We talk about including personality in your cover letter all the time—and the benefits of doing so. It makes you stand out against hundreds of qualified candidates. It shows you’re a good fit for the company. It proves you’re more than just a list of accomplishments on a piece of paper.
But, to be honest, it’s tough to know what that looks like in action.
So when I came across the following cover letter by Sarah Levy—written from the perspective of her dog, Cooper—that led her to become the Communications Manager at The Farmer’s Dog, I knew I had to share it.
The Cover Letter
My name is Cooper and I’m a 10-year-old Schnauzer from New York. I’m writing to tell you why my sister, Sarah Levy, is right for a Brand Content Producer role at The Farmer’s Dog. Sarah graduated from Brown University in 2012 with a BA in Literary Arts (I was there!) and has worked as a writer and social media strategist. She loves me more than anything in this world and keeps telling me how excited she is about this opportunity. A small, driven team that’s passionate about pet wellness and food? Sounds like a dream; like a lifetime supply of peanut butter and apples!
When Sarah isn’t walking me or giving me mini head massages, she’s thinking about the best ways to communicate new ideas and tell stories. She has created content for a variety of brands, including TED Conferences, Girl Rising, 305 Fitness, The Huffington Post, and Bustle. As a Social Media Contractor for TED Conferences, she managed all strategy and content creation for LinkedIn and worked with the design team to create engaging copy for Instagram images. In embodying the TED voice, she conveyed scientific and abstract concepts in a way that was accessible to readers. She also worked with the Editorial team to create headlines for new talks, schedule upcoming blog posts, and write scripts for original Facebook videos.
In addition to her professional work as a writer, Sarah has a deep passion for educating others. As an undergraduate, Sarah was very involved in Brown’s Office of College Admission and volunteered as an Academic Peer Advisor, Information Session Leader, and Campus Tour Guide. In these roles she not only walked backwards and memorized 20 pages of historical facts, but also made a genuine effort to get to know everyone in her groups and provide them with individualized experiences tailored to their educational interests. Sarah’s love of educating prospective students and families led her to serve on the Office of Admission’s Student Executive Board as a junior.
Sarah really wants to talk to you more about this opportunity. If you don’t e-mail her to further discuss her interest or qualifications, she’s going to keep talking to me about it. And I really need to play.
Thanks for your time and woof!
At first glance, I could immediately point to all the ways she made herself stand out. Her opening statement catches your attention. The voice is in-line with the company she’s applying to (a dog food company) and comes across as genuine, eager, and experienced. And, it’s not so distracting in that it still covers her accomplishments in a way that makes her seem like a great fit.
I decided to sit down with Levy, who is now two years in and has transitioned into a communications role (her ideal job), to learn more about how she came up with the idea—and ultimately how it panned out.
When I came out of college I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. While I was taking time to figure it out, I was doing a lot of freelance writing, and after a couple of years of this I had a conversation with my dad about how I wanted to find something I was passionate about. He gave me really great advice and told me, ‘You’re thinking a lot about what to put on your resume. But what do you actually like to do and how do you like to spend your time?’
Levy realized that she loved food and loved dogs, so “I literally Googled ‘health,’ ‘food,’ and ‘dogs’ and Google spit back healthy dog food—and The Farmer’s Dog came up,” she told me.
The company was in their seed round at the time, and, intrigued by their brand, Levy decided to send in a cover letter:
I really didn’t know that it would be received well—I sort of figured I had nothing to lose. If they didn’t like it I wouldn’t hear back. The other side of it was if they like it this could be the type of company where I would want to work.
Turns out, the founders loved her letter, asked her to coffee, and offered the role of their first hire.
When I asked her what was going through her head when she sat down to write this letter, she told me that the experience taught her how to be less humble:
I remember sitting down and feeling freed because I wasn’t writing it about myself and it wasn’t in first person. That element gave me a little bit of room to brag about myself and my accomplishments. At that point it was an exercise on writing about myself from the perspective of my best friend who really loved me, and I was able to talk about what I wanted them to know about me.
Ultimately, it’s all about being yourself, Levy says. “I really fell into the trap of creating a million different cover letter templates, and I never was being authentic. This is the first letter I wrote that was completely me and showing this vulnerable side of how obsessed with my dog I am.”
With this, Levy emphasizes that you’re in the driver’s seat in your career. While companies may be evaluating you, you’re also evaluating them. And by showing who you are, you make it that much easier for yourself to be paired with a company that truly respects and appreciates you for you.
So the next time you’re tempted to write just your average cover letter, consider taking more of a risk (this article can help you get there). Your words might fall into the hands of someone who can’t help but hire you.
Photo of person with dog courtesy of Westend61/Getty Images.
Previously an editor for The Muse, Alyse is proud to prove that yes, English majors can change the world. She’s written almost 500 articles for The Muse on anything from productivity tips to cover letters to bad bosses to cool career changers, many of which have been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, Inc., CNBC's Make It, USA Today College, Lifehacker, Mashable, and more. She calls many places home, including Illinois where she grew up and the small town of Hamilton where she attended Colgate University, but she was born to be a New Yorker. In addition to being an avid writer and reader, Alyse loves to dance, both professionally and while waiting for the subway.More from this Author