If we had a nickel for every time we saw the opening line ‘I’m writing to be considered for position X…’ we’d be some very rich content marketers.
While there’s nothing wrong with keeping your cover letter traditional, sticking with a cookie-cutter template and conventional language can make it hard to stand out. Doing something a bit unexpected with your cover letter, on the other hand, can pique the interest of the hiring manager and give you a better shot at winning an interview.
While writing a creative cover letter can be risky, it can really pay off when you want to set yourself apart or land your dream job. Follow these tips for writing a cover letter that gets noticed and use the creative cover letter examples below to get the unique ideas flowing.
When to use creativity
To stand out from other applicants
Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. If you’re reading dozens of letters that all sound more or less the same, they’re going to start to blur together. But if you come across one that tells an interesting story, makes you laugh, or is just genuinely enjoyable to read, you’re going to remember it. In a sea of similar applications, a creative cover letter can help you make a splash.
To show alignment with the company culture
Some companies are more suited to creative cover letters than others. An industry innovator like Google is likely to be more responsive to a quirky letter than, say, an esteemed corporate law firm. If the company’s culture is one where creative thinking is valued, a cover letter that’s a little offbeat can show that you’d fit in well on the team.
To share your personality
Interviews are invaluable for going beyond the resume and learning more about candidates as people. You can get one step ahead of that, though, by using your cover letter to let a bit of your personality shine through.
As a long shot
Maybe you know you’re underqualified, and the hiring manager will also know you’re underqualified once they read your resume. And yet, you have so much enthusiasm for the job that you just might be the perfect fit. Some managers don’t mind hiring someone they can train, so in a long-shot scenario, writing a creative cover letter might convince the right reader to give you a chance.
What to include in the cover letter
To add creativity to a cover letter, your introduction will be the most important part–either it works or it doesn’t. If your first sentence makes the hiring manager roll their eyes, it’s going to be difficult to win them back over by the end of your letter.
The key is crafting an introduction that’s creative without being cheesy or cringe-inducing, which is easier said than done. Here are a few routes you can take for a creative cover letter introductory sentence:
- Passion “With a nurse and a firefighter for parents, saving lives is in my blood.”
- Quirky example “I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure my clients’ deliveries are on time, even if it means jumping a fence and sprinting past a vicious attack dog.”
- Admiration “I’ve been a Nike fanatic since I slipped on my first pair of Air Jordans back in 1991.”
- Memorable anecdote “I’ll never forget the first home security product I helped bring to market.”
- Accomplishment “Raise subscription rates by 50 percent? Check.”
- Testimonial “My last boss called me one of the best crisis managers he’s ever worked with.”
- What you’re not “If you’re looking for someone who keeps their head down and punches the clock, I’m not your candidate.”
Though they’re all different, the thing these introductions have in common is that they reference specific examples and can be parlayed into a further discussion of concrete skills or qualities that are relevant to the job.
Tips for a more creative cover letter
Support it with substance
A creative cover letter can quickly go off the rails if it’s all flash and no substance. Make sure that whatever colorful examples and witty turns of phrase you’re using serve a purpose: to demonstrate how you’re the right person for the job.
Enlist a friend
Before you hit ‘send’ on your unconventional cover letter, it’s a good idea to have an objective party give it a read to make sure you’re getting your point across (and that there are no typos!).
Don’t go overboard
If your cover letter veers too far into left field, you risk calling your judgment into question or worse, going viral on the internet for all the wrong reasons. The goal is to add a sprinkle of personality, not an avalanche, so be judicious with your creative writing.