Creative Alternatives In Cover Letters

Usually you are advised to follow a format with your cover letter, although this format is only particularly restrictive for the very first sentence or two, which typically tells an employer which job you're applying for. There is a practical purpose in doing this since this helps to keep your resume and cover letter from getting separated or mixed in with others, but there are a few ways you can change the format and make your cover letter more creative, if that's appropriate.

Woman smiling at work

Usually you are advised to follow a format with your cover letter, although this format is only particularly restrictive for the very first sentence or two, which typically tells an employer which job you're applying for. There is a practical purpose in doing this since this helps to keep your resume and cover letter from getting separated or mixed in with others, but there are a few ways you can change the format and make your cover letter more creative, if that's appropriate.

It's sometimes advised you consider a very short cover letter as an alternative to a longer one, but you should actually probably keep your cover letter short no matter what. Hiring managers tend to be rather impatient, often owing to having dozens or hundreds of resumes and cover letters to look over. Plus, if you can't communicate something that makes you interesting and relevant in a paragraph or two, the assumption is going to be that there's nothing that interesting about you in the first place-or that you're longwinded and perhaps a narcissist. So do keep your cover letter short regardless of what else you do.

One creative idea if you're submitting your cover letter digitally is to exhibit relevant job skills if for example you're trying to go into a field like typography or design. You can actually demonstrate your abilities in your cover letter. You wouldn't want to do this unless the job you're applying for actually requires skills like these (i.e., it wouldn't be appropriate if you were applying for a customer service job or an administrative job or such).

You also could consider using a "video resume" along with your standard resume in place of a cover letter. While they're called 'video resumes" and not "video cover letters," the purpose of a video resume is usually more like that of a cover letter than an actual resume-an explanation of why you are the best job candidate as opposed to just a list of experience or skills. Whatever you decide to do when you write your cover letter or make your video, just keep in mind that a cover letter should exhibit your professional personality (not your personality when you're not at work), and it should say something highly individual about you which sets you apart from and above the rest of the candidates applying for the position.