Are you fond of using cliches like “My name is…”, “I’m writing to apply…” or “I’m the perfect fit?” That’s not how to start a cover letter. These overused expressions won’t help your cover letter stand out.
They lack the punch and individuality that hiring managers are looking for. So instead of saying you’re the perfect fit, why don’t you describe “why” you are the perfect fit?
If a person in the company recommended that you apply, you could mention that person’s name. It’s better than saying, “I’m writing to apply…”.
That’s the purpose of this guide; we’ll show you a step-by-step process to start a cover letter that will land you an interview.
Table of Contents
What is the Purpose of a Cover Letter?
The cover letter is your opportunity to sell yourself to a potential employer by:
- detailing your professional achievements,
- why you are the ideal fit for the position, and
- what you can bring to the table beyond your technical expertise.
Make sure to get to the point quickly and clearly, outlining who you are and how you would significantly benefit the company.
Think of cover letters as effective marketing tools; you are the product being marketed.
In the following sections, we’ll show you how to start a cover letter by going through each section.
How to Start a Cover Letter: Formatting the Header
When done right, the header can prove to the hiring manager that you’ve done your research. This is particularly true especially when you tailor the letter to a specific person you’re applying to.
You can personalize your header by searching for the recruiting manager’s name and position in the company.
Most cover letter headers are centered in the top left corner. Also, you can create a unique cover letter header that fills the entire top of the page.
How to Write a Cover Letter Header Format
The header has three sections: your personal information, contact information, and the date of writing. Let’s go through each of them.
Add Your Personal Information
You must include the following details:
- Your full name (add your professional title, if applicable)
- Phone number
- Professional email address
Sometimes, you can add your social media profiles like Medium, LinkedIn, and personal websites. However, make sure that it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. If not, it’s best to leave it out.
Include the Contact information
Skip a line by pressing “Enter” on your keyboard and add the recruiting manager’s contact details. It can be challenging to get the recruiter’s information. But don’t worry, you can usually find it in a job listing.
To find out more about a company without filling out a job application, you can check their website’s “About Us” section. You can also check their LinkedIn profile.
Related: Do I Need a LinkedIn Profile: Pros and Cons
You should include the following three things in the contact information section:
- The recruiter’s name
- Job position
- Company name
If you can’t find the information, you can skip it and address it to the “hiring manager.”
Here are some cover letter header examples:
November 18, 2020
Human Resource Director
200 Purple Street, Suite 540
MentionTown, IL 94231
Cover Letter Greeting: How to Address the Hiring Manager
The cover letter greeting is crucial, so don’t overlook it and put a generic greeting there. It may cost you an interview. The salutation is a chance to show that you care about the job and the company.
It also shows that you’ve done some research by, for example, using the hiring manager’s full name. Sometimes, some job ads include the name of the person who will manage the application process.
But you may not be that lucky. So it’s always good to prepare. So let’s find out how to start a cover letter by writing a good cover letter greeting.
When You Know the Recruiter’s Name
Using the recruiter’s full name after “Hello” or “Dear” is the simple and effective way to go. This helps to avoid misgendering someone. However, if you use these salutations, always use their first name.
If the hiring manager has a title like “Professor” or “Dr.” you can also include that in your greeting.
Uses titles such as “Mr.” or “Ms.” followed by their last name if you know the person’s gender. Remember that there’s a difference between “Ms.” and “Mrs.” Use the “Mrs” if you’re sure that the person is married. If you don’t, stick with the “Ms.”
Remember to place the comma after the name, not before it.
Below are some cover letter greeting examples:
- Dear Jonathan,
- Dear Mark,
- Dear Dr. Franklin
- Hello Mrs. Stuart,
- Hello Mr. Sanchez,
- Dear Ms. Watson
- Hello Tom Brown
When You Don’t Know the Recruiter’s Name
You can still write a good cover letter greeting if you can’t find the recruiter’s name. Here’s how to start a cover letter without a name. First, tailor your greeting to the job position by including relevant details like the job title and department.
- Dear Sales Manager,
- Dear Client Service Manager,
If you can’t find these details as well, use generic salutations like:
- Dear Human Resource Manager,
- Dear Hiring Manager,
Avoid using cover letter greetings like “To Whom It May Concern” and “Dear Sir or Madam.” It’s outdated and not well-received in the job market today. But there’s a specific time you can use it if you don’t know the recruiter’s name.
Check out this guide to learn more: To Whom It May Concern: When And How To Use
Do Your Research Before Using Generic Greetings
Before you start using general greetings, do your research to find the recruiting manager’s name. You can also use social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter to find out who is hiring.
Incorporating the hiring manager’s name into your cover letter shows your initiative and desire to make a good impression.
How to Impress the Hiring Manager With Opening Sentences
Strategies and examples of how to start a cover letter vary depending on the industry. But there are universal tips that you can use in any cover letter. For example, addressing a cover letter opening could determine your success in landing an interview.
Below are some essential tips on how to start your opening sentence.
1. Show How Enthusiastic You Are About The Role
Prospective employers highly prize people who are passionate about their work. That’s why expressing your excitement for the position you’re applying for is a must in your cover letter.
They are looking for evidence that your interests and the job’s responsibilities are a good fit.
An employee that commits to their work is more likely to:
- excel at it,
- remain with the organization for longer, and
- increase their dedication to the organization for a long time.
The first paragraph of your cover letter is the perfect place to convey your passion. Then, you should explain why this job appeals to you and how it will help you advance your career.
I value the opportunity to assist dentists in bettering the lives of their patients.
2. Impress the Hiring Managers with Your Achievements
Successful cover letters highlight the applicant’s relevant experience and skills. To show that you know what you’re talking about and have real-world experience, lead with a professional accomplishment at the beginning of your cover letter.
Link your past achievements and future goals by explaining how your experience will benefit your new employer.
When applying for a job, it’s essential to be as honest as possible about your experience and qualifications.
I have over ten years of experience as a qualified dental assistant working with dentists and hygienists. I have mastered the four-handed dental technique in my current position at X Dental.
3. Mention a Relevant Contact
Did someone refer you to the job position? The first paragraph is the best place to mention the person who introduced you to the job.
Given the importance of referrals in getting an interview, it’s wise to highlight them in your cover letter. And that’s because you won’t get to include them in your resume.
If a mutual connection between you and the recruiting manager vouches for you, your resume will be taken more seriously.
Rosemary Dale, my former coworker, suggested I contact you to show my interest in the dental assistant position at Company X.
4. Show the Organization What You Can Bring on Board
A potential employer will want proof that you can add value to their organization. Therefore, in the first few lines of your cover letter, emphasize a problem you know you can solve for the employer.
You can also include your most marketable hard or soft skills and what they can do for the company.
In accordance with the job description on your website, I also possess the following abilities and credentials:
– 8-year experience developing dental x-rays
– knowledge of infection prevention, including how to clean and sterilize tools and equipment
– attention to detail
– understanding of a variety of scheduling applications
– excellent customer service skills
5. Be as Direct as Possible
It’s bad practice to beat around the bush. It gets you nowhere. When beginning your cover letter, be direct regarding the position you’re applying for and the qualifications you bring on board.
It’s helpful for recruiters to know upfront the position you are applying for and why you are an excellent fit for that role.
That’s because they receive hundreds of applications daily, sometimes even for various positions within the same department. So delaying their time will only get your letter overlooked.
Above all, I care about people. I value the opportunity to assist dentists in bettering the lives of their patients. I believe that my skills will bring immense value to your company.
Related: How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?
How to Start a Cover Letter Examples: Concluding Your Letter
There’s an excellent way to end your cover letter. At the end of your cover letter, you should write a paragraph that briefly restates your interest in and qualifications for the position. Don’t drag out the conclusion of your cover letter.
Instead, keep it short and sweet and express your eagerness for the company to contact you about the following stages. Then, sign off at the final signature.
The end of your cover letter should:
- Show confidence
- Be passionate
- Link your work experiences, achievements, and skills to the role.
- Clarify your expectations and skills
And don’t forget to say “thank you.”
Check out this guide to learn more about ending cover letters: How to End a Cover Letter in 2022 + Examples.