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How NOT to Start Your Cover Letter

This was one of our most popular blog posts this year, and we think the advice is so good it should be repeated!  If you’re looking for some awesome cover letter advice on how *NOT* to start your cover letter (and some great examples of how you should be starting it) then read on!

On a weekly basis any hiring manager probably receives between 50 and … well, probably hundreds of resumes and cover letters.  The key is to catch his or her attention from the start; and the best place to do that is in your cover letter.  So I am going to tell you about the worst possible way to start your cover letter—and then give you some creative alternatives to use instead.

Here is the most boring intro line because everyone uses it:

Please accept my resume for consideration of the (XYZ) position within your organization.

What a snoozer!  Everyone uses that line; let’s see … being like everyone else isn’t going to get you very far in your job search now is it?  No, it’s not.  So you need to be different.  But not just different—you need to be unique and appear more valuable than the average joe.  Let’s take a look at some more creative and attention grabbing opening lines:

Administrative:
If you are spending too much time compiling tedious lists of general office duties and administrative tasks, then I have the solution for you.  Try this: “My experiences in office administration and client services have equipped me with a multitude of skills including office management, business operations, and exemplary customer service.  I am confident that my application of these and my many other skills would be an asset to your company.”

Customer Service:
It’s twice as hard to attract a new customer as it is to maintain an existing one.  Unfortunately, this fact is often overlooked by many businesses.  So exploit this reality.  Here’s an example of what you should write:  “Delivering high-quality, responsive service is vital in (industry x).  And that’s exactly what you’ll get when you hire me.  As my resume indicates, I have worked in client services for more than (number) years, so you won’t have to incur great expense while training me.

Nonprofit:
Try something like this: “In today’s challenging economic climate, many people will respond to your advertisement.  Few will be interviewed.  One will be hired.

However …

Of the many who will respond, few will be as qualified as I am, having in-depth experience in community and public outreach.  No one else will bring my track record and the expertise I offer—expertise that equips me to immediately begin delivering results for you with maximum positive effect to your bottom line.

General:
“Integrity.  Innovation.  Initiative.

If you have these qualities in mind for the position of (position title) then I suggest we meet to discuss the numerous qualifications I would bring to your organization.  With my demonstrated track record of successfully directing pharmacy operations and introducing initiatives that directly impacted the bottom line, I am confident that I would be an excellent fit for the position at (company name).

Of course, these are only a few sample introductions, and the remainder of your cover letter needs to be just as dynamic as the introduction.  But nothing is more important than that initial first impression; and you are sure to win them over when you choose something unique, creative, and captivating.

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, speaker and President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast. She creates high-impact, best-in-class, resumes and cover letters that transform job searches into interviews and ultimately job offers. For more information about professional resume writing or to read more career and job search related articles visit http://www.greatresumesfast.com or call 1.800.991.5187.

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Jessica Holbrook Hernandez

A nationally recognized resume expert, Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast and a former human resources manager and recruiter. Leveraging more than ten years’ experience directing hiring practices for Fortune 500 companies, Jessica's innovative and brand-driven resume development strategies have secured a 99.6% interview-winning success rate for her clients. As a global resume authority and trusted media source, Jessica has been featured and quoted numerous times throughout CNN.com, The Chicago Tribune, Monster.com, Local Job Network Radio, International Business Times, and more.
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  1. December 20th, 2011 at 00:26 | #1

    I found this blog of your to be very informative, thanks again.
    Professionally written resume cover letters

  2. December 5th, 2012 at 01:55 | #2

    “It was very concise and straight to the point. Well done.”

  3. February 23rd, 2013 at 03:38 | #3

    I was about to start cover letter website,to start this project i need to have idea regarding the cover letter, after reading this blog , i got very much valuable information, thanks for sharing such useful and wonderful article here.

    Thank you.

    Regards
    Anjan.
    job descriptions

  1. August 10th, 2010 at 10:48 | #1

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