Oftentimes, the hardest part of writing is simply getting started. This is especially true for crafting cover letters. With the pressure to impress, prove yourself as a worthy candidate, and set yourself apart from other applicants, it can feel like a lot is hanging on your cover letter introduction.
What is the purpose of a cover letter?
A cover letter is a one-page document that employers often request alongside a resume. Cover letters recap your professional experience and background. It’s also your opportunity to tell employers about your passions, motivation, and enthusiasm for the position that you’re applying for.
The main goal of a cover letter is to grab the hiring manager’s attention. Chances are, they have a pile of resumes to sort through, so it’s important to take time to make your cover letter stand out. A 2021 survey from ResumeLab showed that 83% of hiring decision-makers say that a great cover letter could convince them to schedule an interview with an applicant— even if the applicant’s resume doesn’t stand out alone.
What should you include in your cover letter?
In general, a cover letter should include the following:
- Contact information: Include relevant contact information at the top of your cover letter, including your name, phone number, and email address.
- Greeting: Begin with a brief greeting to the hiring manager. If you know their name or can find it online, address them by name. If not, you can use a generic greeting such as “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To whom it may concern”.
- Introduction: We’ll talk more about the introduction below, but know that this section is where you’ll make your first impression!
- Your qualifications and experience: In the body of your cover letter, you’ll want to talk about your qualifications and experience. Be sure to cater this to the role you’re applying for. You want to really highlight qualifications that match what they are looking for in the job description.
- Your goals, passion, or motivation: It’s also important to briefly mention your goals, passions, or motivations for your line of work. This shows employers that you are enthusiastic about the work that you do and are excited to bring that gusto to their position.
- Conclusion: Wrap up your cover letter with a hopeful sentence thanking the employer for taking the time to consider your application.
- Closing and signature: End your cover letter with a professional closing such as “Sincerely,” and your name. If submitting a hard copy, leave room for your signature.
How to write a cover letter introduction
Fortunately, there’s no one right way to approach a cover letter introduction. While you should be sure to include the information that we mentioned above, they are an opportunity to let your personality shine.
Hiring managers and recruiters can spot a pre-written cover letter a mile away, so stay away from templates where you simply fill in the blank. Instead, take time to craft a custom letter for the position that you are applying for.
1. Share your passion.
Do you have a burning passion for the work that you do? Showcase that right off the bat in your introduction. This is a great option if you don’t have a lot of job experience, as it gives you an opportunity to show enthusiasm for what you can accomplish rather than what you’ve already done.
“As a child, well-meaning adults would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. My answer changed every time, but I soon found a common denominator in my answers— I wanted to help people. As a nurse, this passion to help people fuels me every day. It has driven me to create a student health clinic at my university, volunteer weekly at my local children’s hospital, and pursue two extra-curricular research projects as an undergrad.”
2. Showcase your humor or creativity.
This option may not be for all careers or positions, but if the role you’re applying for calls for creativity or a good sense of humor (such as a content writer or social media marketing manager), showcase your skills in your cover letter introduction. Tell a story or share an anecdote that demonstrates your creative flare.
“Organizational skills? Check. My spreadsheets have spreadsheets. An eye for detail? Check. I once noticed a missing Oxford comma on a museum display while a T-rex was ominously standing over me. Humor and creativity? Check. In fourth grade, I wrote and directed a Christmas play that made Great Uncle Calvin laugh— and he doesn’t laugh. Ever.”
3. Highlight a major accomplishment.
While you’ll cover the basics in your resume, you may not have room to hit on all of your major accomplishments. If you have some quantifiable achievements to share, you can use them to hook the recruiter in your cover letter.
“As a content creator, I strive to put the questions of our audience first. This belief has led me to grow our audience 250% over the past two years and produce three viral videos that resulted in $105k in sales. I believe that I can do this— and more— as the Associate Content Creator for Company ABC.”
4. Make a personal connection with a mutual contact.
If a former colleague or friend that works at the company referred you to this job, mentioning them in the cover letter can be a great way to make an instant connection.
“I’m thrilled to apply to be the Marketing Manager at Company ABC. My former colleague, James Smith, recommended the position to me and felt that I could be a great addition to your marketing team.”
5. Share your guiding principles and beliefs.
Do you have a personal code that guides you in your career? A belief statement can give employers insight into what drives you day-to-day. Be sure that these principles are your own and not a rip-off of their own mission statement or core values.
“In my ten years in retail manager roles, I have used the following guiding principle in my day-to-day life: make customers happy by putting employees first. When my employees are at their best, we are able to serve customers with positivity and enthusiasm. I believe that Company ABC could benefit from my managerial style.”
6. Show you’ve done your research and why you love the company.
Recruiters and hiring managers love when job candidates have done their research on the company. It shows that you’ve taken initiative, are eager to be a part of their team, and care about what the company does.
“I was thrilled to learn about this open position at Company ABC, as I’ve been following (and using) the MyHelper app since 2013. I am especially excited about the upcoming launch of your newest product— both as a user and because I believe that I could be a valuable addition to your team as you prepare to take it to market.”
Tips for crafting a strong cover letter
Keep the following points in mind when writing your cover letter.
1. Write (or at least edit) your cover letter for each job that you apply to.
If you’re applying for multiple jobs, don’t submit the exact cover letter for each job. Generic cover letters are easy to spot. Take the time to customize each letter. This will show recruiters that you’ve done your research, are passionate about their company, and really want this job— not just any job.
2. Don’t restate what’s on your resume.
There’s no sense in filling up valuable space in your cover letter with what’s already on your resume. Instead, use the space to connect dots, emphasize your value, and convey enthusiasm for the position.
3. Don’t apologize for skills that you don’t have.
Don’t draw attention to skills that you are lacking. Use any shortcomings as an opportunity to convey positive attributes. For example, don’t say you aren’t familiar with the software that the company uses. Instead, you can describe how you are a quick learner that is excited to learn their processes.
Finding the right job
Writing a cover letter introduction can be hard, but applying to a job you’re passionate about can make the task a little easier.
Here at JobSage, we’re setting out to build an employer review site around things that matter most to jobseekers— inclusion, growth, purpose, feedback, flexibility, and compensation. We want to help you find the right employer by getting answers to the questions you care about. Join JobSage for guidance in your job search or to leave a review for your current employer to create a more open, transparent conversation in and around the workplace.