How To Start A Cover Letter? 9 Powerful Ways

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

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Just like your resume, your effective cover letter holds significant weight, especially the opening paragraph. It offers your potential employers a quick glimpse into who you are and what value you bring to the table; from there, they will decide whether to give you a shot.

Best Ways To Start A Cover Letter

Keep scrolling to learn how to nail this opening and set yourself apart from the race.

What Should I Include In The Application Letter Opening Paragraph?

Black Minimalist Human Resources Cover Letter

1. Contact Details

It might seem matter-of-fact, but including contact information is crucial for your professional image and also makes it easy for HR to reach you. Some key elements you must always include: 

  • Make sure your full name matches exactly what’s on your resume.
  • Include a phone number where you can be easily reached during business hours. Consider adding a mobile number if appropriate.
  • Use a professional email address that’s easy to remember and reflects your name. Cutesy or informal email addresses are not encouraged.
  • You can optionally include a link to your LinkedIn profile or personal website, especially if it showcases your relevant experience and skills for the job.

Some people list their contact information left-aligned at the very top of the document, while others prefer to create a separate header section. Both options are acceptable. 

2. Greetings

A proper greeting establishes a professional tone and shows respect to the hiring manager. 

Use “Dear” followed by a specific name whenever possible. It would be great if you could find information about the hiring manager through the company website, job description, or professional network. Such a personal touch demonstrates effort and shows them you’ve done your research.

When uncertain of their gender, use “Dear Mr./Ms. [Last Name]” or opt for “Mx.” if you want to include non-binary identities.

In the worst-case scenario (you can’t find any specific name), a simple “Dear hiring manager” should do. Most importantly, never resort to outdated greetings like “To whom it may concern” or overly casual greetings like “Hello”; they might not strike the strongest first impression. 

3. Opening Paragraph

Here’s where you craft a strong hook expressing your enthusiasm for the role or highlighting a relevant achievement or value. According to my survey at UNI Global Union, the majority of HR managers want a concise yet compelling cover letter within one page.

So, aim for only 3-4 sentences in the cover letter introduction that pique the hiring manager’s interest and make them want to learn more about you. Let’s discuss how to start it in more detail with some cover letter examples in the following section.

How Do I Start Off A Cover Letter? 9 Powerful Strategies & Examples

1. Show Your Great Enthusiasm

Companies look for dedicated, passionate employees who bring positive energy to the team, and an enthusiastic opening paragraph can truly reflect that kind of passion. Backing up your interest in the role with clear reasons also makes it more genuine and partly demonstrates your work ethic. 

The paragraph should focus on something specific about the company or the job title that you find intriguing. Words like “excited,” “happy,” or “motivated” should convey your enthusiasm effectively! 

Here is what hiring managers like me appreciate even more: specific numbers or relevant accomplishments that illustrate your passion (e.g., “I’ve volunteered for [Number] hours with organizations focused on [Industry] because…”).


“I’m excited about the opportunity to join Patagonia’s innovative social media team. Your recent campaign for the new Arbor Series sustainable backpacks resonates with my past experiences in a similar marketing project with recycled shoes in 2022. With my proven track record in brand awareness, I believe I can contribute my skills and passion to your team’s continued success.”

2. Mention Mutual Connections

A shared connection with someone at the company establishes trust right from the start! The hiring manager might be more receptive to your application if they recognize a name they know; plus, given how referrals are valued in many companies, a mutual connection can really position you as a pre-vetted job candidate.

Nevertheless, spending most of the paragraph on that special mutual connection will not work in your favor. Instead, you should only use it as a springboard to showcase your professional skills.


“I learned about the Marketing Manager position from Sarah Jones, a former colleague and current Social Media Specialist on your Influencer Marketing team. 

Sarah and I collaborated on launching a social media campaign for [Previous Company]’s new fitness tracker line, and my expertise in social media analytics has contributed to a 30% increase in follower engagement during the campaign. I’m confident I can replicate this achievement for your team’s social media growth.” 

3. Mention A Spectacular Accomplishment

Needless to say, quantifiable achievements provide concrete evidence of your skills and show your commitment to achieving measurable results – a valuable asset in any company.

Make sure this accomplishment directly relates to the skills and experience level required for the position, and always use specific metrics to highlight its impact! (e.g., increased sales by 20%, reduced costs by 15%). 

Then, explain briefly how this remarkable milestone translates to potential benefits for the company you’re applying to.


“In my previous role as a Customer Service Representative at [Previous Company], I consistently achieved a 95% customer satisfaction rating, ranking me in the top 10% of the team. This success stemmed from my ability to actively listen to customer concerns and implement effective de-escalation techniques, which I believe will contribute to your ongoing efforts to deliver exceptional customer service.”

4. Lead With Something Newsworthy

Weaving a newsworthy event into your cover letter opening can be a strategic (not to mention very impressive and memorable) way to demonstrate your awareness.

Remember to choose news directly related to the company’s industry and not just some general trends. Offer a brief yet insightful take on the news, then wrap it up by connecting the info to your skills and how you can help the company address any potential challenges it presents.


“The recent news of a major data breach at [Company Name]’s competitor has highlighted the worrying development of cybersecurity threats. As a skilled Software Engineer, I’m confident I can contribute to your company’s ongoing efforts to stay ahead of these risks. In my previous role at [Previous Company], I successfully implemented a multi-layered security protocol that reduced unauthorized access attempts by 70%.” 

5. Impress With A Great, Creative Story

A story breaks the mold and instantly sets you apart from other applicants! And since most stories can connect with readers on an emotional level, your application will be much more likely to be remembered. 

Still, even with your boundless creativity, make sure the story adheres to a professional tone and highlights an accomplishment/ lesson learned that showcases at least one impressive skill.


“Getting lost in the wilderness was never a fear for me as a child, and once, such exploration led me to discover a hidden waterfall, so breathtaking that it sparked my lifelong affection for nature. This passion fueled me to spearhead a social media campaign that utilized user-generated content to showcase the beauty of nature, resulting in a 25% increase in brand engagement.” 

6. Start With Something Funny

A touch of humor in your cover letter opening can be a risky but potentially rewarding strategy. It makes you seem personable and much more approachable!

From my observation, a lighthearted quip or relatable observation is better than a long, runny joke. Research the company culture to ensure your funny story aligns with their tone, and leave out anything that sounds the slightest offensive or controversial. 


“In a past life, I may have believed Comic Sans was the height of design sophistication. Thankfully, those days are far behind me. Now, as a passionate Graphic Designer with a keen eye for clean layouts and eye-catching visuals, I’m excited to apply for the Graphic Designer position at [Company Name].” 

7. Tell Them Something They Do Not Know

Another compelling strategy to pique the hiring manager’s curiosity is to start with what they might not know. I was impressed by some UNI Global Union employees who showcased some of the latest industry research and trends right at the beginning of their cover letters. And that definitely helped them land a spot on the shortlist for their current roles.

The point is to leave the HR manager wanting more, then smoothly transition from the initial fact to how your qualifications can fill that knowledge gap and address the potential issue/opportunity it presents!


“Did you know that a recent study revealed that Gen Z consumers are more likely to be swayed by user-generated content than traditional celebrity endorsements?

This drastic shift in consumer behavior demands modern marketing strategies. As a highly motivated Marketing Specialist with expertise in influencer marketing, I’m confident I can leverage this trend to develop impactful campaigns that resonate with Gen Z audiences. In my previous role at [Previous Company], I spearheaded a UGC campaign that…”

8. State A Personal Mission

A personal mission reflects your core values and career aspirations, giving the formal cover letter a more genuine touch. Companies are also more likely to hire passionate applicants whose values greatly align with the company’s mission or benefit the latter to a great extent. 


“My strong belief in the power of collaboration to create positive change fuels my passion for project management. Throughout my career, I’ve strived to lead teams effectively to achieve impactful results. I believe [Company Name]’s mission to promote sustainable development through community-driven initiatives deeply resonates with my own values.” 

9. Explain Your Career Change 

(If the job you apply for doesn’t align with your previous professional experience)

Hiring managers will naturally question your decision to change careers, so addressing it upfront is the best way to demonstrate both your self-awareness and initiative! 

Do not dwell too much on your past experiences, however. Instead, focus on transferable skills from your previous career that remain relevant to the new position. 


“While my background lies in financial analysis, my passion for storytelling and content creation has always been strong. This passion led me to pursue a [Relevant Certification/Course] in content marketing, and I’m now eager to leverage my analytical skills and newfound expertise to ensure the success of your future marketing campaigns.”

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Even when you’ve got the main part of the letter spot-on, the hiring manager might not even read that far if you fail to impress them with a great introductory paragraph. Keep in mind the cover letter templates we discussed above, and write to us if you still need help with how to begin a cover letter.

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Christina J Colclough

Christina J. Colclough

Dr Christina J. Colclough is an expert on The Future World of Work and the politics of digital technology advocating globally for the importance of the workers’ voice. She has extensive regional and global labour movement experience, is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and strategist advising progressive governments and worker organisations.

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