As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a great first impression. Sure, your mom had her own motives when she doled out this sage advice. But the saying is more than applicable when it comes to your cover letter opening line.
Still, the professional cover letter is fast becoming a lost art.
In fact, the cover letter is now largely overlooked by many applicants. Which means they aren’t leveraging a killer cover letter opening line to introduce their skills and experience. Too bad, because one sentence 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. So buckle up. We’re about to take you on a wild ride. A ride into the world of good, great and absolutely fabulous world of the cover letter opening line…
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. Specifically, one 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 also to know what you have to offer. And they want to know why you would make a great fit. All 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. A one to two line cover letter opening 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 cover letter opening lines, 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…”
- “Candidate with a proven track record in xyz fundamentals.”
Maybe 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. It also shows you’ve 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
Open with one of the examples above. Or your own personally-developed approach. Either way, your opening line should grab the attention of the recruiter or hiring manager. So candidates looking for a leg up shouldn’t shy away from attention-grabbing tactics. Things such as utilizing a bit of professional humor . Or inserting key industry catchphrases. Your only goal: to gain the upper hand over other qualified candidates.
Above all else, avoid generic or throwaway statements:
- My name is and I saw your job posting in BigJobBoard.com…
Ultimately, the trick is to set your cover letter, resume, and overall candidacy apart from the competition. And often, that comes down to your cover letter opening line.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Simply Hired.