October 21, 2017
As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a great first impression. While we’re pretty sure our mom was more concerned keeping her children from embarrassing her in front of friends when she doled out this sage advice to us as youngsters, the saying is more than applicable when it comes to the search for your new career-making job position.
With the advent of online job applications and recruiter submissions for vacant listings, the professional cover letter is fast becoming a lost art. While overlooked by many applicants, starting off on a great foot with a killer introduction to your skills and experience can go a long way in pitching yourself as the best candidate for the position. We’ve dedicated other articles to the skills needed in crafting a cover letter as a whole but pitching yourself in the very first lines can often be an art in itself. Job-seekers should buckle up; we’re about to take you on a wild ride into the world of good, great and absolutely fabulous opening lines for your next cover letter submission.
The Case for Short and Sweet
Recruiters, hiring managers and other employment professionals are often strapped for time. Juggling multiple deadlines for individual work projects along with interviewing for that open position, one of the most valuable traits a candidate can pitch to a prospective employer is a quick and concise overview of why they’ll be a good fit for the available role.
Job-seekers should use this knowledge to craft a brief and concise opening pitch that spells out the who’s, how’s and why’s of their application. Avoid excessive wordiness or long and elaborate tales of your job history. Employers want to know what you have to offer and why you would be a great fit in a single sentence. And by sentence, we don’t mean one of those paragraph-long monstrosities that Ms. Periwinkle warned you about way back in sixth grade. One to two lines is all you should need to make your case.
Now that we’ve talked about length and format, it’s time to nail down the content requirements. When it comes to awesome opening lines on your cover letter, there are a few solid approaches to consider.
First off is what we like to call the “candidate capsule” approach. In this form of opening, a candidate will include a quick snapshot of their career, qualifications or overall job skills. If you’re an avid book or newspaper reader, consider this as the headline synopsis of your resume. “Experienced candidate with xyz certifications” is an example of a perfectly acceptable, concise and forward approach. Other ideas along these lines include: “X years of experience in the abc field,” or “candidate with a proven track record in y fundamentals.”
If you’re short on experience, or simply looking for an alternative way to open and pitch your candidacy, the “why I’m interested” line is also a viable alternative for opening your cover letter. In one sentence, pitch to the prospective employer what interests you about the position, company, pr job description. This approach will queue in hiring managers that you’ve read the job description and performed the necessary due diligence on the role and company. As a concrete example, open with a statement such as: “Candidate interested in the leadership, managerial and innovation skills the xyz position will build.” Candidates could also highlight individual qualifications or job duties as potential reasons for their interest in the position.
Make them want to Hear More
Whether you open with one of the above, or your own personally-developed approach, your opening line should grab the attention of the recruiter or hiring manager. Avoiding generic or throwaway statements along the lines of “my name is” will be crucial to keep those in decision-making positions interested in what you have to say.
Candidates looking for a leg up shouldn’t shy away from attention-grabbing tactics such as utilizing a bit of professional humor or inserting key industry catchphrases in order to gain the upper hand over other qualified candidates. The trick is to set your cover letter, resume and overall candidacy apart from the competition while still appearing qualified for the individual job listing, whichever individual track you decide to take.
Article Updated from the Original on October 21, 2017