Cover Letter Paragraph Critique
February 17, 2019 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Hi friends, I'm on the hunt for helpful critique of a section of my cover letter, which I've revisited several times. (I WILL get it right!).

Here's the paragraph! My questions, as y'all critique:

- Is this too wordy?
- Is what I do apparent to the average reader?
- Am I providing enough value (eg "showing" enough, rather than "telling," or regurgitating resume descriptions)?

"For over a decade, I have developed compelling, on-brand marketing collateral as a professional writer, editor, and content strategist. As editor at Dotdash, a digital publishing company, I play an influential role in the visual “packaging” of how-to articles by crafting project briefs for content illustrators. Fulfilling several creative functions, I formulate creative concepts for artist execution and render difficult topics across finance and technology into easily consumed, visual-friendly copy points. I routinely collaborate with content editors to ensure both art and copy line up with brand expectations."

Thanks, MetaFilter!!!!
posted by shelle to Writing & Language (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think it's too wordy and the words themselves are too flowery.
Not super apparent what you actually do.
Rewrite suggestions:

"For over a decade, I have developed on-brand marketing collateral. As editor of the digital publishing company, Dotdash, I craft project briefs for content illustrators. Through creative channels, I render difficult topics across finance and technology into easily consumed and visual-friendly copy points. I collaborate with content editors to ensure both art and copy line up with brand expectations."

Honestly, I think the last sentence is pretty stellar and gets to the point.
posted by Sassyfras at 11:19 AM on February 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


Thanks so much! Yes, I had a feeling that this, my fifteenth (?) rewrite was wordy and flowery. For reference, this is what I had before I went crazy with rewriting and tweaking.

For over a decade, I have developed compelling, on-brand marketing collateral as a professional writer, editor, and strategist. My current work as editor at digital publisher Dotdash challenges me to serve a variety of creative functions—in crafting project briefs, I translate articles across difficult topics like finance and technology into easily consumed, visual-friendly copy “bites” and provide on-point creative direction for artists. I collaborate with content editors to ensure both art and copy line up with brand expectations.
posted by shelle at 11:32 AM on February 17, 2019


Cover letters should focus on accomplishments, not tasks. This information should be in your resume, not your cover letter.
posted by Automocar at 11:51 AM on February 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


Seconding Automocar. This isn't what a cover letter is for; you should be naming your accomplishments and not explaining what you do. Ask a Manager has loads of great examples: https://www.askamanager.org/2016/05/heres-another-example-of-a-great-cover-letter.html
posted by masquesoporfavor at 12:57 PM on February 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Thank you!! What about something like--


For over a decade, I have developed compelling, on-brand marketing collateral as a professional writer, editor, and content strategist. Since becoming editor at Dotdash, a digital publisher, I have employed my professional writing skills and marketing mojo to provide creative guidance to illustrators in the form of project briefs across topics as diverse as finance, cuisine, and technology. A career copywriter and first-time visual strategist, I’ve found the dramatic increase in foot traffic in the time since I’ve started this project to be particularly gratifying.
posted by shelle at 1:08 PM on February 17, 2019


Nitpick, and just my opinion, but the usage of the word collateral rubs me wrong in this instance with its inference of secondary or supporting. Maybe try another word there, even one as simple as materials?

Foot traffic seems out of place unless you're talking about a physical store, fwiw. Also, I'd much rather read your sentence about collaboration.
posted by vers at 1:31 PM on February 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Your paragraph doesn't say anything about content strategy, as I know it, except the phrase.( I work in UX.) If I see "content strategy" I expect to hear about business objectives mapped to content that achieves results. Do you have anything like that you can add?

You're still telling, not showing. And it still doesn't contain enough info that wouldn't already be in your resume. Focus on success, achievement, progressive responsibilities, influencing others, strategic thinking leading to results, etc.

How about something like this?

For over a decade, I have developed compelling, on-brand marketing collateral as a professional writer, editor, and content strategist. Since becoming editor and visual strategist at Dotdash, a digital publisher, I have increased foot traffic to XYZ by 71%, and [insert other metric/award/accomplishment that reads like success rather than tasks here], all while providing creative guidance to illustrators across topics as diverse as finance, cuisine, and technology.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:25 PM on February 17, 2019


Treat your cover letter as seriously as a client. Would you recommend a brand story that’s vague and full of buzzwords...and sounds like every competitor out there? Or would you focus on the storytelling for that brand?

What are you most professionally proud of over the last year? What project blew past its targets? What interesting problem have you solved for a client or your team? Use that as your memorable moment. Maybe it’s a visual that boosted traffic to a channel over 120% one month, a way you broke a story down that made in shareable...that’s your hook to explain how you contributed to traffic.

Good luck!
posted by warriorqueen at 5:02 PM on February 17, 2019


Thanks, everyone. Here's what I'm going with for now:

For over a decade, I have developed compelling, on-brand marketing components as a writer, editor, and strategist. I currently play a multifaceted role as editor at digital publisher Dotdash, where my main challenge lies in developing illustrator briefs that amplify the marketability of existing how-to content—from finance to food to everything in between. My combined output of creative direction and Internet-friendly copy points consistently results in visuals that boost article traffic and enhance a piece’s overall shareability.
posted by shelle at 8:22 PM on February 17, 2019


Some thoughts:

1) I’m not sure I understand having a cover letter that doesn’t refer to the job you’re applying for.

2) Don’t talk about a challenge without specifically addressing how you meet the challenge.

3) In your last sentence, your talk about creative direction and copy as parallel, and that they result in visuals? First, how do you produce creative direction? That’s not a deliverable; it’s an abstraction. How does copy result in visuals? Do you draw illustrations or select stock photos? That’s not copy. It’s possible that these are all terms of art for editorial, but I’m in UX and I’m confused by this sentence.

4) Finally, these are descriptions of activities, not impact. Tell me how you took a KPI from 3 to 5, and how you could do that at my company.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:53 PM on February 17, 2019


For over a decade, I have developed compelling, on-brand marketing components as a writer, editor, and strategist. I currently play a multifaceted role as editor at digital publisher Dotdash, where my main responsibility lies in developing illustrator briefs that amplify the marketability of existing how-to content. In addition to formulating and relaying concepts for artist execution, I condense article contents into succinct, Internet-friendly summaries to integrate with visuals—across the topics of finance, food, and beyond. The results are graphics that boost article traffic and enhance a piece’s overall shareability, with one brand experiencing as much as a X% increase in traffic since last year.
posted by shelle at 10:47 AM on February 18, 2019


"I've worked as a writer, editor, and strategist since 20XX. I'm currently an editor at Dotdash, where I develop graphics and articles for web publishing. Last year my work boosted one brand's traffic by X percent."

You're pitching yourself as a professional writer and editor, and one whose strength is making content accessible. Think about that. Does your cover letter read like it was written by someone who can do that?

I had a feeling that this, my fifteenth (?) rewrite was wordy and flowery.

If you hit your fifteenth rewrite and the paragraph isn't working, then your problem probably isn't with phrasing, it's content. Listen to what people have told you in this thread: the paragraph isn't flowery because you chose the wrong words; it's flowery because you don't have enough to say and you're trying to fill the paragraph like a balloon. Go back and find more content. Literally sit down and make a list, "Here are things I could say about myself in a cover letter..." When that list is too unwieldy to fit in a letter, then you'll be ready to write.
posted by cribcage at 2:32 PM on February 18, 2019


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