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March 10, 2009

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Unlike the resume, the cover letter offers the writer significant room for flexibility.Successful cover letters have come in various different forms, and sometimes cover lettersthat break rules achieve success by attracting attention. But most don't. Here'ssome basic guidelines on the first paragraph of a cover letter.

First Paragraph:

To be successful, this first paragraph should contain:

  • A first line that tells the reader why you’re contacting them, and how you came to know about the position. This statement should be quick, simple and catchy. Ultimately, what you’re trying to create is a descriptive line by which people can categorize you. This means no transcendental speeches about "the real you" or long- winded treatises on your career and philosophy of life.
  • Text indicating your respect for the firm’s accomplishments, history, status, products, or leaders.
  • A last line that gives a very brief synopsis of who you are and why you want the position. The best way to do this, if you don’t already have a more personal connection with the person you’re contacting, is to lay it out like this:

 

I am a (your identifying characteristic)

 

+

I am a (your profession)

+

I have (your years of experience or education)

+

I have worked in (your area of expertise)

+

I am interested in (what position you’re looking for)

And thus a killer first paragraph is born.

 

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