Cover Letters for the creative?
February 19, 2007 5:29 PM   Subscribe

Creative Cover Letters: Fact or Fiction?

So, I have been looking for jobs lately in an odd sector and I have seen more than one request for a "creative cover letter." While I do enjoy creativity I am a bit worried that anything I might try and pull might come off as odd or inappropriate so what does "creative cover letter" mean exactly? The roles I am looking at are in typically "professional" environments (ie no circus acts or singing telegrams) but they require a high level of human interaction and showmanship as well.

Thanks for any help in advance!
posted by Meemer to Work & Money (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Hey parmanparman - I'd like to see that letter too. I sent a message to the weebsite listed in your profile.
posted by conch soup at 5:53 PM on February 19, 2007

I dont see your email there.. am I missing it?
posted by Meemer at 5:54 PM on February 19, 2007

It might help to tell us what your "odd sector" is. Also, I'm curious.
posted by grobstein at 6:00 PM on February 19, 2007

When I post a job opening, I pay more attention to creative cover letters. A resume sent without a cover letter implies that if he/she didn't care enough to try to stand out from a crowd. A resume without all the credentials I'm looking for BUT with a creative cover letter warrants a closer look.
posted by HeyAllie at 6:18 PM on February 19, 2007

Reading through piles of resumes is boring as hell. A short but entertaining cover letter is always a welcome addition.
posted by tkolar at 6:25 PM on February 19, 2007 is my e-mail address. I'll put it in my profile. Thought it was there.
posted by parmanparman at 6:40 PM on February 19, 2007

i got my last two jobs in the entertainment industry by using creative cover letters.

i must have sent out hundreds of resumes out the first time around. i had a strong academic background, played off that, and got no responses. one day, i applied for this one job, and just totally ripped up my old cover letter and started fresh. i got very personal. i got a call back the next day for an interview, and i was working by the end of the week.

if your work requires a lot of human interaction - then by all means, you should consider the fact that your employer is looking for something confident, self-assured, loud, to come through the cover letter (of course, stay within the boundaries of sounding professional and being gramatically correct). if you've got the experience and interview skills to back your shit up, that's great. that'll convince them to call. but take a risk with your cover letter; otherwise you'll never catch their attention.

to give you an example, i once had to hire a photographer for work. i sent out one very short email to craigslist, and by the end of the day i had 400+ responses. impossible to waddle through. there were two kinds of responses i fiddled out:

1) the "yo check out my website, im dope" approach. its relaxing, but totally unprofessional, and personally, cockiness is a total turnoff (it puts me in that mentality of "let me find the mistake")

2) the "im professionally trained, i worked with the best, i have loads of experience, please call me for my portfolio". i like this, i want somebody professional, but i need something practical and i need it right now, in an email. i also had so many responses from so many different people, that i felt id find a good candidate no matter what.

at the end of the day, i hired a photographer who did a lot of porn. not exactly what i was hiring him to do, but man his pictures of people fucking were well done, and creative. two days later, a black guy walks in to the room with a yellow mohawk and piercings all over his body, and a few minutes later, boom, he got the job. and he did a really good job too. sometimes its not about trying to "fit" in with everybody. its just about getting noticed by the right one. everything else will take care of itself.

good luck.
posted by phaedon at 7:51 PM on February 19, 2007

I got my new job (which I love) using just such a letter (emaila actually). Basically, I read some of the things the company put out and tried to match (not copy, slight difference) their tone. I tried to be as eloquent as I could in explaining why I wanted to get out of the industry I was in and in to the more creative industry I'm now in. It was quite a passionate email - I'd been looking around for jobs for months and written boring letter after boring letter, and I kinda snapped and wrote from the gut. Called the next day and working there a month later.

The basic components were:
I was honest
I was professional but relaxed in tone
I talked about my achievements, but also my aspirations
I kept it short

Good luck! And if you want to see the email I wrote for comparison, my email's in my profile.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:00 AM on February 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Meemer, good luck in your search! I just completed mine after three months and head off for my second week at an awesome record label in, oh, fifteen minutes.

I found that, yes, run of the mill cover letters just didn't do it. However, I also found that overly-creative cover letters didn't have much more impact. So I compromised.

The cover letters basically combined the two. I mostly eschewed the usual cover letter language by finding new words to replace your usual "proactives" and "I am an X with Y years of experience." I got a little bit personal, wrote a couple of funny lines and ACTED INTERESTED.

That last seems to be the major problem with standard cover letters. They take all the joy, interest, and excitement out of it. You just end up sounding like a robot.

But keep in mind that a bit of luck and paying attention to other factors helps. Over a year ago I was testing the waters and submitted a resume for a job a bit over my head. In October, I got a call back from the company because they'd kept my resume on file in case the department expanded (they actually do that!). For various reasons having nothing to do with me, the position they first offered changed completely and I wasn't a fit.

When I realized this, I politely emailed the HR director and the department head thanking them for their time, saying I'd noticed the position had gone off elsewhere and that I'd hope they'd keep me in mind in the future. The HR director responded immediately, apologized, and said he'd keep me in the "persistent but not annoyingly so" file.

The next day the department head dropped me a note to forward me another opening at another label. I sent over the cover letter I described above and got a response within fifteen minutes. My new boss loved the cover letter. He was completely blown away.

And now, off to work!
posted by Captaintripps at 5:21 AM on February 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

A job I once applied for required 10 reasons why you wanted the job (it was a youth website). Mine were tongue-in-cheek and rather on the sarcastic side. I earned myself an interview. (I didn't get the job, though, because I lived too far.)
posted by divabat at 12:43 PM on February 20, 2007

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