It's easy to start a cover letter.
Just stare at a blank computer screen until your forehead bleeds.
You've written "Dear," so many times you've nearly worn the letters off your keyboard.
Worse, you get the sinking feeling you'll bore the hiring manager and she'll skip your resume.
Take heart. You're about to see an engaging cover letter opening you can shape to fit your needs.
This guide will show you:
- How to start a cover letter so it pulls the reader in.
- Several sample cover letter introductions you can really use.
- Which salutation to use: Dear Kate vs Dear Ms. Smith vs Dear Hiring Manager.
- Examples of great cover letter openings that can get you to the interview.
Here's a sample cover letter made with our fast online cover letter tool. It shows the best way to start a cover letter. Want to write your letter fast? Use our cover letter templates and build your version here.
So, there's your perfect cover letter template. Now let me show you several ways to do it right.
How to Start a Cover Letter with the Right First Paragraph
The first sentence of a cover letter is critical. If it doesn't hook the manager, you're sunk.
That's why you should never write a cover letter opening paragraph without the one thing guaranteed to interest any hiring manager. What is that, you ask?
It's the manager herself.
Your cover letter first paragraph can start with any of these facts about the manager:
- Her name.
- Something you like about her company.
- Her company's biggest needs.
- Some facts that prove you'll help her company.
How to Start a Cover Letter Examples
As a longtime fan of Cisco's internal certifications, I was excited to see your project manager opening. With my experience cutting costs 55% for VMware while dropping lead times 35% and boosting quality, I think I can help with Cisco's current challenges as I continue to expand my skill set.
I'm a project manager with 5 years experience, skilled in all aspects of project management. I've worked for and with several big ISO 9000 companies, working with internal and external stakeholders to draw requirements and facilitate project completion. I think I'd make an ideal project manager for your company because of my unique skill set.
The first example of how to begin a cover letter is all about the manager. The second? Me, me, me. Like George Costanza in a revolving door.
Don't know the hiring manager's name? Stick with us. We've got some great tips for "To whom it may concern" cover letters in a bit.
Pro Tip: Don't be afraid to research the hiring manager. The more you learn about her interests, the closer you'll be to finding common ground.
Want to go beyond the "how to start a letter" stage? Need a creative cover letter template? See our guide: "How To Write A Cover Letter [Complete Guide With Examples]"
How to Start a Cover Letter with Exactly what the Manager Wants
"I killed Lord Voldemort."
If you're Harry Potter, that's how you start your cover letter.
You don't do it by talking about your spell-casting skills.
Those are impressive, but they're not the most impressive thing about you.
Look in the job description. Figure out what's most important to the company.
Then, brainstorm your achievements. Find the shiniest one that fits their needs.
Company Needs: Two How to Start a Cover Letter Samples
Check out these two examples of how to begin a cover letter.
They're for a job posting that values marketing ROI.
I am so excited InterExchange needs a marketing director skilled at storytelling and driving ROI for student travel. With my track record of boosting marketing ROI by 55% for InternationalStudent through storytelling and creative leadership, I think I'm a great fit.
Dear Hiring Manager,
I'm a highly skilled marketing manager with 2 years experience in crafting creative marketing programs and leading marketing teams. I think you will agree that my strategy, budgeting, planning, and campaign creation skills make me the ideal candidate.
See that first example of a creative way to start a cover letter for marketing? It grasps the company need. Dale Carnegie would be impressed.
The second is a to whom it may concern cover letter. It's as generic as a can of store-brand peas.
Pro Tip: The job offer will be packed with company needs. As you read it, highlight them all. The best cover letters start with the most important.
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write your cover letter in our resume builder here. Here's what it may look like:
See more templates and create your resume and cover letter here.
All set with how to start off a cover letter? Need to move on to the ending? See this guide: "How to End a Cover Letter: Sample & Complete Guide [+20 Examples]"
How to Open a Cover Letter with a Company Fact
The hiring manager (we'll call her Alice) just read your resume with great interest.
Your letter connected in all the right ways.
You made it about her.
Begin your cover letter with a little digging.
To find good cover letter openers, look for facts you like about the company.
Browse their website. Look at their careers page. Read news items online.
Company Facts: Two How to Start a Cover Letter Examples
Look at the difference in these cover letter opening lines:
The Boston Consulting Group's emphasis on employee development is why I'm so excited about this position. My 98% client satisfaction rate at Deloitte owes a lot to my commitment to constant skills improvement. I'm excited to see where I could take your client KPIs within such a well-constructed system.
Hi Mrs. Tillotson,
I've been a consultant for four years and I've achieved some amazing things, including cutting client costs. I'm highly skilled at communication, sales, and strategy creation.
That first example of how to start a cover letter uses a great fact about the company. The second is as self-centered as Gordon Gekko.
Pro Tip: Be honest. Find a company fact you really do like. Even better if it shows you're perfect for the job.
After you know how to start your letter, you'll need to know how to format the entire thing. See our guide: "Cover Letter Formats: A Complete How-To Guide [10+ Examples]"
When to Start Your Cover Letter Introduction with Name Dropping
You're sweating bullets.
You've got some great accomplishments, but nothing world-shaking.
You need to know how to start a cover letter without a lot of cred.
But. You just happen to be friends with Wonder Woman.
If the most impressive thing is who you know, start there.
Name-Dropping Samples for How to Begin a Cover Letter
Check out these two very different introduction paragraph examples.
Candace Peters suggested I apply to this position because she knows: 1. My software solutions achieved 97% performance-to-goals at Uber, and 2. You're looking for a developer with speed and efficiency, which my resume demonstrates.
To whom it may concern,
I'm a software engineer with 5 years experience. I'm highly skilled in Java, Python, C, Ruby, C#, PHP, Objective-C, and SQL. Candace Peters said I should apply.
Which one will wake a bored hiring manager?
If you picked the first example of how to open a cover letter for a software engineer, you're on the right track.
If you picked the to whom it may concern cover letter, think again.
The name dropping trick works even better with a letter of introduction.
Pro Tip: Don't have a name to drop? Network. Meeting people in the company can get you the job faster than learning how to begin a cover letter.
Writing a letter of introduction for an internship? See this guide: "How to Write a Cover Letter For an Internship [+20 Examples]"
How to Write a Cover Letter Intro Based on Passion
Okay, so you haven't recently destroyed the Death Star. Also, you're not best buds with Chris Hemsworth.
The shiniest fact about you? Passion. You shimmer like someone dipped you in a vat of yellowcake uranium.
If that sounds like you, you've found your opening lines.
A Cover Letter Opening Statement Based on Passion
Look at these two examples of how to start a cover letter with excitement.
When faced with the CPA exam in school, I told my mentor, "I want to blow this test out of the water," and I did. Beyond my 98 average score across all four sections, a passion for finance has always been the guiding factor in my life. That's why I'm so excited at the chance to work for Signature Consultants.
I'm a financial analyst with over 3 years experience developing financial models and analyses, coordinating information collection, and developing reports.
That first example of how to open a cover letter for financial analysts will get the interview.
Here's another example, this time for a graphic design cover letter.
Graphic design for jewelry shows has always been a passion of mine. My panel talk on jewelry graphics at the AIGA Design Conference was put on YouTube and retweeted 1,500 times.
I'm a graphic designer with 3+ years experience at creating exciting design. I've never held a position yet that specifically handles graphic design of jewelry shows, but I am quite interested in jewelry graphic design.
The first example of how to start a cover letter for graphic designers shows passion and competence.
It's guaranteed to make the hiring manager stop daydreaming about turducken.
Pro Tip: Even small details can show your passion. Statements like, "I've always loved," or "I'm fascinated by," can help you nail your how to begin a cover letter goal.
Once you know how to begin a cover letter, you'll need a resume. We've got a guide for that: "How to Make a Resume: A Step-by-Step Guide (+30 Examples)"
How to Start a Cover Letter with Current Events
Let's snoop some more on our HR director, Alice.
She's reading through a bunch of cover letters, but she's bored.
Then she hits your letter.
It's all about the award her company just won. Finally, someone gets her.
That's how to start a cover letter based on recent news.
Introductory Paragraph Examples that Use the News
I love, love, love that Wegmans Food Markets is #2 on Fortune Magazine's list of top companies to work for in 2017. Google is #1, but I cut spoilage 38% for the Hannaford store I managed, whereas I don't even know what "algorithm" means.
I've got 5 years of experience as a grocery store manager. In that capacity, I handled tasks including ordering, scheduling, hiring, firing, and training.
See the difference? The first one is about the company. The second sample of starting a cover letter is as self-involved as Angelica from Rugrats.
Pro Tip: The best current events to use in a strong cover letter opening paragraph are big chunks of good news. Even better if they involve the hiring manager herself.
Now you know how to begin a cover letter that links to the job description. Do the same thing with your resume. See our guide: "6 Tips on How to Tailor Your Resume to a Job Description (Examples)"
Who Should I Address My Cover Letter To?
You listen to a lecturer drone on about macroeconomics for two hours. You're almost asleep.
Then suddenly, she says your name. You sit bolt upright and your eyes snap open.
Sadly, we're all pretty self-absorbed.
Happily, this makes it easy to know how to start a cover letter.
Begin your cover letter introduction with the hiring manager's name.
Don't know it? Look in the job offer, on the company website, and on LinkedIn. If that fails, try calling the receptionist.
How to Start a Cover Letter [Examples]
Any of these make good cover letter introductions:
- Dear Jim,
- Dear Mr. Ramirez,
- Dear Susan,
- Dear Mrs. Kelftree,
- Dear Ms. Allen,
Pro tip: Don't use "Miss" or "Mrs." unless you know the manager prefers it. "Ms." works great and doesn't comment on marital status.
Also, if the manager has a title like Dr. or Professor, she worked hard for it, so use it.
But what if you can't find a name?
How to Start a To Whom It May Concern Cover Letter
Did your name search fail? Don't fret. You haven't flunked your cover letter opening paragraph just yet.
You can ditch the salutation and start with the first line of the letter. Or use any of the following:
- Dear Software Team Hiring Manager,
- Dear Hiring Manager,
- Dear Recruiter,
- To Whom it May Concern,
- Dear [Company Name] Recruiter,
Those all work for how to address a cover letter without a name. That said, "Dear XYZ Team Hiring Manager," is best. Why?
It's specific, and it shows you know what goes on inside a company.
Pro Tip: Don't sweat the salutation. Do your best, then move on. That's How to Open a Cover Letter 101.
Does starting a cover letter really matter when so many managers don't read them? See our guide: "Are Cover Letters Necessary If Most Recruiters Don't Read Them?"
How to Write an Address on a Cover Letter
Knowing how to start a cover letter is hard.
Knowing how to write an address? Easy.
If you're asking how to address a letter, it's just Dear + [FIRST NAME],
If you're searching how to write an address in general, do this:
Put the your address at the top of the letter.
Add a line space, the date, two more blank lines, then the recruiter's address.
24 Wamp Rat Drive
Tatooine, Arizona 01138
1142 Sith Way
Darklord, Nebraska 02812
Dear Darth Vader,
What about the "Dear recruiter" salutation?
Isn't that a bit old fashioned?
Starting a cover letter Dear ______, is fine.
Job applicants have been doing it for years. By now, recruiters are used to it.
Pro Tip: Writing an email? You don't need your full mailing address. Your web URL, email address, and phone number are enough.
Already know how to start a cover letter first paragraph? Just need to know how to write an address? See our guide: "How to Address a Cover Letter: Sample & Guide [20+ Examples]"
Learning how to start a cover letter isn't easy. Remember this advice:
The best tip for how to begin a cover letter? Make it all about the hiring manager. Use her name. If you don't know it, take the time to learn it.
Include some big accomplishments that fit the company's needs. See our application letter examples for more help.
Add other attention grabbing facts, such as things you like about the company, or recent company achievements.
Want to know more about how to write a cover letter? Not sure what the opening paragraph of your cover letter should be about? Perhaps you found the best way to start a cover letter? Give us a shout in the comments! We love to help!
Traditional cover letter wisdom tells you to start a cover letter with something to the effect of:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to apply for the position of Marketing Manager with the Thomas Company.
We say: The days of cookie cutter cover letter intros are long gone.
Here’s the thing: Your cover letter is the best way to introduce to the hiring manager who you are, what you have to offer, and why you want the job—but you have an extremely limited amount of time to do all of those things. So, if you really want to get noticed, you’ve got to start right off the bat with something that grabs your reader’s attention.
What do we mean? Well, we won’t just tell you, we’ll show you—with 31 examples of original cover letter introductions. We don’t recommend copying and pasting them because, well, your cover letter should be unique to your stories, background, and interests, but you can most definitely use them to get inspired for your next application.
Don't worry—we've got you covered.
Career Coach to the rescue!
Start With a Passion
Many companies say that they’re looking for people who not only have the skills to do the job, but who are truly passionate about what they’re spending their time on every day. If that’s what your dream company is really looking for (hint: read the job description), try an intro that shows off why you’re so excited to be part of the team.
- If truly loving data is wrong, I don’t want to be right. It seems like the rest of the team at Chartbeat feels the same way—and that’s just one of the reasons why I think I’d be the perfect next hire for your sales team.
I’ve been giving my friends and family free style advice since I was 10, and recently decided it’s time I get paid for it. That’s why I couldn’t believe it when I found a personal stylist position at J. Hilburn.
After about three years of trying out different roles at early-stage startups around San Francisco, watching more “find your passion” keynotes than I’d like to admit, and assuring my parents that, yes, I really do have a real job, I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that I’m only really good at two things: writing great content and getting it out into the world.
When I was growing up, all I wanted to be was one of those people who pretend to be statues on the street. Thankfully, my career goals have become a little more aspirational over the years, but I love to draw a crowd and entertain the masses—passions that make me the perfect community manager.
When I graduated from Ohio State last May, my career counselor gave me what I consider to be some pretty bad advice: “Just get any job, and figure the rest out later.” While I think I could have gained good transferrable skills and on-the-job experience anywhere, I wanted to make sure my first step gave me opportunities for professional development, mentorship, and rotations through different departments. Enter: Verizon.
The other day, I took a career assessment, which told me I should be a maritime merchant. I’m not quite sure what that is, but it did get me thinking: A role that combines my skills in business development with my lifelong passion for the ocean would be my absolute dream. Which is how I found this role at Royal Caribbean.
Start With Your Love for the Company
Similarly, many companies want to hire people who already know, love, eat, and sleep their brand. And in these cases, what better to kick off your cover letter than a little flattery? Bonus points if you can tell a story—studies show that stories are up to 22 times more memorable than facts alone.
Of course, remember when you’re telling a company why you love it to be specific and genuine. Because, um, no one likes an overly crazed fangirl.
- I pretty much spent my childhood in the cheap seats at Cubs games, snacking on popcorn and cheering on the team with my grandfather. It’s that passion that’s shaped my career—from helping to establish the sports marketing major at my university to leading a college baseball team to an undefeated season as assistant coach—and what led me to apply for this position at the Chicago Cubs.
Most candidates are drawn to startups for the free food, bean bag chairs, and loose dress code. And while all of those things sound awesome coming from my all-too-corporate cubicle, what really attracted me to Factual is the collaborative, international team.
It was Rudy, my Golden Retriever, who first found the operations assistant opening (he’s really excited about the prospect of coming to work with me every day). But as I learned more about Zoosk and what it is doing to transform the mobile dating space, I couldn’t help but get excited to be part of the team, too.
When I was seven, I wanted to be the GEICO gecko when I grew up. I eventually realized that wasn’t an option, but you can imagine my excitement when I came across the events manager position, which would have me working side by side with my favorite company mascot.
When I attended Austin Film Festival for the first time last month, I didn’t want to leave. So I decided I shouldn’t—and immediately went to check out job openings at the company.
If I could make the NYC apartment rental process better for just one person, I would feel like the horrors of my recent search would all be worth it. So, a customer service role at RentHop, where I could do it every day? I can’t think of anything more fulfilling.
Having grown up with the Cincinnati Zoo (literally) in my backyard, I understand firsthand how you’ve earned your reputation as one of the most family-friendly venues in the State of Ohio. For 20 years, I’ve been impressed as your customer; now I want to impress visitors in the same way your team has so graciously done for me. (Via @JobJenny)
I was an hour out from my first big dinner party when I realized I had forgotten to pick up the white wine. In a panic, I started Googling grocery delivery services, and that’s when I first stumbled across Instacart. I’ve been hooked ever since, so I couldn’t help but get excited by the idea of bringing the amazingness of Instacart to shoddy planners like me as your next social media and community manager.
Though I’m happily employed as a marketing manager for OHC, seeing the job description for Warby Parker’s PR director stopped me in my tracks. I’ve been a Warby glasses wearer for many years, and have always been impressed by the way the company treats its customers, employees, and the community at large.
Start With an Attribute or Accomplishment
The unfortunate reality of the job hunting process is that, for any given job, you’re going to be competing with a lot of other people—presumably, a lot of other similarly qualified people. So, a great way to stand out in your cover letter is to highlight something about yourself—a character trait, an accomplishment, a really impressive skill—that’ll quickly show how you stand out among other applications.
- My last boss once told me that my phone manner could probably diffuse an international hostage situation. I’ve always had a knack for communicating with people—the easygoing and the difficult alike—and I’d love to bring that skill to the office manager position at Shutterstock.
Among my colleagues, I’m known as the one who can pick up the pieces, no matter what amount of you-know-what hits the fan. Which is why I think there’s no one better to fill Birchbox’s customer service leader position.
Last December, I ousted our company’s top salesperson from his spot—and he hasn’t seen it since. Which means, I’m ready for my next big challenge, and the sales manager role at LivingSocial just might be it.
After spending three years managing the internal communications for a 2,000-person company, I could plan a quarterly town hall or draft an inter-office memo in my sleep. What I want to do next? Put that experience to work consulting executives on their communications strategy.
While you won’t find the title “community manager” listed on my resume, I’ve actually been bringing people together online and off for three years while running my own blog and series of Meetups.
If you’re looking for someone who can follow orders to the T and doesn’t like to rock the boat, I’m probably not the right candidate. But if you need someone who can dig in to data, see what’s working (and what’s not), and challenge the status quo, let’s talk.
Ever since my first job at Dairy Queen (yes, they DO let you eat the ice cream!) I’ve been career-focused. I completed my first internship with a professional football team while I was still in college. I was hired full-time as soon as I graduated, and within six months I was promoted into a brand new department. I thought I knew it all. But as I’ve progressed in my career, I finally realized…I absolutely do not. Shocker, right? Enter The Muse. (Via @Kararuns729).
You might be wondering what a 15-year veteran of the accounting world is doing applying to an operations role at a food startup like ZeroCater. While I agree the shift is a little strange, I know you’re looking for someone who’s equal parts foodie and financial guru, and I think that means I’m your guy.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve built my career on one simple principle: Work smarter. I’m the person who looks for inefficient procedures, finds ways to streamline them, and consistently strives to boost the productivity of everyone around me. It’s what’s earned me three promotions in the supply chain department at my current company, and it’s what I know I can do as the new operations analyst for SevOne.
Start With Humor or Creativity
OK, before you read any of these, we feel we have to stamp them with a big disclaimer: Do your homework before trying anything like this—learning everything you can about the company, the hiring manager, and whether or not they’ll appreciate some sass or snark. If they do, it’s a great way to make them smile (then call you). If they don’t? Well, better luck next time.
- I’m interested in the freelance writer position. But before I blow you away with all the reasons I’m going to be your next writer, I would like to tell you a little about myself: I didn’t grow hair until I was about five years old, which made everyone who crossed my stroller’s path believe me to be a boy (my name is Casey, which definitely didn’t help). Hope I got your attention. (Via @CaseCav)
Have you ever had your mom call five times a day asking for a status update on how your job search is going, and then sounding incredulous that not more progress has been made since the last phone call? That’s my life right now. But I’m hoping that soon my life will revolve around being your full-time social media manager. The good news is, I bring more to the table than just an overbearing mom. Let me tell you more.
Thank you so much for offering me the marketing manager position at Airbnb! I wholeheartedly accept. OK, I know we’re not quite there yet. But if we were, here are just a few ideas of what I would do once in the role.
You’ve slept on it. You’ve made lists of pros and cons. You’ve talked to your life coach, your hairdresser, and every barista on your block. So why haven’t you made your decision yet? When you’re looking for advice, what you need is not more, but better. If you’re constantly plagued with tough career decisions and presentation-day butterflies, you need an advocate, a listener, and sometimes, a kick in the pants. You need Rachel Elizabeth Maley. (Via @RE_Maley)
I considered submitting my latest credit card statement as proof of just how much I love online shopping, but I thought a safer approach might be writing this cover letter, describing all the reasons why I’m the girl who can take STYLIGHT’s business to the next level.
I never thought that accidentally dropping my iPhone out of a second story window would change my life (it’s a funny story—ask me about it). But thanks to my misfortune, I discovered iCracked—and found my dream job as an expansion associate.
If we were playing “Two Truths and a Lie,” I’d say the following: I’ve exceeded my sales quotas by at least 20% every quarter this year, I once won an international pie-eating contest, and I have an amazing job at Yext. The last, of course, is the lie. For now.
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