Cover Letters: Make Them You

typing the cover letter

Hey, wanna read something fun? Then check out this article full of quotes from cover letters! Wait, what’s wrong? That doesn’t sound fun? Well, trust me, it is. Because these aren’t just any cover letters. They’re cover letters from the likes of Eudora Welty, Hunter S. Thompson, and even Leonardo DaVinci. But the fact that I need to clarify that brings up the real issue here: cover letters, for the most part, are boring. They’re stilted. They’re dry. They’re impersonal. Heck, even as I was applying for writing jobs, I still wrote cover letters that had a pinch more personality than the stuff in my spam folder. Why? Because really putting yourself out there means taking a risk, and taking risks is well… risky. You don’t want to be yourself in your cover letter because what if your personality turns off a potential employer? Well then, good. That’s not someone you wanted to work for anyway. Here’s something to keep in mind as a job applicant: you can only go up. When you apply for Job X, you are Person Who Doesn’t Have Job X. If you put together a cover letter that genuinely reflects your personality and the hiring manager or whoever doesn’t like it, then you’re still Person Who Doesn’t Have Job X. Taking risks in the job application process can’t actually do you any damage. No one’s going to call you up and say, “I read your cover letter and I hated it. Therefore, not only will you not be getting the job, but you now have a gluten allergy.” Of course, I understand that not getting a job feels like a minus, especially if it’s a job you really want. You don’t feel like Person Who Doesn’t Have Job X. You feel like Person Who Tried To Get Job X And Failed. But that’s another reason to read this article. A lot of these people didn’t get the job that they were applying for, and guess what? They still went on to be hugely important cultural icons. But enough already! Head over toe Quartz and read the article, and ask yourself, how can you make your cover letter a little more you. (And for some extra fun, watch the video at the end.)

(photo by Flickr user Yosomono used under a Creative Commons License.)

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