Cover letters – How far should you go?


David was born before there were such things as televisions, electricity or the written word. He attended an all-girl comprehensive school (until he failed the medical) and was once the richest person in the known universe. David currently lives on a small asparagus plantation in Fiji with his two cats and an invisible ostrich called Gerald. Gerald is particularly partial to asparagus, therefore, David is still to realise his second fortune… Well, the bit about the cats is true! In truth, David used to be a professional illusionist – yes, floating rabbits and pulling women out of a hat – or something like that. When that career vanished, he moved into publishing for a few years before donning a tie and entering the corporate world, still performing, as the trainer for one of the world’s largest Internet gaming companies. Throughout the years he has always written. Apart from the boring stuff that makes him money – copy-writing and editing for different agencies and clients – David has a number of unpublished children’s novels under his belt and a plethora of unfinished novels across various genres that range from a brief outline about cyber-crime to a hilarious internet rom-com that he abandoned after about 35,000 words. Whilst always wanting to write ‘that big novel’, he admits that what he does best (apart from making excellent spicy cheese meatballs) is children’s comedy and nonsense poetry. Nowadays, it’s this that he’s focusing most of his spare time on. One reader once described his writing as “Dr Seuss meets Lewis Carroll, with a touch of Roald Dahl”. So, be prepared for “Charlie and the Cheshire Cat in a Hat“. What you’ll find here are some random musings, the occasional real ‘piece’ and many bits and bobs and unfinished verses or paragraphs. Enjoy!

01-writing-a-letter (Mobile)We all know that, for several reasons, you’re supposed to tailor your cover letter to suit the job for which you’re applying. A generic ‘cover-all’ letter is easily spotted by those who deal  with incoming applications, even one that drops in the company’s name in a ‘strategic location’. And, let’s be honest, we have all had our fill of those ‘dynamic and resourceful’,  ‘hard working team players’ and those who profess to be able to ‘think out of the box’. Well, if you can ‘think out of the box’, why is your cover letter a carbon copy of dozens of others than landed in my inbox? Why didn’t you take this opportunity to show me how far out of that box your thinking processes can take you?

But there’s a fine line, isn’t there? How far should you go with your personalisation and presentation of your true self?

Surely, your cover letter for a position as CFO of Blogget and Sons – Lawyers since 1807,  should read, (and feel)  completely different to the letter for CFO of DynaGame Solutions – Social Gaming for Teens.

068127-3d-transparent-glass-icon-alphanumeric-quote-open21Dear Mrs Jenkins,

I wish to be considered for the position of Lion Tamer as advertised on your recent LinkedIn post.

As you can see by my attached CV, I have had extensive experience in feline mastery, including three years as Head Tamer at Bloggins Circus.

I hope to hear from you soon,

068125-3d-transparent-glass-icon-alphanumeric-quote-close21Yours sincerely,

David Chandler.

It’s a perfectly acceptably ‘standard’ cover letter. But, with a role like this, could you, shouldyou go further? Is this the moment to stand out and shine? Do you display your individuality and unique character here?

068127-3d-transparent-glass-icon-alphanumeric-quote-open21Dear Mrs Jenkins,

Have no fear! My whip and chair are here at the ready, and I can assure you that your taming issues are solved. You can read all the ‘blah-blah’ about my experience in the attached CV. Better still, feed it to the lions and let me come along and show you how I interact with them, how I can work a crowd and how I still have 10 fingers and 4 limbs. I even have my own top hat!

I must dash, there are a few loose leopards in the street that require my attention…

068125-3d-transparent-glass-icon-alphanumeric-quote-close21Have a whip-crackingly fantastic day,

David Chandler.

OK, you’re sure to grab someone’s (hopefully Mrs Jenkins) attention, but you also risk being dismissed as a complete nutter?

So tell me, how far should you go? In what situations should, not just say, but be more dynamic and when should you risk the chance of a position by sharing your true self in your cover letter?

I’d like to hear your opinions. In the meantime, I have a temperamental  tiger to deal with…


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