Cover Letter (Strategy/ Examples)

Hello lovelies,

I’m sorry if there has already been a question like this before (if so, please direct me to it :smiley: )…

It seems like the ratio for being hired by an ID consultancy according to submission material required, is about 80% Portfolio, 15% Resume, 5% Cover Letter (thoughts?). Obviously a great cover letter will not over-ride a crappy portfolio, however it may prove the difference between yourself and another candidate if the decision is tough.

Have you received any cover letters that have proved this point? On the flip-side, have you received particularly positive feedback on the cover letters you have written? If so, could you give some insight or examples regarding the specific tone/ strategy/ length?

I thought this would be easy 5+ years after graduating, but I find myself getting hung up on this one a little– i.e. casual vs. formal, trying not to sound desperate, etc.

Thanks in advance for your comments!


For me, the shorter and simpler the better. The three things I like to see:

  1. how you found out about the position (this is just nice to know for employers)
  2. who you are in one or two short sentences
  3. why you think you might be a fit for the position / what value you think you might bring to the organization
  4. any relevant references we might know (ie, I know so and so who was formerly a senior designer at your company and she recommended I apply)
  5. thank yous and a “I’m looking forward to exploring the possibility of working at xyz” or something like that

and then an awesome portfolio.

Thanks Michael! Kind of what I expected, but it’s nice to see these points bulleted out by the “man” (onwards to the awesome portfolio part ; )…

I would say it is 50% portfolio, 25% resume, 25% cover letter. Your work is obviously important because you want to be able to prove to the hiring team that you can do the work but on the flip-side, a cover letter shows that you know how to articulate your thoughts in other means besides visually. I would say personality and being a quick learner is more important than an amazing portfolio. I work at a corporate company but our design team is small (3 people), we look for people who will fit in well with our personalities and someone who can technically do the work we do while at the same time learn about the type of work we do (gear and apparel in the outdoor industry).


hmm, we should do our percentages!

for me:
Portfolio: 70%
Resume: 20%
Cover letter 2%
What I find when I google you: 8%

The most important thing with the cover letter I think is to make it a non issue. Any attention given to it is rarely positive… usually on along the lines of “can you believe the name of our firm is misspelled…”

That said, I misspelled the name of the design director at Evo when I applied, and the portfolio overcame that screw up… worst (most creative) speller in the world. So I know if I can see a spelling mistake in someone’s cover letter, its over! :wink:

Hah, 8% Google, that is also very true.

@ Yo! is it a bad thing if you can’t be found on google?

Yes, that’s definitely helpful! Interesting on the different percentage feedback.

I actually just got 2 callback interviews while following Michael’s format for the cover letters (OK I’m sure it wasn’t all based on that, but it certainly helped!). One positive thing that they kept emphasizing after the interview was my “quick” learning ability, which definitely helped (o8dawgs). So if anyone out there is interviewing too, keep that in mind when you’re answering questions :wink: In this case it seems like I don’t have all the skills they’re specifically looking for, but I’m in the running because of the diversity of my experience/ personality/ enthusiasm…I hope it works out in the end.

AND I think everyone should google themselves at least once a month. Sometimes weird stuff comes up that you should get rid of (if you can).


I am not sure if this will apply to all job offers or if its directly handled by designers. It seems like “keywords” from job description supports the HR’s decision/selection process, esp. corporates. Many of my IT friends suggest that I use as many of certain words in my cover and resume to pass the 1st screening test. I just cant digest this process. But it also makes me think, while I believe to fit the role, I get rejected mails.

Not bad I suppose, buy I would expect to see a coroflot or behance profile as well as a linked in profile.

But not your embarassing Facebook posts… you can set up a Google alert to email you when there’s a new search result for your name.

I guess here’s another tip. Please do not do you resume in Word :slight_smile:

Another question I’ve got on covering letters:

If emailing an application, is it a good idea to put the covering letter text in the email body, or should this be sent as a separate PDF or as part of a PDF package containing CL, CV and sample folio?

The email essentially is the cover letter.

Wondering why not?

if you save it as a pdf instead of the word format, you wont have any problems like that. i save all of my work that will be used off of the computer i am working in pdf format so that those sort of issues cant happen and it can be opened by any computer without images or fonts disappearing.


  1. It shows you know how to use Adobe InDesign
  2. Word is very limiting in regards to making your resume look well designed (actually this could be the #1 reason, you can play with the typography and layout much easier)
  3. You’re a designer, what are you using word for? (besides using spell check and grammar check)

3b) You’re a designer, why are you not using OSX and Pages? :wink: