When you're looking for a job, you spend a good amount of time sending out resumes and cover letters. And your cover letter can be just as important (or more so!) than your resume. In the first few lines of your cover letter, you need to get the attention of your prospective employer, and give them a reason to keep reading. So how should you begin your cover letter? Keep reading to find out.
The First Two Sentences
Most job seeking experts will tell you that the first two sentences of your cover letter are the most crucial. The opening two sentences on your cover letter are similar to an elevator pitch: a brief statement about a product, service, or company that business owners have at the ready whenever they meet a prospective client. In your cover letter, you're the product, and the opening statement is your pitch.
What to Include
In the first two sentences, you'll want to include several things: your knowledge and experience in the field, how you can benefit the company, and your accomplishments in past positions. Be succinct, and pack a punch. This is not the place to describe each day of the last ten years of your work life, or every class you ever took in college that relates to the position. Instead, make it short and impressive. All of the relevant information needs to be in the first two sentences, so don’t spend too much time on any one thing.
Don't Write a History Book
When you put the above information in your first two sentences, it shouldn't look like you're writing a history book. A boring list of facts is not going to get the job done. Instead, you should approach your opening statement as though you were pitching a product to a prospective buyer; sell yourself.
Think Like an Employer
Many cover letters fall short because they're written to the wrong audience. You're not writing a letter home to impress your parents with all the wonderful things you've done since leaving home, so a simple brag sheet won't cut it. If you were an employer, what would you look for in a prospective employee? Employers want to know they'll be getting their money's worth, so demonstrate that you're a good investment.
To give you an idea of what makes a good opening statement and a bad opening statement for your cover letter, take the following examples into consideration.
I'm applying for the Accountant I position because I want to find a place to use the skills I acquired in college as a Business Accounting major. I have a degree from 123 University, and after I graduated in 2012 I worked for ABC Corporation.
As a graduate from the Business Accounting department of 123 University with over two years of experience at top firms such as ABC Corporation, I feel that I am an excellent fit for the Accountant I position. While at ABC I was able to improve the efficiency of the accounting procedures by 20%, was instrumental in the development of new software that helped improve payroll accuracy, and routinely advised Human Resources and the CEO on accounting matters.
A good cover letter is crucial to securing the position you want. Make sure you follow best practices, keep your audience in mind, and build a cover letter that will be sure to make an impression. To help you land the job of your dreams, visit LiveCareer and use the Cover Letter Builder to create a letter that will impress your prospective employers and help you land the job.