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How to start a cover letter

The start of your cover letter is very likely the first thing that your prospective employer will see, so make it good! The cover letter is most definitely not the same as your CV - think of it this way - having a better CV increases your chances of getting an interview when the CV is actually read. The cover letter increases the chances of your CV being read as well as the amount of time they will spend reading your CV. So start it well.

You should start with Dear Mr Smith. This means you have to find out who is hiring or who is short-listing the CVs. Make a phone call if you have to - how much do you really want the job? Call them up and ask them for the name of the person who is reviewing the CVs - they will always give you an answer.

The people who are reviewing the CVs will be busy - why can I guarantee that? Why else are they hiring new people? There's too much work to go around and I can tell you from personal experience that it can be very painful reviewing 100s of CVs so your first statement at the start of your cover letter should really make you stand out.

Say something like - "I've been a whizz-kid programmer from the age of six", or "I have beaten almost all targets I have ever set", or "I have been honing my sales skills since the age of seven". Sound cheesy? The important part here is to GRAB ATTENTION. Pick your biggest strength from your CV or personality which matches what they are looking for and figure out a way to write it that makes it stand out from the crowd.

Do some research on the position and the company. You need to try and discover what is the number 1 thing they are looking for in their new hire. If it's sales skills they're after, your first statement should convince them you've sold exceptionally well in the past. If it's managerial experience they're after, tell them how much managerial experience you have in the first sentence. If they're looking for someone dependable, reliable and able to work to routine then put this in your first sentence.

Summary of how to start a cover letter

  • Find the persons name who will be filtering CVs
  • Research the position and include a relevant statement about how you fill this requirement as your opening sentence
  • Be bold

You can find more guides to how to finish your cover letter as well as free templates at our free cover letter templates page.

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