Image by deanmeyersnet via FlickrOne of the biggest mistakes that people make with their cover letter is opening with a generic statement.
Don’t you think that employers get tired of reading the same thing over and over again? If you’re writing this:
“I am applying for the position of _________ as advertised in the XYZ newspaper on this date. Please find my resume attached.”
If you want prospective employers to really pay attention to you and truly consider you for the job you need to make your opening paragraph pop. You need to get their attention right from the beginning.
Here are a few ways that you can make that opening paragraph stand out and say, “Hey! You really need to consider me for this job because I am fabulous!”:
- Start with an accomplishment. Choose something that is relevant to the position you are applying for. For example, you could say, “From the very first time that I was able to lead a group to successfully complete a project ahead of the deadline I knew that I wanted to work in a leadership role.” Or how about, “Last year I brought in $10,000 in sales above what was estimated in the original project outline and I believe that this will make me the ideal candidate for this position.”
- Use the keywords that were in the original advertisement for the position. If you the position you are applying for was not advertised, use your research (because you did research the company) to determine what keywords they might be looking for. For example: “I motivated a team of 20 staff members to complete a project before deadline and I believe that I can do this for your company, too.”
- Demonstrate your knowledge of their company. What is important to them? Besides making money of course. What causes do they support? I once applied to a job where the website state that community involvement was important to them and stated some of the community things they were involved in. In my opening paragraph I said, “As a regular volunteer at they XYX Community Center, I would welcome the opportunity to work with a company that holds the importance of communities to such a high level.”
Remember, you can’t really appeal to a company unless you do the research. So, do the research and find something that makes them think, “This is someone that will fit in perfectly!”