How to Introduce Yourself in the Introduction Paragraph

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Presenting yourself effectively in the introductory paragraph of a cover letter or personal statement can make you stand out in a large applicant pool. Job applicants usually include cover letters with their resumes, while graduate school applicants are often required to write personal statements. While a cover letter’s introductory paragraph should be concise and focus specifically on your fit for a specific position, your introductory paragraph of a personal statement can be longer and reveal more about your overall development or preparation in your desired field.

1 Cover Letter

After you have clearly stated the position for which you are applying, you should provide a one- or two-sentence summary of why you are a worthy applicant. You can highlight your educational preparation, past professional experience or any accomplishment that closely relates to the position for which you are applying. You can also mention in this introduction anyone who might have referred you to the position. Your cover letter introductory paragraph should be approximately four sentences long. Avoid using the word "I" in every sentence or to start every sentence; for example, you can start a sentence with a prepositional phrase.

2 Personal Statement or Letter of Introduction

An opening to a personal statement or general letter of introduction should also be enthusiastic in tone and highlight your desire and qualifications to apply for a particular position. It can, however, be longer, roughly six sentences, and more anecdotal in its delivery. Including a brief story or experience from your past that proved formative to your current pursuits can both engage your reader and make your overall application more memorable to the reviewing committee.

Teresa J. Siskin has been a researcher, writer and editor since 2009. She holds a doctorate in art history.