How to Write a Creative Cover Letter

You’re excited as you read a job description until you get to the application requirements and read: “Include a creative cover letter that demonstrates why you’re the right fit for this role.”

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This line often stresses out job seekers—especially for developers and designers that are more comfortable creating products than crafting prose.

But don’t get scared off! Instead of simply rewording your resume, approach your cover letter with a creative hook that draws in the reader and allows you to communicate who you are, how your skill set would benefit their team, and why you want to work for them.

A good way to grab a hiring manager’s attention is to open with a short story or an anecdote that introduces a larger theme. Consider the following angles:

Show Your Knowledge and Passion for the Industry

If you have past experiences or achievements that show you are truly passionate about the role you’re applying to, this is a great way to break the ice at the beginning of your cover letter. These could be examples tied to the job description, the company’s mission or work, or the industry that the company works within.

Perhaps there was a defining moment in your life that set you on the path you are now on, or maybe one of your hobbies or passions can be tied directly to the job you are applying to. Think about it and find a way to make this connection in the first few paragraphs of your cover letter through a short story or an anecdote.

An example:

  • I’ve always had a love of travel and exploring new places. Throughout university, I took every opportunity to study abroad and learn from those around the world, and travel continues to be an important part of my life. Pursuing my fascination and appreciation of the many cultures and landscapes of the world as a [JOB TITLE] at National Geographic would be a dream come true.

Reveal Important Character Traits

Ambition, kindness, courage, diligence—what are the traits that define your character? Think about how these aspects of who you are as a person and as a professional could make you a good fit for the role you’re applying to.

One way to make this connection is by doing research on the company’s values and any community efforts they may be involved in. If you have an anecdote or past experience that illustrates these values you share, include it! This is a good way to show that you would be a good fit within the company culture.

This is a particularly good angle if you don’t have much or any previous experience in the sector you’re looking to move into. It allows you to illustrate how you are a good fit for the company, even if you don’t necessarily have direct professional experience in their space.

An example:

  • For as far back as I can remember, my grandma and I would visit the local craft market together every Christmas. It was something I always looked forward to; seeing all of the unique ways local artists would take mundane items and create something beautiful and unexpected. I feel like this experience instilled me with an appreciation for the creative process and looking at things differently—something I would bring to my role as UX Designer at [COMPANY NAME].

Open With Your Sense of Humor

Anyone, regardless of industry, can appreciate a talented employee that also has a sense of humor. Opening your cover letter with a humorous anecdote can be a good way to stand out while being creative.

If you choose to incorporate humor in your cover letter, keep it concise and make sure it’s tasteful and respectful. Opening with humor can be a good way to grease the wheels, but you also have to show that you are a skilled professional that takes your work seriously.

An example:

  • I think the best designs and works of art incite a reaction out of their audience. The first piece of art I ever created brought my parents to tears—of course, it was a permanent marker masterpiece on the walls of their home, but sometimes you have to go BIG! While I don’t often doodle on the walls anymore, my love of creating art that inspires an audience is as strong as ever. That’s why I want to be the Art Director at [COMPANY NAME].

Have Fun With It

The key to writing a creative cover letter is to allow yourself to think outside the box. So let yourself explore the possibilities and just start writing—you have to start somewhere.

Try not to overthink it. Take a few minutes to brainstorm and then just begin writing and see what you come up with. Once you find a good angle, trust your instincts and explore the story.

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