Judging a book by its cover letter

Whether you’re just beginning your career in PR and marketing, or you’re a seasoned pro with years of experience, there’s nothing more daunting than writing the perfect cover letter for your dream job.

A million thoughts flood through your head: “I’m normally funny and this isn’t funny”; or “How can I tell them how badly I want this job without sounding desperate”; or “I want to seem knowledgeable about their company without letting them know I’ve stalked their personal Facebook pages and know about the CFO’s vacation in 2010.”

Fire Bee recently hired a new intern. Before finding our “new-bee,” we had to review several cover letters which included family photos, inspirational quotes and my personal favorite–a one liner, “sent from my iPhone.” It turns out the art of writing cover letters is not the focus of college classes.

How can you make your first impression a good one? Before Googling a format for a standard cover letter, here are a few tips to “wowing” your future employer before they even open your resume.

  • Read through the website. Know who you’re addressing. If it’s a small agency, they probably don’t have an HR manager and will be reviewing the applicants directly. Also, no need to address to “sir/madam.” This isn’t the 1800s and you’re not auditioning for a Victorian play. Instead, take time to research via the website and address the team members directly.
  • Creativity is key. Avoid the templates found online. While structurally they serve as a great format, they leave much to be desired in terms of creativity. Remember, you’re applying to a creative-focused agency. Make your cover letter reflect that sentiment! You can make yourself standout by highlighting a funny anecdote that’s applicable to the job or highlighting a fun fact about yourself. Potential employers want to see your writing skills and personality, and your cover letter is the first opportunity to showcase them.
  • Proofread your work. I once received a cover letter written in the third person with a fill-in-the-blanks template left blank. If you’re declaring yourself “detail-oriented” and your letter is riddled with mistakes, this will be a red flag to potential employers.
  • Ask not what we can do for you. I’ve seen several cover letters focusing on how Fire Bee will benefit the applicant’s career directly, while directly missing the mark on what they can bring to the table to benefit Fire Bee. For example, one applicant shared how she wants to work for Fire Bee in hopes of gaining experience to open her own agency in the near future…yeah, we’ll get right on that. While it is important to highlight how your skillset can grow the company, remember that this is supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Ultimately, when writing your letter, just think of your mother whispering in your ear saying “dress to impress.” A cover letter is your proverbial “Sunday best.”

Have any thoughts on how to write an impressive cover letter? Share them with us in the comments below.  

By | 2017-10-13T16:26:56+00:00 October 13th, 2017|0 Comments

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