Here’s a quick pop quiz with only one question: What’s the most important sentence in your cover letter? Of course, every detail of your letter will play a critical role in the job search process, but if you knew that one sentence had more influence than any other and you had to choose which one, how would you answer? Hint: It’s not the first.
The first sentence of your cover letter should introduce you. Which means you’ll need to use this sentence to let readers know who you are, the position you’re applying for, and how you found out about it. If you already have a social connection or experience in common with your reviewer, the first sentence can also be a smart place to mention this. For example, if the two of you met and spoke at an industry conference a few weeks earlier, you’ll want to remind her of this encounter upfront, so she can call your name and face to mind.
But the second sentence is where your message really takes off. Of course you want the job, and of course your letter will explain your qualifications. But the second sentence of your letter will ideally contain the most important part of your message. Here are a few tasks this sentence will need to accomplish.
What Have You Got?
Your second sentence will need to suggest the primary skill or trait that you can bring to this position and this company. If your years of experience are a selling point, now would be a good time to offer a number. If you have one exceptional accomplishment or highly recognizable project to your credit, including a well-known and highly respected former employer, mention that employer’s name here.
Why You Instead of Someone Else?
Your second sentence should also name at least one thing—one accomplishment, skill set, certification, award, or specific ambition—that the other candidates in the pool will be unlikely to claim. You can add more detail as you continue down the page, but your second sentence should draw your reviewer’s attention to this detail. Visit Free Resume Builder for more on how to format your letter in a way that grabs the spotlight.