Most people spend a great deal of time revising their resumes, but don’t take nearly as much time to work on the cover letter. In my experience, this can cost you a job interview. A well-written cover letter can help keep the reader interested. If the cover letter is eye-catching at the beginning, then the prospective employer is much more likely to continue reading.

So, what is the most effective way to start a cover letter? While there is not one specific answer, the idea remains the same: engage the recipient. Read the following sample first sentence:

Your recent advertisement for a _________________ greatly interested me. After reading your requirements and reviewing my qualifications, I know I am the perfect candidate for your organization.

This type of cover letter opening is fairly standard. It lists the job, showcases the “you” attitude, and states an interest in the position. Depending upon the industry and the organization, this may be sufficient to capture the attention of the reader.

However, if you want to add some “flair” to your cover letter, think creatively. More importantly, use the words in the advertisement to craft your cover letter. And, by using these words immediately, you will capture the reader’s attention. Read the paragraph below for another potential cover letter opening.

Proactive. Diligent. Creative. Motivated. Dedicated. These are all characteristics that are needed for the ________________ position within your organization. Fortunately, these qualities are something I put forth within each employment opportunity I have earned.

This type of opening is unique and different; however, it still portrays the positive attitude you need when writing a cover letter. It also utilizes key words that were in the advertisement; this shows the employer you have taken the time to read the ad and know the important characteristics they are seeking for the new employee.

Finally, be sure to target your cover letter towards the specific job. By personalizing the letter and not sending a “form” letter, the employer knows that you have carefully considered this particular job opportunity. Writing a cover letter that is unique, targeted, and interesting will keep the reader interested and will give you more opportunities to be called for the interview.