Applying for jobs and hearing nothing back? Read on for an excerpt from The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career, the brand-new book by The Muse’s co-founders Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew, for a strategy that can help you stand out from the pack.
Pulling together an impressive resumé and cover letter is definitely crucial for landing an interview — and eventually a job. But, guess what? Plenty of other applicants will submit quality materials as well. As you already know, there’s a lot of competition in the job hunt. So, in addition to your impressive documents, you might want to find some additional ways to stand out and separate yourself from the sea of other candidates.
We had one prospective Muse employee transform her resumé into something that looked just like a Muse company profile. Similarly, we’ve seen a BuzzFeed applicant turn her cover letter into a classic, BuzzFeed- style article. And this cover letter caught our editorial team’s attention immediately, and bumped Abby to the top of the interview pile — and later on, was a key ingredient in the decision to offer her the job.
Though we wouldn’t advise doing something quite so “out of the box” unless you’re fairly certain of how it will go over, using your cover letter to show that you not only understand, but will also really mesh with the company culture, can be crucial to landing an interview.
The Cover Letter That Won Abby Wolfe The Job
Dear Muse Team:
It only seems fitting that I am writing this cover letter on October 21st, 2015 — the day Marty McFly traveled to in the future to save his unborn children in Back to the Future Part II. Both Back to the Future movies communicate a very important point: one moment, one decision, one action can change your entire future.
I am hoping this moment — 11:26am on the actual October 21st, 2015 — is the moment that changes my entire future and shifts my life path in a new, more desirable direction.
I hesitate to bore you with a traditional cover letter, so below I will outline my whys — why I want the position of “Editorial Intern” and why I think I would be a good fit for The Muse and this position.
Why I Want the Position
1. I currently work as a health and wellness professional at an employee wellness firm and, to be frank, I am having a hard time. I am good at what I do and serve as an unofficial leader on my team, but I am finding myself unfulfilled and struggling to stay engaged. As someone who settles for nothing less than my absolute best, this is an uncomfortable and frustrating place to be in life. Over the past several months I have realized the following: maybe the reason I am not completely happy in my current position is because it is not providing me with the opportunity to do one of the only things I really want to do — write.
2. A firm belief of mine is people should be working at a job they love. I thoroughly enjoy having conversations with friends and co-workers about how they can apply their dreams, strengths, and goals to a real-life job. This position would allow me to combine two things I enjoy — writing and guiding people to where they should be in life and how to get there.
3. I had dreams of being Jennifer Garner from 13 Going on 30 when I was growing up — big time editor at a magazine? I’m in! But I didn’t believe in myself, so I chose a different major in school and a different path in life.
Why I Think I Would Be a Good Fit
1. Because my jobs have not provided me with many opportunities to write, I have pursued it on my own. As an intern for Infinity Wellness Foundation in 2011, I was published as a coauthor of two children’s health e-books. Since January 2013, I have had my own healthy lifestyle blog; and in August 2013, I became an article contributor to Active Life DC, an online resource that shares everything health and fitness- related with the District of Columbia community. Most recently, I have taken on being a blog contributor, editor, and manager for my gym, MINT Club Spa Retreat.
2. Appropriate meme-finding is a strength of mine. Co-workers frequently ask me how I find such perfect memes. It’s a natural talent.
3. My mom is a Reading Specialist, which means I grew up a grammar nerd. There were times she would stop a song in the middle and ask me “what is wrong with that lyric?” (Hint: It’s usually that a songwriter referred to a person as a “that” instead of a “who.”)
4. I want this. I really want this. I am bouncing with excitement in my chair as we speak (erm, as you read this). I thought my days of internships were over, but this seems like the perfect way to break into a field I have subconsciously (and now consciously) wanted to be in since I could hold a pencil.
I would love to hear from you. I am available via e-mail, cell phone, and can make an in-person interview work as well. Additional information and writing samples are available upon request.
Of course, it’s important that you understand your audience before straying too far from traditions — not every place will be receptive to a unique and inventive application. But if you’ve done your research and think a creative cover letter or resumé would be just the ticket to set you apart, go ahead and color outside the lines! It’s just another way you can share your talents, while also demonstrating that you understand the company’s culture.
Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew are the co-founders of TheMuse.com, a career platform used by over 50 million people every year to find a job, learn professional skills or advance in their careers, and by hundreds of companies looking to hire or grow their employer brand. They are also the co-authors of “The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career,” published by Crown Business/Penguin Random House and available for purchase TODAY. Get your copy here.