March 10, 2012
If you’re in the market for a new job, its time to focus on writing killer opening lines for your cover letters. Hiring employers sift through cover letters when searching for the right candidate, and you want to be one of the few who leaves an impression. Most employers will just scan the first few lines of your cover letter, and if nothing grabs them right away, it’s likely they will move on to the next application.
Your opening line should be good. It has to show the hiring employer why you are the right person for the job and also keep him or her interested. Marcy Twete, author of “You Know Everybody! A Career Girls Guide to Building a Network That Works,” claims that the opener should answer the following questions:
- What is amazing about what you’ve done recently that this company needs?
- How do you fit the role better than anyone else?
- Why are you the best fit for the company?
- Do you have the experience and the strengths this job needs? Why?
How do you cram all that into the opening sentence or two? Here are a few good examples:
Use Humor, If You’re Humorous
One cover letter that has gone viral took a humorous and narcissistic approach.
“This position is exactly the job I’m looking for! Forget all the other candidates for Aviary, I am the BEST…” It goes on to describe how awesome the applicant was at everything.
This example is pretty extreme, but the point here is to use humor to convey your individuality, sense of humor and personality while remaining professional. Remember, employers read through tons of cover letters and they tend to be a bit boring. If you can write a witty cover letter, it could increase your chances of landing an interview.
Be Confident and Straightforward
Ask A Manager presents an example of a cover letter that hooks the reader right away. It projects confidence and also piques curiosity. Now the employer will want to read on to find out why you are the best person for the job.
As soon as I saw your posting for a ____, I knew it was the perfect position for me and that I was the perfect solution for you. Let me explain further:”
Forbes No. 1 piece of advice is to put the name of a mutual contact (if you have one) into the first line to immediately set you apart from all the other applicants. It also suggests making your cover letter into a story by telling an anecdote or connecting the information in a more interesting way than just stating facts.
Be Visual: Use a Chart
Rachel Kaufman suggests opening with a chart listing the company’s job requirements on the left of the page and your matching qualifications on the right side. This can be more visually appealing than looking at blocks of paragraphs and will make the letter easier to scan. Start with what you think is the most important requirement or the one about which you feel most confident.
Whichever tactic you choose, put extra effort into making the opening lines of your cover letter a winner.