I’ve written quite a lot of them in the past two years, and I’m starting to wonder if it’s possible to write one sincerely and meaningfully. Librarian job postings have been my first foray into professional job applications requiring cover letters, and despite all the mandatory resume classes of high school and college I’d never before written one.
I found resources online – ‘how to’, formatting and hired librarian cover letter examples – figured out the purpose and the formula, and hodgepodged my first cover letter together from sample text and my own experiences. It was a hot mess, but it was a start.
With quite a few of them under my belt now, the construction is almost old hat and the new challenge is sincerity. The medium itself necessitates formality and ego (“Dear Sir or Madame, I am writing in response to your job opening and I am excited by the possibility of working in a position where I can utilize my skills…” begins every cover letter ever) and I’m suspicious that all job seekers are following the same templates. It’s hard to imagine a hiring manager excited to read a stack of cover letters gleaned from the likes of jobsearch.about.com, but there are only so many ways to say ‘I have the experience and education you’re looking for and I’d be really excited to do the work you require’.
This leads me to wonder about getting creative. In the library world it’s a bit of a gamble – the person reading your application could be innovative and open-minded or a traditionalist who’d take a less formal cover letter as a sign of disinterest. Ultimately it comes down to the vibe of the job posting and the company atmosphere, but here are some good examples of people having fun (while still being effective):
- Scantilily Clad – matching a creative and informal job posting with a like-minded cover letter
- Hagan Blount – infographic resume
- Ed Hamilton – curriculum vitae posted to Google Maps
- Jordan P. Fowler – mockup Facebook page as letter of interest
- Puff Piece – simple ways to pump up a cover letter
- Smashing Magazine – exhaustive piece on writing impressive and individual cover letters