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Have You Ever Written a Gimmicky Cover Letter?

The economy may be nearing its bottom, but the job market isn’t getting any less competitive just yet. A friend who was recently laid off told me, "I wish I could attach a big flashing sign to my application that says, 'I’m competent, I promise! Please bring me in for an interview.'"

We’ve talked about how some job-seekers are doing almost exactly that, and a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette details how applicants are getting creative with their cover letters in particular — but not in a good way. In the article, Max Messmer, author of Job Hunting For Dummies, shares several cover letters whose authors felt that self-deprecation was the key to scoring an interview. My favorite: "I don't know what skills I could offer you or your company." Yikes!

Obviously the job-seekers featured in the article got it wrong, but unconventional cover letters are always a gamble. Some employers love them, and some toss them immediately. Have you ever taken an unorthodox approach to a cover letter? And if so, did it get you the job, or at least an interview?


Join The Conversation
cheekyredhead cheekyredhead 7 years
During my 20 year medical career I never even had to write a resume much less a cover letter so those were alien to me until recently. My first civilian job out of the USAF...I showed up with 10 pizzas at lunch time and asked if I could have lunch with the whole department. They of course did not refuse lunch and I got to know the whole department. I asked the physicians and department head if they'd consider allowing me to come work for free for a week on a "trial" basis. I worked the rest of that day for free and then had the job full-time. After that I was always hounded by headhunters with offers. I never went a day without a job until my injury which ended my medical career. For 20 years I was given jobs without even filling out an application. HR was always looking for "that" employee to fill out paperwork. Now, changing careers I HAVE to do a resume and cover letter. I have renewed appreciation for everyone who has always had to do this. Waiting for that call can drive a person to the edge....especially if they have never had to do that waiting game before.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
Not risking it in this economy.
syako syako 8 years
wack, I know! That's my biggest job search pet peeve.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 8 years
Yes I have only because the company said they wanted a "humorous and ultra creative cover letter that incorporated a plea to the company dog (yes four legged critter) and a good recipe for something sweet". I did everything they asked and they never even bothered to send any sort of acknowledgment whatsoever. Another company asked to see an example of my creative writing abilities and I sent them that cover letter and they thought it was informative and hilarious. On a side note- this incredible rudeness by HR people of not acknowledging resumes or acknowledging any correspondence even requested additional correspondence under the guise of "we could never respond to all the requests we receive" is bs. It's called a macro and mail merge HR people should learn to use them.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
No, I've never done anything like that. I generally write something straightforward and to-the-point. Science jobs tend to be pretty cut and dried, so they don't generally appreciate anything witty or gimmicky.
syako syako 8 years
mel, that's a good idea!
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 8 years
I've WRITTEN really gimmicky, and sometimes begging/pleading letters, and then deleted them. very cathartic, NOT practical :)
melizzle melizzle 8 years
Yes- for copywriting jobs, I write an ad encouraging employers to hire me. :)
mishegas mishegas 8 years
I started out "gimmicky" to get my last job, when I was fresh out of college (as an English major) -- I think I made an allusion to Steve Martin's movie, /The Jerk/, just to be funny. It's a little embarrassing to think that I actually sent it places, but I sort of wish I could be that bold now about making mistakes; I did eventually produce a letter that was both compelling and effective (go me! too bad I'm feeling stuck now :p).
BettyRN BettyRN 8 years
No, sometimes I start out being creative and back out, leaving a standard and probably boring one, although that seems better than the really funny but lame ones shared in the article!
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
no - i work in media planning and it's rather straight forward so gimicky doesn't really give you an edge.
syako syako 8 years
No. I've never tried it. Don't think I would because it's just not really my style.
MrsRachel MrsRachel 8 years
No...but I've thrown the thought around a couple of times! :-)
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