10 Creative Tips for Your Cover Letter
You’ve probably read dozens of articles about how to write a professional, clean cover letter. So many, in fact, that you could write one yourself. We’re going to spend this article talking about how to make a creative cover letter that stands out from the pack. After all, if we’re all writing the same professional cover letter, none of us are considered unique.
Being unique is an extremely important factor in the hiring process. Sure – employers want a team player as well as a solid individual worker. But the individuality aspect of your personality is far more important that your strength as a team worker. Employers want to know that you are special. They want to know that there’s something more than cover letter tutorials and editors backing you up.
So, we turn to creativity. Below are ten ways to make your cover letter attention-grabbing and interesting – without going overboard. We’ll toss in an example for each one.
1. Be passionate about your career.
“If loving to create is wrong, I don’t want to be right. I’m confident that the rest of the team at Sylvan feels the same way – which is one of the many reasons why I think I’d be a perfect fit for your next hire.”
Proving that the job means more to you than money is key when you’re trying to impress a possible employer. You don’t want to come across as someone who is generating a cookie-cutter cover letter that can apply in all fields. Be passionate about what you want to do – convince your audience that this is the only career path for you. This makes for an intriguing, eye-catching cover letter.
It’s a bonus if you’re actually passionate about your job – but making those emotions obvious is the important takeaway here. Make sure to include the name of the company in your introduction, and do your best to tie in the position for which you’re applying. A well-rounded intro is only good if you make it come back around.
2. Be passionate about the job.
“I spent the vast majority of my childhood in Brooklyn, reading WSN newspapers and wishing I could be as talented as the writers on staff. I started writing myself. I kept that passion, and it’s helped shape my career – from starting as a freelancer to leading a team of my own – which is what led me to apply for this position at WSN.”
In the same way, that you need to convince your employer that you love what you do, you need to convince them that you love the company. This isn’t always possible with small, upstart companies (it’s going to be pretty obvious what you’re doing) – but it’s absolutely possible with large, well-established companies that have been around since your teenage years. Arguing that the company had a personal impact on your life makes you a viable candidate. Your employer can make the safe assumption that you’re committed to the team – and that, in a way, this a dream come true for you.
3. Start with an accomplishment.
“My previous employer used to poke fun of me for my inability to walk away from a potential sale – which is what led me to become the top salesperson in my division after three months on the job. I’m ready for a new challenge, and that’s why I’ve decided to apply for this position at General RV.”
If you’re not ready for the passionate route, trying going to the all-out impressive route. Instead of plucking at your employer’s heartstrings, pull at their need for quality employees. If you were the top salesman at your last job, mention it. If you were given a promotion about just two weeks, mention it. If you won an award, mention it.
Don’t be over-the-top with it. You’re just stating a casual fact about yourself. But make it obvious that you’re not someone to be overlooked – you have an awful lot to bring to the table, and you know it.
4. Grab their attention with humor.
“Thank you very much for offering me the manager position at Buzzfeed! I’m more than willing to accept. Alright, I know we aren’t there yet. But, if we were, here are fifteen reasons why I’d be a wonderful team manager and player.”
Maybe you don’t like to brag. If you don’t know how to write a passionate introduction, and you’re really not sure what to do – try using humor. You shouldn’t tell an outright joke. That can get very cheesy, very fast. But try to be playful with your introduction.
5. Open with a famous quote.
“Ghandi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Well, actually, he said something much longer than that – which was later translated to be the popular quote we know and love today. But he wasn’t wrong. I’m ready to make a change in the world through knowledge of our past – which is why I’m applying for the historian position at the Carnegie Library.”
It can be corny, opening with a famous quote. But it can also highlight your level of intelligence – assuming, of course, that you don’t choose a household quote that everyone and their grandmother already knows. If you pick something interesting that actually ties into the rest of your letter, it will be an asset – rather than a mistake.
6. Speak as if you’ve already been hired.
“When I ran across this job opening last week, I knew I had to apply. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to prove myself as a writer, and it looks like this is it. Not only do you have amazing clients, but the mission of your company matches closely with my personal mission. Together, I think we can do some pretty great things.”
This tactic just makes your letter easier to write. You’re not being too self-centered. You’re just being confident. When it comes to your resume and cover letter, confidence is key. It’s not something that you should be ashamed of – and, if done correctly, this particular strategy will be seamless. Your potential employer won’t even realize that you used it!
7. Keep your introduction short and sweet.
“Writing can be prosperous – when it’s done correctly. Let me show you what my writing experience can do for your company.”
We’ll keep the explanation short and sweet, as well. Employers like to-the-point attitudes.
8. Use numbers to make a point.
“Eighteen basketball players. Six coaches. Two producers. One college president. These are the ingredients for a quality team, but you’re missing one important flavor – a manager. Luckily, I can help you there.”
Especially for managerial positions, using numbers in your introduction can show that you know what you’re talking about. You shouldn’t pull these numbers from nowhere – they should be well-researched and used carefully. But it’s always a good idea to show off your knowledge of the craft. In this example, the applicant is showing off their knowledge of a particular basketball team. The result is smooth and collected.
9. Be painstakingly honest.
“When I was five years old, I smashed my head through our front door during a particularly bad temper tantrum. Since then, I’ve learned about mold and cheap wood – and how neither of those things belonged in our mysteriously affordable Victorian home. This, and other personal experiences, leads me to believe that I’m a great fit for the team manager position at Oswald Construction.”
This is about as close as you can get to making an actual joke in your cover letter. Play at the reader’s sense of humor. This is your opportunity to share a funny story – or something embarrassing about yourself. Don’t be afraid to be honest, even when it hurts. You’re showing your potential employer that you’re capable of poking fun at yourself, and learning from the experience.
10. Consider making a video.
We’ve provided examples for the rest of our tips, but we’ve simply going to provide a URL for this one. To check out Graeme Anthony (an up-and-coming PR practitioner) and his online cover letter, click here.
Going the technological route makes you look media-savvy and creative. It also takes a certain level of independence and time management to create a professional, but intriguing, video that doesn’t completely lose the attention of your audience halfway through. By going this extremely unconventional route, you’re showing your potential employer that you aren’t going to be outdone.
Keep in mind, however, that most serious job applicants write separate cover letters for each job they attempt to acquire. Having one video is impressive, but it falls short of the individual attention employers except you to provide for their position. If you’re going to commit to an online version of your cover letter, you’ll have to (1) make separate videos for each of your applications, or (2) only use your video for special positions.
And there you have it – ten ways to make your cover letter both interesting and professional.