finding with all employers and clients, pharma companies, universities, NGOs.
It is an excellent resource that you still refer to years after the last contact, which gives you a massive competitive advantage.It is very systematic and simple. I have used it for 10+ years with the same structure.
I give it to you for free, because I promise it will help you. Get this simple tracker here.
Would you like to put an end to ineffective LinkedIn profiles, resumes and networking?Please share this post with those who may benefit. They’ll thank you because YOU are useful and informative.
Dr. Mary-Rose Hoja helps professionals successfully promote and position themselves, especially to take their next career step. More information plus useful and informative tips await you at www.maryrosehoja.com.
How to Start a Cover Letter With Examples and Tips
What's the best way to start a cover letter for a job? The first sentence or two of your cover letter are the most important ones. Recruiters and hiring managers might spend mere seconds scanning your application. To make your cover letter stand out, you need to grab their attention right away.
What should these all-important first sentences say? Keep in mind that you’re hoping to differentiate yourself from the competition.
That might mean highlighting a contact, providing a quick window into your relevant background and experience, and/or emphasizing a significant accomplishment.
Think about why the hiring manager why he or she should select you, above all other candidates, for an interview, and you’ll be on the right track.
How to Start a Cover Letter
Be direct. In these opening sentences, you want to explicitly let the reader know which position you're applying for. For example:
"I am interested in the Coordinator position at ABC company."
Mention a contact. If someone referred you to the position, include that information as well. For example:
"Jane Doe let me know about the job, and suggested I apply for the position."
State an accomplishment. Try to state an accomplishment from your previous job. If you can, show how you added value to the previous company you worked for. You might even add the job title you had if it is similar to the one you are applying for.
Express excitement. Convey your passion for your work, and your excitement about the job and company. Your cover letter is an opportunity to sell yourself to the hiring manager, and to share why you're well qualified for the job. For example:
"I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss what I have to bring to the position at ABC company."
Use keywords. If you can include any keywords from the job listing, do so. For example, you might mention a skill you have that was included in the listing. Don't overdo it though. You want your letter to read naturally, not appear like it's stuffed with keywords.
Personalize Your Cover Letter
When you're not sure how to get started, review these examples of cover letter openings, but be sure to tailor your introduction to your personal circumstances and the job for which you are applying.
The more you personalize your cover letter to show that you're a match for the job requirements, the better your chances of getting selected for an interview.
Cover Letter Opening Sentence Examples
- As an Information Technology professional with high-level management experience in the IT industry, I learned that the best way to achieve success was to motivate the resources I had with well-defined objectives and empowerment.
- I am very interested in the entry-level position that is available at ABC Investment Partners. I recently graduated from XYZ University College and my courses in investments, finance, and business have given me a solid base upon which I plan to build to build my career.
- I am writing to express my strong interest in the International Marketing position open at WellCam, Inc. My colleague Janna Doling recommended that I contact you directly about this position, due to my years developing successful campaigns for XYZ Company.
- I'm writing to express my interest in the Editorial Assistant position listed on Monster.com. Given my five years of editorial experience and excellent capabilities, I would appreciate your consideration for this position.
- I have a very strong interest in pursuing a teaching career. With experience working at both the elementary and high school levels, as well as in activities outside of the traditional classroom, I have a diverse background with much to offer.
- I have the pleasure of being acquainted with one of the Counselors on your staff, Eleanor Seville. She let me know about the open position and recommended that I contact you.
- I was excited to read about the Administrative Assistant job opening at XYZ company. I have several years of administrative experience in a variety of fields including insurance and finance.
- It is my understanding that you have been deluged with resumes since Computer World released their list of the best companies at which to work. Mine is one more, but I do have experience that is hard to come by.
- My proven track record of successfully performing complex analyses on various corporations makes me an ideal candidate for the Analyst opportunity that you have advertised
What to Write In the Rest of Your Cover Letter
Here are more examples of each section, plus samples of complete cover letters.
Read More:Top 10 Cover Letter Writing Tips | What to Include in a Cover Letter | Email Cover Letters