If you are still using “I am writing this letter because I am interested in your position,” or any overused, basic cover letter opening line, stop what you are doing, delete your cover letter, and spend your next three to five minutes reading how you can make your cover letter stand out and get the job you want.
When I was first looking for a new job, I went to my campus career center to get my resume on fleek. I did mock interviews, and even created a generic cover letter that I thought was the greatest.
It wasn’t great at all. It was complete trash.
There were sooooo many things wrong with my “generic” cover letter that I didn’t notice at first, like the fact that I even had a cover letter to use for every job was a horrible move. All I can say now is that I am so thankful for growth.
As a hiring manager, I don’t have a fancy system that will screen resumes and cover letters for keywords; all I have is my computer and my opinion. When I am getting ready to hire someone, I have to literally read through every resume and cover letter that I have an initial interest in. Many of the cover letters that I read are horribly written and don’t sound genuine. I’ve even had someone once submit a cover letter but used the wrong company name. Ultimate fail.
I was reading an article a few days ago from the Daily Muse on 5 Opening Lines That Are Straight Up Killing Your Cover Letter. The writer Lily Zhang shocked the world in her article by stating that by using “To whom it may concern” or “I am writing to express my interest” in your cover letter is the wrong move.
I know you are probably surprised and now confused on how you should start your cover letter. If you look online for help on writing a cover letter, most sites will tell you to “start off strong and direct” by saying things like “I want to express my strong interest” or “My name is,” but it’s much more than that!
Here are 5 opening line ideas that will make your cover letter stand out and will engage the recruiter within the first few seconds. By implementing these new strategies in your cover letter, you will have a better chance at getting a call back.
1. Show excitement.
When I interview candidates, the people that stand out the most are the people that smile genuinely, have an engaging attitude, and seem excited to interview. This holds the same truth for cover letters. Hiring managers and recruiters do not want to read the same old line that everyone uses to start off their cover letter. It makes those candidates seem boring, not excited about the job or company, and it will make you feel less excited about them as well. When an employer feels your excitement through your cover letter, it adds more value to your application.
Example to try: I was excited to find an opening in marketing with Company X because your impact in this field has been inspiring to me for a long time.
2. It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.
I know we have all heard of this phrase, but it has proven to be true most of the time. If you are applying for a company and you know a key employee there, don’t be afraid to mention it! Of course before using their name, ask that person for permission. If they are okay with you using their name in your cover letter, do not hesitate to do it.
Example to try: I recently spoke with Jane Doe, project manager with Company Y, and she informed me about the opening on your HR team. She recommended that you would be a great point of contact to discuss this position and my qualifications.
3. Getting straight to the point.
I have read many boring cover letters where the candidate will write a long paragraph about how they found the job opening, the college they graduated from, and other information about their past that is not relevant. Recruiters receive tons of applications daily, so my advice would be to get straight to the point in your cover letter with stating your job title and accomplishments.
Example to try: As a marketing manager for Company Y, I manage a diverse team and oversee multiple projects. By implementing new employee engagement ideas and social marketing tactics, I have been able to increase our brand and social presence through the use of employee posting on social media.
4. Read beyond the job description on Indeed.
When you find a company that you like and want to interview with, do research on the company and impress the recruiter with what you know. Look for current events or blog posts about the company, and tie that into your opening line.
Example to try: Recently, your company was highlighted in Forbes for implementing a new employee engagement tool on Idea X. After reading this article, I was inspired to work with your company, so I was excited to see that you had an opening for a Talent Engagement Advisor. With my professional experience in leading and developing teams, and retaining talent, I know that I am a valuable candidate.
5. Keywords are extremely important.
Most companies use applicant tracking systems that search for keywords on resumes and cover letters to weed out candidates that are most likely unqualified. Using the right keywords will get you noticed, and will get you the interview.
Example to try: Microsoft Excel and ADP Virtual Edge are two of my strongest areas of expertise. Through my years in management and HR, I have perfected my skills and increased my knowledge in social recruiting, employee development, collaborative interviewing, and handling employee relation issues. It is the combination of these skills and my passion for the field of HR that makes me the best candidate for your Campus Recruiter position.
If you use any of these examples, be sure to cater it to the company that you are applying for and the skills that you personally possess. A personalized cover letter will win anytime over a generic one.
Do you have any other tips on getting your cover letter on point? Don’t keep it to yourself, share the knowledge below!