Looking for examples of genious cover letters
January 17, 2008 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Help me find examples of great cover letters. I have been looking trough the internet and all the kind of books for help with my cover letter. The trouble is all i come up with resembles the standard boring business cover letter. I am applying for very competetive jobs so i need to stand out.

An earlier metafilter post linked to this . I really like the tips it outlines and the recommended letter but need some more inspiration.

I should state again I look more fore example letters than general writing tips.
posted by ilike to Work & Money (10 answers total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
whew, I have scads that I have written! I am ready to write a book of cover letters with all the ones I've written as I try to transition from journalism to marketing strategy and/or political communication. Mefi mail me with your e-mail and I'll send a few over. NB: I have gotten 11 interviews from 60 cover letters sent out since Dec. 12~ approximately one in four cover letters were original to the job application.
posted by parmanparman at 1:12 PM on January 17, 2008

I think humor can work if it's done right. Years ago, when I wanted to move back to Atlanta, I mailed exactly two letters with resumes and got an interview out of one that led to an offer. The job posting had a bit of attitude in it, so my letter responded in kind. The exact wording escapes my memory at the moment, but it opened with something along the lines of:

"If you've already decided to hire the boss's nephew, then at least go through the motions with my letter: shuffle it around, set your coffee on it, then trash it. If you aren't going to hire him, you might want to know that...(quick listing of my qualifications, etc)."

It was a little cheeky (even by 1996 standards) but it worked.
posted by jquinby at 1:14 PM on January 17, 2008

We got a cover letter once that a manager declared sounded like "Shakespeare on acid." Others have included lines like "I can't tell you how perfect I am for this job." While I support you finding ways to stand out, don't go so crazy that you sound exceedingly arrogant or like, well, Shakespeare on acid.

Also, for what it's worth, the cover letter (email, actually) that I wrote for my current job is what one of the managers told me was the "best he ever read." I had had lunch with him and the CEO the day before where we talked about the company, and my cover letter was basically point by point "here's what you said about [company], and here's why I think that sounds awesome". He said it sounded genuine and enthusiastic and he really liked that.
posted by olinerd at 1:18 PM on January 17, 2008

I don't have any advice for writing cover letters, but this site has some amusing examples of what not to write.
posted by robotot at 1:53 PM on January 17, 2008

This best of craigslist cover letter format was really helpful to me when I was looking for a new job. I had a response rate of approximately 75-80%% with that one, as opposed to <50% with a boring about/monster/whatever.com recommended cover letter formula.
posted by nerdcore at 2:07 PM on January 17, 2008 [7 favorites]

One of the things that makes awesome cover letters stand out is that they perfectly explain why you will be valuable to the employer, written in a way that resonates with the reader. There really isn't a template for that. If you can't articulate why you should have the job, then you probably shouldn't have the job. (If it's the kind of job that doesn't require written eloquence, then a lot of stock probably won't be put into your cover letter anyway.)

That being said, the key to a good coverletter is being clear in the value you offer the company, not in why you'd want the job:

- Intro (1 or two sentences): greetings, and how you heard about the company. If anyone referred you, mention it here.
- Value proposition: go through the attributes you know they are looking for (from the job description) and -one by one- explain how you've fulfilled that attribute in the past and how you'll fufill it for them.
-Conclusion: thank you's etc.
posted by Kololo at 3:07 PM on January 17, 2008 [2 favorites]

has lots of examples. One specific writing tip you need: learn to use a spell checker! People stop reading and toss your paper when they see a typo or spelling error.
posted by RussHy at 3:12 PM on January 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have only examples of what NOT to do (in addition or contradiction to the Craigslist link.)

Don't be presumptuous -- express hope to meet my team and be advanced in the process, but not a certainty that I will meet with you or that I will like you.

Don't focus on what I can do for you -- I don't care about your desire to learn or explore or develop your career.

Don't lie, of course -- but don't air your dirty laundry. I'm amazed at the confessions of failures and inadequacies that people put into their cover letters. Not sure what the strategic objective is here, but whatever it is, is not achieved.

Don't tout your school(s) unless you went to a great school, and then do so only gingerly.

Don't contradict your resume. (Yes it happens all the time.)

Don't tell me what my business is or try to define the job for me. (But do explain why you meet the job requirements I articulated in my ad.)

Don't assume that I'm an HR manager or some other functionary. These days, especially at small firms, bosses review the resumes directly.

Don't send a letter that in any way looks or smells like it is a form letter. A strong applicant customizes his resume for every application, but only the lamest of applicants not only submits a standard resume but a standard cover letter, too.
posted by MattD at 4:03 PM on January 17, 2008

If you're at all going for a position in an industry that esteems creativity, design, etc., you might consider something like this (I can't take credit for this, as its somewhat based off of the idea I saw in a magazine ad once). It was formatted with the header and closing of a basic cover letter, but instead of the body text, you grab them with a large graphic.


Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email


City, State, Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,

The description you posted for a XYZ parallels my qualifications perfectly. Please see below.

| *Me
Innovative |
Creativity* |
Industry Qualifications
& Experience*

Please find my resume attached, I look forward to the opportunity to discuss this position with you.

Your Name


*of course you can substitute whatever they might be looking for here.
Also, that's just one graphic you could use, might help to play around with the idea / throw some plot lines in, get a little more creative. Also, the graphic should be the majority of the page. The basic idea was that it communicated your vitals, mentioned the resume, and drove home the point quickly that you were a fit for their needs. Most importantly, however, it drew the eye quickly to a cover letter that stood out from the rest.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:13 AM on January 18, 2008

Innovative |
Creativity* |
.......................Industry Qualifications
.............................& Experience*

*bah - not familiar enough with how to make things line up like others do so well - should have looked more like this, minus all the "."s.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:19 AM on January 18, 2008

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