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The Ultimate Application Guide (part two): rock your cover letter

How to write the perfect cover letter

The first part of our Ultimate Application Guide tells you all about creating the perfect resume for the creative industry. Now that you’ve got that down, let’s take a look at your cover letter. Here’s some good news to start off right: you don’t have to be a Pulitzer prize winner to make this work. With our tips and tricks in the second part of our Application Guide, you’ll have it ready to be ‘shipped’ in no time. Read along, won’t you?

Press play on our playlist

Before you start putting pen (or keyboard) to paper, how about some music, huh? Research shows people perform better and work faster when they’re listening to music. That’s why we’ve created a Spotify playlist with amazing Tunes To Rock Your Business. Press play and let’s go.

Research and adapt

Always start from scratch. It might be an obvious note, but recycling older cover letters isn’t a great first impression. It’s ok to use certain information from previous letters you’ve written, but always do your research about the company to find out what tone to use to fit the company culture and write a new letter with that information at hand. Include your research in the actual text as well. Show that you know what challenges the company faces or accomplishments they’ve achieved and tell the hiring manager how you’d contribute to that in your role or share a similar situation from your past experience. Show that you know how to add value to both this role and company instead of just expressing your desire to work here, or what your past experience is.

Contact the recruiter or hiring manager

Got any questions? It vows well for you if you ask something smart to the recruiter or hiring manager before sending your cover letter. Get in touch with them. You’ll have personal contact, so they already have a feeling about you that might help you stay top of mind. Next to that, you can refer to your conversation at the start of your letter by saying that you spoke to this person and thank them for their input. Don’t forget to address the letter to their name as well. It’s very personal and shows you’re well connected – that’s incredibly important in the creative industry’s small world. You can mention people you know at the company as well. Keep in mind that these need to be people you’re well connected with, so it doesn’t backfire if they don’t remember you or find it odd to be included in your letter.

However, if you know 10-15 people at the hiring company, we don’t need a list of all these names. Stop showing off! 😉

Start off strong

Yes, there is such a thing as an opening line for recruiters. Starting off with a surprising first line sets you apart. Since recruiters are reading a lot of cover letters in a day, not starting with your name, where you’re from and what job you’re applying for is the greatest gift you can give a recruiter on that day. Instead, start by saying what you’d like to contribute to the company you’re applying to in your new role and why this is exciting to you. Make sure it’s relevant though! Don’t start with describing your love for cats if you’re not applying for a role at a cat shelter.

Focus on the future

We don’t need a red light / green light debacle, this one’s easy: listing your job history as your cover letter is a big no-no. We can read your previous jobs, tasks and derived skills in your resume. What we do want to see is what experience and skillset make you the ideal candidate for the job you’re applying for. However, keep the letter focused on the future. Explain why this is the next role you’re looking for and what skills you’ve obtained that can be taken with you to be used in the new role.

For instance: if you’re applying for a coordinating role, tell us how you’ve perfected the appropriate skills for this role in your job as a Project Manager and why you’re now looking for an administrative role. Or if you’re switching from another industry to the music / creative industry: let us know how your skills and past experience equipped you for a role in the creative industry and why you’re looking to move into this new industry.

Explain why you want this job

Seems to be an open door, but it’s often neglected. Describe your passion for the role next to why you’d be a good fit. We’d love to know your favorite tasks in the new job, what you love about these tasks, if you have hobbies that coincide with the job you’re applying for and if you have an affinity with the company. So, if in line with the job description or creative industry: it could be noteworthy that you volunteer at festivals every summer.

Keywords and choice of words

Choosing your words carefully is always a good thing. Have you thought about using keywords in your cover letter? Not only are there certain ‘power words’ that create a positive impression, but a little psychology might also go a long way.

How? Use keywords used by the company in the job description or by people in the creative industry. This creates an (unconscious) likeability factor and a sense of understanding.

TL,DR (too long, didn’t read)

Keep it under one page. As stated before, be nice to your recruiter and pamper them with an easy-to-read and compact letter that’s up to one page or less.

Follow up

Send an e-mail if you haven’t heard anything in a while. Don’t be too forward, give the hiring team some time to read all the applications and get back to you. Give it up to a week or two, and then kindly state you just want to check in and see if they have any questions.

This is also a great way to send in a super short cover letter if there wasn’t any way of sending that in (maybe due to the company working with an online form). Don’t wait too long for that, send it out the day after you’ve sent your resume. State that you’re double-checking if your resume was received and shortly speak of your enthusiasm for the role or company. Next, list some of your research and how you can help the company with certain matters they’re facing if you were to be hired in the role.

And there you have it. The King of Cover Letters told us you’re ready to send yours in after using these tips and tricks. (Yes, we’re in contact with the cover letter King – we have him on speed dial). He also told us you really need to check out the third part of our Application Guide, that’s all about the job interview of your life. Be seeing you.

The Ultimate Application Guide (part one): create the perfect resume for the creative industry

Seem Bakker with a guitar

As recruiters we’re always looking for that needle in a haystack who fits the job description and company culture. How can you become that one-of-a-kind haystack needle for your next job? That’s what we’re about to teach you in The Ultimate Application Guide. Listen (or rather: read) closely.

Our Application Guide is a three-step ‘manual’ to help you navigate through the application process a little easier. We’ll firstly dive into how to set up a proper resume and what recruiters might be looking for when reading. Secondly, we’ll address how to write the ideal cover letter and lastly how to rock your interview. Ready? Let’s get started!

The first step in our Application Guide: rocking your resume

You’ve found the job you want. When you start applying for it, the first step is to take a look at your resume. We’ve already given you some tips and tricks on how to rock a great C.V. before, but let’s look at the newest learnings.

The shorter, the better

You’ve probably heard this before. Hiring managers and recruiters read lots of resumes so they don’t need the entire Harry Potter saga on their desk (or in their mailbox). Design a way to structure the information you want to list so it fits one or two pages and list your most important daily tasks. This way you’re showing how you can add value to your future employers’ operations, so make sure the most relevant information is easily found. Are you a finance professional who wants to work at a music company? Then it IS relevant that you love to produce music in your spare time, or that you were a volunteer at a festival. 

Get creative with tools

Handing over a one pager as a resume in .doc is a little 1990. Don’t you agree? Today, there’s tons of creative tools you can use to stand out from the crowd. Take a look at their possibilities and find one that works for you

Canva

Canva offers many ready-to-use templates for you to design. Simply click whichever one you’d like to start with (infographic, presentation, cover image and of course: a resume) and edit the design to your liking. Canva requires no creative knowledge or skill: they’ve done a lot of work for you

Adobe Creative Cloud Express (Previously Spark)

Today’s world is all about the experience. What if you could make your resume one? Adobe CCE makes it happen. Adobe lets you present your resume in presentation form, including video’s and animations to create an interactive experience.

Pixlr

Pixlr is a picture editing program and very easy to use. If you’re creating a text based two-pager, Pixlr makes it easy for you to elevate this to a more visually strong resume.

Creating a resume for the creative industry

Want to really kick it up a notch? Think about the company and role you’re applying for. What can you do that fits one or both? If you’re applying at a radio station: create your resume as if it’s an album. Make an album cover, list your experience as songs, maybe even create a podcast with your cover letter and so on. Show the hiring committee that you really want this role.

Next to that, if you’re looking to work in the creative industry it’s a big plus to show off your own creative side (whether that’s in creative writing, design or (concept) thinking). It’s up to you to show how well you fit the industry.

A little disclaimer*

*Do keep in mind that your resume needs to be able to be uploaded as a text file, not as an image. Recruiters often end up filling in all entry fields by hand. So, if you really looking to make an impression: make sure your resume is visually top notch as well as ATF friendly.

Tailor your resume

One size fits all doesn’t apply to job search. Rearrange the listed skills of each previous job to focus on skills that are important for the role you’re applying for. Highlight some experiences that help show your expertise in a certain field. Changing your C.V. to fit the job description is something we all do (and is highly recommended!). It makes it easier for recruiters or a hiring team to scan your resume and find out if you fit the role.

Include your social media profiles: yes or no?

Take another look at your social profiles if you include them in your resume. Do they fit the company culture? Are your posts appropriate? What image do the posts project of you? If you can’t check these boxes, reconsider including them in your C.V..

Sending out your resume

How you send out your resume is just as important as creating the perfect C.V.. Sometimes, when there’s a tool in which you are asked to upload your resume and cover letter, there’s no other option. But, let’s think outside the box for a moment. That’s not really true is it? There is always another option.

MailChimp

When you know lots of other applicants are going to fill in the standard forms or send out a ‘regular’ e-mail, why not step up? Create and e-mail with tools like MailChimp to stand out. A big upside: you can check your e-mail after sending and see if it’s been opened, how many times and if the receipients click on any buttons. This could be interesting data to further perfect your applying process.

Old school

We don’t think you should send over a carrier pigeon. However, in a digital world it could be noteworthy to send over something the recruiter or manager can actually touch. It will definitely be remembered. Maybe an envelope with a QR code to your online resume. Get creative!

What do you say? Are you ready to send out your resume? We think you are. Thumbs up, and stay tuned for the second part of our Application Guide that’s all about writing the perfect cover letter.