Every person in business has been told the rights and wrongs of getting hired. We’re all keen to listen in on what “secret sentence” to put in our cover letter that will get us hired or what type of paper sends the right impression. When it comes to getting hired as an art director, copywriter or any creative in advertising, most of this advice goes right out the window. Getting a job as a creative means that your courting of the artistic mind must begin with even the smallest details of the hiring process, namely your resume and cover letter.
Search the internet for what to include in a cover letter and you’ll find plenty of advice. Mostly, you’ll want to talk about yourself a bit and why the reader should want to get to know you, why you want to work for the reader, and maybe a few “tidbits” that you “wouldn’t get from the resume.” While all of this is fine, creatives want to be engaged.
Having read applicants’ cover letter/resume combos, and having recently redone my own I’ve got a few words of advice for aspiring creatives: Throw everything you’ve heard out the window.
I’ve had copywriters tell me stories of writing an entire cover letter complaining and describing an annoying uncle and been hired instantly. I’ve heard of application materials being sent to the shredder for saying “My responsibilities included..” My challenge, and advice, is to tell a story. It doesn’t even have to be a good one. Just show me you know how to play to the theatre of the mind, that you can dance with words; a delight with images both real and inferred.
The last thing I want to read is another form letter telling me that you know how to fill in the blanks. I want to get to know you. The person that may potentially hire you wants to get to know you. That starts by injecting your passion for what you do into everything you do, 100% of the time, including something as mundane as job applications.
So you didn’t mention every campaign that the company has worked on or you stumbled through your recantations of the creative process at a previous position? So what. Get the interviewer on the hook naturally, he or she doesn’t need a sheet of specifications talking about how awesome the hook is.
1. Tell me a story. If you can jumpstart my creativity, big bonus points.
2. Be creative. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with the job, if you can sell it.
3. Never, ever, ever, ever send a cover letter with another company’s name as the addressee. Typo or not, you’ve immediately shown that the job you’re applying for isn’t important enough to write individually.
4. No typos. No grammar mistakes. No second chances. The first time I, or anyone else, sees your application packet could be the last if there’s even a smidgen of carelessness. Which leads me to:
5. Everything should be deliberate. From your introduction sentence to your portfolio’s presentation, show your passion. It’s supposed to be fun to be creative, right?