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A Cover Letter That Says it All

06 Feb

This is a sample copy of the generic cover letter I created and tweak for each position that I apply.

Dear Sir or Madam:

If you are looking for a designer who can take your projects from concept to creation with enthusiasm and skill then I am the designer for you.  My name is Alicia Chouinard.  I am a Quinnipiac University graduate with a Bachelors degree in Interactive Digital Design, credits obtained towards a Masters Degree in Interactive Communications, and experience in a variety of design fields.  Design is not only a career for me but also a passion, and although I have a deep love for motion graphics and editing, I am very well rounded and am continuously improving my skills in all areas.

I am a very responsible and committed hard worker as demonstrated through my college career where I graduated Magna Cum Laude while participating in a Division 1 college sport and working two jobs. Every one of my past coaches has selected me as a captain for my team because I always give one hundred and ten percent.  As a result of this team experience I work very well with others, but I can also handle the pressure and responsibility of a leadership role or projects on my own.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. The (position) at (company) sounds like a creative position that I would both love and excel at. I know that I will be a great asset to the company and I would love to meet with you to discuss a future within (company).  I have attached my resume and my portfolio site can be viewed at www.AestheticConceptions.com.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Alicia Chouinard

 

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  1. Jan Bush

    February 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Alicia, this letter is upbeat and reflects you. I would break it all down to shorter sentences like…

    I have attached my resume. Please visit my portfolio site at http://www.AestheticConceptions.com.

    TELL your reader to go to your site. It’s a great site in layout and your sample work.

    Also I think you are underselling yourself. I would go
    From this…

    “I am a very responsible and committed hard worker as demonstrated through my college career where I graduated Magna Cum Laude while participating in a Division 1 college sport and working two jobs. Every one of my past coaches has selected me as a captain for my team because I always give one hundred and ten percent. As a result of this team experience I work very well with others, but I can also handle the pressure and responsibility of a leadership role or projects on my own.”

    To something like this
    “I developed a strong work ethic during college where I graduated Magna Cum Laude. I worked two jobs to help pay for my education. Due to my love of BASEBALL, I played all four years on Quinnipiac’s Division 1 team. Each year my college coaches selected me to be captain of our team; relying upon me to inspire team members to do their best. As a result, I work well with others either as a leader or team member. I am self-motivated and often work independently. I also perform well under pressure.”

    In this way you give solid evidence to your work ethic, ability to play well with others, and eagerness to perform. Coaches rely upon captains to inspire others. This is an asset in the workplace. Many people in your field are self-absorbed and just want to do their graphics. This tells your potential employer that you have leadership training and desires. You would be a good candidate for them to mentor you into a supervisory position in a graphics department or for a creative director’s role.

    I hope this helps. Jan

    P.S. As a hobby, I help friends with their resumes; I find most undersell themselves.

     
  2. Jan Bush

    February 9, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Girlfriend!
    Rewrite this letter. I just came from your resume on Linked In and you ARE UNDERselling yourself in this letter.

    PLEASE read my first comment — then follow to here.

    You did some smart things on your profile at Linked In.

    I like your embedded slide show; it invites the viewer in to your work. You already know I love your portfolio and your graphic work. Linking to it is smart. I would actually add an ending slide with that link on it.

    Your write ups on job duties are short and to the point. To me your list of jobs and descriptions demonstrate your penchant to be proactive. That is another asset.

    You have solid recommendations.

    Your summary contains what you need to say in your field. A slight improvement would be to pull from your resume on your portfolio site – adapting the intro to fit:

    • Professionally trained in graphic design for broadcast, film and animation, including video editing, character and production design, typography, layout, color and sound

    • Currently focusing on the principles and practices of creating content for distribution through the Internet, portable media devices, and related digital platforms through graduate level courses

    • Expert knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite up to CS5 (After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash), Final Cut Pro, Pinnacle Studio 8, DVD Studio Pro, Adobe Audition, and Microsoft Office

    • Advanced knowledge of Dreamweaver, Image Ready, Cinema4D, HTML, and CSS

    • Proficient in Maya, Contribute, Google Sketchup, and Vue

    • Experienced in both Mac OS X and Windows environments

    In your field, professional training is a plus. Many people learn on their own and miss some of the basic rules of design. Your portfolio shows you have a professional understanding of basic design principles and know how to use them beautifully.

    Remember also what I recommended on your cover letter? When you combine your leadership training with your professional training, this makes you ripe for management development in your field. Play up these assets by using “good English” as Zinsser states.

    The other thing I would do if I were you is to rid your writing of negative words. You are very upbeat and these words really do not fit the person I am getting to know through these writings. For example, I pulled this from your Portfolio resume

    “In my mind, the words designer and artist are not just job titles. They are a huge part of who I am, what I do, and how I see life. I am inspired by all I see around me and I love life because of it.”

    I suggest you change that to:
    “In my mind the words “designer” and “artist” are more than job titles — they are who I am, what I do, and how I see life.”

    I would also drop the last sentence as it is not necessary.

    Anyway, I think you have a great future ahead of you. Again, you seem to me to be management material.

    I hope this helps. Jan

     
  3. Jenna Carlesso

    February 9, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Hey Alicia,

    I agree with Jan. I like your enthusiasm in your cover letter, but I think you are underselling yourself. I also read your LinkedIn profile and viewed your website–Wow! Lots of experience and activities listed. I would include some of your work experience–projects you’ve worked on, software you’ve mastered using, and companies you’ve interned at/freelanced for. Your website is amazing and a great representation of you. One bit jumped out:

    “I have eight years experience in designing and editing everything from photos, to videos and motion graphic projects. Four of these years were spent earning my Bachelors Degree in Interactive Digital Design from Quinnipiac University where I am continuing my education with a Masters Degree in Interactive Communications.”

    Eight years’ experience? Fantastic! Let those prospective employers know about all that fabulous stuff you’ve done.

     
  4. Jan Bush

    February 9, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    PS I put baseball because you did not name your sport in your cover letter. Quite frankly, for you to be captain on a cheer squad — is much greater than a captain on a baseball team. I am impressed.

     
  5. Prof Nichols

    February 14, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Your cover letter reads well, Alicia. You have a smooth style and, as your group mates have mentioned, your enthusiasm and your personality shines. These are attractive qualities for a letter in which you want to sell yourself!

    I agree with what Jan and Jenna have said so far. You can focus on how passionate you are, but make sure you also discuss how your skills fit the needs of the company. Your goal is similar to that of a proposal; you want to convince your investor that your qualifications and their needs fit together perfectly.

    Move the title of the position and the name of the company to the first paragraph. You probably don’t need to say your name, since you will be signing this letter (and per proper business format, you can also put your contact information at the top of the page like a header). Make sure you tell them what you can do for them. For example, “I believe my background in communication and my experience in a variety of design fields would make me a valuable asset to your team.”

    On a mechanics level, be careful of dangling prepositions. For example, “The (position) at (company) sounds like a creative position that I would both love and excel at.” Don’t leave the “at” hanging out at the end of the sentence. “The video editor position at Big Design Company is a position at which I would excel.” I would probably avoid using terms like “love,” since it’s a little abstract. You probably love lots of things, and you don’t want to be too touchy-feely. Here, you want to be specific about why you are the best person for this job. So yes, incorporate the experience on your LinkedIn profile. You have a great background from which to draw (<–instead of, "to draw from." :-) )

    Your profile looks great. Don’t hesitate when talking about your skills. Instead of “Responsibilities include collecting, editing, and compiling images, vidoes, (watch for spell check) and information for web and print,” you can start with the active verbs. “Collected, edited and compiled images, videos, etc etc.

    Great job with this assignment. I encourage you to rewrite your cover letter and re-post it as one of your short blog posts. Don’t undersell yourself!

    –Prof. Nichols

     
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