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Taking a Different Approach with Your Cover Letter

Are you concerned that your cover letters aren’t grabbing the attention of hiring managers? Do you agonize over what to say in a cover letter that will capture the interest of the recipient?

You might want to think about taking a new and different approach with your cover letters. If you are pursuing a job in a creative industry, you may want to use your cover letter as an opportunity to demonstrate your creativity. Even if you aren’t in a creative field, don’t be afraid to be inventive and show your resourcefulness.

For example, you may think a cover letter for an IT job has to be boring, but it doesn’t have to be. Your target job may be more analytical, linear and “left brain”, but by showing you have creative and “right brain” skills, you can come across as multi-faceted and an outside-the-box thinker.

Not all hiring managers are created equal, so make sure to look at and assess both sides of being creative when it comes to the position you are targeting. Depending on the job and the organization, there may be a risk to writing a creative or non-traditional cover letter. Regardless of what approach makes sense or what direction you decide to take, you want to make sure you demonstrate your passion --- for the job, the company, the industry and the work involved. Genuine passion will help to set you apart from other candidates who may lack your zeal.

First, some important rules of thumb regarding cover letters:

  1. They are still a MUST for conveying your interest in the position you are applying for, pointing out your qualifications for the position and providing an example of your written communication skills.
  2. Customize each cover letter. Don't just use a cover letter template with the contact information swapped out.
  3. Don’t use stock formatting and language. Try to create a letter in your words and incorporate your personal style.
  4. Research the company and the position thoroughly to ensure your letter relates to who they are and the type of candidate they are looking for, as well as shows what you know about the company. You want to communicate in the company’s “voice,” reflecting what you’ve learned about their culture. What you find in your research (for ex., a recent company news item or event) may provide the starting point for taking a unique approach.
  5. Call out any stories or examples you have from your experience that are relevant to the job you are pursuing and exemplify your strengths.
  6. Consider incorporating a bulleted list of what you bring to the table.  

It’s easy to put a different slant on your cover letter even though you are presenting the same information as in a conventional cover letter. You can start with the first sentence by making it an opener that’s attention-grabbing instead of the standard “Attached is my resume for the Account Executive job” or “I am inquiring about the job posting on your website for an Executive Assistant.”

Below are some examples of cover letter openers that take a different and more creative approach:

  • Your job listing for a Sales Representative caught my eye, as it sounds like an exciting opportunity to utilize my customer service and account management skills to increase sales for a leading consumer technology provider such as B & L Enterprises. I would welcome the chance to meet with you and show you that I have what it takes to excel at B & L.
  • When I saw your job listing for a Financial Analyst, I noticed that your candidate description perfectly matches the qualifications I have to offer Boylston Associates. Please consider the following: (bulleted list of qualifications matching candidate description).
  • Is your company in search of a seasoned sales executive with a track record of exceeding quotas? If the answer is yes, below are just a few of my recent sales achievements:
    • Consistently exceeded quarterly sales quotes with the ABC Manufacturing Company;
    • Trained and managed a team of 12 high performing sales associates as ABC’s Sales Director; and
    • Contributed to ABC’s 150% year over year revenue growth from 2013 to 2015.
  • After getting my first pet at age seven, I devoted much of my time to rescuing and caring for sick and injured animals, often bringing them to the Westwood Animal Clinic and consulting with Dr. Thomas. With my growing passion for veterinary medicine, I am now attending Veterinary School and would welcome the opportunity to apply as an intern in the Clinic’s Veterinary Assistant position.
  • During the past eight years, I have played a major role in revitalizing and expanding the production department at J.B. Tower Company. I now seek a new challenge with the Mojo Group in which I can dedicate my energy and my leadership and communication skills.
  • Who knew that all the time I spent gaming on the Internet as a teenager would result in my achieving the role of Software Development Manager at Techno Company and now, potentially working as Development Director at JKL Web.
  • When I saw the news item that the Downtown Coalition had raised over $200,000 for environmental awareness, I knew it was the type of socially responsible company I would love to bring my activism experience to.

We hope these examples have inspired you to be creative and given you some thoughts on the direction you can take with your next cover letter. Starting with a quick anecdote, a question or a more conversational statement can do more than help your letter stand out from the others using traditional openings --- it can make a difference to hiring managers, who will view you as the innovator you are!

3 Ways the Cover Letter Helps You Make Your Case
5 Basic Cover Letter Questions Answered
Submit a Cover Letter, Whether You Need It or Not
Why You Should Never Copy a Sample Cover Letter 

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