The Best Ways to Begin Your Cover Letter
As the hiring manager for ResumeEdge, I see dozens of cover letters every day. Some are simply notes that state “my resume is attached”. As cover letters go, those kind are useless and simply state the obvious. Far too many letters begin by telling me what ResumeEdge offers its clients…something I already know – I work here. What the majority fail to do is to draw me in so that I want to read the letter and learn about the candidate.
Your Opening Paragraph is Critical
There’s an interesting article on careerrealism.com that addresses effective methods of opening a cover letter. Each of the article’s points reinforce the ResumeEdge brand – that is, accomplishment based data, rather than listing your skills without results.
The article addresses:
- Job Titles and Stellar Accomplishments – Begin your cover letter with your title and the name of the company where you’re employed. If the concern has great name recognition, such as GE, Oracle, Bank of America, you’ll certainly capture the hiring manager or recruiter’s attention. List your most stellar accomplishment as it relates to the targeted job within the opening paragraph. That’s an amazingly strong way to start. You’ll be miles ahead of most other candidates who don’t use this approach.
- Use Keywords That Prove You’re the Perfect Candidate – Take keywords from the position opening and use them to begin your cover letter if you have those skills or abilities. Most companies use scanning software to eliminate inappropriate candidates. In order for your cover letter and resume to be read by the hiring authority, you have to get past this software. The way to do that is to pepper your opening paragraph with keywords relevant to the position. Keywords for an accountant might be: CPA, tax audits, P&L (Profit and Loss), Payroll.
- Demonstrate How You Can Positively Impact the Company’s Bottom Line – When it comes to equally-qualified candidates (those who have the same professional and academic background), the only way you can outshine your competition is with quantified accomplishments – those that can make the company money or reduce expenses. For example, you write:
As the Director of ABC Industries, I’ve realized a 79% improvement in productivity, generating savings of $11,000 annually by reorganizing divisions, cross-training team leads and eliminating duplication. Last year was the most profitable in our 27 year history.
This kind of opening paragraph is rich in results. Past performance is predictive of future performance. Use your achievements to keep the hiring manager and recruiter reading your cover letter and then your resume.
An Important Note
Whatever accomplishment you put in your cover letter shouldn’t be repeated verbatim in your resume. It gets tiring to keep reading the same information again and again. It also appears as though you’re padding your resume because you don’t have that much to offer. Your resume should build upon what you stated in your cover letter. Keep it fresh. Provide additional data.
ResumeEdge specializes in cover letters, resume writing, resume editing and interview coaching through JobInterviewEdge. Our certified writers have decades of experience in 40+ industries. They can craft a cover letter that will wow a hiring manager and compel that individual to read your resume.