They say it’s a dog-eat-dog world and for women in the working world – it can be. Women currently make less than men, and it’s even worse if you’re a woman of color. We are often pressured to stay home to take care of children or are looked over for a position because of our gender. It’s not easy being a woman pursuing a career. Try being a woman looking for a new job or a first job! And with the economy these days, it’s super difficult for anyone to have their resume or cover letter picked out from the pile for an interview.
Starting off as a freelance writer, I didn’t have time to hope that a potential employer would randomly see something in my cover letter and resume that made them want to call me for an interview. I needed clients who paid and fast.
I quickly noticed that none of the jobs that I had first applied to were contacting me for an interview, though I wasn’t that surprised. I felt in my writer’s soul that my cover letter was boring and monotone. I didn’t like it, so why would a potential employer like it? I also knew that starting off as a full-time freelancer, I didn’t have a lot of experience that would attract employers to me. I had some experience, but maybe not enough.
I needed something that would grab their attention right away. The move from California back to my parent’s home in Texas and a lack in financial funds was incentive enough – I needed paying jobs so I could quickly get my own apartment and start living my independent life again.
I had gotten my MFA in Creative Writing and I was an artist – if ever there was someone who could come up with a creative cover letter idea, it was me! So I began to research in my favorite platform – Pinterest.
If you haven’t heard, Pinterest is a wonderful career resource. With it, I searched “creative cover letters.” The results showed that some people had created videos, PowerPoints, fake social media accounts, e-mail newsletters, or advertisement that targeted the hiring managers at companies they wanted to work at. Though these were all wonderful ideas, they weren’t right for me.
Then I came upon a job posting for a hotel writer for Oyster.com. I went to their website and looked through the hotel reviews and I noticed they all had the same structure. It suddenly hit me! What if I wrote my cover letter in the same structure as the Oyster.com hotel reviews? And what if what I was reviewing was not a hotel, but myself as a candidate for the position?
It was a long shot, but I had nothing to lose and I was desperate to stand out among the boring cover letters and resumes that everyone else sent in.
I wrote out my cover letter in the Oyster.com hotel structure and sent it in… and a few hours later, I received an e-mail! They wanted to jump on a call with me and long story short, I got the job and now Oyster.com is one of my top paying clients. (Plus, I recently signed on with them to write travel stories, so I’d say this was a huge win)
It worked! My creative cover letter had worked and I was ecstatic.
However, I needed other clients to fill up my full-time schedule. A few months later, I came across Gogobot, another travel-related site looking for a short contract writer. They, too, had their site set up in a specific format, so I set up my cover letter along the format of their website and lo and behold, I got that job also!
Granted, I know this cover letter idea doesn’t work for every type of job posting (trust me, I’ve tried). It generally hinges on creative job types such as those in advertising, marketing, PR, social media, and writing. However, I don’t see why it can’t be adjusted for different job types.
For instance, if a company is looking for a secretary that’s proficient in Microsoft PowerPoint, why not create a PowerPoint cover letter that features your qualifications? It may take a day or so to come up with a creative way to apply this idea to your cover letter, but I have faith in your ability to do so.
Whether it be cover letters or anything else in life, those who stand out are those who are generally remembered.