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How to start a cover letter

When you’re writing a covering letter, the opening line and then the opening paragraph are the most important parts. They’re the lines that get the reader’s attention and they could be the difference between getting an interview and getting a thanks but no thanks letter. We’ll tell you how to start a cover letter and give you some indication of what content needs to be included in successful approaches to prospective employers.
    Getty – Andrew Burton

Advice

There’s loads of advice out there about covering letters. Some will have you believe that the covering letter is the most important part of the job application process. Others go as far as to say that the type of paper you’ve used and whether the letter went first or second class has a bearing on the employer’s response. We’re not sure about that, but the opening gambit is very important.

Research

Writing is researching. That’s a standard maxim for most professional writers and it’s also true for you when you come to write a cover letter. Do some research on the firm you’re writing to. With the web, there’s no excuse not to have a look at them. You never know, this research could make you think twice about wanting to join them.

Address

Before you get clever with an opening line, you need to get the letter off to the right person. Don’t address it to the company’s head office if their HR function is in another building. You should have been able to get this information during your research. Find out who the person handling job applications is and address it to them. You might find that information in the job advert. If not, your web research should have given you the name of the HR manager.

Opening gambit

The truth is that you’re not writing a gripping crime novel that needs a thrilling opening line. Be simple and to the point. Write something like “I would like to be considered for the position of IT Manager” or whatever the role is. Your next line should state where you found the advert. You’ll find more information on writing a successful covering letter here.

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