Write a Creative Cover Letter That Stands Out (Template Included)

woman writing creative cover letter for resume
    woman writing creative cover letter for resume
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Hiring managers receive so many applications that they can all blend together. Writing a creative cover letter can make your application jump off the page and separate you from the standard, formal cover letters in the application pile. Follow these tips to ensure that you'll get some attention from your unique cover letter — and hopefully, get the job you're applying for.

Showcase Your Creative Writing Skills

While a technical cover letter demonstrates your technical writing skills, a creative cover letter should showcase your creative writing skills. Employers in creative fields, such as the arts and entertainment industry, want to know what their prospective employees can write, so feel free to use descriptive words throughout the letter.

Use a Standard Structure

Even though you're writing a creative cover letter, it doesn't mean you should veer from the standard cover letter format. Like all cover letters, creative cover letters should include the following sections:

  • opening (why you're applying)
  • first body paragraph (what makes you great)
  • second body paragraph (what makes the company great)
  • third body paragraph (why you and the company are a great fit)
  • closing (how you're looking forward to the next steps)

Just like any attention-grabbing cover letter, you should keep a creative cover letter to one page. The aim of the cover letter is to introduce yourself as the right person for the next steps of the hiring process, not necessarily the right person for the job. That's what the interview is for!

formal letter format infographic

Formal letter format

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Focus on a Dynamic Opening Line

Aside from the return address, date, recipient address, and the greeting, a creative cover letter begins with a great hook and a brief introduction. Mention what compelled you to inquire about the open position. Read a few examples of opening lines that are likely to stand out from the rest.

  • Film Industry - As a savvy administrative professional who has seen all the studio's movies (yes, all of them, you can quiz me), I was excited to see the job posting for the Publicity Assistant position with ABC Film Company.
  • Education - Teaching is the hardest job I've ever had — but I could never do anything else.
  • Sales - Ever since I broke the troop record for selling the most Girl Scout cookies in a single month, I knew I could sell anything to anyone.
  • Management - I believe that a leader should be willing to do anything that they ask their team to do, which is how I ended up picking up litter along the highway every weekend.
  • Tech - As an avid coder since age 12, my goal has been to find a position like the Technical Specialist position at XYZ Technologies.

Notice how this creative cover letter opening sentence is brief, enthusiastic and personable. This helps your introduction work as an attention grabber. Just as a movie has a memorable tagline or logline, so should your cover letter have a memorable introductory statement.

List Your Achievements as Stories

Highlight your best professional points or achievements, ensuring they are relevant to the position. For creative cover letters, it's a good idea to use specific examples or anecdotes when discussing your accomplishments.

  • Film Industry - As a self-proclaimed film addict, I was president of the media society on my campus, and I have coordinated film screenings both on campus and in my local community. My friends call me Netflix!
  • Education - After forming my district's first after school homework club, I found that the lower-performing students had improved an entire letter grade in each of their core classes.
  • Sales - During a notable moment in my sales career, I found myself literally selling ice cubes to penguins. Well, not the penguins themselves — I was the lead sales contact in my company's refrigeration contract with the local zoo.
  • Management - Nothing makes me happier than when my team's projects perform efficiently and quickly. My fastest project success came with the city sanitation department deal, which was fortunate since it was also my smelliest project to date.
  • Tech - I can't sleep if my pages are buggy. Once, I spent over six hours debugging the tiniest error that only I had noticed, and I had the best night's sleep of my life afterward.

As you can see from the examples, the purpose of the body of the letter is to focus the attention on your previous experience within the field, whether as part of your job or outside work. Writing these accomplishments as anecdotes is a surefire way to write a unique cover letter.

Sum It Up With a Bang

The closing paragraph should be short and sweet. Limit this paragraph to two or three brief sentences.

  • Film Industry - I look forward to meeting with you and chatting about our favorite movies. As long as yours is a science fiction movie, we'll be a great fit!
  • Education - Thank you for your time. As an educator, I know how valuable that time can be, and I'd love to brainstorm ways to collaborate with the rest of your faculty.
  • Sales - A good salesperson knows when to stop the pitch, so I'll leave the next steps to you. Feel free to contact me with additional questions or to arrange an interview.
  • Management - I appreciate the opportunity to apply for and discuss this exciting role. I'm available to discuss the details at your convenience.
  • Tech - Thanks for your consideration. You can reach me at my contact information above or by visiting my website, and we can discuss the next steps.

After the closing remarks are the closing salutations with your name typed and signed. Remember to make it all about them. Catch their eye. Explain what you can offer to their department.

Use Confident (But Not Overconfident) Language

All cover letters should sound confident, which is often why people dread writing them. Sometimes it feels like you're bragging about yourself when you'd rather be humble. Creative cover letters should use confident language, including positive adjectives, but should also avoid being boastful or hyperbolic.

  • Don't say - I'm the absolute best office manager you'll ever meet. I've never lost a message, missed an appointment or misused company time.
  • Do say - My experience as an office manager has taught me priorities in my life. I strive toward being organized and keeping my appointments in order, and I am very conscious of using company time appropriately.

You want to assure a hiring manager that you are skilled but also grounded. Confident language will move your cover letter to the interview pile, while less-confident language may make you sound unsure or unskilled.

Be Funny (But Not Sarcastic)

Like confidence, well-placed humor can let others know that you are intelligent and capable. But avoid sarcasm, which can make you sound obnoxious.

  • Don't say - Stapling packets together is my favorite thing to do. If I had to choose between going to the Super Bowl and stapling packets, I'd be stapling during kickoff.
  • Do say - I've learned to appreciate a range of tasks in my current position, from the everyday joy of stapling packets to the unexpected pleasures of an organized file system.

A hiring manager wants to ensure that you will genuinely enjoy this job and that you won't bring a bad attitude to work with you. A well-written creative cover letter can use humor to establish a winning personality and a strong work ethic at the same time.

Creative Cover Letter Example

Check out a printable example of a unique cover letter. Use the format to help you write a creative cover letter that's both memorable and well-structured.

creative cover letter editable printable template

Creative cover letter template

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Stand Out From the Job Search Crowd

If you really want to make your creative cover letter stand out, try putting it in a different format than a standard letter or email. It may not guarantee you a job, but it will guarantee you'll be remembered. You can also ensure that you're remembered with a few tips for writing a professional resume. Once you've snagged that coveted interview, here are some smart questions to ask.