Traditional cover letter wisdom tells you to start a cover letter with something to the effect of:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to apply for the position of Marketing Manager with the Thomas Company.
We say: The days of cookie cutter cover letter intros are long gone.
Here’s the thing: Your cover letter is the best way to introduce to the hiring manager who you are, what you have to offer, and why you want the job—but you have an extremely limited amount of time to do all of those things. So, if you really want to get noticed, you’ve got to start right off the bat with something that grabs your reader’s attention.
What do we mean? Well, we won’t just tell you, we’ll show you—with 31 examples of original cover letter introductions. We don’t recommend copying and pasting them because, well, your cover letter should be unique to your stories, background, and interests, but you can most definitely use them to get inspired for your next application.
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Start With a Passion
Many companies say that they’re looking for people who not only have the skills to do the job, but who are truly passionate about what they’re spending their time on every day. If that’s what your dream company is really looking for (hint: read the job description), try an intro that shows off why you’re so excited to be part of the team.
- If truly loving data is wrong, I don’t want to be right. It seems like the rest of the team at Chartbeat feels the same way—and that’s just one of the reasons why I think I’d be the perfect next hire for your sales team.
Start With Your Love for the Company
Similarly, many companies want to hire people who already know, love, eat, and sleep their brand. And in these cases, what better to kick off your cover letter than a little flattery? Bonus points if you can tell a story—studies show that stories are up to 22 times more memorable than facts alone.
Of course, remember when you’re telling a company why you love it to be specific and genuine. Because, um, no one likes an overly crazed fangirl.
- I pretty much spent my childhood in the cheap seats at Cubs games, snacking on popcorn and cheering on the team with my grandfather. It’s that passion that’s shaped my career—from helping to establish the sports marketing major at my university to leading a college baseball team to an undefeated season as assistant coach—and what led me to apply for this position at the Chicago Cubs.
Start With an Attribute or Accomplishment
The unfortunate reality of the job hunting process is that, for any given job, you’re going to be competing with a lot of other people—presumably, a lot of other similarly qualified people. So, a great way to stand out in your cover letter is to highlight something about yourself—a character trait, an accomplishment, a really impressive skill—that’ll quickly show how you stand out among other applications.
- My last boss once told me that my phone manner could probably diffuse an international hostage situation. I’ve always had a knack for communicating with people—the easygoing and the difficult alike—and I’d love to bring that skill to the office manager position at Shutterstock.
Start With Humor or Creativity
OK, before you read any of these, we feel we have to stamp them with a big disclaimer: Do your homework before trying anything like this—learning everything you can about the company, the hiring manager, and whether or not they’ll appreciate some sass or snark. If they do, it’s a great way to make them smile (then call you). If they don’t? Well, better luck next time.
- I’m interested in the freelance writer position. But before I blow you away with all the reasons I’m going to be your next writer, I would like to tell you a little about myself: I didn’t grow hair until I was about five years old, which made everyone who crossed my stroller’s path believe me to be a boy (my name is Casey, which definitely didn’t help). Hope I got your attention. (Via @CaseCav)
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Most job openings at most companies go unadvertised—that is, they’re posted on their site, but they’re not farmed out to recruiters or posted on massive job boards. That also makes them harder to find. Thankfully, Google can do the job for you. Use these search strings to uncover matching gigs.
The market for new jobs is so competitive that most companies don’t see a need to spend a ton of money hiring third-party recruiting firms or posting their jobs to the top of big job boards just to get candidates to apply. Between internal referral programs and word-of-mouth, posting a job to the company’s “Careers” page is usually enough. To uncover those unadvertised openings, all you need is a little Google-fu. The folks at the Glassdoor Blog explain that all you need to do is cast your net over the major employee applicant tracking systems that companies use to post and manage responses to their job postings:
Do you know what an applicant tracking system is? Wikipedia defines it as “a software application that enables the electronic handling of recruitment needs.” As a jobseeker, you refer to it as the electronic blackhole that eats up resumes. Specifically, it’s the system you interact with when you apply for a job on a company careers website. One of the more popular applicant tracking systems is produced by a company called “Taleo.”
With a little help from Google, you will be able to search company websites that are using the Taleo system. In this way, you will be able to find jobs that are not posted on (insert leading job board name here) and have an edge on your competition. Let me show you how.
When it comes to cracking the hidden job market (where openings aren’t advertised), knowledge is king. That’s why Google Alerts should be part of your job-search toolkit.
What are Google Alerts?
They’re free emails Google automatically sends you whenever the search engine finds information relevant to topics you’ve told it to look for — including articles, news stories, press releases and the like.
You can use Google Alerts to monitor news about any company, nonprofit, product, person or industry relevant to your job search.
Why Google Alerts Help Job Hunters
That kind of “insider information” can give you a big advantage over your competition. You’ll learn about expansions (which means jobs to fill), business opportunities and key personnel changes long before the general public takes notice.
Think of Google Alerts as your personal electronic job search assistant who works 24/7.
Here are six ways to put Google Alerts to good use:
1. Monitor employers you’re interested in. You can use Google Alerts to get the inside scoop on what’s happening at places where you’d like to work. Then, if you decide to apply to them, you can casually drop into your cover letter, resumé or interview the news you’ve picked up.
For example, if you got a Google Alert with a story saying the company plans to expand into China and you speak fluent Mandarin, you’d mention this skill and strengthen your candidacy for a job.
Bad news can sometimes be as useful to you as good news. For instance, a Google Alert revealing that a company is facing a product liability suit might be a signal that the firm will be gearing up to hire more people for its PR or legal teams.
2. Research employers by location. You can use Google Alerts to track breaking news about employers of interest in a specific geographic area, which can be handy whether you’ll be job-searching where you live or where you plan to move.
For example, if you work in the insurance industry and hope to move to Sarasota, Fla., you might do a Google Alert for Sarasota insurance companies. You might also try search terms like “signed new lease” or “expansion” to stay up-to-date on companies in growth mode.
Ways 3-6 and the complete Forbes article