how important is the cover letter?


all posts i have seen are all about portfolio’s and interviews.
i would like to have some tips about the letter you send with it. isn’t it just as important?
people in hiring positions: what do you expect of the letters accompanying the portfolio?
i’m almost graduated, and applying for some jobs now. different then with all my internships i feel much more the importance of a good letter now.

what are good opening sentences???[/code]

Hi Do you still have a job for me?

Do you have a thefal pan?
Do you like cookies?

cover letters simply state who you are and which job opportunity you are qualified for and why (you meet all of the criteria in the job posting).

As a design professional for 12 years, and hiring people for 8, I can offer an opinion on this;

Cover letters are page 1 of the first impression. First impressions in life are extremely important. If you blow it, you can blow the whole thing.

True, your work, your aptitudes, your brain, etc. are all the most important elements to showcase during an interview, but the cover letter is the first thing that will open the door to the dialog and will hopefully get you moving towards the job.

Some thoughts;

  1. Spellcheck and grammar check. Not just with Microsoft Word. Ask a few friends to read it. Ask someone in the english department to read it. Ask a design professor to read it and make suggestions. I can’t stress enough how important it is to sound and be intelligent in the letter. Bad spelling and grammar in the letter will reflect poorly on you. Being well written and verbal is a turn on for most professionals.

  2. Know your target audience. Try to find out as much as you can as to whom this letter is being addressed to, and anything you can about the firm and position. Try to make the letter sound like a focused laser beam, speaking directly to the fact that you have done your homework and are interested in this SPECIFIC role at this SECIFIC company. Try not to do a ‘Dear Madam/Sir’ start to your letter nor a ‘enter firm name here’. The more form it sounds, the less apt to get attention it is.

  3. Keep it brief and to the point. 2 paragraphs is about all someone is going to read.

  4. As a recent graduate, you gotta’ work a little harder to upsell yourself to a firm. Initially, they will see you as a resource that will need training to be of value - hopefully long-term value. So, try to sound eager, excited and energetic. They (and hopefully your talents will match) will be your greatest assets as a new out-of-school hire. Because of your lack of practical experience, hiring people will look to those attributes and want to get energetic and enthusiastic new staff in.

  5. Try not to sound desparate. Approach the idea of an interview (written and verbally) as a meeting to discuss opportunities and see if there is a fit between you and Firm X. I have read a lot of ‘hire me - I’m desparate’ cover letters and they don’t come out very strong or confident. Approach the endeavor as a meeting to see if there is a connection to be made. Think of yourself as a person that can bring something to the table and work as a partner to the firm.

  6. Make sure not to sound arrogant as well; “I am an excellent designer with amazing rendering and design skills who has achieved perfection and your firm would benefit greatly from my presence”. etc. College kids are very green in the ways of the design business world as a whole. Also, try to keep ‘green’ moments to a minimum both written and verbally. Try not to oversell yourself as a college kid, fresh off the tree.

Just some thoughts from being on both sides of the cover letter.

-East Coaster


i already made starts, and didn’t even think of skipping the ‘enter firm name’ and ‘dear sir/madam’…
so i guess it’s more about being original and getting noticed then about doing ‘the right thing’

Its not that important. I’ve hired many people without cover letters. It all depends on the portfolio. We’re not hiring writers and journalists here.

i’m almost graduated, and applying for some jobs now. different then with all my internships

then; adverb: 1) at that time 2) next, after that

(I wrote the cover letter, THEN I got a call for an interview; the interview went well and THEN I received an offer; once I hit town THEN I’ll look for housing)

than; conjunction; 1) introducing a comparison:

(he renders better now, THAN he did before; you are better a designer THAN she is; accurate grammar is more important THAN you think)

So it’s … different THAN with all my internships.

No, “we” are not hiring writers and journalists here … what’s that got to do with professional communication?

Blub, don’t take this personally … but from a corporate HR point of view, and first impressions being what they are, if the candidate sounds uneducated, in what other areas might “he” be incompetent?

Remember, you have to get passed HR before you’re going to get any further. And keep in mind that their sole existence, their purpose in life, is to nit-pick resumes and pass judgement on people (and their skills) of which that they have no understanding … curse the poor reptiles.

Its absolutely critical. We expect that your portfolio be brilliant but were not hiring portfolios were hiring people. A cover letter is the first chance you have to say something about what makes you different, better than the someone else and to convince someone they might enjoy talking to you.