Cover Letter
July 14, 2004 7:18 PM   Subscribe

What's a good opening line for a letter applying for a posted job? I'm not looking for cute; I just think that "I am interested in the blah blah position listed in the Daily blah blah." is a bad opening gambit.
posted by blueshammer to Work & Money (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
posted by BlueTrain at 7:28 PM on July 14, 2004

I always say "Hello [name of organization]" and then get into the specifics. Use an exclamation point if you want to be really friendly.
posted by scarabic at 8:16 PM on July 14, 2004

Hm. I had a really difficult time with that too. I settled on:

My name is Gesmtkunstwerk and I am an experienced/yaddah, yaddah/..skilled in /xyz/ interested in a position such as the one you posted. I am interested because.../pdq lie, lie, lie/. I would like to draw your attention to a few of my qualifications.

If you can, make your letter brief enough that it can be easily scanned. Most gatekeeps glaze over when they see a dense paragraph that they may have to actually read. They frown when they see a long word they might not know.

When I have gotten jobs, it was because I sounded enthusiastic, but not nauseatingly so.

Good luck!
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:34 PM on July 14, 2004 [1 favorite]

I happen to write really good resumes and cover letters. First, try to find out exactly who to address the cover letter to and their title. I usually call the co.'s HR dept. and ask. They're used to that question and will usually tell you.

I dont' subscribe to the "hello" method as I feel that it is much too informal and familiar for a cover letter. I always use this format:


Jane Smith, VP Sales
ABC Corporation

Dear Ms. Smith:

Please accept my application for your (insert the exact name of the position) position. I am a graduate of (whatever college you've graduated from) and have been employed in (the field that you're applying to) for ____ years (or since graduation year). As you can see from my resume, I have extensive experience in all aspects of the field of (once again the field).

Now spend a couple of paragraphs talking about the experience that you have that applies to the position that you're applying for. Even experience that my seem unrelated can be phrased to sound related.

I believe that my extensive and diverse experience provides me with the background and body of knowledge well suited to the position of (whatever) within your corporation. I am intelligent, determined, and hardworking. I know that given the chance, I would be an asset to your corporation.

Please review my resume and consider giving me the opportunity to work for you. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.



I never drop names of employees or friends in a cover letter. IMHO, it's transparent and tacky. One way around this is if you know someone at the company, ask them to forward your resume to the person doing the hiring. That way you don't have to name drop, but you're relationship gets acrosss anyway. Although I do name drop important people that I've worked with or for within the body of the cover letter.
posted by Juicylicious at 8:38 PM on July 14, 2004 [1 favorite]

I would avoid variants of "I feel I would be an asset to your corporation." That gets tacky. A paragraph explaining why you want the job, rather than why the job should want you, seems more friendly and sends the same substantive message. Make it a little more personal. Drop in something that can be a talking point at your interview. "After taking some time off to travel around America, I moved to [here] last year looking for an opportunity to excel at [foo]. I'm looking forward to putting my [foo] skills to good use at [Initech], the third largest [widget producer] in Podunk County."

If it doesn't sound like you enjoyed writing it, nobody's going to enjoy reading it.
posted by PrinceValium at 9:50 PM on July 14, 2004

"Dear soandso,

Please accept this letter as my expression of interest in (name of position). It is with great enthusiasm that I submit my resume and references for your consideration. My experiences in (name of field) make uniquely qualified for the position and I look forward to the opportunity to meet with you at your convenience."

etc ...

Your cover letter is your chance to address how you meet and/or exceed the qualifications for the job. Try to be specific.
posted by whatnot at 10:29 PM on July 14, 2004

To contradict Scarabic (because I seem to do that a lot these days): stay away from the exclamation point; some people hate them and will throw away your cover letter for it.
posted by dame at 11:00 PM on July 14, 2004

Just don't close it like I did once:
I am very interesting in this position.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:38 PM on July 14, 2004

I've had a lot of luck with

"Hello Blah Blah Corp.

You're looking for a Chief Crazymaker and I think I just might be The One. In addition to serving as VP of Bitching and Moaning at TastiFreeze, I am certified in...."

It's confident, concise, and people have said it gets their attention. Because really, that's what they're looking for - The One. So they don't have to scan resumes all day long.
I have a somewhat forward and confident personality and this approach may not work if you're a little more laid back.

Another one that I've seen more and more of lately is actually starting the resume with some rave review that your boss gave you... No Dear HR, more like a press release than a letter. For example:

"Pomegranate is the most amazing manager I've ever had the privilege to work with. Her stunning insights into business and her outstanding leadership skills have lead to a 38% increase in profits in her region alone." - DaleDoodad, CEO of Tastifreeze

If you are looking for someone who can bring proven results, a strategic focus, and "outstanding leadership skills" to the table, look no further.

It really depends on the type of job, your personality, and how high up the food chain you're trying to get. The most important things:

A) SPELLCHECK SPELLCHECK SPELLCHECK. I can't tell you how many mangers have tried to slip past me, but since I can tell a dirty barn from a leader, I never let them past the door.
B) No more than one page, but take EACH job requirement and tell me how you meet or exceed it. If you don't, tell me you're studying in that area or what have you. Some people do this as a bulleted list, but you don't have to.
C) I second the idea of calling HR and finding out how to address the letter. While you're on the phone be nice and find out who you're talking to, he or she may come in handy later.

Good luck!
posted by pomegranate at 4:39 AM on July 15, 2004

I think clever letters like pomegranate suggests are fine for small companies. If you're applying to a decent-sized company (one you've heard of outside looking for a job, or one with an actual HR department to write to), your cover letter should be brief and boring. Trust me- I've worked in the recruiting industry.

Once the screener reads your cover letter, it's generally tossed, or filed away. It doesn't get passed around to hiring managers along with your resume. It just needs to make sure that your resume gets where it needs to go and doesn't make you look like a moron.

Your cover letter should do three things:

- Identify your purpose (what job you're applying for, or if you're just sending a resume).
- Give one or two concrete examples of why you're a good candidate.
- Show you can communicate effectively.

The last one is important. Your cover letter is a business document. Start it with something like:

"I am writing in response to your ad, placed in the New York Times, for candidates to fill the position of Chief Widget Officer at Acme Widgets, Inc."

Or, if it's a small company, yeah, ignore all this and go nuts ;)
posted by mkultra at 6:59 AM on July 15, 2004

"I am confident that I would make an excellent [whatever] for [your company], due to my extensive experience in X, Y and Z."

Then elaborate on X, Y and Z.

That's the opening I always go with.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:12 AM on July 15, 2004

I think you should get right to what you know about the job. Present them with a problem you know they have, and how you would solve it.

"In XX years of XX field, if there's one thing I've learned, it's that widget sellers will die out unless they attract a whole new generation of widget buyers. As the youngest widget maker in history, I've spent my career appealing to just that niche..."
posted by GaelFC at 10:04 AM on July 15, 2004

I can't tell you how many mangers have tried to slip past me

Although that's the problem with spellcheck, it gives you falls security that your sentence makes cents and is accurate.

I personally hold typos against people, hard. Everyone makes mistakes, winners correct them. When you're dealing with so many applicants, you need to thin the herd wherever possible, and grammar/spelling seems as good as place to start as any.
posted by jragon at 11:58 AM on July 15, 2004

If you're applying for a writing job, you should definitely try to break the mold a little, though you don't want to be too unconventional. This got me an interview (though not the job):

Dear Ms. [Editor],

Every [publication] needs [job titles] with a love of the craft, boundless energy and an excitement for their work that invigorates the whole [office]. My work ethic, writing experience and energy would make me a great addition to your staff at [The Publication].

In 2003 I received a top award for [relevant award]. This spring I attended a [relevant seminar], which delved
into [relevant issue, related to needs of employer].

[Two sentence summary of my professional and college work history.]

Through it all, I have always striven to [do a good job, but said in a way that uses words from the job ad].

I have attached six text file clips of my work as a small sample of what I can bring to [The Publication]. I work diligently, learn quickly and am a dedicated [job title] who can handle any assignment thrown my way.

I believe I would be a great addition to your already high-quality [publication]. Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to hearing from you soon.




The job offer I did end up getting came from someone who hadn't even spent much time reading my work, though. I didn't even apply for it. I was recommended and I interviewed well.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:05 PM on July 15, 2004 [1 favorite]

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