The Calculated Creative

What to include in a graphic design cover letter (that hiring managers don't want you to know)

Cover letters, with some imaginative finesse, can actually work in your favor.

Cover letters. Ugh! Just hearing those words makes most creative types cringe. Yet another tiresome hoop to jump through in the never-ending job search process. But what if I told you that cover letters don't have to be such a painful, pulling-teeth experience? Gasp! I know, total contrarian thinking here in the design world. But hear me out...

I'm here to let you in on a little insider secret that most hiring managers would probably prefer graphic designers not know. Cover letters, with some imaginative finesse, can actually work in your favor. Yes, you read that correctly! Let's dive deeper into some key elements to include that will make your cover letter captivate and wow, setting you apart from the applicant pack:

1. Dazzling, unconventional design and visuals

You're a graphic designer - this is your opportunity to fully showcase your creative skills! Don't just type out a boring wall of vanilla text like every other applicant. Surprise and impress them with an unconventionally designed layout featuring visually poetic spacing, arresting fonts, engaging graphics and icons, strategic use of color - the works! Make it as visually compelling, vivid, and artistic as your best portfolio pieces. Show, don't merely tell, why your sensibilities and skills make you the ideal match for this graphic design role.

2. Sparks of your vibrant personality

It's time to break from the traditional, painfully formal, business-like cover letter mold plaguing designers everywhere. Let the genuine, one-of-a-kind you shine radiantly through! Share specifics on what truly excites you about this company's branding, ethos, and position in your own voice. Use descriptive, colorful wording and phrasing that wonderfully captures your personality. Well-placed humor when aligned with the company culture and wit when appropriate can also endear you in a memorable way. Give real, beautiful glimpses into what drives you creatively.

3. Killer, unexpected opening and closing

Bid goodbye to the mind-numbingly trite "To whom it may concern" openings and "Sincerely yours" closings that every other graphic design hopeful is tirelessly using. Grab the reader's engaged attention right off the bat in your first line with something fresh, vibrant, and unexpected. And close your cover letter with equally impressive flair that artfully reiterates what specifically makes you the ideal creative match for this position in a way they won't forget.

4. Strategic storytelling showcasing achievements

Savvy designers know first-hand just how hugely impactful strategic storytelling can be in making your work resonate. Use vivid, illustrative anecdotes and compelling examples that strongly showcase some of your biggest career accomplishments, passion projects, and times you overcame immense creative obstacles. This kind of demonstrative storytelling spotlights your unique problem-solving abilities and is infinitely more powerful than just listing achievements in isolation.

5. Personality-aligned creative self-promotion

OK, "self-promotion" can sound boastful and deceitful, but subtle creative boasting about your most relevant, glowing strengths is totally fair game! Just make sure to do it aligned with your personality in an authentic way that feels natural. Arrogant, overly self-congratulatory bragging won't help you one bit. But warm, buzzworthy, lyricism-filled self-promotion just might. And that's something hiring managers secretly look for too!


The Takeaway

Rethink what a cover letter can strategically do for you as a graphic designer.

Follow the guidance above, whip up something fabulously you, and get ready to thoroughly wow and land that dream design role.

Cover letters don't have to be so creatively draining.

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