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Cover Letter advice

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by mcleme9, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. mcleme9

    mcleme9 New Member

    Wanted to get some experienced writers advice on submitting cover letters. I'm still young and looking to land that first full-time job. I'm asking because I've received tips from two different directions. Some say to show off the creativity in cover letters with clever wordage and alliteration, and I've had others tell me to simple, clear, concise and straightforward.

    So what say you, current editors/others who have done this a time or two?
  2. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    Cover letters are to be clear and concise...show your talent in your clips.
  3. joe_schmoe

    joe_schmoe Active Member

    If the alliteration and clever wordage doesn't come natural for you and isn't your style, don't do it. The people hiring you hiring you have been in this business for years and can tell almost instantly when you try to force something together.
    When I read cover letters that try stuff like that I often want to puke. Cheeze doesn't work in this biz. Period.
    Yes the cover letter in a writing business can go a long way toward getting you hired (as it really is the first impression an editor has of your writing), so you want to be able to grab the editors attention. But if it comes across cocky or cheesy it won't do you any good.

    Sell yourself as best you can. In your own words just tell the person why they should hire you. If you can sell yourself persuasively you can write.
  4. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    I do cover letters professionally.

    The job of the cover letter is to get them ot look at your resume and put it in the "Look At These" pile.

    That is all.

    Be simple and concise and have two friends proofread it.
  5. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    This should be in our archives. An excellent treatment of the subject by one of our own:

  6. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    I love writing cover letters. It's your chance to show why you're the best fit for the job. Here are some guidelines to follow:

    1. Don't overwrite.
    2. Don't rehash your resume.
    3. Consider as pragmatically as possible your actual experience and clips and resume. Assume there is someone who has a better clip packet, more experience and a better resume than you who is also applying for the job. Then explain why you're still the better hire. In other words, you're not special. Now tell me why you're special.
    4. Be polite.
    5. Show, even briefly, a knowledge of the place you're applying. Mention a writer or a feature they run.
    6. Don't overwrite.
  7. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    I've said it before and I'll say it again.


    Brief introduction. BRIEF paragraph on why you are IT for this job - your resume and clips will fill in the details. Thanks for your time.

    One page. K.I.S.S.
  8. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member


    If I'm an editor, I don't have any interest in seeing flowery prose in a cover letter. It will all but guarantee that your fantastic prose will go in my circular file.

    Straight and to the point will get me to look at your clips. If your clips blow me away, I'll look back at your cover letter to give you a call to schedule an interview.
  9. trifectarich

    trifectarich Well-Known Member

    Be perfect with grammar and punctuation. If you can't get it right with something you've been working on for days, I'll assume you have no chance to get it right when your deadline is minutes away. That would be one for the "No" pile.
  10. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Active Member

    Should cover letters always be separate documents or is it acceptable to put your "Hi, Why, Bye" in the body of the e-mail? I've had a few people tell me they prefer the latter, but they could well be outliers.
  11. mcleme9

    mcleme9 New Member

    Thanks to everyone for the advice. Very useful stuff
  12. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    If your method of contact is email, then put the cover letter in the body of the email. If you don't, you're blowing your first impression. It would be fairly odd to receive an email from a job candidate that says "I'm applying for your job opening and my cover letter and resume and clips are attached." Try not to waste the recipient's time -- just get down to business and don't make him/her take an unnecessary step.

    Along those lines, this unsolicited tip: If you're attaching a resume, make sure it's a .PDF document. It would suck to spend a lot of time "beautifully" formatting your resume in Word, then later discover that the recipient uses a different program or has a variation of Helvetica on his/her machine and sees nothing but a scrawling mess when he/she opens your document. (This is especially true when one person has a Mac and other has a PC.) As a hiring editor myself, I cannot begin to tell you how many times candidates haven't taken this into consideration. I try not to hold it against them, but if the resume is difficult to read, I won't spend a whole lot of time with it.
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