Creative Cover Letters: Good or Bad?

Utilizing Creative Cover Letters can be tricky. They’re tricky because they have no real rules (like the Wild West of the Career World – anybody is allowed to do anything they want as long as it gets the job done). A common question I hear is “should my cover letter show off my personality?” A lot of people, especially recent University graduates, often feel very tempted to write more unique cover letters in order to show off their personality. The dilemma is almost two fold. How do you make it stand out? Standard cover letters are not really designed to showcase one’s cleverness, sense of humor, or intellectual curiosity, yet these traits are highly desirable in an employee. So, how do you manage to bridge that gap? Here are a few things to keep in mind while writing those creative cover letters.

Know the Company when crafting those Creative Cover Letters

As the title implies knowing the company is the simplest rule in determining how “creative” to make your cover letter. All you need to do is research the company you’re applying to. What is their attitude? Do they use slang on their website, or are they taking caution to appear as professional as possible? Are they a corporate company or are they an agency? Generally, you want the tone of your cover letter to mesh with the overall tone set by the company. A pharmaceutical company isn’t going to hire someone who’s cover letter reads like a David Letterman monologue, just as a more creative online design agency isn’t going to hire someone who’s cover letter was filled in like a Mad Lib.

Find the Middle Ground

If you feel confident that the company you are applying for will appreciate one of your creative cover letters, you should absolutely go for it. However, it’s very important that you don’t take it too far. Ideally, you’ll want your cover letter to showcase your creativity and also your professionalism. Even those companies that encourage you to write more creative cover letters aren’t interested in hiring a clown. If you’re going to write one of your creative cover letters, make sure you balance that creativity out with a healthy injection of professionalism. That’s not to say that you cannot be creative, but an important goal of a cover letter is to prove that you are capable of writing, acting, and expressing your thoughts in a professional manner. At the end of the day, these creative companies are still businesses. And businesses tend to work better when their employees act professionally.

Proceed with Caution!

Remember, creative cover letters are uncommon because they are hard to get right. It’s tempting to want to write a creative cover letter since your resume (like everybody else’s resume) can make you look like the most boring person in the world. But keep in mind that the job of the cover letter is to showcase your ability to write, act, and convey your thoughts in a professional manner. You will always have the opportunity to show off your personality during the job interview, which your resume and cover letter will help you get. So don’t think that deciding against writing a creative cover letter will make employers think you’re boring. Good employers understand that cover letter’s rarely make good reads, but they are exceptional tools in finding out what type of employee an individual is. If you can write a fantastically professional cover letter and let your personality speak for itself during the job interview, it might be in your best interest to air on the side of caution and do just that.

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