What do employers really want in a cover letter for creative jobs?

From: no-reply: Unfortunately, we have decided to progress other candidates at this time. And no, we don’t provide feedback.

Much like anything you produce online, you don’t have long to make an impression before people close the tab and move on. Nothing much rides on whether someone reads this post, likes my pic, or shares my status, but a good cover letter is the difference between a call-back and an automated email.

Creative digital roles are notoriously difficult to progress with, and even harder to get into. A few years ago, social media management and digital marketing was a new phenomenon that suddenly opened the doors to a new age of internet savvy digital marketers. Now, with 3.6 billion social media users worldwide, a CV detailing your online proficiency just isn’t enough.

You’ll need to showcase your nuanced understanding of the digital world and how audiences relate to it. A cover letter is the perfect way to do this. Digital media is like an artform. So, what are some of the things to consider when submitting that application?

Don’t repeat your CV

Some applications don’t require one, and others won’t progress you without. Nonetheless, if there’s an option – always send a cover letter.

One thing you should never do is rehash your resume. This is a great opportunity to tell the employer some things they won’t already know about you.

This is your direct line to the talent acquisition specialist who is regrettably reading through the 500+ applications alongside yours. You can put whatever you want here, tell them why you deserve a chance. Jobs like digital marketing, content writing, design, and anything to do with “new media” that offer you the chance to provide a cover letter are literally giving you the opportunity to showcase your creativity.

If you’re going for a copywriting job, why not showcase your writing skills? I’ve written letters before in the styles of call-to-action marketing campaigns, storytelling structures and even in as informal scripts. These methods have gotten me interviews at jobs I don’t even think I was qualified for. What have you got to lose?

For graphic design and artistic vacancies, there’s no harm in creating a letter which has subtle indicators of your talents. You could:

  • Digitally draw yourself a wet signature and place it on the document
  • Create a digital caricature and attach it to your email signature
  • Draw or decorate your cover letter with your illustrator app

One thing I’ve found to be pretty successful is speaking about attribute like resilience or perseverance, and evidence that.

Tailor your cover letter to the job poster

Have you ever created a blanket CV and realised after bulk-applying that you sent every single application addressed to the first company you applied to? Same.

As tedious as you might feel these aspects of applications are, you must make sure – at the very least – they are relevant to the job to which you’re applying. Similarly, don’t accidentally send a journalism letter to a social media vacancy. Sending in a completely peripheral letter is more harmful than not sending one at all.

They can be time consuming and if you’ve been jobhunting for a while, it can feel redundant to do a letter for each and every application. Some things you can do to combat this:

Create a base cover letter per field

This is for when you have a varied skill base and don’t particularly have a preference about which field of work you’d like to pursue. For example, create a letter geared towards social media jobs, digital marketing jobs, and copywriting jobs. You can edit these to meet the demands of the specific role or company if you wish.

Write a general cover letter introducing yourself

You can write a letter that simply introduces you; who are you, and what are you about? This can also work for those of us with many interests and a wider skillset. Often, positively reinforcing the fact you’re a bit of an all-rounder can make you more appealing to a business.

Write a few letters and save them all. It’s always good to have a base to work with, which you can adjust accordingly.

If there’s a job you’re really intent on bagging, the best thing to do is start completely from scratch. Some things you can do:

  • Write a letter describing attributes that the vacancy lists
  • Look at previous work and send samples
  • Rewrite/redo previous work in ways you think better suit the tone of the company
  • Send a sample of materials you would pitch
  • Name the hiring team, company, or editor in the letter

Be yourself!

The most important tip – no matter what you do, make sure it’s you! Take these tips as the skeleton; ultimately, your cover letter should reflect who you are. Employers read so many applications, regurgitated CVs are not it. And (I would hope) there’s more to you than your previous work experience.

Many people worry about being a bit TMI. The way I look at it, as long as you’re honest, professional and personable, I don’t see anything wrong with straying from the boring old norm.

Corporate robots are sooo last season – standing out is back.

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