A few nights ago a friend asked me to look over her cover letter. She really wants an internship this summer and knew I had some success in the past. Her world is different than mine, theatre, but a good cover letter is a good cover letter.
She sent it over and I started reading it. About four sentences in I messaged her on facebook asking if the place had a stuffy atmosphere. It wasn't so I told her that she should probably rewrite her cover letter.
The issue was not that it was not a good cover letter. In fact it fit every criteria they teach you in business cover letter writing classes to a T. But she wasn't applying to a business this was a theatre company and, much like advertising agencies, they like people with personalities.
The cover letter was tragic because she had expressed so much excitement to me about the place. but didn't get that into the letter. she also did herself a disservice by listing what she's done, but not really conveying anything.
This is a problem I've seen with a lot of my friend's cover letters. They come off as a bit dull because that's how college's teach you to write them.
For being such a loyal reader you get to hear my technique. While no expert, I like to think my method for writing cover letters is pretty solid.
However, let me preface the process with this; each cover letter should be intensely personal and customized.Write every single one tailored to the business rather than using some template. Companies can sniff out templates like bloodhounds.
Now the process 5 step process:
First, you need a grabber. this is the headline, the first impression. It can either hook or turn someone off immediately- so make it good.
I am going to transform your agency in ways you didn't know existed.
That's a grabber, but please do not use that one. It's really terrible.
Second, you'll need to tell them who you are and what you want from them. Avoid the generic student at so and so college, just your name and the position will do. But still jazz it up a bit.
My name's Horatio Salamon and the voice of God instructed me to apply for your jr. web designer position.
Third, you need to tell them why you are applying to that business. What makes them special or even the prefect place to work. This part takes some heavy duty research because you want to hit on the kernel that resonates the most with you. A big part of this section is actually wanting to work at a place. the passion will show.
Working at Gargantuan would not be an opportunity wasted on me. Your constant commitment to paradigm-shifting work has no equal in this industry. There is no way to describe the spine tingling feeling I get when looking at your work.
Fourth, write all about yourself. What you've done, what passions you have, why you are perfect for them in every way. Point out major accomplishments but you have to show them. Don't say you are a leader, instead tell them all about the time you had 150 students shut down the university in protest. this is the part where you make yourself uber-desirable. (Don't get all braggy but have some confidence about your work.)
I recently developed a site for Big Coffee Co. Coffee has always been a love of mine and I immersed myself in the company's entire process to make a site that really spoke to their core. You can see it at BigCoffee.Co. My friends and I also spearheaded an effort at State University to feng shui the freshman dorm rooms in 2009. Now every incoming freshman gets a bamboo plant the day they move on campus.
Fifth, close that sucker real tight. As Alec Baldwin said in Glengarry Glenn Ross "Coffee's for closers only." So no coffee until you come up with the perfect conclusion to the letter. Bottle up all your excitement about the position in this one paragraph. And put down your contact information. they should get how much you want to work here even if they just read this one paragraph.
There are few thoughts more exciting that getting to work at Gargantuan alongside you guys. You influence culture and I want to too. The best place to reach me is via email at BetYourBottomSalamon@cool.co - I'll be obsessively checking my iPhone for your response.
Of course you cover letter should be a million times better than Horatio's. So good luck on writing a ton of these and getting a job. My last bit of advice would be to make your cover letter as concise as possible.
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