Unlike resumes with their clipped bullet points, cover letters offer the job-seeker much wider latitude to tell stories because letters are quite compatible with the narrative form. You can engage the employer, make an emotional connection, show results, and become instantly memorable by writing at least one paragraph in the form of a powerful story. Not all employers read cover letters (about a third don’t), but those who read, do really read the letter, unlike the resume, which they almost always skim.
Types of stories you can tell in a cover letter
- Stories of early interest in your career path and determination to reach your career goal. A participant in cover-letter focus-group research conducted for this book said that the following sample “creates a vivid picture in your mind and leaves a memorable impression with the reader.”
One of my most profound memories as a young child was the day I first flew on an airplane. I was traveling with my family to California, and I still remember the feeling of excitement as I held my mother’s hand and climbed the stairs into the immense red, white, and blue plane. That was my first of many flights on Delta, and I have never forgotten it. I am interested in fostering that same excitement in others by working for Delta as a training instructor.
More samples of early career interest:
Six years ago when you hired me for my first job, I wonder if you realized that the experience would inspire my career. I want to thank you for giving me that first opportunity to explore retail, not only because I enjoy the work so much, but because I’ve learned enough to know that I want to make a long-term commitment to this field.
You would have to look far and wide to find someone who could bring as much enthusiasm and creativity as I could to the position of assistant creative director of StoryDance. Ever since I attended StoryDance’s performances as a young child, I’ve had a vision of the kind of creativity and energy I could add to the program. I carried that vision all the way to college, where I majored in theater and minored in dance.