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Opening Lines: Let Your Cover Letter Drive Your Resume

Have you ever thought about the effectiveness of the front page of a newspaper or the cover of a magazine? Or how about Jay Leno’s show-opening monologue or the first sentence from the President’s State of the Union speech?

Opening StatementIn short, they’re the first visual or verbal shots that grab your attention and announce, "Do you like that? I’ve got more for you!"

An effective cover letter serves a similar purpose: It tells an employer–in your own words–why you should be the one to get the job, and nudges them to look at your resume. So, your cover letter needs to reflect your self-confidence and demonstrate how your skills and experience are a strong fit, based on the job description.

And you need to make it easy to read. You’ve probably heard this enough already but, what the heck, one more time won’t hurt: The person reviewing your cover letter and resume will spend very little time with it, so you need to grab his or her attention right away.

Remember: The cover letter and resume, taken together, serve as a marketing document whose purpose is to land you an interview. The objective is to convince the hiring manager that you’re worth their time.

Take this sample paragraph:

I have several years of sales experience in the pharmaceutical industry that would prove valuable to your company. I pride myself on setting goals, taking action, and getting results. That philosophy has allowed me to accomplish the following:

  • Exceed quarterly sales quotas 75% of the time;
  • Increase market share for blood pressure medications 15% over two years; and
  • Drive a 50% increase in customer satisfaction within my territory over two years.

I would welcome an opportunity to demonstrate what I could do for your company’s sales efforts.

It’s less than 100 words, yet it exudes confidence while detailing–with numbers–what the writer has accomplished. It gives the hiring manager a picture of what he or she might expect in the candidate, and provides enough detail to determine whether the candidate should be called for an interview. If you get the call, your cover letter has done its job.

What about you? In your experience, what words or phrases have you used in a cover letter that have helped you win a job interview? What tips can you share with others? Tell us in a comment.

RELATED LINKS

Your Cover Letter: The Gateway to Your Resume
Why You Should Never Copy a Sample Cover Letter
Making the Cover Letter Your Secret Weapon

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